Friday, 11 October 2019 17:49

RAF veteran returns to the skies to recreate his first flight in Tiger Moth Featured

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RAF veteran Anthony 'Spike' Hughes fulfilled his dream of flying one last time in the same plane he completed his maiden flight.

The 83-year-old joined pilot Chris Thompson in a Tiger Moth biplane 68 years after he first took to the skies in the biplane.

“It was a little bit bumpy and noisy, just like I remember, but was an excellent experience,” said Spike.

The veteran joined the RAF as an apprentice at the age of 15, where he earned his affectionate nickname ‘Spike’.

But his roles as ground crew and then engineer in the 57th Squadron meant he stayed mostly out of the skies during his 45-year career in the force.

Spending his final years at RAF Lyneham, Spike did fly occasionally and always dreamed of getting back in a cockpit one last time.

Spike’s bucket list wish finally came true as the plane performed several acrobatic manoeuvres, including barrel rolls and loop-the-loops over Bicester Airfield.

Asked if he found the experience scary, Spike replied: “Scared? No, it’s natural being up there. It's more daunting bus rides!”

Spike, who lives at Goatacre Manor Care Centre in Calne, continued: “What a fitting way to end my time in the air. It’s been a very long time since I was last in the skies.

“I loved every second of it and can’t thank everyone at Goatacre enough for helping to fulfil my wish.”

Spike’s daughter, Sheryl Hall, who is a receptionist at Goatacre, said: “It was a very special day today. Just amazing and emotional.

“I was a little bit nervous wondering how he was, so I was amazed how he took it all in his stride.

“I said to my son ‘hopefully mum is up there looking down on him 'thinking silly old fool!’”

The de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth biplane used for Spike’s flight was operated by the RAF throughout the 1930s to 1950s.

Almost 9,000 of the iconic aircraft were produced, but only around 250 are still in use today.

Sheryl added: “Just seeing dad’s face made the whole experience really amazing.

“It’s very important for residents to get out of the home and do the things they’ve always wanted to do.

“Given the chance I think he’d want to do it all again tomorrow,” she said.

Pilot Chris, from Finest Hour Experiences which gifted spike the flight, said: “It was great to commemorate Spike’s time serving in the RAF with a flight.

"He couldn’t wipe that cheesy grin off his face.”

Spike, who lives with Parkinson's, used the event to help raise vital funds for Parkinson’s UK.

Read this article on the Gazette and Herald here...

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