My first contact with the RAF and flying was gained by my membership of the RAF section of Daniel Stewart’s College CCF in my sixth year. I was fortunate to be awarded a flying scholarship. The Tiger Moth on which I soloed was rather basic and exposed but a secure and reliable aircraft. I remember well my introduction to the Squadron Chipmunk. Here was an aircraft that was not only stable and forgiving, but it actually had a canopy and brakes!
The Squadron HQ in George Square was where we met for lectures midweek and socialising on Saturdays, instructors and student pilots together, a source of good Squadron esprit de corps. I graduated in 1957 with 1st class honours in Classics, where I was seen as a bit of an oddity by my fellows for playing rugby and flying aeroplanes!
My career in teaching took me to three schools: Glasgow Academy and Daniel Stewart’s College where I was a CCF/RAF officer and Robert Gordon’s College in which I was headmaster from 1978 to 1996. I was fortunate there to have a young colleague who was keen to add an RAF section to the CCF. We were successful in getting approval from the powers-that-be and an RAF section was born in 1994 and is now in very healthy maturity.
I was particularly interested to learn at our lunch how many of the company followed careers involving flying and, clearly were still enjoying the freedom of the skies. Only two of my particular cadre were present: David Walker, a close friend since school days, and John Grant-Wood whom I was very pleased to see again after so long. Speaking to others revealed very similar responses to their memories and appreciation of the Air Squadron. Flying in any context, whether military or civil or for personal pleasure, demands important qualities of discipline, learning, clear thinking and coolness under pressure – all positive and valuable qualities which our young men and women require in whatever career they may choose. Any university which has the good fortune to have an air squadron attached to it has a most valuably facility for preparing their charges for life in the wider world.
I am most grateful to Ron Gardiner and Tom Wilson for organising our reunion and Neil Henriksen for his secretarial responsibilities.