I well remember the thrill of seeing the mighty Sunderland flying boats of 201 Squadron from Milford Haven landing and taking off in Lerwick harbour during the 1950s.
My father was a stalwart of the local RAFA and several times we had one of the pilots staying with us when they arrived for Battle of Britain week, along with an RAF air sea rescue launch from Lossiemouth. As a small child smitten by all things aviation these guys seemed like demi-gods!
The official reason and justification for the flights was that they came to check the moorings. I remember being taken out to the aircraft when it was moored in the harbour and being awestruck by its size. Inside it was very spacious with sleeping bunks and a galley and the cockpit was massive with huge control wheels more like you would find on a boat.
There is one Sunderland preserved at the air museum at Duxford and I was privileged to be able to inspect the interior when I visited a few years ago. It brought back those childhood memories and reinforced my view of just what a huge and incredible aircraft this was.
Dennis Coutts produced a wonderful composite photograph of a Sunderland “on the step” on its take-off run in Lerwick harbour, superimposed with a fine shot of it passing overhead. Perhaps he could be persuaded to dig through his archives to find it and let it be published.
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