Freddy Lakers Company: Air Charter LTD
operated a fleet of following aircrafts
De Havilland DH89 Dragon Rapide
Sight seeing around Hamburg
The Bristol Freighter 170 transported:
passengers, cars and trucks.
2 Bristol Hercules 734 engines:
| Longdistance Aircraft: Passenger or Freight
4 Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines
ea.: 1297PS max. Speed: 480km/h;
| Longdistance Aircraft: Passenger or Freight
4 Rolls Royce Merlin 621 engines
ea.: 1795 PS max. Speed: 475km/h;
| A total of 1143 built
P+W 1830 engines; 32 Passengers
This aircraft was also in action during the Vietnam and Korean War.
| P+W 2000 Engines; 72 Passengers
First flight during the 2. World War
It started on the 18th of June 1948
The Russians closed off all roads, canals, railways but not the air routes to Berlin. You may remember Berlin was divided into four sectors: French, British, USA + Russian. The Russians were hoping that the others would give up and leave Berlin to them. The intention was to starve two million people.
East Germany had it’s own East Mark currency, which over the years was getting worthless. The East German economy was in poor shape. In no time at the entire East Mark was devalued:
four East Mark was equivalent to one West Mark.
Needless to mention all the East Germans tried to work in the west. With cheap labour the three western sectors were being rebuilt. Actually this was the reason for the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.
The west started to fly into Berlin with the bare essentials: salt, flour, coal etc.
The yanks with DC-3's + DC-4's, the French did not have much except the Breguet, the British with Halifax, Tudors, Hastings and of course the Avro York.
A documentary "The Berlin Airlift" by the yanks, not very much was mentioned about the British or the French. Two-and-half-million tons were flown into Berlin between 18th of June 1948 and 11th of May 1949.
Twenty-five percent by the British, in which Freddy Laker played a major roll.
I was attached to rectification + inspection r + 1 of transport command of the Royal Airforce Lyneham at that time. I was in the repair division, where I got experience on the Avro York. It was described by the yanks as a "4 engine - 3 fin limey box cart". Churchill, Montgomery, Mountbatten had each one, operated and serviced in Lyneham.
I was de-mobbed. Got a civilian suit, a hat and 11,- £ in June 1951.
I was in a pub: the white horse in Swindon, drinking a black + tan, half a beer + half a Guinness, with Joe Leach. I was a bit friendly with the barman and the usual small talk.
In the course of the evening I mentioned I was looking for a job. The barman told me there was an Irishman in the lounge talking about aircraft. I went over and introduced myself to Mr. McGrath. He was breaking up an Avro York that had crashed in the area and wanted another hand. He had sacked a guy that day. He offered me a job and I took it.
Next morning he picked me up outside the pub in a truck, drove to the crashed site. He wanted to know if I could use an axe. I was instructed to start chopping off a wing. He observed my work and decided to call me the axe-man.
Three days later, we loaded Queen Mary, (a special low truck). We filled it up with wings, tail planes etc., and we delivered the load to Stansted. McGrath introduced me to Ray Hayes, their hangar foreman. He employed me for 2,11 (two shillings, 11 pence) an hour.
A cleaner got 2,6 pence top rate. Mechanics 4 shillings. I lived in a hut with 30 other guys for 10 shillings a week. When I got my wages on Friday I bought all the tools I could afford.
Some weeks later - on a Saturday night - I went to Bishop's Stortford for a few black + tans with Peter Mahedy, an Athlone-man.
On returning to the hut a card-game was in full swing. A Pakistan, 2 Indians + 2 English guys. They asked us to join them. As we had a few drinks, maybe they thought we were easy prey. The game was called "Three Card Brag". We finished at six in the morning. I had won 107,- £.
I loaned them enough, so they could live till the following Friday, when they paid me back. The losers insisted, they were entitled to revenge. Eight of us sat down. It was agreed to play two hours. At the end I was up 40,- £. They said it was the luck of the Irish and agreed never to play with me again.
The following Friday I bought a full set of automatic wrenches, screw-drivers - you name it - I bought it, which again gave me the advantage I producing more work, than a guy with a standard tool box.
Most of this story is about Freddy Laker, born in 1920, flight engineer in the Air Force. He got 40,- £ when he de-mobbed from the R.A.F. and started an airline at the age of 26 with six Halifax Bombers for 100,- £. Each which could carry eight tons, all the pilots were ex R.A.F. He also started a scrap-dealer-business. He got the idea to build an aircraft from the scrap. We collected nine crashed Avro York’s from around England.
