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Return to St Athan.

by frankreeve

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Frank Reeve
Location of story: 
South Wales.
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
08 December 2004

My volunteering for Air-crew duties bought more action than I had seen for the last few months. Within a few hours I had been issued with two kit-bags full of flying kit, far to long to list here, but I guess at a value of well over £1000.00 together with a travel warrant and seven days leave. Then it was off to South Wales to meet up with the other nine volunteers to make up Squad 15 on the very first course of Flight Engineers, all of whom were from some branch of engineering. Over the next 16 weeks we under-went the most intensive training that you could imagine. This was to create from raw mechanics and fitters, air-crew capable of becoming the seventh member of a Lancaster Bomber,the Flight Engineer; Capable of assisting the Pilot in the complex operation of take-off and landing this heavy bomber. We were quickly taught that a Pilot could not do either without a Flight Engineer. On take-off the pilot is guiding the air-craft up to 105-110mph that is when the Engineer takes complete control by taking over the throttle levers of the four 1650hp engines and gives the Pilot full "thro the Gate" power for take off. That is the Lancaster with its crew of seven, fully loaded with 1740 galls of fuel;150 galls of oil. A magnificent machine, with a wing span 102ft and 72ft in length, standing 20ft tall. when needed it could fly at 287 mph and had a range of 2,250 miles. All 10 passed with flying colours.

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