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16 October 2014
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Aviation Heritage Centre with Timothy

When I visited the Ulster Aviation Heritage Centre I was also accompanied by the Patterson family.

Article by Brian Willis.

Greater Belfast

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When I visited the Ulster Aviation Heritage Centre I was also accompanied by the Patterson family. The two sons, Philip and Timothy are grandchildren of John Pattison 1 the man who had described to me his growing of flax in Fermanagh during the war which was subsequently used in aircraft manufacturer. (A752041) . So the boys and their parents, and grandparents too, accompanied me to see the type of aircraft that used "grandad's linen"

Timothy Patterson

Timothy is eleven and is the elder of the two boys. He is besotted with all things aeronautical so, as you can imagine, was in his element at this museum. Here is his letter telling of their day out.

"Langford Lodge - My visit"
by Timothy Patterson

When I went to Langford Lodge Airbase I went into the museum area. When you walk in there are two laminated wood propellers from the Great War biplanes (WW2 aircraft used steel propellers because of their speed.) In the actual building there are aero engines one being the famous (or infamous if you are an Axis pilot) Rolls-Royce Merlin V12 which probably saved Britain In the 'Battle of Britain' being the power of the Supermarine Spitfire.

There are also ejector seats ranging from prototype seats to the 'zero-zero' seats of modern fighters such as the F22 Interceptor and the Panavia Tornado fighter-bomber, (zero-zero ejector seats can be launched from ground level or zero-zero).

Beneath the airbrakes of a Buccaneer
Myself and younger brother Philip
beneath the airbrakes of the Buccaneer aircraft

The Buccaneer

When I went into the hangar the sight that met my eyes was a HUGE Gloucester Buccaneer, which is a Naval Aircraft. You can designate it because of its folding wings. Sometimes people mistake folding wings with swing wings which are to help aircraft control their speed, manoeuvrability and take off.

The jets are positioned under the wings (the intakes are at the leading edge of the wings and the exhausts are at the trailing edge of the wings). It has also got an unusual airbrake system where the tall fuselage folds out.


Another aircraft on display was the Hawker Seahawk which is another aircraft of great interest to me especially because I have modelled the Hawker Hunter which is the airforce's version of the Seahawk. I was surprised when I saw it because at first sight I thought it was a Hunter, the only difference is that it has bigger engines and less armaments.

Then I walked over to the deHaviland Vampire. This aircraft was being designed in late WW2, it is a two seater and is dual controlled (which means if you move the right 'stick' the left 'stick' moves also but if you moved the left 'stick' the right 'stick' does not move the reason for this is for training purposes).

At the nose of a Vampire aircraft
That's me feeling the linen
covering of the Vampire

Linen Covered

The nose of the Vampire is plywood covered with linen, which is why we are here in the first place. You see, Mr. Willis (a neighbour and friend) asked us to come to Langford Lodge as he was investigating the use of linen. As a result of this visit we went to the Linen Museum in Lisburn. My brother is writing about this. (See link at the end of this article).

We also saw a Shorts SD-330, which is an aeroplane for transporting people over short distances. It can take off from very short runways.

The men who run the place are at the moment restoring a Fleet-air-arm F4 Wildcat which crash-landed nearby. They say it will take 15 years to repair.

When I went back to the museum I saw a drone missile for teaching fighter pilots how to use weapons.

Near the counter there was a table with souvenirs and model kits. I bought an 5.E.5 VariantA (The originals were covered with linen!!) and the famous aircraft the Spirit of St. Louis which was flown by Charles Lindbergh, the 'Lone Eagle' over the Atlantic Ocean. I decided to purchase a Scammell Tank transporter to add to my collection.

As a result of their grandad's stories of his flax-growing days, the two boys have made flax their latest project and have subsequently visited the Irish Linen Museum at Lisburn. Click here for younger brother Philip's thoughts on linen

Return to "Linen goes to war"

1 The surnames are slightly dissimilar.


Your replies:

Neil Robson - Feb 06
The Buccaneer was built by Blackburn not Gloucester (which should be spelt Gloster incidentally).

Blackburn went on to be bought out by Hawker Siddeley, which in turn became British Aerospace.


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