I had seen an advertisement for ground staff with a flying training school company and subsidiary of the Blackburn Aircraft Company, situated at Brough in East Yorkshire, equipped with Blackburn-B2 training aircraft. This aircraft was similar to the DH82 (Tiger Moth) but had the student pilot and instructor located in two cockpits side-by-side instead in tandom, with the pupil seated behind the instructor. To my surprise I managed to obtain a post relating to aircraft maintenance. Whilst there I continued my studies and one day when I was working on the aircraft, the foreman, Harry Hughes, came up to me and said "Geoff, I wonder you don't have a go at this and become a pilot on the Reserve". I thought a lot about this and it happened that at the time I was very friendly with the armaments instructor. He was a sergeant pilot on the Reserve, so he was able to give me all the gen. I soon made up my mind to make an application to the Air Ministry and see if I could get on a course. To my surprise I got an appointment to go before a board of senior officers, known as the Selection Committee.
On my way down to London by train I missed a connection, due to the train being late, and wondered what to do next. I decided to send a telegram to the Air Ministry telling them that I would be late for the appointment. This I did and by the time I eventually got to London Air Ministry I was a good half an hour late. However, the board was still waiting for me. I was ushered straight in and I sat down in front of the selection committee who asked me all sorts of questions about what I had and hadn't done, and why I wanted to join the Royal Air Force. After the various members of the selection board had asked me a number of other questions I was told "That will be enough. Now go and get a medical to see if you're fit". I went out to get the medical and then returned to Brough. A few days later I received another letter from the ministry to say that I had not passed the medical and would have to go back to London for another one. This time I passed and received notice that I was to go for training on B-2 aircraftat another of Blackburn's flying training schools at Hanworth near London.
On my first solo flight I had landed satisfactorily and taxied in. Unfortunately, I got on a slope that went straight down towards the hangar door. Having no brakes, the aircraft was slowly proceeding towards it. One of the ground staff ran out and pulled on one wing which brought it round so that the propeller caught on the hangar door. I later saw the hangar foreman and requested that I would like this broken prop for a souvenir when I finished the course. He turned to me and said, "
IF you finish the course - you can
It's now hanging up in my living room, with the tips (about nine inches or so) turned into photo frames and a lamp mounted in the middle of the centre portion, now all of sixty years ago from the date I pranged it. It taught me a valuable lesson at the time and really didn't do me any harm, although mentally it had been a bit of a shock.