Four World War II veterans took to the skies this week, thanks to two local, private pilots and London Southend Airport.
The four veterans were all RAF aircrew during the war and were on a day trip to meet up with their wartime colleagues in Gloucester, as part of Project Propeller.
The project, which runs annually, sees private pilots give up their time and money to fly the deserving veterans to the reunion, whilst the airport waiver all take-off and landing fees.
Taking off were Michael O’Connell from Hockley, a Wireless Operator / Air Gunner, who served on Lancaster’s in the 621 & 38 Squadrons. Leslie West from Shoeburyness, who served with No 48 Far East Air Force flying Wellington bombers and Dakota transports. Wireless Operator / Air Gunner Bruce Brinson from Benfleet who served on Lancasters in 106 Squadron, Wing Commander Guy Gibson’s squadron before he led the famous Dambusters raid with 617 Squadron. And Derek Rowe, a Training Command Pilot from Leigh-on-Sea,
It was Mr Rowe’s son, who was one of the two pilots, the other being Mike Biddulph.
Graham Cowie from Project Propeller said “The whole event is run on a shoestring with everyone giving their time and effort as a very small way of paying back the people who gave us our freedom – so we are very grateful to London Southend Airport for waiving all their fees and making this possible for these veterans.”