Hanging on for dear life

Bernard in his ATC uniform

Bernard in his ATC uniform

I joined the Air Training Corps at school when I was 14, because from the ATC you could volunteer for Aircrew training at the age of 17. Your one aim was to fight for your country.

We cycled about 10 miles to Panshanger Airfield in Hertfordshire for a flight in a DH.89 Dragon Rapide; it was marvellous to leave the ground as the aircraft floated up and down as it hit air pockets.

Later we had a week at Brize Norton, instruction in the morning and in the afternoon we could draw a parachute and cadge a lift on a Horsa glider. These were towed by Albermarles and released to land in –

a marked square in a field. You sat on the floor of the glider, hanging on to a support because as they were training gliders, they had no doors either side – if you let go, you would have slid out. Did I hear you say, “Health and safety?”

Bernard Dearlove, Witham, Essex.