A quick weekend trip saw a large number of new items arrive at our home all of which will provide valuable engineering information to help us get RB396 in the air.
Dave Robinson (project founder and trustee) left home in Staffordshire at 2.30am on Saturday, shortly after the last of the snow fell, to rendezvous with Graham Green (air show event organiser and member) at Folkestone to catch the Eurotunnel to Calais. What followed was a whirlwind trek which took in 4 countries, 1200 miles and meeting with three dedicated groups who do fantastic work remembering the aircrews lost within their respective countries.
The first appointment was in den Dolder, not far from Amsterdam, to meet with Erwin representing Sitchting Legerplaats Soesterberg 39-45. The group investigate all aspects of the conflict in their region however, when they came to see us a Flying Legends this year they told us that they had some of the recovered parts from Typhoon MN912 which included a large section of rear wing spar, flap and wing root among other items. These were the largest surviving sections of these particular items that we had come across in almost 20 years of research, an exciting event. We spent a few hours looking at all the parts they had recovered and learning about all the work they had been doing in the local area.
After enjoying some home made soup and coffee, to stave off the cold, we bid farewell and headed 450km across the Netherlands, Belgium and into France our destination was a town called Senlis and the comfort of a warm hotel room ready for our next meeting. The next day we had a 9am meeting with Eric Fardel from Association des Sauveteurs d’Aviateurs Alliés (A.S.A.A) in a small town called Sacy-le-Grand. We had been in contact for a couple of years and Eric had kindly agreed to allow the front spar from Typhoon JR523, that had claimed the life of F/O Henry Hector MacKenzie RCAF, to come back to England. We finally had the chance to meet and it was a really nice moment to finally meet Eric and Dominique and to see the wonderful memorial that they had dedicated to Henry.
Eric had a surprise for us when he presented us with a number of other items from Henry’s Typhoon, this included the surviving header tank, webbing from the front wing spars where the cannon are mounted and a number of other significant items. Like the wing spars and flap from the day before these were items that we had not seen in almost 20 years of research, another big thank you to Eric, Dominique and A.S.A.A for entrusting us to look after these items and helping to get RB back into the air.
Our final destination was 100km to the north of Sacy-le-Grand in a town near Pozieres in the Somme. A truly British feel to the meeting point, a cafe called Le Tommy dedicated to the first world war battlefield and in particular the town of Pozieres. Here we were meeting Pierre, Jean-Michel and many friends from Somme Aviation 39-45 and the local area.
Pierre has spent many years researching air crashes in his province and has built up an amazing museum dedicated to all air crew. Each item, including many very heavy engines, has been painstakingly cleaned and prepared for display by Pierre and he opened his door to us for his amazing collection (it was also the centre of attention for many residents throughout the day).
The visit was not just to see the museum but to pick up some additional parts from Typhoon JP600 XP-K, many structural components had been dropped off already when Pierre and his friends visited our home but these were the items they could not fit in their van. Once again we have to say thank you to Pierre for entrusting us with all the items from JP600 and helping is to get RB back into the air, they supply invaluable information even from parts that appear to be damaged beyond recognition.
Reluctantly we said our goodbye’s to everyone as we had another 150km to catch our train back to Folkestone, another 150 miles to our home to drop everything back at our home and a further 190 miles to end the weekend at 1.30am Monday morning.
We have to say a big thank you to everyone once again, without public support and the support from the dedicated groups on the continent we would not be able to work towards completing RB, a fitting tribute to all the crews and their sacrifices.
All items will be on display at our next open day on Sunday 25th March. Come along, meet some of the team, have a look at RB and some very historic items, enjoy a cuppa and consider supporting the project. Help us to create a truly fitting memorial to all the crews.