April 2012 Issue

In this Issue:

The Nick De Bruyne Trophy by Don Lord

Angela Waller ‘Before there were Trolley Dollies’ an extract from her talk at the Southern Strut March meeting by Dave Websdale

New Event: Gliding Evening at Ringmer in May

Extract from the Archives

The Nick De Bruyne Trophy

A silver cup trophy mounted on a base with attached shields.

Nick De Bruyne was a young pilot well known and liked around Shoreham and Redhill Tiger Club. In his early twenties he had gained his commercial Licence and was flying out of Gatwick.

He returned one afternoon and meet-up with two pilot friends who (it is thought) were just going on a jolly to Norwich to do some instrument approaches. On the way the aircraft came down killing all three.

Nick’s father and mother were personal friends of Ken and Audrey Browne who together with friends at Shoreham, the Southern Strut and the Tiger club raised the money for this trophy.

The trophy was first awarded in 1972 and was for several years awarded to the winner of a navigation contest held during the Strut Fly-Ins at Shoreham. When Shoreham pulled the plug on our Fly-Ins it was awarded to the pilot who had made the most meritorious flight with navigation during the past year. This ended with the advent of GPS and has since been awarded for various achievements. The last recipient being Farry mostly for organising the Fly-Ins at Redhill and his work within the Strut.

Hand in your nominations for the next winner, email or phone.

Don Lord

Got something aeronautical to sell? Tell the strut about it. Put a small-ad in the Strut Newsletter.

Angela Waller: Before there were Trolley Dollies

An extract from her talk at the Southern Strut March meeting

After living abroad for a number of years My husband and I moved back to England to live, and found that people were referring to young women working for the airlines as Trolley Dollies. I have never heard this term used anywhere else in the world, only in England. They used to be Flight Attendants, before that Stewardesses and before that they were Air Hostesses which is where I started.

It was at the time seen to be a glamorous job, but it was not always so. A friend of mine was on duty one day when a lady was sick in her sick bag and so as not to draw too much attention to the situation, the bag was picked up by the Hostess and replaced with a new one. As she walked away to the galley, the woman called out “ Miss – Miss my false teeth came out when I was sick and they are in that bag!” One of the times when this job is not so glamorous.

My first job was with a small airline ( The Hunting Clan) and on my first day, I and three other girls were interviewed by the chief hostess. Her first words were “There have been 5000 applications for your job and we have decided to employ the four of you”. “I don’t want you to be under any illusions, if we ever have even one complaint, there will be no questions asked, there will be no investigation, you will loose your job”. “By the way, welcome to the Airline”.

The original terms of contract (which I still have) stated that you had an automatic resignation on marriage and an automatic resignation on your thirtieth birthday. The contract however was eventually changed, and after your thirtieth birthday it was reviewed and renewed on a yearly basis at the airlines discretion.

In 1957 which was just 12 years after the war, everything was still in short supply and most of the airlines were made up of converted ex-military aircraft such as the Viking, the Valetta (based on the Wellington) the York, the Viscount and later on the DC6.

The largest aircraft I ever worked on was the Britannia which was nicknamed the “Whispering Giant” except when you were inside it was very noisy. At this time the crew consisted of the Captain, First Officer, Radio / Navigator, Flight Engineer and one Air Hostess carrying 30 passengers.

1957 was the beginning of the Charter service which at the time, due to the cost involved, was mainly used for the Middle class well off people. It was ideal for business men and others using it for ski-ing holidays. Remembering that wages were very low at this time, a holiday for two weeks including the flight, hotel and breakfast to the Costa destinations would cost around £32.

We also flew the Businessman’s Special which was an incredible amount of work for the single stewardesses. This involved flights to Amsterdam and Brussels taking business men on their trips and returning with some Dutch or Belgium passengers. Later on that evening a return flight was made to pick up the business men and return to Heathrow. This involved selling duty free goods, serving a three course meal followed by coffee and biscuits and storing everything away before landing remembering that the flight only took 56 minutes.

All airliners at this time were not pressurized and rarely ever flew above 10,000 feet. Even to this day airlines never use the word “accident” it is referred to as an “incident” and a crash or any involvement resulting in the injury to passengers or crew is referred to as an “Emergency”.

