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Old 23-12-21, 04:30 AM
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Default The Great RAF Mail Flight of 1999

Let's step into the "Way-Back Machine" and I'll share the story of The Great RAF Mail Flight of 1999. In the 90's I was collecting WWI and WWII aviation, and got to know Ed Storo, who built a full scale Bristol F2B two-seat fighter in his garage. I made several flights with him, and only because it was a WWI replica as I am terrified of heights, flying and spiders!

I was also corresponding with the retired RAF officer running the RAF Benevolent Fund, running the WWI first day Cover program. He had two covers coming up for the US Air Service and asked if I could him get some signatures and help make them special. I said give me a few days and I'll get back to you with a plan.

The plan turned out to be The Great RAF Mail Flight of 1999. Ed who still lived in Memphis said, yep, he'd be happy to help and donate the fuel to fly the plane, I contacted the editor of "Over the Front", a WWI journal, and I contacted the Memphis Belle people who at the time had the Belle on Mud Island, asking them to verify the flight. I also contacted local TV to see fi they wanted to cover the story, but they declined saying there wasn't enough interest in it (read below).

So, on a very cold day in February (-9.44 C)we all planned to meet at a small airport just out of town in Memphis, Tennessee. The flight plan was to fly out to the Mississippi River, then over the Belle on Mud Island and back to the airport.

We made three flights, with each AG carrying part of the covers in an vintage air mail bag that Ed had. Oh my was it cold!!!!, and even colder in flight! Oh, and as for no interest as professed by the local TV station, it ended up that people stopped their cars on the Arkansas-Tennessee bridge to watch us fly over and people came out of downtown buildings to watch us!!!

If I haven't put you to sleep yet, here are a few of the pictures.


Me before the flights started, and cooold, without a coat just for the picture.


Cleared for take-off


About to cross the Arkansas-Tennessee bridge and then over the Belle on Mud Island. The Belle was under the white round cover you see just over the wing.


Coming back for the landing. Ed asked me if I wanted to fly around and I quickly, said, "No, that's OK!". He always took off and landed on the grass.

I'll post this and pick it up in a second chapter.

Terry
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Old 23-12-21, 04:47 AM
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The Great RAF Mail Flight of 1999 Chapter 2


Capt. Ed smiling for the camera


Me, ever the happy air gunner posing for the media!!!


This was the real me - terrified and cold! We hit a wind sheer and instantly dropped about 40 or 50 feet on our port wing, an di knew that was going to be the end!!! Capt. Ed just kept right on smiling (he was a pilot for FedEx)!






The Log Book and AG wing that Ed presented me with the next time I saw him in July. These are two of of my personal favorite treasures.


I contacted a rubber stamp company and told them what I need and what I was doing. They donated this special stamp made just for the flight. I presented to to Ed on the lunch after the flights. I also stamped enough of these small white cards so that one, without the signatures, could be included with each cover. I then had all four people involved sign a card for each of us as a little memento.


Ed signing the covers at lunch after the flights. He signed them all, and then each AG signed those they carried.


My bravery did not go unnoticed, as this is my VC for not being such a big baby on my flight! (yes, it's a cheap fake)

The other USAS cover I helped with getting a relative of Raoul Lufbery to sign.

Sorry for this being so long, but there were just lots of facets to it.



Terry

Last edited by Home Guard; 23-12-21 at 06:30 PM.
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Old 23-12-21, 06:27 AM
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The best read here in a long time for me, thanks for sharing it with us
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Old 23-12-21, 06:48 AM
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A great thread Terry , always something interesting ....and different .


But where are the bunnies ? (hare mail)

.
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Old 23-12-21, 06:49 AM
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Looks fun!
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Old 23-12-21, 08:39 AM
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Terry, absolutely great story, Well done.
As for Mike, go stand in a corner - hare mail indeed......
Terry did "RABBIT" on a bit though ...

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Originally Posted by mike_vee View Post
A great thread Terry , always something interesting ....and different .

But where are the bunnies ? (hare mail)

.
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Old 23-12-21, 10:29 AM
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Smile The Great RAF Mail Flight of 1999

What an article, great story, well presented, there were no spiders up there . . !

Too cold!

Rob
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Old 23-12-21, 11:55 AM
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'Outstanding' !!
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Old 23-12-21, 06:29 PM
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Thank you gentlemen for the kind replies. I was a little concerned that it might not have been of interest.

Ed later sold the Bristol Fighter to a fellow in Australia, and is working, or has completed a full scale Bristol Bulldog.

Terry
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Old 24-12-21, 04:44 AM
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Whereabouts in Australia?? Maybe I will be able to book a flight over the harbour bridge.
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Old 24-12-21, 05:21 AM
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Great story!
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Old 24-12-21, 05:25 PM
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Kingsley, I am not sure who or where n Australia. I did a search on YouTube and found this so maybe it can provide a lead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oW9ybFx540

Terry
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