"The Old Fart"

Before writing about the flying phase of my life I am going to tell you about some strange happenings that I have never been able to explain and I have often wondered about them since. In my last story I mentioned that my father had died when I was 15yrs. old. Now I think I am a normal person who has to have things proved to be able to believe them. I neither believe nor disbelieve in life on other planets.

I was on holiday on a boat in the Channel Islands and when I left home my father was in hospital as usual. I hardly knew him as he had spent most of my life in hospital. He was no worse than usual when I left home on the Saturday morning. On Tuesday afternoon we entered St Peter Port and went out on the town. At 0200hrs. my skipper woke me up as I was having a nightmare. I had dreamt that my father had just died. Early the next morning the Police came on board and the skipper came and told me that my dream was true. My father had died at 0200hrs. that night.

From that time on I started to have premonitions of bad things, usually things that would save my life, but not always.

A girl friend and I were driving to Devon through the night (In those days there were no motorways and driving at night was the quickest way to drive any distance) I was driving fast when suddenly I seemed to be above and behind the car. I could see ahead of the car was a right hand bend in the road that was to sharp to see round. There on this bend was a lorry on it’s side across the road.

I slammed the brakes on and skidded to a halt only about 50ft from the lorry. Had I not had this unexplained premonition we would definitely have hit the lorry and at the speed I had been driving the outcome would have been fatal.

That was the first time I had a premonition and it left me both grateful and at the same time slightly unnerved.

The second time was when I was learning aerobatics in a Chipmunk aeroplane.

My tutor was an ex RAF pilot and did sport the most magnificent ginger handlebar moustache. He had nerves of steel (If he had any at all) and his favourite trick was to fly past the control tower at 50ft above the parked aeroplanes. Fine you might say , but this was inverted. The control tower staff were forever warning him and he was forever doing it. The main trouble was that quite often I was in the aeroplane too and the stink sometimes grew very nasty.

On the occasion of the second premonition we were over the English channel having flown over to France and not having any bags of flower to drop on them we were both bored to tears, so on the way back the voice in my headset said “I have control” to which I replied “ You have control”. (This is the correct procedure when handing over control of the aeroplane to another person). In a Chipmunk the pilot and passenger sit behind each other and so cannot see each other and the only contact between each other is over the radio.

He executed a couple of Split “S”s which is quite simple to do but takes practice to come out on exactly the opposite course to the one you were on when you started. Of course he was spot on as usual. He then handed over the controls and said “Beat that”. As I climbed for more height I suddenly was up above and behind the aeroplane again just like the car incident. I could see that something was wrong with the rudder. It seemed to be flapping at the top. It really shook me up and I flatly refused to fly the aeroplane any more. My Tutor realised that I was so unnerved that just maybe I had felt something through the rudder peddles and for my sake he had better fly us gently home. When we landed we looked at the rudder and saw that the top rudder pintle (hinge) had broken and had we continued with our antics over the Channel we would most likely have swum back. The aeroplane was owned by a very reputable organisation and was in first class condition. It had had its pre flight check before we took off and no problems were found.

One more story that I want to tell is when Donald Campbell attempted his World Water Speed record on Lake Coniston I was talking to my mother when I suddenly stopped and blurted out “Donald Campbell's just been killed”. Later we heard that he had crashed in Bluebird and they had not found his body.

I would also pick up the telephone before it rang and found someone on the other end.

There were many more ’happenings’ over the years, which finally stopped about 20yrs ago.

Everything I have told you is perfectly true and definitely originated with my father’s death.

I really don’t know what to believe anymore but I do know what happened to me.

I am not a crank and would love to hear from anybody else with similar experiences. I am sure that Martin would not mind you putting your experiences in writing on Mayhem, as just maybe it would help me to understand what I went through.

The Old Fart