Sorry, only just seen this thread for the first time, and my mind immediately went back about 47 years. Flying was always my "first love" and, living then in Andover, I used to spend many spare hours mooching around RAF Andover. I should say at this point that I wasn't a completely sad so and so--there was a Group Captain's daughter that I was also mooching around, but that's another story.
Anyhow, I was hanging about the Safety Equipment store on one occasion, when a large Lagonda pulled up. Of course, being also a car nut, I just had to talk to the driver who, after a few minutes of conversation, introduced himself as John Fairey. He quickly perceived my obvious enthusiasm for flying and mentioned that he was about to "go up", and if I drew a 'chute from SE, would I care to take a trip with him?
I can't now remember if he'd already mentioned his aircraft and I'm pretty certain that, at the time, I didn't know that he owned it, but of course, it turned out to be G-AIDN. Reading the very knowledgeable comments posted on here, I'm sure that my feelings on finding out that I was about to have a trip in this aircraft require no further description.
Waddling out from the tower on a grass airfield with a leather helmet, Mk. 7 goggles and a seat 'chute on, to this boyhood vision already connected to her Trolleyac-- of course, it was the last week of August 1940 for me! The fact she was pale blue, had another seat in the rear and was, I think, an ex-Irish Air Force trainer meant nothing.
John got me seated, and gave strict instructions on not getting my feet wrapped up in the flying controls, very clearly visible beneath an open panel in the floor beneath my seat, and then the moment.... The whine of the starter, the seemingly huge prop turning over, couple of coughs, smoke and then, that noise. In reality, in the back seat I had no notion of the Merlin "sound", just a bloody big engine doing it's thing, but....
In the back one could see even less than the pilot when taxying out, and the weaving for a view was quite alarming as the narrow track made her seem quite unstable on the bumpy 'field, but we arrived and turned into wind, accompanied in my mind, by 242 Squadron! Checks, brakes, full chat and off over the Hampshire countryside. John lived near Stockbridge and we buzzed his house, where his wife waved at us, obviously alerted by that sound. Similarly, Stockbridge schoolkids out for lunch, waving at what must have been then still a familiar shape to them.
Back at Andover, taxy in, switch off, silence, apart from the cooling engine.
John asking, "Did you enoy it?"
Of all the dumb questions! I could hardly speak, and even now, as I write this, I have "something in my eye".
He took me on another occasion, just as memorable, out over Thruxton where, some years earlier I'd learnt to drive.
In a way, I feel it's a shame that she later lost her identity, along with her second seat, and became "just" another warbird.
Edited by johnthebridge, 15 May 2012 - 13:38.