A perceptive reader will be aware, by noting from the Introduction, that the
hand-written original manuscript for this memoir was completed in June 1997.
Since then, I tried to find a commercial-risk publisher to print the text but,
of the few companies operating this method of production, none had the
capacity, for years ahead, to take it on. The majority of publishers now
operate a so-called 'subsidised publishing' operation whereby the author is
required to pay, up-front, all or nearly all the costs of the first edition,
which in his case might run to '£6000 average', I was informed. There is no
guarantee that the author will recoup his outlay and it must be regarded by
him, therefore, to be a very high-risk investment It was a risk I was not
prepared to take. Thus, six months after completing the manuscript, I felt that
I might as well bin the book!
My 'cajolers', Group Captain J T Jennings DFC, and British Airways Captain
Richard Wood - who had persuaded me to put pen to paper in the first place -
encouraged me to keep trying and I thank them for their continued interest,
help and support.
I had hoped to have the book published to coincide with the 50th
Anniversaries of the events described in Chapters 9 and 10 but, when this
seemed to have become a pipe-dream, my younger daughter Katherine coaxed me
into contributing Chapter 10 to the magazine FlyPast, to see if it might
generate interest from the public and, more especially, from publishers.
Katherine had by then produced a second beautiful daughter and had her hands
full taking care of both her children. However, she managed to find time to
compile a disc for use by FlyPast, and the article (extracts from
Chapter 10) was printed by that magazine - unfortunately just too late to meet
the 50th anniversary date of the Atlantic crossing. But at least I had managed
to get something into print, thanks to the help from my daughter - for which I
offer my gratitude.
I have the habit of keeping my friends and acquaintances up-to-date with my
personal affairs by notes written on my Christmas cards, and in 1998 I gave
them news of the book. One such was J B (Ian) Craig, a fellow Scot and FP of my
old school, formerly of Hawker Siddeley/British Aerospace, and now retired; he
is mentioned in Chapter 15 and was head of the Aircrew Publications unit for
that Company at Kingston-upon-Thames. Ian is a former RAF Meteor/Venom/Hunter
squadron pilot whose prospectively formidable RAF career was snatched from him
when he was grounded because of a debilitating medical condition which forced
his retirement at the early age of 27. Fortunately, he continued his work in
aviation and provided my RDT3 office with valuable service for the RN and RAF
during the development of Harrier, Sea Harrier and Hawk. When he read a
photocopy of my manuscript (he had requested a sight of it) he immediately and
freely volunteered to make an initial typescript and, mostly using his own
equipment, subsequently try to prepare it in disc form with illustrations and
photographs, for publication as a book or on the Internet. I derived great
pleasure from our discussions and our ferreting to ascertain the accuracy of
the text, and I hope and trust that he did too (any remaining errors are mine
alone!). This memoir may never have had the chance to see the light of day but
for Ian's energies. I offer him my profound thanks.
Other aviation contacts of mine (bar none) were prepared to provide data for
solutions to my queries on problems arising. To all of them I pass on my
thanks. None backed away and all questions were satisfactorily resolved. Among
these contacts are former RDT3/Handling Squadron officers Jack Watson, Norman
Want, Alf Jones and Bernard Noble. Also included is Norman Bate MBE, Registrar
of the RAF Arnold Scheme in the SEAATC, USA. And Trevor Mountford of the Air
Accidents Investigation Branch, Farnborough. And in addition, through Ian, the
well-known Kingston Hawker/BAe Aerodynamics Department aircraft performance duo
Trevor Jordan and Ken Causer, particularly Ken, whose advice and expertise made
possible the high standard and computer production of the artwork for use in
the Figures of the text. And finally, Angela Catlin, who helped Ian with the
placement of the photographs and arranged the production of a CD ROM.
Sadly, of the individuals named in the book, some half have now passed on,
and the attrition rate inevitably continues without abatement. It is a pity
that they could not have read this memoir to assess its contents and muse over
the events in which they were personally involved.
However, none had the wherewithal to be able to declare that the book had
been completed and could be published than my daughter Katie or her husband Bryn
Jones who decided that it could carry the Internet title shown below, viz "www.bill-wood.co.uk"
William C. Wood 1999