Search

Bungay RAF crew chief recollects royal encounter with Prince Charles

PUBLISHED: 19:00 13 December 2018 | UPDATED: 09:37 14 December 2018

Robert Honeywood from Bungay, aged 84, began his position in the Royal Airforce at the age of 16 in 1951. Picture: Contributed by Robert Honeywood

Robert Honeywood from Bungay, aged 84, began his position in the Royal Airforce at the age of 16 in 1951. Picture: Contributed by Robert Honeywood

Archant

A former Vulcan Crew Chief has recollected the moment he met Prince Charles in the late 1960s and revisted his gleaming career in the airforce.

Prince Charles: ”I remember with great fondness my flight in the Vulcan XL392 at RAF WaddingtonPrince Charles: ”I remember with great fondness my flight in the Vulcan XL392 at RAF Waddington". Picture: Contributed by Robert Honeywood

Robert Honeywood from Bungay, aged 84, began his position in the Royal Air Force at the age of 16.

At the time he was being trained as an air frame fitter and was volunteered for the position in 1951.

As he progressed through the strict training regime, Mr Honeywood moved up to chief tech and was based in Scampton in Lincolnshire during the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

By July 1971, he has moved to RAF Waddington where he met Prince Charles just after he had secured his wings.

In July 1971, he met Prince Charles at RAF Waddington. Picture: Contributed by Robert HoneywoodIn July 1971, he met Prince Charles at RAF Waddington. Picture: Contributed by Robert Honeywood

Mr Honeywood said: “They said he would like to fly my bomber because it behaved perfectly.

“But we ended up having an electrical problem the night before so we worked right through the night to fix it, I was absolutely shattered,” he said.

As crew chief on Vulcan XL392, he and his four other crew members welcomed the heir to the British throne on to the aircraft.

“On the day, they gave us lovely white overalls so all of my support crew were wearing them,” Mr Honeywood said.

Prince of Wales visiting Accra, Ghana. Charles celebrates his 70th birthday last week - a milestone moment for the heir to the throne. Picture: PA Wire/PA ImagesPrince of Wales visiting Accra, Ghana. Charles celebrates his 70th birthday last week - a milestone moment for the heir to the throne. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images

“He wanted to know who we all were, but when he was told there wasn’t the time to meet us, he said: ‘I will meet them’,” Mr Honeywood said.

He explained that Prince Charles has a spare captain on board just incase.

“The sixth seat would have been no more than a wooden box, it would have felt quite claustrophobic,” he said.

After the royal encounter, the prince wrote to the Vulcan Crew Chief Register.

The Prince of Wales waves to the crowd at the end of the tour of the Sandringham Flower Show. Picture: Ian BurtThe Prince of Wales waves to the crowd at the end of the tour of the Sandringham Flower Show. Picture: Ian Burt

The letter read: ”I remember with great fondness my flight in the Vulcan XL392 at RAF Waddington”.

To this day, Mr Honeywood keeps memorabilia of his time as Vulcan Crew Chief.

He said: “I had a wonderful time, I felt very fortunate.

“I miss the social side of it, the summer balls the Christmas balls,” he said.

Hundreds of people turned up at Norwich Aviation Museum for the flypast of Avro Vulcan XH558 including Bob Honeywood who work on Vulcans.
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.Hundreds of people turned up at Norwich Aviation Museum for the flypast of Avro Vulcan XH558 including Bob Honeywood who work on Vulcans. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Since he retired in 1997, Mr Honeywood has became involved in the Royal British Legion and offers talks on his experience in the air force.

Most Read

Latest from the Eastern Daily Press

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists