The mighty Bellamy
Pat Malone mentioned Vivian Bellamy in his June column, and it took me back to 1968 when I last met him. It was at RAF Debden in Essex where a dozen RAF pilots had assembled to check out on Spitfires and Hurricanes prior to the filming of the Battle of Britain. Vivian was brought in as the expert in anything Supermarine due to his previous experience as a test pilot with the company.
The aircraft were being assembled from various sources, having been put into flying shape by an engineering company based at Henlow. I was given a Mk 9 for a familiarisation trip with at least two hours experience on type. Climbing out of Debden I suddenly experienced a loss of power and rough running from the mighty Merlin. A very short and hasty circuit was flown and the aircraft handed back to the maintenance team. It was duly checked and no fault was found. Suspecting that the pilot was the problem, the large bearded figure of Viv was called upon to test the aircraft properly. I watched him depart and at about 500ft an ominous cloud of smoke came from the exhaust with the sound of rough running. If my circuit was tight, it was nothing compared with the Bellamy effort. Masterful!
In case you are thinking that the film was made at Duxford, we moved there once the fleet had assembled and the Spanish (German) aircraft had arrived from Spain.