Australian Peter Isaacson completed two tours as a bomber pilot, the second with the Pathfinder Force flying Lancasters. He was awarded the DFC and the DFM. After 45 operations, he and his all-Australian crew flew a Lancaster to Australia where they gave many displays to raise war bonds. On one sortie, Isaacson flew his Lancaster under the Sydney Harbour bridge. He was also awarded the AFC. The photograph shows him with Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister.
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The Spotlight series in the latest edition of Flypast focuses on the Hawker Sea Fury, one of the fastest single piston-engined piston-powered fighters ever built. The feature follows the standard format with accounts of its operational service and I have contributed an article, Fast and Furious, on the men who flew the aircraft, selecting three whose experiences are very different.
- Alan ‘Spiv’ Leahy who earned the DSC for operations over Korea
- Neville Duke who established world speed records en-route to Egypt and Pakistan
- Pete Sheppard who flew many hours as the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Sea Fury pilot
Jayne Millington was an expert on air defence operations and battlespace air management. She was part of the THRUST land speed world record event and she masterminded and commanded the air defence measures set up for the 2012 Olympics. She was seen by many as a trailblazer fort women in the RAF. She died of cancer whilst serving as the United Kingdom National Representative at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE).
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The Spotlight feature in the August 2017 edition of the magazine focuses on the Avro Lincoln, a four-engine bomber derived from the Lancaster. Just too late to see operational service during the Second Word War, it was the mainstay of Bomber Command until the advent of the jet bombers. It did however, play an important part during air policing and counter insurgency operations in Malaya and in Kenya. My article, Big Bomber Little Wars describes the role played by Lincolns of the RAF and the RAAF.
Former Halton apprentice, Wally Lashbrook, later trained as a pilot. He flew 28 bombing operations in Whitleys, earning the DFM, before taking part in the first British Airborne commando raid (Operation Colossus). Later he was shot down in a Halifax but avoided capture and, with the aid of the Comet Escape Line, evaded capture and returned to Britain to learn that he had been awarded the DFC. He spent the latter years of the war as a test pilot being awarded the AFC. After leaving the service he spent many years working for the Army Cadet Force for which he was appointed MBE. He died aged 104.
Photo shows him ‘on the run’ in France
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Air Vice-Marshal Chesworth was one of the RAF’s leading post-war operators in the maritime air role. Flying Sunderlands in Korea he was awarded the DFC and he later he flew Shackleton and Nimrod aircraft. He commanded the first Nimrod squadron and later was the station commander at RAF Kinloss, the home of three Nimrod squadrons. When serving as the Chief of Staff of No 18 Group he co-ordinated the air operations in support of the fleet during the Falkland’s war and oversaw the Vulcan attack (Black Buck) on Stanley Airport. Later he was Lord Lieutenant of Morayshire.
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Air Vice-Marshal Peter Collins played a major role in the development and operation of the Mach 2 Lightning fighter. He was one of the original RAF pilots to evaluate the aircraft and he served as a test pilot, flight commander, squadron commander and station commander of Lightning units including RAF Gutersloh near the Inner German border. As an air commodore he served as the SASO at HQ 11 (Fighter) Group where he continued to have responsibility for the last of the Lightning squadrons.
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