Ray Hayes was in charge of assembling and re-building an aircraft for the next months about 50 guys worked 12 hours a day - seven days a week. It was towed out the hangar, test flown and certified by the air authorities.
The airline was called Air Charter Ltd., where as maintenance division was called A.T.E.L. Ray Hayes and Danny Garfield were running the show and decided on a bonus system. My hourly rate had been increased to 3'6''.
The bonus was very simple: you were allowed so many hours to do a job, say 6 hours - if you completed it in 4 hours - you got paid extra 2 hours.
With this system, on the very first job, Danny calculated 8 hours to remove a gondola (it is fitted to the rear of the engine, just to streamline the airflow), repair a hole about 7 inches long + four wide, which was right at the end, then re-fit it, he estimated 2 1/2 to remove, 2 1/2 to replace and 3 hours to rivet a patch.
I worked out a repair-scheme. Pop rivet two pieces - one on either side, beat them together and pop riveted them, finished the job after 2 hours.
I went to Danny for the next job.
He looked at the job and his words: you f......... and laughed. I was entitled to 6 hours bonus.
Invariably I picked up more bonuses each week then anybody else.
On its very first commercial flight it was destined for Lyneham - my old Air Force base.
The captain made an error, or one of the instruments was incorrect, anyway it was flown into a hill 400 yards from the end of the run-a-way - a complete right off. The insurance paid up and Freddy bought two like new from the R.A.F. with this money.
Peter and myself were selected to work in Hamburg. We arrived on a Tuesday and I started on the night-shift repairing defects, which occurred during the day. At this time we operated 3 Avro York’s and a Bristol freighter. We worked three shifts: early, late + night. On each shift 3 British and 6 Germans - 24 hours a day - seven days a week.
Again a bonus was introduced: 4,- DM (German Mark) for each mechanic for each flight to Berlin + return with aircraft doing 16 flights a day. Pilots got 6,- DM. The results: aircraft were flown when they shouldn't, because of the unserviceable system, money has a way of convincing people.
More work had to be done during the night. Freddy was a good businessman.
On one of those nights we had to change a block on a Rolls Royce Merlin 500 engine. It was a "V" type with 2 blocks, 6 cylinders each. We finished at 5 o'clock in the morning, test-run the engine, it was o.k. Half an hour after take-off it exploded.
Freddy Laker dropped by at 7 o'clock wanting to know who dropped a spanner in the works. The fact: it cost him 25.000,- £ didn't appear to aggravate him. I reminded him that people that did not make mistakes did not do anything.
The Bristol Freighter MK170 with Hercules 700 type engines had a loss of power. Ray Beattle and myself were on night shift. By standing a bit back from the engine during test-run and observing the exhaust, we could establish one spark plug was not firing. We changed the plug, tried again, still the same. We decided to change the ignition lead. Ray being the electrician was responsible. Unfortunately the leads were crossed in error. We cut the wrong one. It turned into a nightmare. We had to remove the engine, it took 14 days work to change harness, because we just about had to disassemble the complete engine.
Freddy came by. I will never forget this scene, it was like in a courthouse: one question after another until he said:
“You fools - you cut the wrong lead! “
I was the supervisor, so he addressed me, why the hell I did not tell straight out and not try to pull the wool over his eyes.
Later I regretted, when it dawned to me that it was a warranty-claim against the engine-manufacturer.
The same Bristol 170, which was a new one he bought from the factory. I was checking the engine oil contents. It appeared overfilled after 6 hours of flight. I removed some to have it analysed. There was de-icer-fluid mixed in it.
We drained the whole system and cleared the aircraft for flight. We thought somebody made a mistake, but two days later the same problem. By now we were convinced it was sabotage. 48 hours later we grounded the aircraft. By now all the technicians had a go to explain how this could happen. One of our English guys, that most of us considered an alcoholic, was coming on shift.
I had written up on the blackboard every event that had taken place. He looked at it and said it was very simple. When de-icer system was operated, it is connected to vacuum pump; so two pipes were rubbing together. The minute he said it, I knew he was right, but it still took us a day to find it.
This same Bristol Freighter was approaching Berlin to land in Tempelhof Airport at night. The pilot requested the run-a-way lights to be switched "ON". At this moment the lights at Schoenefeld Airport, in the east sector, came on. Needless to say: the captain landed in the wrong airport, which is about the biggest capital sin a pilot can commit, especially as a major international scene could occur.
To make a long story short: when the crew seen Schoenefeld neon light on tower, they turned around, gave full throttle to the engines and got the hell out of there. They experienced moments of shear panic, expecting to be shot at, captured, taken to Moscow, spending years in jail and eventually be exchanged to the west for some Russian master-spy.
However they flew low over Berlin in case a Mig Jet Fighter came after them and landed safely in Tempelhof. The aircraft was half an hour over-due, so while the crew were having hysterics, so was the ground staff having theirs with all possibilities running through our heads: shot down, explosion, hi-jacked etc.
You can imagine the relive and joy we experienced when the aircraft taxied in. We all retired to the airport-canteen to celebrate. The beer and Schnaps was flowing like butter-milk.
One winter-morning at seven o'clock we had four departures out of Berlin. 15 minutes apart - captain Tommy Thompson was planned to go out last - on the Bristol 170.We had a heavy snow-fall about 8 to 10 inches. Everybody gave a hand to sweep the snow off the wings. Tommy could forecast a few hours delay. The aircraft was loaded with six tons of freight plus a ton of snow on the wings and fuselage. Tommy decided to take off, estimating the snow would be blown off.
He took off from the graveyard end; I paused from sweeping snow from an Avro York. With maximum power he slowly moved down the run-a-way. In my opinion he was not going to make it and would end up in the swimming pool at the other end of the run-a-way. The gods were on his side: a hundred yards before the crash, the aircraft leaped into the air as if it was catapulted. This is known as a near miss.
Captain Johnnie Bridger was on approach into Hamburg. The co-pilot selected full flaps on instructions from Johnnie. The aircraft was near the ground and started to roll over. You imagine the wing tips being just some meters from the earth. He selected flaps and gears up, applied full power, yanked the control column over to the opposite side and prayed. The aircraft righted itself, staggered a bit, but increased altitude. Johnnie made a circuit of the airfield, made a flapless landing. He stopped the aircraft before the end of the run-a-way, but had plenty of smoking wheels and brakes.
Another near miss!
The connecting rod between the left and right flaps was broken. Peter and myself proceeded to repair. It looked fairly simple, except the rod was too long. In asking the manufacturer they told us - we should remove the wing.
Peter and myself decided to cut out about eight former, which was basically the structure of the wing.
Freddy, as usual, showed up, the wing looked a bit of a mess. He went away, not saying much. I wondered if he ever regretted owning an airline. A few days later we had fixed it and back in operation.
Captain Jennings, nick-named "The King of the Tudors", was on the way into Hannover, flying an Avro Tudor with four Rolls Royce engines. I was on board to perform a turn-around inspection, fuel etc. I was in the cockpit. Fog was forecasted. Jennings shouted out: "If you see anything speak up - it maybe your last chance". In those days we had very primitive navigation equipment.
Regulation: if you did not see the run-away at a height of 100 feet, full power was applied and diverted to Hamburg. Not Jennings: we seen the run-away at 40 feet and landed safely. Freddy's pilots were very skilled.
Take off and landings every 50 minutes, flying in snow and ice, winds, not to mention the Russian Migs, which tried to scare the hell out of you.
Captain Murphy from Skyways took off from Hamburg one morning at 7 o'clock with co-pilot and flight engineer for Berlin. They never arrived; the aircraft crashed or was shot down. All three killed.
When your time is up, you have to go!
One cold wintery day a German mechanic and myself were sent to repair an engine. Six hours later we still had not found the problem. Back into Jock's office. He wrote down everything we done, which were eight possibilities in all. At the end his words were: you worked on the wrong engine clowns.
The old principal process of elimination.
Experience does not come cheap. We could all write books on that.
"Yankee Bravo" (Y.B. the last letters of the registration) the first Douglas DC-4 Skymaster - 4 Pratt & Whitney 2000 type engines, carrying 72 passengers to be registered to a private company in England was to Freddy Laker flying refugees out of Berlin.
Those aircraft flew during the day only, maintenance done during the night. I was having it towed from the passenger ramp to the hangar and forgot to disconnect the nose gear torque links.
There was a mighty bang as the links snapped off from the piston. It was around midnight and the procedure was to ring Freddy at home in England.
His first question: which bloody idiot done that? I told him it was me, his reply after telling me what a clown I was and did I have an idea how much money he would loose: "I would have to work 20 years for him to pay for that mistake. "
He organized a nose gear fork from S.A.S.-Copenhagen to be flown to Hamburg. It was loaded into the Bristol 170 and arrived in Berlin at 16:00 hours. I installed it and got the last flight out to Hannover around 7 o'clock p.m. Next morning I was called into the office of the general manager to hear about my fate. He said, it was unfortunate and he decided I should return to Stansted.
