December 6 2013 Latest news:
Monday, September 9, 2013
The sun shone, aircraft buzzed overhead and cars snaked their way in a queue towards Seething Airfield yesterday as the 10th charity air day got under way.
An estimated 5,000 people turned up to the event which raised funds for the East Anglian Air Ambulance and Macmillan Cancer Support, and coincided with the 70th anniversary of the 448th Bomb Group, stationed at the site during the second world war.
The afternoon began with a remembrance service at the restored Control Tower Museum, organised by Pat Everson, the owner of the 448th Bomb Group collection, which included the laying of wreaths and saw a number of American visitors.
Among them was 448th pilot Winfield Spence, now 91, who first came to Seething in November 1943. He flew 30 missions.
“The fact so many people are here today in celebration, with the stalls and exhibits, is wonderful. It shows a community spirit you don’t normally see. It’s been emotional and touching,” he said.
Also present was Col Jeffrey Brett, author of The 448th Bomb Group, Liberators over Germany in WWII and his wife Martha, the granddaughter of Col A Douglas Skaggs, one of the four original crews in the 448th Bomb Group.
“I’ve never been to something like this before – and to see how people valued what my grandfather and his colleagues did here was very moving,” Mrs Brett said. “My grandfather never really talked about what he did here – if you asked it wasn’t something he kept secret but he didn’t brag about it. I can see why they’re all still remembered with honour and pride.”
The Control Tower was restored between 1985 and 1987 with funds sent over from America.
It was reopened in 1987 when a large group of 448th veterans and their families attended the dedication ceremony.
It now houses many displays of the 448th wartime memorabilia.
Other attractions at the event included charity and trade stalls, crafts, childrens’ attractions, classic cars, military vehicles and more than two hours of exhilarating air displays and aerobatics featuring the Blades display team, made up of former Red Arrows pilots; a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight; the B17 Flying Fortress Sally B, which hung back for a few minutes as a short sharp shower soaked the site; Trig Aerobatics; a Mustang; and a Sea King helicopter.
Display organiser David Smith said the day would not have been possible without a team effort.
“Something like this is good for the local area as well – it makes people more aware of what’s here,” he said. “There are people who remember it as a child and it’s an opportunity to mark their involvement and their part in what happened and it’s great for East Anglia and Norfolk and Suffolk that we can put this on year after year.
“There are lots of smaller aircraft here and people get to enjoy it and learn about it and appreciate what we do. There are young boys and girls who come along and might think that they want to have a go.”
Robert Powley, 61, from Aylsham, said he visited to see the airshow.
“I’m surprised how many people are here – they keep coming in. It’s nice that they have something like this to keep all the nostalgia going,” he said.
Diane Slipper, 46, added: “We came to look at the airshow and the planes but it’s good to look around and look at the vehicles too.”