More Tails Of The Fifties
Anthology edited by Peter G. Campbell
Contribution by Timothy R. V. Foster

ISBN 0-9515-5984-2
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One summer Saturday in 1956, I was at Croydon making myself generally useful and trying to scrounge the odd flight. I was hanging about at the hangars when a chap I had seen around a bit asked if I could help him push a Percival Proctor out. (This is precisely why I would hang around the hangars. In fact that's why they're called hangars. Then I could say: "Are you going flying? Got a spare seat? OK if I come along?" The desired answers are yes, yes and yes, in that order. I got them.) The next question, of course, is "Where are you going?"

When he answered, it was one of those delightful surprises life seems to store up and dish out at random intervals. "Paris!"

"What, now?" I said. It was about 6:30 pm, but, being August, was still broad daylight.

"Yes. Soon, in fact." Good job I always had my passport with me, just in case. I called home and told 'em what I was up to.

This Proctor, G-ANYV, had no radio or navigation aids. Nada. Fortunately, the weather was good, but shortly after crossing the French coast it got dark. I was ensconced in the back seat, which was quite a long way from the two at the front. I had no controls and no intercom, so communication was by shouting. All I could do was watch and look at the map with a flashlight.

Paris was not difficult to find. It ain't called the City of Light for nuthin'. We flew right over it. There was the Eiffel Tower. Yes, definitely Paris. Now to find our destination: Toussus le Noble, a small field for private planes about ten miles west of Orly, the major international airport south of Paris. Orly was easy to see. There were all these lights and Stratocruisers, Super Connies and DC 7s coming and going. But off in the dark bit, to the west, we could not find Toussus. If our pilot had done a bit more careful checking, he would have discovered that Toussus was, in fact, closed at night. We surely did not want to go into Orly without radio, especially at night. So what to do?

Percival Proctor at Croydon Airport.

Excerpt 1999 Timothy R. V. Foster


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