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The Hangar Rat

RAF Kenley, June 15th 1974, Cdt. Charlwood on the retrieve with Cadet MkIII WT875. Photo ©Mark Charlwood

I’ve hung around small airfields, since I was just a lad,

A hangar rat, an Air Cadet, I was aviation mad,

Sent solo in a sailplane, when I was just sixteen,

Soaring over English fields, a  quilt of gold and green.

A Kirby Cadet Mk.III 615 VGS, RAF Kenley, in an original hangar. Photo courtesy Allan Mellmore under CCL

Sweeping out the hangars, polishing the props,

Cleaning all  their windshields, hanging round in ops,

Topping up the tanks and tyres, mowing taxiways and strip,

Befriending all the pilots, to see if I could blag a trip.

The hangars I worked in weren’t this tidy… Oh for the chance to hang out here regularly!

I worked hard at my day job, slaving nine til’ five,

Then pumping gas, and cleaning, to keep the dream alive,

When I wasn’t working, I was studying the sky,

Reading all the books I could, on learning how to fly

Every Day is a School Day. There is always something to learn… Mostly ending in an examination of some sort. Photo Mark Charlwood © 2021

Then as I got bigger, the airfields did the same,

And I was thrilled to hang around, much bigger aeroplanes,

In flight operations, now planning flights and fuel

Working out performance, and briefing all the crews.

Oooh, The Joys of Performance Schedule A. All done by computer now… but we had it tough… Photo Mark Charlwood © 2021

Now older, greyer, wiser, and thicker round the waist,

I stopped working at the airport, moved to a weirder place,

A full-flight simulator, is now how I cover my outgoings,

Teaching pilots how to fly their Airbuses and Boeings

A State-of-the-Art Airbus A380 Full Flight Simulator

I’ve worked at many airports, on many a different fleet

An aviation specialist, some would say a geek,

Now retirement calls, my airplane waits, as does my flying hat,

Once again, I am a lad, a happy hangar rat!

G-BTBU Piper PA-18 Super Cub, Redhill, EGKR (Redhill) Known to everyone as Betty Bu.

Mark Charlwood 2021 ©

By The Flying Wordsmith

A highly qualified aviation professional who is able to write cogent and professional articles on a wide variety of subjects. Also interested in general articles covering travel, politics, social commentary and prose. Poetry and Lyrics also an interest.

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