Linton GIN - 1 FTS 50 Anniversary flight

Although this wasn't an official Linton GIN flight, it was undertaken by 3 of the 1969 team.

On 18 December 1969, Dave Waddington lead a flight of 3 JP's to Boscombe. They landed. On the 19th they flew from Bscombe to Netheravon , "touched down" & then returned to Linton.

2 of the 3 aircraft were each carrying a sack full of Post Office First Day Covers.

Dave flew XR666 / 47 & John Bishop ( '69 Reserve ) in XR700. Joe Whitfield ( I think ) was the piloting the 3rd aircraft. I'm afraid I don't know which aircraft Joe was in.

Only Dave & John carried the first day covers. Each fdc had a stamp on it, naming the pilot & aircraft used.

Here's a scan of Dave's fdc.

John's is almost identical. The only difference being the aircraft serial number & name in the blue stamp

As usual there is a story behind the flight with the covers.

Here is what John had to say about the flights etc.

I think Gp Capt Lewis decided who would go, but I can't be sure about that. It was supposed to be 2 of us, but as I recall there wasn't enough room for all the first day covers.

It was very much an official occasion, celebrating 50 years of No 1 Flying Training School (i.e. 'ours'), and, as you see, it was Prince Charles on the stamp. The first day covers were split 50/50, i.e. I signed half. There was a huge number of them: 15,000 as I recall. It took absolutely ages to sign half. We sat together doing it.

We in fact flew them from Linton to Boscombe Down on 18 Dec 1969, and we were driven over to Netheravon for something of a party with the CO and everyone.

I was in XR700 throughout, and solo. The problem was (as I recall) that we had to fly on the anniversary day: 19 December 1969, but the original location of No. 1FTS - Netheravon was covered in snow. So we did a rather hairy series of turns (an unrehearsed flat show!) at very low level, then did a couple of touch and go landings. I nearly came to grief, as the wheels dig into the snow, and even with full power I wasn't accelerating. Luckily, Netheravon is far from flat, and, at the end of the strip the ground fell away - allowing my wheels to pull away from the snow. I really thought I wasn't going to get airborne, so it's an 'incident' that's emblazoned in my memory.

Dave led us. He took us twice between the water tower and air traffic control - and there were rather small things at Netheravon!

Anyway, this was altogether yet another exciting incident.

I recall that we phoned the Netheravon CO to see if he'd enjoyed the flypast, and he said "Flypast? What flypast? I didn't see a thing!" - alluding to our rather adventurous flying, no doubt.

XR666 was scrapped less than 2 years later.
XR700 was struck off charge in 1971. The cockpit survives in Belfast.

If you have further details of the first day covers, please feel free to use the "contact" link on the left.