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Barrie Taylor 1958-1961


I wanted to learn to fly from an early age. I don’t know who told me about University Air Squadrons but when applying to medical schools it was certainly a plus for Edinburgh that they had one. The first thing I did after matriculating in the Medical Faculty at Edinburgh University was to make an application to the EUAS. I remember that the selection process was quite daunting and it was with a sense of achievement that I became a member of this select group and started my flying training that we were actually paid to do! When I was issued with a scratchy RAF blue uniform I found it didn’t fit and rather than return it I did some substantial alterations myself with hand stitching. I flew with Bill Gallienne who I found very tense, exacting and not very encouraging and the weather was changeable which didn’t help me. After a checkout with Flt.Lt. Urquart then CFI, I survived being axed and went solo on March 19th 1959 at Turnhouse.


It never occurred to me to ask for a different instructor and it wasn’t until the following year that I flew my duel instruction flights with Flt. Lt. Woodard and Flt. Lt. Williams and also with Flt. Lt. Russell all of whom I got on well with. I heard that Bill Galliene was sadly killed in a mid air collision when flying a Canberra some years later. Transport to Turnhouse was provided for us from the EUAS HQ at 16 Buccleuch Place in a vehicle with RAF markings and I used to feel the hair on the back of my neck tingle in anticipation as the airport came into view after passing by the Maybury Inn. Our D H Chipmunks had a unique smell presumably from the MOD aviation oil that I haven’t noticed in any civilian aircraft. All of the EUAS Chipmunks had their own individual flying characteristics and there was one W469, I think, that no one wanted to fly because it had the reputation of being clapped out.We seemed to practice endless stalls, spins and forced landings that I got bored with. I was reading up on aerobatics and attempting them long before I had any instruction in them. I remember a camp at Thorney Island in July 1959 where David Roberts took his vintage open top Bentley. I forfeited one of my nine lives when I started up my Chipmunk without checking that the main fuel cock was on. The engine cut while I was waiting at the hold before taking off over the water.


I also remember a Student Standardization flight with a visiting instructor whom I surprised by climbing to 10,000ft and doing a sequence of aerobatic maneuvers while losing a considerable amount of height. Subsequently Flt.Lt. Russell was helpful in sorting out some of my aerobatics and when I wasn’t chosen for the aerobatic competition at our Open Day at Turnhouse I asked for a test flight with Sqn.Bradley our C.O. and earned a place amongst the competitors. The prizes went quite rightly to Bill Goodburn and David Roberts who was a close friend of mine. I heard that the senior RAF officer judging our aerobatics competition went inside for his tea during my spirited display. David Roberts was killed descending through cloud in his own aircraft on the approach to Strathallan in 1971. Summer Camps were always very enjoyable and the one at Hullavington in 1961 was memorable for the trips into Malmesbury and Bath and the unofficial aerial dogfights which we managed to do on some of our solo sorties.


I forfeited another of my nine lives when a pilot joined the downwind leg of the circuit in the wrong direction! John Shaw entertained us with his account of his amorous adventures with a girl he met at a local dance and I learned that when attending these dances there was some kudos in saying that you were a pilot. I subsequently went out with John’s ex-Edinburgh girlfriend who was less adventurous.I remember a cross country flight when I flew a triangular course which included David Robert’s strip at Strathallan Castle in Perthshire and a landing at Dyce (Aberdeen) where the runways were covered in snow. When I returned to land at Turnhouse the gauges on the tanks which were quite difficult to read were both indicating empty and I carried out a glide approach which we had been trained to do.


I enjoyed formation flying and also some night flying with Flt.Lt. Woodard. I did my PFB test with Flt. Lt. Russell at East Fortune where we had a lot of fun when the Squadron moved there during the runway extensions at Turnhouse in 1961. Our waypoint on return to East Fortune was Berwick Law and I frequently flew over Tantallon Castle and Seacliff Beach where some years later I was to propose to my future wife Sheila.Our social life at University centered on the Air Squadron. The bar at the headquarters was a good place to take our friends, including our girlfriends, drink beer or to have a party and we had some spirited mess dinners at RAF Turnhouse. We also invited some senior members of the University staff. I remember the occasion when our Vice Chancellor James Robertson Justice was entertained in our town HQ, when we had real caviar that I had not previously tasted. On another occasion Murray Carmichael invited Professor Walter Perry who went on to be a founder member and Vice Chancellor of the Open University to a dinner at Turnhouse.


I met my future wife Sheila when the Air Squadron challenged the Physiotherapy School at the Royal Infirmary to a skittles match at the Hillburn Roadhouse and we later had our engagement party at the town HQ.When I stopped flying with the EUAS in 1961 I applied for one of the first medical cadetships which provided me with a student loan until I completed my house jobs in the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.I missed my flying greatly but didn’t get back to it until 22 years ago and I have been flying ever since. I re-sat my CAA PPL in a D H Chipmunk at Shipdham in Norfolk in 1992. I found that my early flying training in the EUAS stood me well and it did not take long to feel at ease flying the Chipmunk again. The big change over the years has been the amount of regulation and the controlled airspace that I scarcely remember in my time in the Air Squadron. I also found the radio talk very difficult when I renewed my licence. I had never heard of Garmin 50 years ago and GPS has been such a significant advance in navigation that practically everyone now uses it. Glass cockpit instrument panels have become commonplace. I have owned my own Piper Comanche 250 for the past 14 years during which time I obtained an Instrument Rating and have been an active member and Tribe Chief of the International Comanche Society and flown extensively in Europe, in New Zealand and also in the USA where last year I obtained a seaplane rating. 

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