A 94-year-old Kenilworth RAF veteran had a ‘wonderful experience’ revisiting the bases he spent time at during the Second World War in a helicopter journey as part of a competition.
Retired Flight Lieutenant Russell ‘Rusty’ Waughman, of Elmdene Road, and Kenilworth helicopter pilot David Monks, of Reeve Drive, made the journey in July as part of the British Helicopter Club’s ‘Dawn to Dusk’ flying competition.
And the pair were awarded second prize in a ceremony held at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London on Friday February 3 for the originality of their journey.
Rusty said: “It was quite a remarkable thing, and a wonderful experience flying round all of my old air force bases.
“There were some places that were no longer airfields any more, but it brought back so many memories of so many places.
“To me, of course it was wonderful to come second. I don’t think David was disappointed, but nearly everybody I spoke to at the ceremony said we should’ve come first.”
The flight was Rusty’s first time in a helicopter.
When asked if he was nervous before he got in with David, Rusty said: “No, not at all. It was just something that happened - there was no question of nerves before the flight.
“I would have no qualms about getting in a helicopter again.”
David, the chairman of the British Helicopter Club and a seasoned competitive pilot, first met Rusty when he was looking for someone to speak at the British Helicopter Club’s AGM.
Rusty is the father-in-law of one of David’s friends, and the pair hit it off almost immediately after they were introduced.
He told David of his time as a Lancaster pilot during the Second World War, and showed him a long list of camps that he stayed at during his time serving with Squadron 101.
The list inspired David to enter the competition with Rusty as his navigator.
The tag line for the competition is ‘to encourage the most interesting employment of a flying machine within the limits of competent airmanship and to demonstrate the capabilities of pilot and machine in a days flying during the hours between dawn to dusk.’
In order to make the journey appealing to the judges, David decided to incorporate the bases in their eight-hour flight across the country.
The journey took in 21 airfields and covered 643 miles in total. The pair went as far south as Bristol and as far north as RAF Dishforth in Yorkshire before finishing in Wellesbourne.
As well as the novelty of the flight, the competition judges journeys based on the quality of the log book filled out before and during the journey.
Rusty and David declined to use GPS technology on their flight, preferring to use old-fashioned techniques such as using a magnetic compass.
David commented on how fit and enthusiastic Rusty was throughout the flight.
David said: “He was truly alive during the flight and his mind was as sharp as ever. At the end of the journey, he got out of the helicopter but I fell out of it.
“I didn’t really expect to do that well in the competition in some respects. But considering it was the first time we entered it was a great achievement.
“Rusty was thrilled, and everybody was very impressed.”