I explained I had talked to Freddy and he gave me a twenty year contract. That was the end of that discussion.
I was doing an inspection on the Avro Tudor. It required getting through a hole in the cock-pit-floor about 10 x 15 inches and crawling under the floor to inspect the structure pneumatic pipes, electrical wires etc. There was a scream from outside "FIRE". I got out in record-time with my heart in my mouth. The drunk, I mentioned earlier that was responsible - it was a joke.
I clapped him on the ear and he hit the floor. He never complained of a bust eardrum. From that episode I suffer from claustrophobia in one form another. Before the scream "FIRE" I noticed the floor had slightly sagged. As I was not capable to continue, due to the shock, the engineer in charge had to be called out. The aircraft was grounded for seven days. A special team from Stansted were brought in to repair it.
It was usual in those days that co-pilots would perform take-off route training and landings. On this occasion Allan Hillary was captain and Tiger Milan co-pilot. During landing Tiger pulled back the power too early. The Avro York dropped like a stone on the run-a-way in Berlin. Allan got knocked out when his head hit the pedestal.
He came to, seeing the blue sky as the aircraft bounced up again. He added full power to the engines, went around again and made a smooth landing. It went off into the grass on account of burst tyres.
Peter Hardy and myself took a tractor to retrieve it. A quick glance under the wings revealed wrinkles. Tiger asked me how long before the aircraft could fly again. Oh, I told him, a couple of wings and a set of landing gears. First he thought I was joking. Unfortunately I was not.
Bob Batt, the chief inspector, arrived next day. He gave me a lesson in fixing the aircraft to ferry it to Stansted, bolting the wings with steel girders to name one of a few.
The same crew with Bob flew it back to Stansted. He asked me, did I think they would get there. I reminded him, that the aircraft done a circuit of the airport after the damage. The aircraft was repaired and put back into service 60 days later. Nobody was sacked. Freddy's motto: experience is expensive.
Six weeks after the crash in Lyneham, another aircraft was taking off from Tempelhof, when an engine caught fire. The crew had no option but crash-land in East Germany. Unfortunately Freddy Pickert, the flight engineer, got killed. The aircraft broke in two in a garden. The earth came through the opening and probably smothered him. The captain and the co-pilots could not find him. He was discovered later. The aircraft was loaded with radios, manufactured in what was left of Berlin. We were given 48 hours to get the aircraft back to the West.
The insurance paid up and Freddy bought two more.
Our third aircraft was quite a spectacular crash. The senior captain was flying and was giving training. They were doing 3-engine touch + goes in Hamburg. Freddy was on board; all engines got a loss of power. The aircraft was going down in a village called Bramfeld
Freddy pumped the throttles, which supplied enough power to miss a house and definitely saved a lot of lives. The tail wheel cut a slice on the roof of a house and the aircraft just flopped into the back garden. By the luck of God nobody was hurt.
The crew had selected the auxiliary fuel tank and forgot to change back to main tanks. Freddy was not infallible, he could make mistakes too.
He surveyed the wreck and quickly told us he wanted the number two fuel tanks for another aircraft he was re-building. His wish was not fulfilled.
Don Evans and Dusty Miller were removing the panel to get the aluminium tank out, while a scrap-dealer was cutting off the wing on the right side with an electric torch. There was residue of fuel in the system; a spark was sufficient to blow that tank 200 yards in the air. What can I say: "When God wants you he will come and get you!"
Don + Dusty were un-scratched. Once again the insurance had to pay, again Freddy added two more Avro Yorks to the fleet.
The insurance went bankrupt and Freddy bought it, clever man!
Those three crashes happened in a very short period of time. It took another 12 years till the next aircraft hit a mountain in Turkey, a double crew, mostly old-timers from the Berlin Airlift were all killed.
Sightseeing flights over Hamburg.
1952 Tommy Thompson was one of a number of pilots taking turns to fly the Rapide twin engine Double Decker carrying 12 passengers. Fifteen minutes cost DM 10,-. One Sunday afternoon he had a wheel burst (blow out).
To change a wheel: jack-up the aircraft, remove cowlings: this would have taken two hours. Business was very brisk and lots of people queued up. Anyway I picked eight strong men, got them to put their backs under the wing, ordered everybody: lift and in five minutes the wheel was changed. I got a round of applause, everybody was happy.
