by Eric Woods
A navigator's experiences with BOAC in the postwar years
In this entertaining memoir, former air navigator Eric ‘Timber’ Woods looks back on the postwar years, during which he flew with BOAC on its expanding overseas routes.
His memories of planes such as the York, Argonaut, Constellation and Boeing 707 will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the history of aviation and his entertaining stories of the antics of his colleagues in far-flung places in those now far-off days will bring back many happy memories for those who were also fortunate enough to fly with BOAC during those exciting, pioneering years.
Eric joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in the early part of 1939 and trained as an Air Observer (Navigator) by attending evening lectures and flying at weekends. Called up at the outbreak of war, he completed his training and was posted to Bomber Command, where he flew 32 operational raids on Germany. Subsequently he spent two years instructing new entrants, finally moving to Transport Command, where he spent three years flying, eventually being appointed a member of the Chiefs of Staff crew.
His book about this period in his life, While Others Slept, was published by Woodfield in 2001.
In 1946 he joined BOAC and spent over two years operating on Flying Boats, but with the demise of these machines he transferred to more conventional aircraft, spending 18 years flying worldwide routes as a navigator, moving from piston-engined aeroplanes to fast jets.
He left BOAC in 1964, moving over to the legislative side of aviation by joining the organisation which eventually be-came the Civil Aviation Authority, where he worked as a flight crew examiner, eventually heading up that unit.
In retirement he delivered popular talks on aviation to ex-service and other groups.