Keith Wilkinson – post-war visit
Keith Wilkinson – post-war visit

Keith Wilkinson – post-war visit

Keith Wilkinson’s memories of visiting Church Fenton as a youngster in the immediate post-war period.

Church Fenton played a role in guiding me towards a career in Aviation. 
So I really appreciate your dedication to this website.

My introduction to airplanes was when my Dad took me on a flight around Blackpool in a DH Rapide when I was quite young,

But that was nothing compared to listening to the sound of the Merlin engines of Spitfires and Mosquitos in the sky over Church Fenton and watching a Mosquito firing its 20 mm canons at a gun butt (into sand bags ?). I seem to remember that I retrieved one of those shiny shell cases.

I have no idea of the year(s) of these Air Shows but you have enough info to get the general time frame.

At another show, later in time, I remember that I talked to a Meteor demonstration pilot, there were lots of Meteors at Church Fenton at that time.

There had been a recent article on flying the Meteor in “The Aeroplane” 
magazine, so I was asking the pilot questions about engine start up procedures which raised his eyebrows.

On more than one occasion I cycled the 19 miles from Leeds just to watch over the hedge at whatever might be happening.

Now here’s something that has me a bit mystified. I could have sworn that there was a point in time when Orenda powered F-86 Sabres were at Church Fenton. I know that the evidence on your website and the Internet doesn’t point to it, but I remember clearly being on the airfield and someone pointing out to me an F-86 in a hangar that had collided with a bird and the radome gunsite on the upper lip of the intake was crushed. I also remember being impressed that I was able to push in the leading edge slats of the F-86 with little resistance. I could have sworn that it was a Church Fenton. I also remember witnessing F-86 takeoffs in which the plane was held low over the fields until it built up a lot of knots when the pilot hauled back on the stick.
So was this a squadron passing through ? I have no idea.

Can you shed any light on this matter ?

I was able to visit an Air Show at Yeovilton this September where I recorded the sound of the Merlin engines of the Battle of Britain Flight’s Lancaster, Spitfire, and Hurricane on my camcorder. A sound that I had not heard for many years.

I am very pleased to see, from your website, that they still have air shows at Church Fenton after all these years. We are talking about a long tradition.

I am retired from Northrop Grumman Corporation in New York. I had a very satisfying career in aviation having a role in the development of the F-14 Tomcat fighter and the X-29 forward swept wing demonstrator.

Thank you for your dedication to Church Fenton