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Dragon Rapide.

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We Called It the Dominie.

2214 ATC Squadron, RAF Usworth, Co Durham.

Sketch of Dragon Rapide awaiting its ATC cadet passengers at Usworth airfield.

[ATC Cadets with the Dominie: Sketch by Joe Bosher.]

We Knew the de Havilland Dragon Rapide as the Dominie when in 1950 a group of us lads joined the Air Cadets of 2214 (Usworth) Squadron Air Training Corps. This squadron was based at RAF Usworth in county Durham where there was at least one Dominie aircraft.
We could have joined the 111 Squadron ATC based in Sunderland, where we lived, but preferred to take the longer bus journey out of town to a real airfield.
2214 Squadron were very lucky to be based at an airfield as we often had flights in their training aircraft sometimes at a moments notice "Any cadets want a flight tonight? - report to the office". Mad dash! But without doubt the most important aircraft for us, at the time, must have been the station's Avro Anson, that each morning took off to "test the weather" before any flying training could take place.

Mary from the Dairy.

Cartoon: Naffi wagon at RAF Usworth in 1950.

["It's persisting down": By Joe Bosher.]

Mary from the Dairy? She was our Naffi girl in the Naffi wagon at the big hanger on the airfield. Mary was her name and it rhymed with dairy. That's all it was. We thought it amusing - that's what being a teenager is all about. But, mainly she was a woman. She was very sexy, big breasts, thick red lipstick and our imaginations did the rest.
The game with Mary was to get her to talk about the weather. Especially if it was, or had been, raining.
"Mary! What's the weather like at your place?"
"Sunny"
No good. It had to have been raining. The thing was that Mary often got two common expressions about rain mixed up.
"Mary, what's the weather like at your place?"
"Oo.. it's persisting down"
To our great delight! We were easy to please in those days.
The competition was to see who could get Mary the say "Persisting down" most times. Fortunately it rained a lot that year.

ATC Flying Experience at RAF Usworth.

All the aircraft at RAF Usworth at that time were trainers, including the Dominies and 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.

Nevertheless flights in the more sedate Dominie was not to be sneezed at. Dominies could hold a lot of lads. Because the seats, as far as I remember, were very small it mean't that the plane could carry eight or nine cadets at a time and made for a very social atmosphere. I suppose the noise we made with our juvenile banter would have been drowned by the engine to the relief of the aircrew.


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).

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