Edinburgh University Air Squadron, 1946-1969
Summa Petunt Juvenes
From Bill Fraser 1962
One of my close friends had introduced me to the delights available to members of the OTC at its Forrest Road HQ. I returned to my 2nd year of BSc Mech Eng firmly intent on securing membership. Blissfully unaware of its existence, I then fortunately heard about the Air Squadron. It seemed to offer even more by way of delight than the OTC. Not just cheap beer and the promise of good times, but also the chance to learn to fly! Even more incredibly, you got paid for indulging this privilege! I duly applied, and – after a couple of evenings of aptitude tests with 120 or so other aspirants in a hall somewhere in Chamber St., 25 or so of us progressed to the Christmas break camp at Turnhouse. Looking back, it was one of my life’s best decisions!
My initial motives for joining may have been a bit superficial, but I soon began to appreciate the merits of being a part of a group of like-minded souls. I retain huge respect for all the regular RAF personnel who had the challenging task of knocking us into shape. They did so without denting our individual personalities. CFI Russell (who had begun his career in the Royal Flying Corps) was almost grandfatherly in the way he encouraged endeavour. But he also clearly defined boundaries! His strictures about attempting to become the first person to fly under BOTH Forth Bridges are particularly memorable!
The Squadron became the highlight of my time in Edinburgh. It brought new challenge and aspiration at an early stage in my life. It taught me how to recover from a bad situation, and showed me the pure joy that comes from doing something really well. It provided a wonderful opportunity to bond with a bunch of kindred spirits. It was undoubtedly an elite – in the very best sense of the word – of which I feel very privileged to have been a part.