WW2 pilots slip earthly bonds again
By Kate Witherspoon
World War 2 fighter pilots soared through the skies again in a Tiger Moth aircraft on Sunday, above Cato Ridge near Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal.
Six pilot veterans who were stationed in Italy during World War 2, gathered to reminisce about their training days.
The retired pilots were given a flip in a Tiger Moth for the first time in about 60 years amid much excitement and refreshed memories.
Poynter is in the process of reconstructing another Tiger Moth
Cecil Marshall, a member of the SAAF Association, Durban branch, organised the day with Lance Poynter, who owns a reconstructed Tiger Moth.
There are only about 10 Tiger Moths left in South Africa.
Poynter is in the process of reconstructing another Tiger Moth that he bought in Kenya.
Poynter took the veterans on flips around the area in his Tiger Moth, and they also had the opportunity to fly in an Aeronea Chief and a microlite.
The retired pilots enthused about the sense of freedom
"It was hectic at times," said Marshall, who went on 101 missions.
Reg Sweet, former Daily News Sports Editor, who last flew in a Tiger Moth 70 years ago, said it was "quite superb".
"It brought back a lot of memories," he said.
The retired pilots enthused about the indescribable thrill of flying in an open cockpit again.
Sweet explained that the Tiger Moth could cruise at about 136km/h and reach about 6 000 feet in altitude.
"We trained in these, but we flew Spitfires in the war. They were like projectiles," said Sweet.
Poynter, who was a passenger in a Tiger Moth in 1993, decided he had to have one of his own and began the painstaking process of restoring the old Tiger Moth that the veterans were fortunate enough to fly in on Sundy.
"You're flying with the Greats," said Poynter when asked how it was to pilot the war veterans.
The retired pilots enthused about the sense of freedom that came when they lifted off the ground. "You leave all the politics and worries below you. You're flying like a bird," said Duncan Howes.
They recalled the poem, High Flight by pilot John Magee that has become a mantra to generations of pilots: "Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth/And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings. "
Published on the Web by IOL on 2001-03-12 09:55:22
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