Short Field Landings
Many years ago (probably the 1950's), short field landing flight tests for a new version of the Vampire (or it could have been a Venom) were being performed at the de Havilland airfield at Hawarden (Chester).
On the day, the prevailing wind required the use of a runway which unfortunately had a railway line passing across the centre-line, shortly before the threshold. In the interests of safety, it was decided to telephone the Railway Company and warn them. The conversation went something like this:
Air Traffic Control: "We're going to be doing some short field landing tests today, so you'd best arrange the timing of your trains to avoid our plane."
British Rail: "On your bike, chum. We are British Rail and we run to a time-table. You can arrange the timing of your plane to avoid our trains."
The first few landings went well and then the inevitable happened. The plane made an approach at the same time as a train was passing. Although it looked as though it would all work out, the Vampire bounced the main wheels off the top of a coach, fortunately doing no more damage to the train other than than leaving a couple of skid marks.
The following day, more tests were scheduled and the wind remained in the same direction. It was again decided to telephone the Railway Company. The conversation went something like this:
Air Traffic Control: "We're going to be doing some more short field landing tests today."
British Rail: "When do you want us to stop the trains?"
Last updated: 30 July, 2003 13:20