By Geoff Farr - 2nd September 2018 6:08am
Anne and I were returning home from one of our trips to France.
I can't quite remember why we were in France. I think we may have been attending the French R.S.A rally. Anyway, we had to land at Calais to clear customs and make a night stop. The day was coming to an end and the weather was deteriorating and I was getting a little anxious.
The visibility had become much worse as we neared the coast and finding Calais airport soon became an urgent necessity. We were down now to three hundred feet and could only see the ground in isolated bits and I was remembering those two very tall chimneys just a mile or so to the East.
Suddenly Anne dug me in the ribs and shouted 'It's down there underneath us.'
I didn't want to dawdle about or we might find ourselves out over the sea. So I quickly called attention to our presence with a call to air traffic with advice that we intended to land on runway 06.Of course the airfield can declare it is closed if the visibility deteriorates to 1 mile or less, and this was one mile or less. So I did a quick turn and advised that we were downwind Left for runway 06.
I had no sooner made this call and another aircraft announced that he was downwind Right for runway 06. All in English of course.
In such poor visibility this was a prelude to disaster as we should meet head on whilst turning final to land. So I increased speed slightly and decided swiftly to be a bit sneaky by saying that we were further around the circuit than we were. So, being still at late downwind I called left base, thus telling the ground and the other craft that we were slightly ahead of him and therefore had priority to land and he must make another circuit to land after me. Neither of us could see the other.
Well! We arrived at the place where I had previously declared and proceeded to final and a landing of sorts in a strong gusting and unhelpful wind.
Whilst being relieved to be safe on the ground our troubles were not quite yet over. You see we had a long way to taxi to clear the runway for the following aircraft and he would very soon be up our chuff. We reached the turn off point only to find that Poppa Foxtrot would not turn Right to leave the runway. The Jodel being a tailwheel aircraft with very poor brakes is notoriously difficult to handle on the ground, indeed it has often been said that you have not landed a Jodel until it is in the Hanger. Such is life. Anyway there was only one way out of the problem especially as the following aircraft was by now landed behind us and rapidly heading for our stern. My crew has to leap out on to the runway and taking firm hold of the wingtip pull us around to our desired direction, whilst the captain applied sufficient power to maintain that direction and then slow down for our crew to regain access to the cabin in order to taxi the remaining half mile or so to parking.
As we parked up, the following aircraft parked along side us and the two fellows emerged laughing and offering my crew full marks for climbing back into the aircraft to taxi in. And! That is how we met Karl Hanse and Jurgen who were flying an identical aircraft to our own under a German registration.
After booking in we all walked together to the nearest hotel and asked for a room and a meal. After dinner we all strolled towards the town and found a place to have a drink and talk. When we sat at table with our drinks we became aware that we were the subject of keen attention by the other "occupants'' and then it slowly dawned on us that they were all ladies and further more their glances at Anne were beginning to be hostile. You see she had arrived with three fellows in tow and we were in a house of ill repute.
During our Brothel conversation we discovered that Jurgen and Karl Hanse intended to fly to England the next day, with the intention to have breakfast in England and then return to the continent. Karl Hanse had not been to England and had an ambition to do so. Jurgen on the other hand had been many times for his work was a pilot in the Luftwaffe flying Lockheed American Star Fighters into Alconbury UK.
He had so far had an interesting career flying the notorious Lockheed Star Fighter which was commonly known as 'The widow maker''' His own experience extended to having collided at night with a helicopter and making a forced night landing without engines on a deserted and blacked out airfield. And walked away.
Well! next morning dawned nice and clear and we set off in formation together for Lydd in Kent. We did hold a cryptic conversation as we crossed the channel. I remember that at one stage Jurgen said over the radio ' This is very fine,but what would Mr Churchill have said if he knew that you had escorted the Luffwaffe over the Channel to England'.
We shared a feast of eggs and bacon at Lydd and parted going our different ways. We each taking our memories with us.
We later met Karl Hanse and Jurgen at several aircraft occasions around Europe and learned a little more of their lives. Karl Hanse was the proprietor of a very successful electrical engineering company and Jugen held a very senior position in the admin of the Luftwaffe. The last we heard of him he was with much discontentment flying a desk. I am sure that he ended his career with a very senior rank and a uniform covered in scrambled egg. Both he and Karl Hanse are I am sure by now well retired. I wish them both well.
Saturday 24th Oct
Friday 23rd Oct
Hankelow Chapel Community Hall
Public Hall Annexe, Thornton Room
Public Hall Annexe Thornton Room