From Supermarine Seafire VVII to Douglas DC-10 (Kindle)
A Lifetime of Flight
Ronalds Williams was conscripted into the Royal Navy for National Service in the 1950s and offered pilot training. After getting his ‘Wings’ his first operational naval aircraft was the Seafire XVII - the Spitfire with a Navy arrester hook. During an overconfident first solo, he survived the nearest near miss of all time. Posted to 1831 Squadron RNVR, he flew the Hawker Sea Fury, the world’s fastest piston engine and later the jet-engined Attacker.
Having sat for a commercial pilot’s licence he joined Cambrian Airways flying Doves, Herons and DC-3s around the UK and Europe before moving on to Independent Air Travel BlueAir, a charter airline and cofounder of the massive inclusive tour holiday business, flying the Vickers Viking and DC-4s around Europe and the Far East. The collapse of this Company led to joining Freddy Laker’s Air Charter as a Navigator on their DC-4 Adelaide contract, and, in between, flying the Bristol Freighter from Southend Airport on their cross channel car ferry.
Delivering a Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer to the Dakar, he survived the night ditching of a fixed undercarriage aircraft in the eye of an intense depression off the Canary Islands. Attempting to divert, he was lucky to find the ‘eye’ of this mini-hurricane and even luckier to find a Spanish trawler inside. In mountainous seas he ditched the aircraft in front of the boat.
Demoted to co-pilot, to get the top jet on his licence, he joined Aer Lingus Irish international flying Boeing 707s before moving on to Cathay Pacific Airways in
Ronald Williams was lucky enough to be selected as a National Service trainee pilot in December 1953 and so was able to sample the thrills of flying the Seafire, a navalised version of the well-known and beloved Spitfire and them to be converted onto its jet-powered successors. Navy pilots have always required certain basic skills and flying as a National Service pilot in the postwar Royal Navy was certainly challenging, with some quite alarming accident rates.Speedreaders
I simply could not put this book down. It is Ronald’s life story and an absolutely fascinating read. There are only brief mentions of his Conway training (1948-50) and his short spell with Royal Mail Lines but it is the rest of his life as a pilot that rivets attention. He started in the Fleet Air Arm and later moved into commercial flying; freight, passengers, short and long haul he’s done it all, and had some near misses, incredible scrapes and amusing adventures along the way. Thoroughly recommended.The Cadet