Happy times at the aerodrome
“I DON’T suppose many people can say they have flown over their house in a fighter jet.”
Pat Hubbard, 80, of Coniston Road, Barrow-upon-Soar told Looking Back that he joined the Nottingham 504 Squadron that was based at Wymeswold Aerodrome when he was 17 and said that it was where he shared some of the best times of his life.
Pat left school at 15, and went to work at the Brush Engineering factory as an engineering apprentice, and it was here that he got a taste for the airforce after working with ex RAF Senior Technician, John Robinson.
Pat said: “He told me of all his wartime experiences in the RAF, I was intrigued, so when he told me he was in the Auxiliary Air Force at Wymeswold with 504 Squadron, and as I lived in Wymeswold, I knew I just had to join.”
So in May 1954 Pat became 2681779AC2 Hubbard P.C.
Pat said that he had a number of responsibilities whilst volunteering at the aerodrome including refuelling the aircraft.
Pat remembers when himself and his friend Keith Daft (Wally) were refuelling one of the jets and were distracted by the jets practicing above them.
He said: “We forgot the ventral tank was refuelling and only realised when our feet got wet.
“The ventral tank only holds 170 gallons, but the meter on the bowser showed over 300 gallons, I never did find out how the excessive amount of fuel was explained.”
Pat said that some of his fondest memories came from the squadron summer camp, where the whole squadron would go away for training and he was lucky enough to go away to Malta and Chivenor, and said that his trip to Devon was an “eye opener.”
He said: “In 1955 he journey down from Wymeswold in a wooden seater bus was not the best of experiences.
“Some of the ex-wartime people like Tug Wilson seemed to treat it like they did during the war.
“On one occasion we actually took the brass sign from a butchers shop in Ilfracombe.
“The idea was not to keep it it was just a prank, some prank!
“Summer camp 1956 at Malta was one of the best holidays I’ve had; it was the first time abroad, July in Malta is the hottest time of the year and climbing on an aluminium aircraft can get pretty uncomfortable.
“Trips to the beach were always a pleasure and in the evenings we would go to one of the local bars, they were always glad to see us they would bring us a plate of sandwiches, the trouble was they always seemed to have red creatures all over them, not appetising, but the regulars reckoned they were the best thing.”
One of Pat’s best memories from being part of the squadron was when he passed his trade test and became an engine mechanic, which meant he got to take a flight in a fighter jet over Wymeswold.
He said: “In October 1955 I took my trade test and passed, a proud day for me, and it was even better when the engineer officer said I could take a flight in the Meteor mark seven as a reward.
“So on October 25, 1955 I took a flight in the mark seven.
“There is no ejector seat on a mark seven, but pilot explained what to do in an emergency, it’s a good job there was no emergency as I was so excited I forgot everything.
“He let me fly straight and level while he took his hands off the joystick, I thought I did quite well considering.
“As I was living in Wymeswold at the time, on the return, before landing we actually flew over my house,
“I don’t suppose many people can say they have flown over their house in a fighter jet.”
Pat said he thinks when the squadron returned from Malta in 1956 “things were never the same again.”
He said when he returned they were told that 504 was to be disbanded, and that he remembers one Monday in October 1956 all the aeroplanes flying away.
He said: “So sad, but I did have a day off work to see them off.
“The strange thing was that, that day there was an small earth quake, a sign from heaven, perhaps.”
Pat said that on March 3, 1957 (his last day as a teenager) the disbanding ceremony was held at Wymeswold church.
He said: “It was the worst day of my life. The end of an era, the end to some of the best days of my life.”
Pictured are the huts at Wymeswold Aerodrome.
Pictured are Meteor mark seven fighter jets at Wymeswold Aerodrome.
Pictured are members of the 504 squadron at Wymeswold Aerodrome.
Pictured is Pat Hubbard in Malta in 1956.