WWII Memories
Personal Histories of World War Two

Pilot Training at Brough

Mr. Chapman was interviewed on 14 April 1992, by Brian Catchpole for his book Balloons to Buccaneers: Yorkshire's role in aviation since 1785.

Interview with Gordon Chapman

Click on the image to see a larger version Tiger Moth aeroplane (click to expand)

On a late night train I arrived at Brough, hiding in the gloom of a blackout still in force.

The railway footbridge was shipped by a chilly March wind that carried a salty tang, a hint of the river close by.

Daylight revealed the Blackburn factory.

I and the other new arrivals made our way with the early shift workers to the airfield and breakfast.

The first days were spent in classrooms where we were introduced to the flying programme and some of the potential hazards.

Temptation to fly between the brickworks' chimneys at Gilberdyke would mean a quick end to our flying activities…

With patient instruction I at last began to learn to fly the wonderfully sensitive Moth, and to get it back safely on the ground without subjecting it to the unkind thump of a landing from twenty feet.

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Going solo was the high point.

After about six hours in the air I was handed over to the Squadron Leader for my solo check.

This fearsome individual could have been the model for the aircrew “type”.

Dashing manner, handlebar moustache on a lively face crowned with a silver painted helmet!

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...the Squadron Leader had gone mad and was trying to tip me out of the aircraft.
Gordon Chapman

I managed a textbook take-off and felt reasonably pleased with my performance as I flew the downwind leg of the circuit over the river.

Without warning, the stick was grabbed from my hand and the aircraft tipped on its side.

Through strapped in, I had the impression that the Squadron Leader had gone mad and was trying to tip me out of the aircraft.

A thought confirmed, for he gesticulated towards the river below.

Above the roar of the wind and the engine I heard the words, “Tidal bore!”

Sure enough, there on the wide river was the wave of the bore running on the surface.

In other circumstances I might have enjoyed sighting this phenomenon but not at this critical moment…

I must have completed the rest of the circuit in competent fashion as he (the Squadron Leader) left the aircraft after we landed and gave me the thumbs-up to take the aircraft up on my own.

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