Visit by Jeff ‘Dicky’ Bird DFC, WWII Spitfire Pilot – 11th March 2015

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On Wednesday 11th March 2015, we welcomed a number of guests from the Royal Air Forces Association, including WWII Spitfire pilot, Jeff ‘Dicky’ Bird on a visit to see our replica Spitfire project.  Dicky had heard about the project some time ago, and had been keen to visit, but it wasn’t until 11th March that mutual times could be arranged.  Dicky signed up for the RAF in 1939 following the outbreak of the war, and was sent to South Africa for his advanced training.  Whilst on the five week journey south aboard the troopship, he passed the time being taught how to play Bridge by a professional Australian player.  As a pair they cleaned the ship of their competition, disembarking in the southern hemisphere with their pockets bulging with £10 notes!  In many ways Dicky was fortunate to do his training in South Africa, where he accrued some 300 hours on Spitfires before being sent to fight.  Following his training, the troopship prior to his was torpedoed on its journey north, with the loss of many trained pilots, so Jeff elected to head to the front across land, a whole story in itself.

Dicky and the other visitors were very impressed with the Spitfire as she stands currently, and was also very interested in the original parts from Mk1a P9503 that we had been given last December.  He has already expressed an interest in returning for one of our Sunday workshops so that he can meet the boys, and watch them at work on it.