Octagon Newsletter January 1995

By Alan Fraser

Recently I was engulfed in nostalgia. A friend asked me to take his venerable fleece-lined leather flying jacket for a drive before he sent it to a museum, thinking that a brisk drive in a TC would purge the mothballs and renew the old MG aura of oil and leather. I knew this jacket well, having admired it during many cold drives as we enjoyed our T-Types, even in the pre-club days. Knowing that the old jacket had been part of an RCAF fighter squadron and had seen combat over Europe, I donned it with respect for its historical significance.

It is strange how a change of clothing can fire your imagination. As soon as I zipped up the old leather, tightened the broad belt and the sleeves, I saw everything differently. I walked carefully around the TC before climbing into the cockpit. I shouted 'contact' and spun the starter. As the other cars swung out into line, I leaned over the door and signaled for the chocks to be pulled clear and we were off. (At this point my favourite co-pilot was looking at me strangely.) I felt the nose rise as I opened the throttle and formed up behind the flight leader.

As we cruised along the by-ways, I held tightly to the wheel-like stick and enjoyed the feel and smell of the craft. On we sped in loose formation, I constantly craned my neck, checking all quarters for bogies (at this point my favourite co-pilot suggested that I should have my shoulder checked). As a mad tourist swung out ahead of me, my thumb tightened instinctively on the horn button and I imagined my shoulder chafing against the canopy from the recoil of the eight cannons (the shoulder leather of the jacket is worn for just such a reason). The exhilarating rush of cold wind on the face, the warmth and protection of the heavy leather jacket and the company of our squadron made the day all the more exciting as the old machine blasted its throaty exhaust back over the cockpit.

At last we arrived at our destination. I circled until I got the signal to set down and taxi into a hardstand. I switched off, felt the great engine come to rest and warned MFC-P to watch the prop as she climbed down (at this point MFC-P suggested that I should have my head examined). Alighting on the tarmac, I looked back at the streamlined craft. Unenlightened folk might think that I was simply admiring my little TC when, in fact, I was checking for bullet holes or loosened panels in the Supermarine streamliner.

Reluctantly I returned the well-worn flying jacket to ex-Flight Lieutenant Jim Waddell. I knew now why he and I had so many good runs in our cars in past years. While I had been confined to the ground, he was always flying at another level in his TD! We thanked Jim and, as we turned to leave, I heard My Favourite Wife quietly suggest that he keep the jacket somewhere safely away from me; she felt that my driving technique was quite different when under the influence of the old coat.

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