2214 ATC Squadron Flights.
Our Avro Anson Testing the Weather.
[Avro Anson testing the weather: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]
In 1950 I joined the Air Cadets of 2214 (Usworth) Squadron Air Training Corps at RAF Usworth in county Durham. We were very lucky to be based at an airfield and often had flights in their training aircraft. I remember that there could be some problem with wind direction over the airfield. Consequently one of the station's Avro Ansons, each morning, would take off to "test the weather" before any flying training could take place.
Sometimes flying was cancelled. As we young lads waited in the crew room with fingers crossed waiting for the Anson's report only to be dissapointed with the message "Flying's off!". Result: sad faces on the bus back home to Sunderland.
This brings back distant memories of cold winters at Usworth sitting with my mates in a freezing cold crew room at the airfield. It was simply a big long wooden shed. Very unwelcoming especially so early in the morning before the pot stove gave out any heat. Occasional hands were laid in the stove to monitor its progress that was usually slow.
We were well wrapped up but the fingers and toes were freezing up despite rubbing of hands and stamping on the floor with our boots in an attempt to warm up. Ice on the inside of the crew room windows suggesting the flying could also be cancelled because of winter conditions on the runway. But not always. So we lived in hope to the last.
Flying Training at RAF Usworth.
All the aircraft were trainers, including the Ansons. But I suppose the most exciting ones were those that made you sick (sometimes). These were the Harvard Trainers, Tiger Moths, or their de Havilland Chipmunk replacements.
Flights in the Ansons was not as aerobatic as with these other trainers but we still enjoyed the experience. We were usually accompanied by one of our ATC officers during the Anson flights. On of these, a Flight Lieutenant whose name is long forgotten, had flown in Ansons during his war service and was forever telling us of the retractable undercarriage he had the job of winding up and down. Apparently it took about 140 turns of a handle each time the undercarriage was raised or lowered. Some times (he said) they didn't bother and just left the wheels down. Fortunately the Anson Mk 19 (or was it 21?) used hydraulically operated mechanisms to turn the handle or you know who would have got the job.
I would be pleased to hear from anyone who has any stories about this aircraft; humorous, technical or historical. Please use the Feedback Form to contact me briefly, in the first instance.
Joe Bosher (74th).