It's December 24th, 1960, and at Baginton airfield in Coventry, UK, a small Percival Proctor is made ready for a journey.
An awful lot of planning has been made for this trip, which has an as yet unmentioned destination (just you wait and see )
At 12:35 local time, the small plane takes off. It has had some delays, as the fuel carnets for 1961 hadn't arrived yet, but after the pilot and his friends collected them at the Shell House, the plane is ready for its trip.
Moments after its take-off, the pilot turns to a heading of 125 magnetic, setting it on a course for Southend airfield. He has submitted a VFR plan: the Proctor has little navigation equipment on board. Unlike some aircraft, it lacks an ADF, which will make its trip somewhat more difficult.
As it passes RAF Cranfield, the Proctor suddenly finds itself in a somewhat persistent bank of fog. The lack of navigational means aboard the Proctor means this makes the flight somewhat more challenging, especially as the aircraft still has to cross the Luton and Stanstead airspaces.
Suddenly, while crossing the Luton airspace, the controller warns for a Dakota at 10 at 2300 ft. A quick glance learns the pilot his plane is at 2500, however he's unable to see the Dakota. A feeling of dread crawls up his spine. And all of a sudden, he glances something, a momentary movement partly hidden by the window frame. Just some 300 feet below, and about a mile away, the Dakota appears in sight. Quickly the pilot gains some altitude, separating the two aircraft. (See if you can spot the Dakota in the picture above..)
Luckily, the Stansted airspace crossing proves to be far less adventurous. Once past this airport, Southend is just a couple of miles...
With the runways in sight, the pilot contacts the tower, and gets a clearance for a runway 24 approach. As he turns onto his finals, a British United flight radios in for clearance to land, however it is still 20 miles away.
Minutes later, the Proctor taxis from the runway onto the parking. It is directed to the GA stands past the terminal building, where the pilot parks it up and shuts down the engine.
To be continued...
Leg 1: Coventry (EGBE) to Southend (EGMC).
Type: Percival Proctor Mk.II
Flight time: 51 minutes
Fuel used: 60.2 lbs