Between 1935 and 1945, Yorkshire became home to 41 military airfields, the majority located in the Vale of York. The area was often referred to as a land-based aircraft carrier. The author, aged 16, became involved in this vast aviation activity when he started work with the Handley Page aircraft manufacturer at their repair depot at Clifton, York, where Halifax bombers used by 4 Group RAF and 6 Group Royal Canadian Air Force, were repaired and test flown.
At the age of 17, Ian was selected for flying training at Handley Page’s main airfield at Radlett in Hertfordshire, returning to Clifton and becoming flight engineer to the company test pilots. Some 30 or so squadrons operated from these Yorkshire airfields and the Book of Remembrance in York Minster records more than 18,000 names of those killed flying from these Yorkshire bases. Postwar, Ian felt aggrieved that very little was left commemorating these sacrifices and certainly little was left of the Halifax bomber. So when, in 1983, a small group of aviation enthusiasts got together to create a commemorative museum at Elvington, near York, Ian was eager to join them. He became a pivotal player in forming the charity which became the Yorkshire Air Museum and Allied Air Forces Memorial. Ian said at the time that such a museum without a Halifax would be like a frame without a picture – and so the idea to rebuild a WWII Halifax was born. Starting with a derelict fuselage which had been used as a hen-coop on a farm on the Isle of Lewis, he set about gathering all the hundreds of bits needed to complete this mammoth task.
This fascinating book, full of contemporary photos, is Ian’s account of those 13 extraordinary years before Friday the 13th was rolled out on Friday, 13th September, 1996, and it also faithfully records Ian’s part in building the Yorkshire Air Museum, one of the foremost museums of its kind in the world.