I had received an invitation from Kenneth Mockford to visit his Sim2do simulation centre at Mildenhall. So on Saturday morning I met up with Kenneth and his charming daughter Serena.
Kenneth has converted his passion for flight simulators into his profession, offering from advanced flight training to basic flight experiences. His facilities contain five simulators, all built by himself. These consist of a 737 cockpit, Lynx helicopter built in a real section, a F35, basic flight trainer and also a racing car simulator. He has done a fantastic job in creating these and I was given the opportunity to fly the 737 under his expert guidance. In turn I demonstrated the power of VR and we discussed the HFS Spitfire Mk.IX simulator at length. I felt it was a really productive meeting and we shall see how this develops into the future.
The day had cleared up nicely by the time I headed to Bedford, home of the Shuttleworth Collection. What an amazing assembly of aircraft, including the oldest original flying aircraft in the world, a Bleriot Flyer! There is little that compares to the beauty of doped white cotton coverings, polished aluminium and the smoothly varnished warm wood colours of these early aircraft. Both originals and replicas adorn the hangars.
The airshow is a very relaxed affair with spectators picnicking on the lovely rolling green lawns.
Regrettably the older, more fragile aircraft were kept in their hangars due to blustery wind conditions. Nevertheless we were treated to a wonderful show which included a Spitfire, Hurricane and Lysander.
The highlight to me was seeing Alex Henshaw’s Percival Mew Gull flying, looking as fresh as the day he started off on his record breaking London to Cape Town and back flight. An amazing record which stood for more than 70 years and was only recently broken by Chalkie Stobbard of South Africa. The Gull was joined by the sleek red twin engined DH Comet, another race winner of that era. There was also an exhibition by an Extra 300 doing end over end flic flacs and other indescribable things which should simply be illegal in any aircraft! All in all an incredible experience, culminating in two tiny sixties racers zooming to and fro in the dusk.
Sunday morning meant an early start to get to Heathrow and board the flight to Toronto. I stayed over in Hamilton to ensure I could miss the traffic and get in the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum early Monday morning. I had previously written to them about my intended visit without receiving any response. They have a lovely collection of aircraft including a Spitfire and a Lancaster. It was great to be able to get close to their restoration section, some fantastic work being done there. The shop has an incredible collection of books, well worth the visit on its own. I was very tempted to buy a number of them but needed to restrain myself given airline weight restrictions. They have a super friendly staff who were very enthusiastic about the HFS Spitfire offering. I left some brochures with them to pass on to their management team, hopefully I will still hear from them some time in the future.
Having said my goodbyes I headed for Flight Deck Solutions, based some 30km north of Toronto. Peter Cos and his brother Steve started this business over two decades ago and have grown it to a major supplier of professional flight simulators to various flight training centers and airlines. Even Boeing counts amongst their prestigious list of clients. They are able to produce up to 3 full cockpit simulators in a month. I felt very humbled by the interest shown by Peter in my Spitfire simulation. Regrettably both he and his brother were out of town in various parts of the world to attend to commissioning tasks of some new installation but I was ably assisted by their staff. I do hope however we will still be able to meet at some time in the future.