Many people familiar with HFF also are familiar with Duxford, a WWII air field preserved in 1940s style. The American and Imperial War Museums dominate the exhibit area, but some of the best artifacts lurk in working hangars where passionate engineers maintain and restore vintage aircraft. Principal among the maintenance and restoration facilities is Aircraft Restoration Company or “ARC” and its sibling restoration company, Historic Flying Ltd. This is where HFF’s Spitfire became the stellar example it is today.
We began our stay in Duxford by touring ARC. Our crew has grown to eight members. Some have contributed significant sums toward our crossing expenses, notably fuel. The visit allowed me to reconnect with many old friends who had not seen me since my encounter with a Canadian runway. There was a fair amount of surprise that I was so enjoying my Cheetah blade prosthesis and able to fly across the Atlantic. Indeed, I removed it long enough to explain its mechanics and allow one of the engineers to trim down a wing of the socket, too long for our rather rambunctious air displays. The engineer, named Smudge, recently turned eighty years-young. Having worked in aircraft restoration for sixty years, he smiled and said “it’s not every day I can add something to my resume.” Then he returned to extrusion of bomb racks for a Lysander. The people of ARC represent an extended family as we have spent many days working and flying together.
While at Duxford we practiced formation flying, sold HFF retail items from a pop-up presence, and participated in two days of air shows. We also visited “The Eagle” tavern in nearby Cambridge where many RAF and American pilots spent time during WWII. It is famous for its preserved wall and ceiling inscriptions.