Tuesday, August 20, 2013

As, Belgium Revisited

August 20, 2013 - When Bill and I went to As and Opglabbeek in Belgium three and a half years ago to see the place where Dad had bailed out of his plane, I wasn’t sure if I’d ever get back. But I did and my daughter Holly did too. An old friend of mine from the 1950s in Echternach, Luxembourg and his wife were our hosts during our wonderful visit back in time. Jemp Friedrich and Lony Hansen drove us to the Mardaga on Monday, August 5, 2013 where we met our old friend Karel. Jemp told us that my Dad was his first hero – how about that! He said that Dad didn’t say very much about his being wounded and shot down but I guess that was enough for a teenager who had read all about the Spitfire pilots.

We walked in the hotel and there was the plaque that my cousin John had designed and had made hanging on the wall in the lobby. And Karel had arranged to have two pieces of the plane framed to hang beside the plaque. It was quite moving to see it again.
 
 

We met Karel who took us to all the spots – Y32-Ophoven airfield, the school where the officers and pilots stayed and where the hospital was that treated the wound in Dad’s right arm. And then we went up behind the Mardaga to see the crash site of Dad’s Spitfire. I had seen the area very briefly in the winter of 2010 and did not walk in but did this time. I felt kind of odd and awed by it. There’s nothing to see on the ground. There are trees now, there weren’t any back then. It’s very peaceful now. 
 
 

We all went out to supper as the Mardaga’s restaurant was closed on Mondays. Karel told us that his and William’s book on the war will be coming out in 2016. They are finishing up some interviews and the mayor has most generously agreed to pay for the publishing. This book was started, in part, as a result of our visit three years ago. People have just now started talking about what happened in their community all those years ago.

Since Lony and Jemp had not heard all the details that Karel had been sending to us, they asked lots of questions and it was good to hear it all again.
 
 

Karel had brought 3 pieces of the plane with him for me to take home. There is a pump, an exploded piece of ammo and a piece of aluminum which could have come from the body or the wing. I will be bringing these back to Canada.
 


 

There are not enough words to thank Karel and all the other people who have helped me and my family understand and know more about who our Dad was in a vital part of his life.

And for those who might be interested in this 2013 trip to Europe, please go to http://2013anne.blogspot.ca/.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

First Flight of Phil's Model - June 23, 2012

Dad's model Spitfire took flight! While it wasn't a total success, it flew long enough for those of us on the ground to cheer. I am putting in the comments below that came after Gord sent out the video. Rob edited the video somewhat as well.

It looks like the video will have to go on YouTube and here's the link to the edited version - http://youtu.be/fKDs_0E0nTI. And here is the unedited version - http://youtu.be/HkjV5DFPdTc. You'll have to copy and paste the links.

Here's the first message that came from Gord - "The good news is the plane flew, the bad news is the crash into the trees. One of the aileron linkages let go, and Brian could not recover - he's an excellent pilot. The video isn't great but you get the idea. And for full disclosure, I'm sending a picture of the wing damage. There wasn't much other damage, as the trees broke the fall a bit. I'll take some time to let this all settle in before I decide what to do next. Gord"



From Cousin David Hall - "Never mind, Gord. just to see it in the air was wonderful after all that work and testing. And you might reference your Dad's flight log, after all the flying he had done, when taking off for Belgium in late 1944, he 'pranged' his Spitfire. Now, for me a little considered part of of warfare has always been the mechanical failures-things wear out and break or don't perform as expected. One has to weave all that into the experience. And it makes it more real. Hell, if it was easy, everyone would do it. You are still da man for pursuing this. David"

From me - "It was wonderful to see it take off and listen to it. Congratulations for getting this plane so far along. And thanks to Brian for all his assistance. Love, Anne"

From sister Louise - "Oh SHIT is right! Too bad but hey- you will fly again, Gord!
Weese"