The Russians gave up trying to starve two million Berliner, but that did not stop East Germany with Ulbrecht trying to strangle them economically. The roads were opened and trains allowed: raw materials were allowed in, but not out.
Freddy got a contract flying out finished products, such as electric appliances, radio-equipment, finished products. Using 4 Yorks, 1 Tudor and 1 Bristol Freighter carrying about 300 tons a day totally. I was at this time qualified to sign off the above-mentioned, plus the DC-3 + DC-4 passenger aircraft, carrying refugees out of Berlin to the west.
I was sent to Berlin to turn-a-round the aircraft. One of my responsibilities was to calculate a center of gravity, so the aircraft could fly straight and level. For this a slide rule was used, filled out a weight and balance sheet and got the captain to sign. Each got a copy.
One day I could not find the slide rule and used the rule of thumb. I had used the thumb on twenty aircraft, later when I found the rule I calculated them and they were well within allowed tolerance.
The bunch of loaders were the hardest workers I ever came across, loading 9 tons in 15 minutes - aircraft after aircraft, day in and day out. Their monthly wages about DM 300,-. We were paid a salary in England, food allowance, hotel and of course the bonus, five or six times of what the loaders got.
Skyways had the same type of operation with 3 Yorks, but did not pay a bonus. I supplied the loaders with beer, food, and chocolate. For the quick turn-a-round I would in turn collect from the crew. I wonder did Freddy know, as he appeared to know everything.
Miss Gruber was Freddy's right hand in Germany with 40 technicians and about 40 aircrews. She ran the show: drivers and mini busses or vans picking and dropping off crews, organizing hotels, all payments, perdiems, rents, taxes, insurance, miscellaneous. No matter what the problem was, Miss Gruber fixed it.
I remember her getting staff out of jail and that on more then one occasion. They usually got a one-way ticket home. To run an operation like that now would take a dozen people, no computers those days.
Operations were the responsibility of the captain in command. Most of the job was crew scheduling. Those days there were no monthly limit of hours flown like today: 70 hours. He flew like the rest of them. Even though the fleet consisted of seven aircraft, 5 different models.
An other thing: pilots could fly all types, not like today a pilot has only a rating for one type of aircraft.
Technical: the chief engineer Jock Kelly, later replaced by Brian Williams, no computers or cartridges or micro-fish on those days: just hard back maintenance manuals, illustrated parts catalogues I.P.C., wiring diagram etc.
Each mechanic had his own set of tools, again they could inspect and repair any of the aircraft.
With the introduction of the American built aircraft the job was more complicated.
You now required two tool boxes, as American's had different sizes of wrenches to the British. The nuts and bolts were not interchangeable, not to mention spare parts: it was a nightmare! It is all changed now. Aircraft all over the world use American standards.
Freddy's team did not change very much. Jock Kelly, engineer in charge, when he had enough Brian Williams took over.
Peter Hardy was married to a German, Dusty Miller, single from Northern Ireland, Don Evans with his beautiful wife, Danny Brennan married in U.K., John Evans, single.
There was numerous staff coming and going from Stansted, depending on which inspection was due coming up.
Peter went out in the town, the Reeperbahn. He fell in love and invited the lady to a hotel. Next morning when he woke up alone in bed he called me: I should bring shoes, shirt + suit of cloth plus money to pay the hotel - he had DM 1.000- when he left the airport. He only lost money; he could have got a dose of syphilis. The lady was not a lady!
Other people can make money too - the oldest business in the world.
During the six years we worked for Freddy Laker in Germany very few holidays were taken. Usually the British guys hopped on board an aircraft that would periodically return to England for larger inspections, which was outside our capability.
Once I flew to Shannon on a Lufthansa super constellation at a cost of 35,- £ , a lot of money then.
Arriving at 2 o'clock in the morning. There was a storm blowing and we nearly had to divert to England. Shannon in those days was only for re-fuel before the next stop: Gander. I was the only one embarking. My brother Jack and his wife Margaret collected me, Paddy McNevin was driving.
My greatest memory of Germany with Air Charter was comrade-ship in the team and loyalty to Freddy Laker. If overtime was necessary, even though it was not paid as, we were on fixed salaries, there was no bitching.
