Tiger Moth Competition - Answer Revealed
Our competition to win a flight with Finest Hour from either of our operating bases, Chiltern Airpark and Bicester Heritage, required the winner to identify the location in the picture at the head of this page. The competition generated much interest with many good, interesting and well-informed answers, but as no-one has produced the correct answer, we have decided to close the competition to make way for a new contest in the coming weeks.
The picture was taken by Finest Hour’s Chief Pilot’s father, ‘Tommy’ Thompson. The story starts in 1944, when Thompson senior joined the RAF and completed a 3-year apprenticeship as an engine fitter at RAF Halton. By 1949, he was undergoing pilot training at RAF Ternhill on the Percival Prentice and North American Harvard. Following completion of a jet course on the Meteor T7 and Vampire F1 at RAF Driffield and a weapons course at RAF Stradishall, Tommy was posted to 67 Sqn as a newly-minted Sergeant pilot.
'Tommy' Thompson, Vampire Pilot
67 Squadron was equipped with the Vampire FB5, a single-seat fighter / ground attack version of this very early jet and its roles were both air-air and air-ground as part of the British Air Forces of Occupation in Germany. It is fair to say that this was not a low-risk occupation, with the concept of Flight Safety yet to be developed and the Squadron’s operational focus flavoured by the senior pilots’ experiences during the Second World War. Accidents were plenty, but the flying was enjoyable, providing a steep learning curve for the young Thompson.
67 Sqn Vampire Pilots
67 Sqn In the Field
67 was a ‘mobile’ squadron, often deploying into the field with a convoy of trucks in advance of the Vampires. On one occasion the ‘field’ was exactly that, as the Squadron completed the front line trials of operating the Vampire from grass at Butzweilerhof, on the North West outskirts of Cologne. Weekends were spent flying what would now be considered ‘classic’ German gliders, such as the SG38 and Grunau Baby.
67 Sqn - A Normal Day at the Office
By April 1951, Tommy had accumulated a total of just over 350 flying hours when a Tiger Moth arrived to provide yet more variety for those in Tommy’s words “who were brought up on such things”. His colleagues took him for a total of 5 trips in April and July 1951 but he has little recollection of the old biplane: “It was early days on the Vampire for me and I was having a lot of fun with that and the gliders”.
Clearly not destined to be a Tiger Moth afficionado, Tommy eventually retired from the RAF in 1987 after a further 7000 military flying hours.
67 Sqn Fighter Ground Attack
67 Sqn Vampire Formation
But the story does not end there. In 2015, Finest Hour borrowed Tiger Moth G-OOSY for an event, with Tommy on board for the transits between Damyns Hall and Bicester. When Finest Hour took delivery of G-AOIM on 21 April 2016, 89-year old Tommy was in the front seat for the delivery flight from Old Buckenham to Bicester Heritage and has since flown trips between Bicester and Chiltern Park as we position the Aeroplane for commercial operations.
So… the location in the picture is… RAF Gutersloh.
Tiger at Gutersloh April 1951
Tiger at Gutersloh July 1951
Tommy Thompson in G-AOIM after flying Chiltern Park - Bicester Heritage, 2016
Finest Hour at Flywheel Festival 2016. Tommy Thompson far left.