Dream comes true for veteran pilot
AT 96, Arthur Cornwell thought his flying days were over.
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) veteran had not taken flight since an impromptu trip to Rottnest almost 30 years ago, but last week he got to relive his youth.
Staff at Southern Cross Care in Shelley, where Mr Cornwell resides, got in touch with the Royal Aero Club in Jandakot, which organised a 30-minute flight in a Tiger Moth plane piloted by one of their members.
Mr Cornwell enrolled in the RAF as a freshfaced 17-year-old in 1940 in the midst of World War II and served in Britain’s offensive against Germany in the bomber command unit.
As the war progressed, he shifted to the ferry command unit, helping transport aircraft to British outposts across the globe.
Mr Cornwell spoke fondly of his time as a pilot and credited it with turning him into a “man of the world”.
“We delivered aircraft to various places: French Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Palestine, the Persian Gulf, even as far as Karachi,” he said,
“I flew everywhere between Casablanca and Cairo and met all sorts of people and all sorts of races and religions.
“It was very enlightening and interesting work. It was a very good life; I was a very, very lucky man.”
After the war ended in 1945, Mr Cornwell served another year with the RAF as an adjutant at airfields in northern Italy and Palestine.
“When the war in Europe ended, we had a large influx of trained pilots and the air ministries didn’t know what to do with them, so us more experienced types were shuffled off to desk jobs,” he said.
“After spending long months dealing with others’ demobilisation papers, my own drifted across my desk one day and that was it.”
Despite the somewhat abrupt end to his time with the RAF, Mr Cornwell’s love of flight remained.
He moved to WA and joined the Aviation Heritage Museum.