From brother Don - "Hey Gordini. That was absolutely, seriously, excellent!!! When I look at the freeze frame of the video right after the Spitfire takes off, I get a megabuzz of Dad taking off in the grass. What an image!! Brian was brilliant and I enjoyed the cinema verite classic ending, "Oh Shit!!!" Flying the Spitfire was SO 'the right thing to do' and the Spit looked AMAZING in the air; like it couldn't wait to get soaring and diving. So, fix it up (Epoxy Phil...) at your leisure and let's do this again; this time maybe those who want to could join in to watch, now that you've taken the hard knocks for us all by actually flying. Well done, good and faithful servant ("God", it's a good thing). Big D"

From brother Rob - "Hi all - I'm with you Don - the first few seconds as the plane was taxiing and taking off, the shadow underneath and the first banking turn are magnificent! I edited the start of the clip and slowed it down - see what I mean? Whatever else happens, Gordo, the effort was worth every second of the flight and, as the Aussies say, "Good on yer, mate!" We'll talk again about a North Bay fly-in this summer (after the shad flies and deer flies have settled). Rob"

From friend Karel - "Too bad the plane crashed but the damage looks repairable. It was very nice to see the spitfire getting airborn, could it be the CG was too far back, as the plane seemed to hang on its tail? it could just be an impression. I hope the repair will go well. kind regards, Karel"

And from friend Allan - "Hi All, Sorry for the late addition to the discussion, nice to see the little PVK XIV flying – IIRC wasn’t the engine changed on this one, if so is it the same weight as the original as my comments would match those of Karel otherwise? Hopefully the damage shown in the picture isn’t too hard to repair, and we will see it flying again soon – albeit from a distance for Karel and I!! Kind regards to you all. Allan"

And again from brother Gord - "Sister Anne suggested this after I told her of the cockpit damage. Seems the pilot has done a bit of a face plant into the dashboard after the crash. Gord"



Here are a couple of photos from the video of the flight.





This was a long journey as you can see earlier on this blog and I certainly count it as a huge success.

And the Good News from Gord is that the repair work has already started!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

That Spitfire Model Story

While going through all the collection of letters and documents which were carefuly kept by my Mom, I came across two letters of Dad's regarding the model of the Spitfire which was shown in an earlier posted photo with my terrific cousin John Hall.


And so the model got built all those years ago. After Dad died in 1982, his model Spitfire went to one of his best friends, Pete Bonell who subsequently donated it to a small aviation museum at the airbase in North Bay, Ontario. Below are 2 photos of the model in the museum.


As the years went by, the museum really wasn't open very much. My brother Gord took on the project of getting the model back (which took some time) and then wanted to restore/refurbish it with a possible view to flying it.

And here it is on Gord's floor at his home in North Bay. He also sent the specifications of the model - those appear below the photo. It was a long labour but I'm sure it has been most satisfying for Gord and I thank him for the dedication it took.


We'll see what happens this year with the model. Should it fly, I'll let you all know.

PS - I asked brother Gord to contribute a piece to this part of the blog on how this all came about. I've also included a couple letters which are self-explanatory.

"Here's more information. I'm including the letters to and from regarding getting the plane from the museum. Pete and I went there in early April, 2010 to see it and ask Cpt. Newman about its return. Following the correspondence, I picked it up in late June, 2010.

"Pete had mentioned that the original Super Tiger .60 glow fuel motor that Dad had installed ran "hot" and he and his son had removed it to try it in another plane. No luck - it seems it had a faulty bearing. They then prepared it for installation and donation to the museum.

"When I examined it initially, I discovered that 2 of the servo motors (controlling the ailerons and the air actuated landing gear)) were missing. The retractable landing gear was no longer operable (time had taken its toll on the small diameter tubing inside the wing) and the remaining servos (for the rudder and elevator), while working, were somewhat below today's standards.

"I investigated a replacement for the glow fuel motor, but concluded that I would have difficulty testing it in the living room of my condominium. Today's brushless, electric motors weren't available when Dad built the plane. These motors deliver excellent, reliable power and are more than equivalent to the original Super Tiger motor Dad had intended.

