Sunday, April 03, 2011

The Willy Petes

Home from the martial arts seminar at High Wycombe, which took place within convenient walking distance of Booker airfield. When I left very early this morning I was the only person on the radio and with no traffic in the way, Heathrow radar kindly gave me a direct route through their zone, which allowed me a good close look at the now finished Olympic Stadium, The Emirates Stadium and of course Wembley.

It was a great privilege to have Kyoshi Carl Long present from the States to teach the small group of us which included Kent Iaido in Broadstairs. It's a sign of the times that Carl was unaware that his recently released series of lectures on CD had already been 'ripped' on to YouTube.

Arriving back into Maypole, I noticed a cluster of pilots around Brendan O'Brien's Cub aircraft. Anyone familiar with aviation will recognise Brendan as one of the nation's best-loved flying characters and most recently may have seen him teaching aspiring young Dam Buster and Spitfire pilots on different series on TV. This time however, the centre of attraction was the presence of what appeared to be a small rocket launcher tube attached to his strut for use at forthcoming airshows.

Brendan's remarkable aviation history goes back to Air America and the Vietnam War and so I asked him if this time, as the RAF are a little short of aircraft and pilots, whether he was planning to volunteer as a Forward Air Controller for the rebels over in Libya? In the Second World War and to a lesser extent in Vietnam, variants of the Cub were used to direct artillery and airstrikes and they used to fire small white phosphorous rockets, 'Willy Petes' to identify their targets. However with Brendan, who frequently lands his aircraft on top of a moving truck at airshows, nothing would surprise me!

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