RAF veteran who flew secret mission told it’s too dangerous to sit in Spitfire

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Jan 18, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #1 Jenisch, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    RAF veteran who flew secret mission told it’s too dangerous to sit in Spitfire - Telegraph

    08 Jan 2012
    Eric Carter is the last surviving member of Force Benedict, a secret mission to protect Murmansk, the port in northern Russia that was a crucial lifeline to the Soviets, but he was shot down at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery near Stoke-on-Trent.

    He was delighted to get the chance to inspect a Spitfire and then amused that he could not get in it. “I had to laugh to think that I couldn’t sit in a stationary Spitfire in case I got hurt,” said Mr Carter, from Worcestershire. “I used to fly those things every day fighting the Germans. Now that really was a health and safety concern!

    “But you have to chuckle. I don’t think they meant any harm, and they gave me a lovely day out at their museum.”

    Mr Carter trained as a pilot in Stoke before taking part in Force Benedict. The clandestine operation remained largely unknown for decades because Stalin did not want to admit that he had asked for help from Britain, but Mr Carter is feted in Russia now and was even a guest of honour when the Queen made her first State visit to the country in 1994.

    “Force Benedict was a very well-kept secret,” he said. “We were threatened with a court martial if we said anything.

    09 Jan 2012
    “Murmansk was all rubble and the Russian soldiers didn’t bother to ask who you were — they killed you on sight if they didn’t like the look of you. We were issued with special passes and had to hold them in front of us as we walked anywhere or we would have been shot.

    “It was freezing. Our aircraft and vehicles had to be started up every 20 minutes to prevent them freezing for good.”

    The RAF pilots carried out 365 sorties during a four-month stay in Murmansk and in October 1941 they handed over defence of the port to the Russians. By then the weather was worsening and the German invasion began to stall.

    Mr Carter married Phyllis, a “wonderful wife and mother”, while on leave in 1943, and saw out the war in Burma. Mrs Carter died in 2005.

    A spokesman for Stoke-on-Trent city council, which represents the Potteries Museum, said officials had little choice but keep Mr Carter out of the plane. “The cockpit had recently been painted with paint containing radium, which is radioactive, and there is no proper seat in the Spitfire at the moment so I am told the people on the day thought it best he did not sit in the plane for those reasons because of his age,” he said.

    Mr Carter laughed off the episode. “They were probably just trying to be extra careful, which was very nice,” he said. “I just wish the Luftwaffe had been so caring.”


    What a contrast with Bud Anderson flying his Mustang, isn't? At least the museum could have told him to make medical exams to sit in the plane. My grandfather died at 91, and I used to hate people treating him like this. One day he was drinking with me, and a person came and ask: "hey sir, and your blood pressure?" His pressure was actually lower than mine, who was a teenager at the time. Absurd.
     
  2. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Yes but there was no proper seat what if he had got stuck, wouldnt like to have the Firebrigade do a chop job on a Spitfire to get him out.
     
  3. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Cockpit had been painted with a paint containing radium ??? I've never heard of such a paint, and i'm a bodyman/painter.

    Maybe they meant the needles on some of the gauges.
     
  4. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #4 Jenisch, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    They talk about age. The ICAO Pilot Medical Exam don't considerate age, only good health. At least in the journalistic subject looks like it was mainly because his age. They certainly are correct if his health was not ok. He could have been asked to prove good health showing exams to enter, but not because the age itself.
     
  5. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    #5 pbfoot, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    Used to show the old guys around MK912 some could get in but not many and the hard part is not the getting in its the getting out,they use gravity to sit down but the going up is hard the old knees ,ankles and hips are willing but weak ., moving along to getting them out was marshalling the help in the proper place so your not damaging the aircraft,
     
  6. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    It was used on the instruments, including the compass, but not, to my knowledge, in the open cockpit; the most worrying aspect of this is that either Mr. Carter misheard them, or the museum's spokesman was lying through his teeth. The paint (which does contain radium) has been banned, throughout Europe, for at least 40 years, so, if the museum staff are still using it they're committing a huge break of health safety rules.
    Many now tend to pour scorn on this rule, saying that the small amounts won't do any harm, but 70-year-old paint turns to dust, and, if a glass is cracked and you breathe in that dust, your life is likely to be measurably shorter.
     
  7. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #7 Jenisch, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    Everything has it's exceptions, like I said. Everything appliable to Bud Anderson is appliable to this guy. What matters is the health, not the age. If he wasn't fit, then ok. Otherwise, it was unfair.
     
  8. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    BTW, there was not a business about old people working in Fukushima because the radiation effects would not show up until they were long dead?
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    You need to explain that remark a little better.
     
  10. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Anderson owns his own aircraft and it's a different aircraft a P51 , from what I've seen never tried it looks easier then a Spit,
     
  11. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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  12. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    The age argument has been demolished already. About being difficult or not, I don't know. But the guy insisted, and since the flown the plane a lot, he probably knows what he is talking about. Even so, will let others to opine about this.
     
  13. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Stocky Edwards flew the VWOC P-40 at age 88.
     

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  14. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    #14 pbfoot, Jan 18, 2012
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
    , we put an elderly Typhoon pilot in MK912 and it was real tough getting him out , they had already put pilllows in the seat pan it was work and dangerous for him , some can other s are willing but age is deceptive my Dad who is almost 90 has trouble getting out of the these old aircraft. That is Mr Haliday in the green jacket on blue cherry picker 2 tours one on Halifaxs I on Lancs.
     

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  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Exactly.

    Steve
     
  16. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    This is appliable to everyone. So, nobody should sit in the plane.
     
  17. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Getting in some aircraft can be a athletic challenge, sometimes if you don't start out on the correct foot , you'll find yourself in a unbalanced position, far up in the air trying to figure out what to hold to with one hand while swinging one foot,etc. etc. Mess it up bad and you'll mess youself up, maybe the aircraft too. Just take a good look at how you entered a B-17 from the front hatch, for example.

    Military aircraft of the WW2 era, and fighters in particular were designed for entry by their typical pilots, young men, in the fullest vigor of their youth, sad but true.
     
  18. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    If the seat wasn't in the aircraft, then entry would be particularly difficult. The Spitfire does not have a floor to the cockpit, just a cross frame and the tubes for the rudder controls. You have to lower yourself into the seat when entering and, on exit, use the seat as a lever to get the left leg out of the small side hatch first.
    If there isn't a seat, then it's not possible to sit in the aircraft anyway.
     
  19. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    I'm trying to show what is crossing the minds of the museums and operators of aircraft , if you've ever been near these aircraft and that is doubtful because of your location you would know that most operators and museums try very hard to accomodate the old guys but please think of trying to lift a 75kg weight verticle while standing on a painted inclined surface
     
  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Exactly Neil. I'm about to turn 60, and there is no way I could even step onto the wing root of a Spit these days. I'm still relatively fit, but the RA would prevent me from getting onto the wing without a lot of help, and steps of some kind. To actually get in to the cockpit of a Spit would be virtually impossible without help, and bear in mind that, for a 'warbird', the Spit is one of the easier aircraft to access, due to the cockpit hatch. I'd have no chance whatsoever in a Mustang!
     
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