"Once that decision was made, it was on to acquiring the motor, speed control and batteries, figuring out where everything was going to go, and get on with the building. During the process, I checked all the screws, nuts, and bolts and ensured that the control surfaces were operating properly. The installation of 3 new, digital servos for the ailerons, rudder and elevator was the final step.

"I touched up the nicks and dings that had occurred to the paint over the years and painted the new parts I had installed. It would have been almost impossible to match the original paint, so I opted for colours which were "close". This way, the work I did will be clearly visible to anyone looking closely.

"I even contacted Dave Platt (the original designer of the model) regarding the plane's likely Center of Gravity. He emailed me back right away, wishing me luck, and suggesting 28%. After figuring out what that meant (28% of the length of the root chord of the wing), I checked and the plane balances. That meant that all of my calculations regarding the weight of the original components which had been removed (motor, fuel tank, throttle servo, fuel lines, and fuel in the original versus the electric motor, speed control and batteries which I had installed) were correct.

"It has been a very satisfying process to have my hands on a model that Dad spent so much time on (he was a great builder). I've been careful to do my best, to make this plane fly. After it flies successfully, I'll take on the task of getting the retractable landing gear operating. I'd like to simply repair the system already in place. If that's not possible, an upgrade to electric retracts is the answer."

And here are the 2 letters -

May 12, 2010

Lt. Col. Francois Beaupre
Base Commander
Canadian Forces Base North Bay
Hornell Heights
North Bay, ON
P0H 1P0

Chairman of CFMAD

Dear Sir,

I am writing today with a request for my father’s (Lt. Col. P.V.K. Tripe) Spitfire which is currently part of the museum’s collection at CFB North Bay.

The Spitfire, which was constructed shortly before his death, was given by my family to Pete Bonell after his death. Pete donated the plane to the museum, where it currently resides, suspended from the ceiling.

The family has great interest in this plane for sentimental reasons (my father flew Spitfire’s during World War II, initially for the RAF and later the RCAF) and I have a keen interest in radio control aircraft. It’s our hope to see the plane fly again.

I discussed the matter, yesterday, with Captain R. Doug Newman, who was kind enough to provide access to the museum, and he suggested I direct this enquiry to you as Base Commander. I understand the museum committee is meeting later this month, and, as there is another model of a Spitfire at the museum, it is our hope that this plane can come back to us.

I have included my address, phone number and email address below and will await the museum’s response.

Your consideration of this request receives our thanks.

Yours sincerely,

Gordon Tripe
North Bay, ON
Email: gtripe@cogeco.ca

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Flight Logs & Diaries - October 1944 to January 1945

So here we are at the end of the flight logs and diaries for Mom and Dad's war. I will be inserting some other photos as I find them over the next while but the this project is almost finished. It has been a long journey. I found out some very interesting things about my Mom and Dad's lives from 1938 through 1945. There are still some gaps and questions but they may have to wait for a while as I digest it all.

As I said at the beginning of this blog, this project would not have happened without the material in my possession now plus material that has come to me from siblings and relatives and great friends along the way.

I remember back in the 90s transcribing the logs and the diaries. I had just retired from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and this was a good way to unwind. I gave copies of that document to siblings and cousins at a family reunion.

Then there was a gap of over 10 years. When my cousins John and David got fired up over those documents and I had acquired a scanner, the project took on a new life. And if you go back to the beginning of this blog, you'll see how it all unfolded.

There are still some entries in Dad's second log book which were made in dribs and drabs into the 1950s. After I do some work on this past part, I will enter them here as well.

I will save some final words for the very end. But it's been a trip!

Anne C.









Flight Logs & Diaries - June to September, 1944






Friday, January 27, 2012

Flight Logs & Diaries - April to May, 1944






My Dad and me in Chester.

This photo is labelled 130 Punjab Squadron. Dad is in the second row and second from the left.