The Instructor - Ray Gifford

Prior to the Second World War, Ray Gifford was employed by the Midland Bank; he flew with the Bank’s flying club at Hanworth and joined the Civil Air Guard in 1936.  On the outbreak of War, he was transferred to the RAF Volunteer Reserve and trained as a Sergeant Pilot.  After being grounded for medical reasons, he served as a Link Trainer instructor before returning to flying, qualifying as a Flying Instructor at Cambridge, flying the Miles Magister. After a brief period instructing on Magisters at Woodley, he was posted to Salisbury, Rhodesia, where he instructed on Tiger Moths; he also flew the Harvard and Fairchild Cornell.  Gifford returned to the UK as a Flight Commander at 24 EFTS at RAF Sealand from February 1944.  It was here that he first encountered T7109, flying her for the first time on 16 March 1944, flying 9 sorties in her that day alone.  During October 1944, he was attached to No 3 Flying Instructor School at what is now Bristol Airport to qualify as an instructor on the Airspeed Oxford twin-engined trainer.


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Ray Gifford - Above Average Flying Instructor

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16 March 1944 - 9 sorties for T7109

Post War, Gifford continued flying Tiger Moths with the RAF VR at Redhill and Fairoaks.  In August 1952, he was attached to RAF Honiley to carry out Air Experience flying for Air Training Corps cadets; he flew 20 flights in T7109 between 3-6 August.  Following the disbandment of the RAF VR, Gifford ran the Midland Bank Flying Club as an instructor between 1951 and 1954, retiring from active flying in 1961.  In later life, he formed and ran the mid-Surrey Automobile Club and gave his time as a volunteer at Brooklands Museum.


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August 1952 - Air Cadet Air Experience Flying, RAF Honiley


The Burma Reconnaissance Pilot - Bill Rees

Following initial screening on Tiger Moths at Desford in Summer 1943, Rees crossed the Atlantic to receive his flying training on the Stearman and Harvard at No 5 British Flying Training School at Clewiston, Florida.

Clewiston Arrival Pic

5 BFTS Clewiston, 18 Course B Flt; Bill Rees back row 4th right

Returning to the UK in the Summer of 1944, he received further ‘Pre AFU’ training on Tiger Moths at RAF Henhurst Hill, near Burton on Trent, Staffordshire and Booker airfield in Buckinghamshire before training to fly the Horsa glider at RAF North Luffenham in Rutland and RAF Hampstead Norris in Berkshire.

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RAF Hampstead Norris as it is today, seen from G-AOIM on 30 June 2018

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Bill Rees' Logbook with article on Stinson L5 CASEVAC Operations

He arrived in India at the end of November 1944 and underwent jungle and ‘Glider in India’ operational training before joining 671 Sqn to fly the Stinson L5 Sentinel on communications, casualty evacuation, reconnaissance and artillery spotting missions from May 1945 and was soon sent on operations in Burma.  On 27 June, he spotted a small force of Japanese soldiers and pinpointed their location for an attack by P47 Thunderbolts.  3 days later, he evacuated 3 members of the Burmese National Guerrilla Army whose injuries had led to the onset of gangrene in the absence of medical treatment.  On 6 July, he flew 3 times for a total of 7 hrs 50 min, directing artillery fire on Japanese positions.  During the last week of July 1945, Rees carried out reconnaissance missions, calling up artillery to engage Japanese positions and reporting the damage achieved by air strikes.

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 Logbook - June 1945

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Logbook - July 1945

Rees was demobbed from the RAF on 5 March 1946, and pursued a post War career in the Police service and as a teacher.  He remained an RAF reservist with the University of Birmingham Air Squadron, flying Chipmunks, and qualified as a flying instructor on the Prentice in 1952.  By 1955, he was an instructor with the Warwickshire Aero Club at Elmdon, now Birmingham Airport.  When T7109 left RAF service in 1957, it was registered as G-AOIM and purchased by a syndicate of non pilots; thus Bill Rees became the Aeroplane’s regular pilot and instructor until he met his future wife in 1961, at which point it appears his aviation activities ceased!

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Bill Rees' first flight in G-AOIM - 30 March 1957

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Bill Rees Swinging IM's Propellor

The Maritime Pilot - Roger Phillips

Following initial screening on Tiger Moths with 28 EFTS at Wolverhampton (Pendeford) in June & July 1943, Phillips crossed the Atlantic to carry out his flying training which he started on the Stearman at Grosse Ile, Michigan.  Progressing though the Vultee Valiant and the Harvard, he finished his course on the Catalina flying boat, gaining his wings after 222 flying hours.


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Catalina Flying Boats at US Navy Air Station Pensacola

Returning to the UK at the end of June 1944, Phillips completed at Pre-Advanced Flying Unit (AFU) Course at 15 EFTS, Carlisle in August, attending 24 EFTS at RAF Sealand for a further pre-AFU course during November and December.  During this course, he flew T7109 three times, two map reading exercises and one weather test.


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T7109 December 1944

Phillips’ next course was at No 3 School of General Reconnaissance at Squires Gate, now Blackpool Airport, where he flew the Avro Anson.  On 30 March 1945, he joined his first operational unit, 206 Sqn at RAF Leuchars, flying the consolidated Liberator as part of Coastal Command.  His log book shows him carrying out and anti U-Boat patrol on 21 May, 2 weeks after VE Day.

Liberators 120 and 86 Sqn RAF at Aldergrove c1943

Coastal Command Consolidated Liberators

 With the disbandment of 206 Sqn, Phillips joined 51 Sqn in My 1946, flying the Avro York as part of Transport Command.  His last flight in a York was from India to the UK at the end of January 1948.

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