Residents from a local retirement village near Dunchurch visited RAF Cosford Museum to celebrate 100 years of the RAF, but little did Judith Carter, the event organiser know, there would be an extra surprise in store for her in the shape of the world’s first jet airliner.
Judith’s father was one of the designers who had worked on the de Havilland Comet, but she had no idea that the groundbreaking aircraft was situated just an hour down the road.
Judith was reminded of her father who worked for a local engineering company when she stepped inside Hangar Number One. She clearly remembers the notorious test phase when three Comets broke up shortly after take off in 1953 and 1954 due to metal fatigue and was fascinated to see one close up, at the exhibition.
Judith organised the trip to RAF Cosford to join in the Centenary celebrations and commemorate this significant milestone. Many residents at Lime Tree Village have connections to the RAF and Cosford, either serving in the RAF through National Service or working in the force.
“I was a national serviceman at RAF Ternhill in 1953-54 as a medic. We regularly took patients to RAF Cosford Hospital. A break was often taken at the Spiders Web cafe, (probably named after the layout of the hospital) adjacent to the camp. On our recent visit to Cosford, the hospital and cafe were no longer there. The cold war exhibition of aircraft, rockets, and vehicles was both excellent and sobering and well worth the visit,” said Reg Stubbs.
Resident Jenny Bessant was excited to see a Rapier Missile. Her late husband, a Squadron Leader, worked with this type of missile about 30 years ago, frequently going on exercises. Although she never knew quite what was involved she said it was good to see the real thing for the first time.
Other memorabilia enjoyed by Judith and her fellow residents included bombers such as the Victor and the Vulcan. They even had a Red Baron flight simulator, which sprinkled the participating ‘pilot’ with water for extra effect, but the highlight of the day for Judith, was the Red Arrow flight simulator. The experience involved wearing a pair of 4D glasses, along with vibrating seats for take off and smoke to make the experience as close to real like as possible.
Judith said: “It was an amazing experience, I really enjoyed it and now wish I had gone on the Red Baron simulator too.”
She continued: “It was a lovely day and RAF Cosford is a fascinating place to visit. They had added little touches to make the day more memorable by serving tea in tin mugs and offering small souvenirs to buy. The simulators were great fun and I will definitely be bringing my grandchildren here next time they are visiting from Australia.”