We were trained in first aid and at one stage we were fitted with a life jacket in a swimming pool and had to swim to an upturned life raft, manhandled the life raft the right way up and pull people in.

We were told that a Viscount would normally float for two minutes which doesn’t seem very long to get 30 passengers out safely.

Today all airports are basically the same with large multi-story concrete buildings, whereas when I started all buildings were single story some of Nissan huts including Heathrow. When landing at foreign airports such as in the Mediterranean, they would consist of low single story buildings covered with roses, honeysuckle and other flowers which could be smelt as soon as the door was open. In other countries such as Austria and Switzerland the airport buildings would consist of Chalet type wooden log cabins.

On my first flight as a hostess on my own was a flight to Belfast returning some Muslim Pakistani sailors who had been on leave while their ship was being re-fitted. We were in a York and I started handing out the trays of food and after delivering the first three rows, I was aware of a commotion behind me. The trays were on the floor and the men were in a panic. All the cold food was packaged, but the catering service had issued them with a ham salad meal. They could not even touch the plates which had to be cleared up. None of them had the meal except for one man who was their Chinese cook and he had two as there were plenty of spares. Luckily it was only a short flight.

We also did long flights to Nairobi which took three days, flying by day and staying in the hotel with the passengers overnight. When larger aircraft were later used, it meant they could fly direct and this was the end of an era.

On a trip to Norway we had shown the passenger around the Fiords and were preparing to land when the pilot noticed that the nose wheel did not seem to be locked. He informed me and said don’t tell the passengers and that in his opinion it was just a faulty indicator light, but to be on the safe side he was going to get the air traffic controllers to look at it in a fly past. With the passengers strapped in, he flew very low around the control tower a few times and they said it looked OK to them. With that he decided to land and made a perfect landing. It turned out to be as he thought, a faulty indicator bulb. On leaving the aircraft many of the passengers asked me to thank the pilot very much for the flight, “it was the best landing ever and we have never seen the Fiords like that before”.

In 1958 we were the first airline in the world to paint our tail a bright red and upon landing we were subjected to our rival airline crews singing “Red tails in the sunset”. Three months later, BOAC decide to paint their tail a bright blue. It did not look very good. As with our airline the Union Jack was also painted on the tail, but the blue of the flag merged with the blue of the tail. They re-designed it by outlining the flag in white which made it stand out and it was very impressive. However it was now our chance to get our own back on our rivals. We reminded them that the Royal Navy always flew the Union Jack with a white outline to denote that there was no pilot aboard.

I hold a world record in Australia, the only one I own. We had flown into Perth and after breakfast the Captain said “See you all in the bar at six o-clock”. I went down to the lobby at the appointed time, but could not see the bar. At the other side of the lobby I saw an alcove with a lot of cigarette smoke and at the back was a bar with our crew sitting at a table. The captain asked me what I would like to drink and I said a gin & tonic. When the captain asked for my drink the barman said “She can’t drink in here, ladies drink in the lounge”. The captain said “She is one of the crew, She drinks with us”. I therefore became the first woman to drink in the public bar in Australia.

We did quite a few film charters which involved transporting actors, technicians, camera crews and their equipment around the world. On one occasion I asked some of them what film they were about to work on and it turned out that it was another Tarzan film although I did not recognize anybody on the flight.

One of the young actors was very chatty and spent some time talking to me on this trip. Five weeks later we returned to pick them up for their return flight to Heathrow. Again I had a pleasant flight back with some long conversations with this actor and as we were about to land at Heathrow, I was stowing the gear in the galley when I noticed him at the door. He handed me a folded up menu saying that it had a message on it. I said thank you very much but he must go back to his seat for the landing. I quickly put the menu in my flight bag and forgot all about it as I was busy. The following morning I found the menu and the note written on it said “Miss Austin I love you, signed Sean Connery.”

This was a short extract from Angela’s talk and she has a book for sale on her life as an air hostess which can be obtained from most book shops priced £7.99.

Dave Websdale

Gliding evening at Ringmer May 22nd

A glider landing in front of trees.

