The basic premise of the Project Propeller scheme is to match up WWII RAF air crew with current pilots and to gather together for a day at a significant location. The air crew and pilots meet up at a convenient airfield, fly to the venue for the day, then fly back home once the event comes to an close. In addition (and all other conditions being favourable) it is hoped that the veteran air crew get an opportunity for some more "stick and rudder" time.
Project Propeller began in 1999 following discussions between Ian Burnstock and Gideon Todes. Ian and Gideon are keen pilots and were looking for a more meaningful reason to go flying (other than just for the fun of it!). On their travels around the UK, especially in East Anglia, they became aware of the hundreds of World War II airfields that, though now disused, were still very obvious from an aerial viewpoint. This started them thinking how many of the WWII RAF air crew are still survivng, and would they once again like to get airborne. The cost of the exercise was to be borne by current pilots offering their aircraft for flights from their home field with one or two air crew on board.
With this seed of an idea they contacted the Air Crew Association (ACA) to ask for volunteers to take part in the inaugural event. Pilots were recruited via word of mouth and adverts placed in a few aviation publications - all sorts offered to take part, from basic PPL's to full commercial ATPL's with thousands of hours in their log books. Soon there were about 60 pilots and 120 air crew all revved up and ready to go.
North Weald hosted the opening 1999 event with everyone enjoying the ambience of a WWII airfield. Complimentary refreshments were provided - tea, coffee and bacon butties - with the mess being available for those with a taste for something stronger. All agreed that it was a great day and we should do it again. The next year (May 2000) saw almost 100 aircraft and over 200 air crew fly into Duxford for a wonderful day, including aerial displays by both a Spitfire and a DC3. Since then, our annual reunion has visited Duxford, Kemble, Elvington, Halfpenny Green (Wolverhampton), Bruntingthorpe, East Kirkby and Wickenby.
Since the 2000 event at Duxford, an organising committee has been in place. The committee members are Ian Burnstock, Dave Cockburn, Dennis and Lynette Ray, Aneurin Hughes and Peter Rackliff. Aneurin and Peter are WWII RAF air crew, the rest of the committee are current pilots. Gideon retired from Project Propeller in February of 2001, but will continue to take part as a volunteer pilot.
The new decade sees a new captain at the controls though. Dennis Ray retired at the end of the 2009 event, and introduced Nick Potter as our new co-ordinator.
We are always looking for more helpers. If you can spare us some time please get in touch.
34 Dorset square
Tel: +44 (0)2072 624709