Wings Over Britain – Partner Podcast Update

Reviewing the Wings Over Britain podcast episodes released so far

'Wings Over Britain'. The Full Scale Model (FSM) fiberglass Hawker Hurricane outside the Battle of Britain Chapel, Biggin Hill. [Photo by Dave Homewood]
United Fuel Cells

By Matt Austin

One of the joys of being a young aviation enthusiast in the 1980s was the opportunity to sit and listen to the stories of those with first-hand experience of the times and events of history. The Second World War was then forty years in the past, an unimaginable lifetime for a 15 year-old, but the accounts shared by men and women in their sixties bridged the gulf of time. Coming to understand that it’s the human story that gives meaning to the machines, one came to learn the value of listening, be it as a junior member of the local aviation museum which had Second World War veterans amongst its ranks, at home as grandparents spoke of life in a time of war, or in a myriad of other social settings. That fascination with the human story remains today.

The modern, atmospheric tribute sculpture at the International Bomber Command Centre. [Photo by Dave Homewood]

Now that another four decades have passed, most of those voices are no more, but we’re fortunate that people made an effort to record these stories. Even more so, an important role has been played by people who have been recording the stories of the past and making them available as a resource for us to listen to and enjoy. One such resource is the Wings Over New Zealand Show, established by Dave Homewood in 2011 as a podcast addition to his successful Wings Over New Zealand aviation forum. This forum reflects Dave’s lifelong interest in aviation, and builds upon his 2003 Wings Over Cambridge website, a collation of interviews and records of people from New Zealand’s Cambridge district who served. These resources all present valuable information relating to aviation history in New Zealand and beyond, including interviews recorded in Australia in 2015 as part of his Wings Over Australia series.

In 2023, Dave traveled to the UK to record the Wings Over Britain series. He traveled to centers of historic aviation, aircraft museums and aviation heritage centers, war memorials, vintage warbird collections,and air displays, where he recorded interviews with people representing all facets of vintage and historic aviation. These included historians, pilots, restoration figures, and collection personnel, recognizing, of course, that these roles overlap in many people. Dave’s own experience in the RNZAF gives him the ability to understand the unique context of military service, and his unobtrusive interview style is a pleasure to listen to. The episodes are each around an hour long, and make a fascinating evening’s listening, or they can pass the time very well on the daily commute. [You can listen to a preview of the plan, and a look back at the Wings Over Australia series of 2015, here.]

Episodes feature interviews with key people involved with the following:

* Naval aviation historian Lee Howard and Navy Wings’ marketing manager Rob Jones are featured in Episode 277, recorded during a walk-around the Navy Wings restoration facility at RNAS Yeovilton.

Rob Jones and Lee Howard with one of the Navy Wings Swordfish. [Photo by Dave Homewood]

* Later, in Episode 280, we return to RNAS Yeovilton to hear Dave interview David Morris, the Principal Conservator of the Fleet Air Arm Museum, covering naval military aviation from 1909 to the modern era.

* In Episode 276, we meet New Zealander Ross Boyens, whose RAF career included operations during the Falklands War and with the Red Arrows  display team, along with a fascinating post-service career.

Allan Winn, the New Zealander who is the former Director and CEO of Brooklands Museum, and currently the vice president of the Brooklands Trust. [Photo Dave Homewood]

* We join Dave in Episode 278, speaking with curator Andrew Lewis and ex-director and Kiwi expat Allan Winn about the history of the site and the development of the Brooklands Museum.

* In Episode 279, Dave Cole, a guide at the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum, shares the history of the famous fighter station, and verger Margaret Wilmot showcases the St George RAF Chapel of Remembrance.

Margaret Wilmot, Verger of St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance, at Biggin Hill. [Photo by Dave Homewood]

* The story of Flight Lieutenant Alastair ‘Sandy’ Gunn is featured in Episode 281, including the recovery and ongoing restoration of Sandy’s Spitfire PR.IV AA810, told by restoration leader Tony Hoskins.

* The Shuttleworth Collection is featured in Episode 283, with aviation photographer Darren Harbar, historian Steve Darlow, WW2 bomber pilot George Dunn, and Bristol Scout re-creator David Bremmer.

David Bremner with a photo of his grandfather, Royal Naval Air Service pilot Francis Bremner, in the cockpit of the Bristol Scout. [Photo Dave Homewood]

* Archivists Dr. Dan Ellin and Peter Jones discuss the International Bomber Command Centre in Episode 286, recording histories and archiving documents, to share the story with school groups and families.

* Dave interviews John Marshal-East and Andrew Panton, key figures at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, home of Lancaster NX611 and Mosquito HJ711, and memorial to Chris Panton.

Dave Gledhill sits in the front cockpit of the Tornado simulator. [Photo Dave Homewood]

* In Episode 287, we meet author and aviator Dave Gledhill, former RAF navigator and owner of an ex-RAF Tornado simulator at Thorpe Camp museum.

* The de Havilland Aircraft Museum features in Episode 289, with Ian Thirsk, the Mosquito Team Leader, who shares the story of the museum’s three Mosquitoes, along with their extensive broader collection.

Ian Thirsk in front of the de Havilland Mosquito prototype W4050. [Photo by Dave Homewood]

* Episode 288 features the incomparable Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, guide Julian Maslin shows Dave and Barbara Hunter around the collection, presenting their histories and day-to-day operations.

* Author, journalist, and historian Andy Saunders is interviewed in Episode 292, sharing his fascinating lifelong involvement in aviation history, preservation, research, and publications.

Darren Priday, Manager of the RAF Museum’s Conservation Centre, with the Vickers Wellington. Photo by Dave Homewood]

* In Episode 291, The RAF Museum Midlands collection at Cosford is outlined by Darren Priday, Manager of the Conservation Centre, and we learn about their restoration and conservation work.

* The RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre’s curator Tony Philpot is interviewed in Episode 295, outlining the history of the site which includes a rich connection with New Zealand.

* Episode 294 features aviation journalist Steve Bridgewater, who is interviewed about his decades of involvement with aviation magazines and broader historic aviation in general.

At the time of writing, several further episodes are in production. A new episode featuring Rebecca Greenwood Harding and the Imperial War Museum at Duxford had just been released, and it’s sure to be a good one.

Listening to these podcast episodes is like sitting with like-minded aviation enthusiasts as they share their involvement in aviation preservation, research, and education. We’re fortunate that Dave Homewood has worked to present these fascinating podcast episodes for us to enjoy.

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