Tony has booked for an evening of gliding with East Sussex Gliding Club at Ringmer on Tuesday 22nd May 2012. Flying begins at approximately 5.45pm and finishes at dusk. The price for a group is only £22 per person and must be paid by Cash or Cheque on the evening. If time permits (depending on the weather and size of the group) there may be opportunities for additional lessons, for which the price is reduced still further to £10.

We had a brilliant evening there last year. If you haven’t been in a glider, the experience is surprising; on take-off, acceleration is as fast as an F1 car!

Rounded off with a meal and a pint in the pub down the road.

Dave Websdale’s Archive Extracts

From my collection of old Strut Newsletters, here are some excerpts published during the month of March in the 1990’s.

First an excerpt from March 1990 in the project news section by Chris Foss under the heading “How’s Zebedee doing?”

It’s an embarassing question frequently asked and after a slight pause, I normally respond “Fine” and hope the questioner will go away.

Zebedee” for those new to our Strut, is or rather was, G-BFZB an 85 hp Piper Cub operated by the Zebedee Flying Group under the fatherly control of Philip Ansell.

I bought into the group in 1984, having yet to obtain a PPL, but with a few hundred gliding hours in the log book.

There was no denying that on close inspection Zebedee was rather tatty, and as the annual permit came up for renewal there was talk of a major airframe strip down and recover.

However, permits came and went until one day late in 1987 it was decided to look out for a replacement Cub so that Zebedee could be taken out of service for its long promised rebuild. Fellow group member Adrian Brook (well known aeroplane collector) and myself tracked down G-OCUB, a 90 hp J-3 Cub, residing in Swindon dismantled but sound.

A price was agreed and we bought it between us for the group and duely collected it on a four ton truck.

For the first few months of 1988 the group operated both Cubs together until Zebedee’s permit came up for renewal in April.

On the ninth day of that month each member will have an entry in their log books – “flew Zebedee for the last time”.

Zulu Bravo was dismantled in the main hangar soon afterwards with some difficulty in removing the tail plane as both halves had rusted.

Having a substantial garage extension at home I offered to house Zebedee and assist with the rebuild.

There it remained until one rainy day when Philip, Adrian and myself set to and converted a recognisable aeroplane into a rusty metal framework and several cardboard boxes. Since then there has been little progress due to the lack of spare time and partly due to the face that we have another Cub to fly.

Recently however, with the assistance of “Vic the welder” the “birdcage” channel section around the wing roots were replaced, purely on cosmetic grounds.

Following this, the fuselage was trailered down to Arundel for bead blasting, priming and spraying.

Zebedee still flies – in parts on loan! The struts are on G-BDOL whilst Una has hers tested, the ASI is on loan to G-SCOM and G-OCUB has the prop as the original metal one was unpopular amongst prop-swingers.

The second excerpt was taken from a Newsletter in March 1995 and was a piece written by Alan Clark entitled “From the Easy Chair” who was Strut Chairman at the time.

Funny old world!

Wanting to get our fly-in organised, I went to the tower at Shoreham and talked to John Haffenden.

The starting point was the cost. Last year, you may remember we had a block price for the day regardless of how many aircraft arrived so I was looking for a similar deal this summer.

Yes, that was possible but the price was now £500.

Why the massive rise? 150% even.

It seems the airport is a business and has to make a profit.

It was suggested to me that I approach some companies for sponsorship – C J Fox or Ricardo for instance.

My reaction to that was, as a Strut, we are non profit making and do not want to be seen as having income beyond our subscriptions and we have little or no connection with either of the companies mentioned.

If sponsorship is required to meet the costs, I put it to John that as the airport is a business and the Strut collectively must be one of the main users through hangarage and movements, then the airport is our best chance of sponsorship.

It seemed logical to me.

Would the airport sponsor us please for one day with free landings for all visitors?

NO was the answer, so there I was flying the proverbial lead balloon.

Meanwhile Trevor had broached the subject with Goodwood Airfield.

The answer being – Yes to free landings. Anything else you want? How about some prizes?

And this is how it happened.

We seem to have little or no credibility at our home airfield. Sad really.

[Perhaps the new management might see some ‘business sense’ in a fly-in now? Perhaps I won’t hold my breath… Ed.]