Military History Tours On Tour - Bomber Command (RAAF in the UK) 13 July 2013
This morning started well with a beautiful drive through the small roads and villages of the Bedford precinct on our way to visit the Shuttleworth Collection. This is a collection, not a Museum as all the planes fly and all bar 3 are originals. They have the first ever plane built in England and an original 1909 French plane, the Bleriot 11, is the oldest plane still flying in the world today.
We were very fortunate as Ken Hyde, one of the knowledgeable volunteers who, when not guiding people through the hangers, works on restoration of various planes, took care of us and showed us not only the Collection, but behind the scenes in the restoration area.
Following our tremendous guided tour of the Collection, we proceeded to view the exhibitions of the Bedfordshire Show. Part of the show was the Birds of Prey flying exhibition. The Falcons were extremely fast, returning to their handler following a major sweep of a mile or so outside the park. The Barn Owls were cute, slow and hungry and did not venture further than necessary. The large flight was by three (3) Bald Eagles who showed a wingspan of over a metre. They were very exciting to watch.
Following this display we boarded our coach, turned up the air conditioning as the day had been very hot indeed at around 30 degrees and then headed north to Thurleigh to visit the location of the 306 Bombardment Group (Heavy) which had flown B17 Flying Fortresses on daylight raids from there from late 1942. They conducted 341 missions at a loss of over 100 men.
Ralph Franklin and his wife have set up a 306 Bombardment Museum at the airfield and all enjoyed their visit to this Museum.
We then said our farewells to Ralph and returned to our hotel. Tomorrow, Duxford Airshow.