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Powerful moment, powerful story

One to make even the coldest, most unempathetic heart go pit-a-pat.

WWII RAF veteran reunited with Battle of Britain aircraft
A WWII RAF veteran had the chance to fly alongside the aircraft he helped maintain during the heroic Battle of Britain in 1940.

Jeff Brereton, who celebrated this 102nd birthday earlier this year, took to the air in BE505, the world’s only two seat Hurricane, with R4118, the only remaining airworthy Mk 1 Hurricane to have taken part in the Battle of Britain, and the aircraft Jeff worked on, flying alongside.

Jeff, who lives in Evesham, Worcestershire, said: “I have great memories of the plane. Of all the aircraft I dealt with, that was the one that stuck in my mind. It was unbelievable to be able to see that aircraft again, that it had survived.”

Jeff’s amazing story first come to light when he gave an interview with Air Mail, the RAF Association’s member magazine. The team realised that the Hurricane Jeff worked on had not only been restored but was still flying.

The Association immediately got in touch with James Brown, the current owner of the R4118 Hurricane. James runs Hurricane Heritage, an organisation based at the historic White Waltham Airfield where visitors can experience flying in and alongside these iconic aircraft.

James arranged for Jeff to come to the airfield with his family and jump in the cockpit and take to the skies.

James said: “The story is just an unbelievable coincidence and it’s so incredibly lucky to have found Jeff. I just couldn’t believe that there was this amazing guy who was still around and actually remembers working on our Hurricane.”

Is there video, you ask? Why yes, there is, and it’s three and a half minutes of good, good stuff. The last minute or so especially, when the in-flight footage of those two beautiful old Hurries tooling along in close right echelon kicks in.

During the in-flight sequence of the vid, after his unique check-ride, Brereton says:

The main signal he gave me…he said if you’ve had enough put your thumbs down, and I’ll get you down to the ground as quickly and safely as we can. But I didn’t want to, I was putting them up, I want to go up. And it was that feeling, that sort of feeling that…you can’t have that feeling on earth. You see the same clouds and things, but they don’t look the same, they’re not the same, they don’t feel the same. Just wonderful, I can’t wait to go again. I can’t.

Well said, sir. You just put into words the sensation that makes the miracle of powered flight in a piston-engine aircraft so incredibly addictive. I can’t imagine there’s an aviator alive who didn’t smile and nod his head knowingly in complete agreement with everything you just said. God bless you, Jeff.

Further details of Jeff Brereton’s RAF days perusable here.

(Via Bayou Peter)


3 thoughts on “Powerful moment, powerful story

  1. “… the miracle of powered flight in a piston-engine aircraft…”

    Ain’t it just the truth. My first flight was in a Cessna 170 taildragger. 1958, 5 years old, dressed in my best cowboy attire! Long forgotten are the details but not the trip. My dad took me up with a pilot friend.
    Over the years as a teen I went up various times with different people, usually in a Cessna, occasionally in a Piper. At 17 I took my first flight in a sailplane, the ubiquitous Schweizer. Shortly after that I started the dual track of flying power and the sailplanes. Back then you could rent a fueled Cessna 152 for $35 and hour and after my solo I often flew the 152 around on a cross country trip with a return to home. I *think* we were making around 6 bucks an hour in our summer jobs those days so I was fortunate that my parents were willing to fund much of this activity.

    1. We need a couple pics, N numbers deleted, just off the internets, Cessna 170 and Schweizer 2-33

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