Peter and myself went to a Varity-show one evening. One of the entertainers that had caught Peter's eye came and had a drink at our table. Anyway after I criticized the person, I told Peter that was not a woman. He just would not believe me. This was something he had to sort out and he went dancing. He dropped his hand and found a complete set of manly equipment, where it should be. He flung the entertainer into a corner, like a broken doll. We made a hasty exit before we could be mobbed and went around the corner for a quiet drink.
Our favourite was the "RESI". Each table with light and number overhead and a phone and a vacuum postal system. A real modern enjoyment nightclub. A first class band and the famous dancing water-show. The lights were darkened in the complete hall and behind a water-display with different colors, which had thousands of jets moving in union to some well-known symphony. Very impressive and a real attraction, especially for foreigners, who could afford it. In those days the majority of locals could not!
A Yank in uniform was sitting with Peter and myself. He wrote eight messages from the little note-block: "Will you sleep with me - Bob the yank", addressing them to various girls sitting at other tables. His strategic was: if anybody answered, regardless "like what do you think I am", well it was sufficient to start a dialogue. It was now a matter of negotiation. He got seven replies.
Peter picked up a smasher. This is the one he wanted to live with for the rest of his life. I was a little more critical and told him, I thought she was a hure. Another spoiled evening: he did not hit me, only nearly chocked me, pulling my tie to the limit. We went different ways. Next day he told me the following: they went to a little old fashioned hotel with a basin and a jug of water. She sat on the edge of the bed and requested 5,- Marks before she performed. He filled the basin and threw the contents on her, stormed out, got to the nearest bar and went on the binge. He admitted his anger was directed against me, because I was right.
Peter and myself gatecrashed a party. A hotel and restaurant "Deutsche Eck", a few hundred yards from Hamburg airport. It was a Mask-Ball. We told them at the entrance that we lived in the hotel. Girls with very flimsy covering - at midnight the girls took off the masks: mine should have kept hers on.
Peter was luckier. At least that's what I thought. He got Ingrid back to our hotel and they went to bed. She left in the morning and he didn't see her again. A year went by. He got a letter from her with a picture of a red headed boy, Peter became a father. Oh yes, she had immigrated to Montreal / Canada. He handed me the letter, I thought something had happened back in Ireland.
We went back to the airport-canteen and tanked up. Jock Kelly, our chief, came in, inquired why we were celebrating. Peter resigned that day, packed his bag and followed her to Canada. They had two more boys before they decided to get married. They are still in Canada. Peter works as an inspector for Northair.
Who said: you should plan your life. Destiny has it's own ideas.
I changed a lot of German Marks for a rate of 12,- to pounds, thinking they were as safe as the bank of England - what a joke! I was offered a bungalow in Hamburg for DM 12.000-. At that time I could pay it off in a year. That same house is now worth DM 300.000-, no use crying about spilt milk.
Along the same lines I usually ate in the airport-canteen. Two girls - a brunette + a blond - I would see them occasionally at lunchtime. With the help of Hans, one of the German staff, we started chatting with them. I started taking out the brunette, I still don't know, but I finished up marrying her. A man is incomplete until he is married and then he is finished. By the way the blonde was an only daughter and her parents owned a big restaurant in Neukoelln, the other side of the airport. I suppose money is not everything.
In 1957 a very colorful character – Kasupsk I - started an airline in Bournemouth with a DC-4. Peter Hardy talked me into joining Independent Air Travel on account of my experience on the aircraft. Roswitha packed our belongings in four wooden boxes, got a lift on a Viking to Croydon. All that remains are memories.
Experience cannot be priced.
I know that, I cost Freddy some money, but he made millions and went on to create Laker Airways.
A mighty man that knew more about all aspects of aviation than any man alive; a mind like a whip + memory of an elephant. We have met on a few occasions; he still runs an airline Laker Princess Airways in Florida.
In 1994 we had a re-union in South-end on Sea. 400 people were present. It sure was an experience meeting people 40 years later. Freddy made a speech, a 76-year old and still a very switched on man.
Looking back, I don't make many mistakes any more, at least somebody profits from my experience from the Berlin airlift. I was in Germany with Freddy from 1951 to 1957.
You remember me, telling of going to the White Horse for a drink. Not a very planned career, more like crossing the bridge when you come to it as my father used to say.
I left Independent Air Travel in April 1958. I refused to take a DC-4 out of Hamburg, because it was not safe to fly. (The captain, that took it out, got killed two weeks later, on another aircraft).
I went to the canteen, had a beer and believe it or not,
got my next job.
DE Havilland DH90 Dragonfly
Aer Turas Fleet