Happy times at the aero­drome

Loughborough Echo - - LOOKING BACK -

“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.

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