Monday, 16 August 2010

Richard Grace

Image from RAF Forum

I just wanted to mention, in brief, that yesterday I also met Richard Grace, son of Carolyn Grace (of the Grace Spitfire) and chatted to him for 5 minutes or so, while we refuelled the Spitfire I had just marshalled. I'd seen him in the display pilots' tent, having marshalled his Pitts, and terrible though it is to admit, knowing that he, in only his twenties, is a Spitfire display pilot made me almost sick with envy. I had been learning to fly when I heard that he had just gone solo in the family Spitfire, aged twenty-something. And shamefully I'd just assumed he'd be cocky and self-satisfied, as I am afraid I might well be in his position.

But he was charming and disarmingly modest - took my hand and shook it, like I was someone who mattered too *. He learnt to fly in a Cessna 152 "like everyone else" and did about ten hours on their Stampe and a few hundred hours on other stuff before getting near the Spitfire, making his intro to flying very conventional. It was all part of Carolyn Grace's plan to ensure that her son would not take the Spitfire for granted. Even now, Carolyn Grace does most of the displaying. Yesterday, Richard flew in a Pitts display pair.

There are Spitfire pilots around who don't smile and who walk around with an "oh, this old thing?" look about them, and they make me so cross. They are the most privileged pilots around (the envy of millions of avid enthusiasts) and they don't look like they are even enjoying it. But you cannot begrudge Richard Grace his good fortune because if anyone is going to do it, you want it to be someone who knows how lucky he is, doesn't take it for granted and clearly loves flying the Spitfire.


*Yes, yes....I know I matter. Am not down on myself. People who are mad about flying will understand the hero worship of Spitfire pilots. And really, the point is not how I feel, but the attitude that Richard displays. He is a gentleman and a real credit to Carolyn Grace - and of course to his late father, Nick Grace. (eeek, I know that sounds patronising)

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