Primarily for general aviation discussion, but other aviation topics are also welcome.
#1670206
I’ve been reading one of my Christmas pressies: “Spitfire: A Very British Love Story” by John Nichol.

It’s been a good, easy read so far –mainly an anthology of recollections by various pilots about flying Spits in different theatres, most of which are new to me.

However, I’ve been particularly struck by F/O Greggs Farish the engineering officer for 72 Squadron who, with only a very limited amount of dual time under his belt, decided to take a Spitfire Mark V to the beachhead landing strip near Anzio to repair a stranded Spitfire Mark IV. He had never flown solo before, let alone flown a Spit, but managed to get there and land. He then went on to repair 3 Spitfires, much of the time under fire.

He was court-martialed for his troubles, on the grounds of:

(a) An act likely to cause damage to one of His Majesty’s aircraft in that not being a qualified pilot he improperly and without authority took off and flew a Spitfire.
(b) Conduct to the prejudice of good order and Air Force Discipline he flew the same aircraft without authority contrary to K.R. and A.C.I. para. 693.

Has anyone heard of this escapade before? And are there any others out there like this?

He was convicted on both counts and sentenced to a reprimand and loss of seniority, but the book goes on to say this latter sanction was subsequently cancelled.

To my mind he deserved a gallantry award, but what do I know. I’m glad that the book brings this little known story of practical bravery a bit more into the public domain.
Dave W, Iceman liked this
#1670233
Good God, no! The last thing we skygods want is the idea getting out there that flying is easy enough that someone with little or no training can make a go of it!
Even in wartime, or perhaps especially in wartime, standards must be maintained or we'll lose the charisma that being a pilot gives us.
;)
Rob P liked this
#1670239
The repairing of the Spitfires under fire deserves an award, but pinching one of His Majesty’s finest and flying it when unqualified and unauthorised to do so then he deserves to be nicked in my humble opinion. Otherwise, if you endorse this type of behaviour, then every person who thinks its a good idea then gets tacit approval to do as they wish and a chaotic series of flights ensue by anyone from the Cook and Bottle-washers to the Chief Clerk thinking it OK to do so! This would have been a different story if he had pancaked into the sea, crumped on landing, got shot down or even just run out of fuel - losing a valuable set of assets (an engineer and Spitfire).
patowalker, AlanC, tomshep liked this
#1670345
Funnily enough, I was at White Waltham in the summer last year and noticed a BBMF Spit being taxied across the airfield from the far hangars to the pumps with a female mechanic sat on the tailplane. I'm sure there is probably some sort of check in place to make sure she's hopped off before takeoff. I mean, you really wouldn't want your organisation to make such a mistake twice would you? :wink:
#1670362
On a slight tangent, but on Spitfires restored to airworthiness in unauthorised circumstances ..

There is the well-researched and -told story of the 'Silver Spitfire' (2013, by W/Cdr Tom Neil), found abandoned in France, anonymised, then flown by Neil on his RAF liaison duties with the USAAC until someone noticed that parts and maintenance effort were being used on it.

There is the probably less well-known story of the 125 Sqn RCAF* Spitfire at Torbay, which is now St John's Airport in Newfoundland. 3 crated Spitfires were deck cargo on a freighter in a Westbound convoy caught in a bad storm. Rather than proceeding to Halifax, the freighter limped into St John's for repairs, and the deck cargo was offloaded. The Spitfires were destined for the US for evaluation, so they had no RAF serials. The crates were badly damaged, and the UK authorities wrote off the aircraft. Newfoundlanders, being at the end of the supply chain from both Britain and North America, can fix anything :) Out of the 3 aircraft one airworthy and supposedly combat-ready Spitfire was created, and flown for some time with 125 Sqn alongside its Canadian-built Hurricanes. It was grounded and scrapped when word eventually reached the UK authorities.

*Confusingly, not the same as 125 (Newfoundland) Sqn RAF, which was operational in UK.
#1670619
johnm wrote:Rules are made for the guidance of wisemen and the blind obedience of fools.

I sense a wiseman persecuted by fools :D


Sadly, that attitude (and quote) cost Bader his legs in his Bristol Bulldog... :shock:

It always amuses me when I hear it quoted in an aviation context.
kanga liked this
#1670656
gaznav wrote:
johnm wrote:Rules are made for the guidance of wisemen and the blind obedience of fools.

I sense a wiseman persecuted by fools :D


Sadly, that attitude (and quote) cost Bader his legs in his Bristol Bulldog... :shock:

It always amuses me when I hear it quoted in an aviation context.


What makes you think Bader was a wise man.?