People, Planes & Providence

RAF World War II
ISBN 1-873203-90-X
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by Ian Roxburgh
Former RAF pilot and flying instructor recalls his exploits in World War II and the post-war years during which he flew most of the famous aircraft types of the 1940s and 50s

As an expert pilot and flying instructor the author trained hundreds of pilots during World War II and went on to train many more in the post-war years at the RAF Flying College and the Central Flying School where he worked for a number of years. His intimate knowledge of the aircraft of that era makes this a useful research document for historians, journalists or authors looking for authentic period detail although there is plenty to be enjoyed by anyone interested in aviation history.

Born in 1917, as a schoolboy Ian Roxburgh joined the Glasgow Branch of the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1937. He was taught to fly by Scottish Aviation Ltd at Prestwick and soon after getting his ‘wings’ early in 1939 became a flying instructor. After the outbreak of World War II he continued instructing, first in the UK and then in Canada (at Asiniboia, Saskatchewan), during which time he trained hundreds of RAF pilots to fly.

On his return from Canada he was posted to an operational Bomber Command squadron (No. 51), flying 15 operational sorties in a Halifax bomber until V.E. Day in 1945, soon after which 51 Squadron (in which he was now a Flight Commander) joined Transport Command, flying troops to and from India in Short Stirling bombers hastily converted into passenger aircraft.

After being demobbed in 1946 he found civilian life was not to his liking and accepted the offer of a permanent commission in the RAF. He completed a further eight years in the RAF, during which he served at The Central Flying School, The RAF Flying College and the Aircraft and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down.

When he retired from flying in 1957, Squadron Leader Roxburgh AFC, AFM could look back on a remarkable RAF career, during which he had logged over 4,500 hours in the air in some 60 different types of aircraft from the golden age of British aviation, manufactured by the likes of Airspeed, Avro, de Haviland, Fairey, Hawker and Vickers.

In this entertaining memoir Ian recalls not only the quirks and foibles of some of the famous aircraft he flew but also those of some of RAF’s most senior officers – many of whom he knew personally.

Amusing anecdotes featuring RAF deities such as Lord Trenchard are mingled with reminiscences of many others with whom his duties brought him into contact – such as the test pilots of the major aviation companies – Roly Beaumont, Roly Falk, Brian Trubshaw, et al – whose flying feats have become legendary in aviation circles – not forgetting to mention rubbing shoulders with celebrities including Shirley Temple, George Raft and Stephane Grappelli....