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Historic Fairey Visit

Navy Wings Swordfish pilot Glenn Allison and aircrewman for the flight, Tim de la Fosse, were thrilled to fly with Leanda von Halle.

It’s not often that we have a visitor to the Navy Wings Heritage Hangar who has a direct link to the design, development and build of one of the most iconic naval aircraft in history, the Fairey Swordfish.

It was our honour this week to welcome Leanda von Halle to Navy Wings for a flight in the Swordfish, an aircraft that was developed by her grandfather, Sir Richard Fairey.

In 1933 Fairey, having established a track record in the design and construction of naval aircraft, commenced development of an entirely new three-seat naval aircraft, intended for the twin roles of aerial reconnaissance and torpedo bomber. In 1935, following the successful completion of testing at Martlesham, an initial pre-production order for three aircraft was placed by the Air Ministry; it was at this point that the aircraft received the name Swordfish.

Tim de la Fosse, Leanda von Halle and Glenn Allison.

This was the first time that Leanda had seen the aircraft up close and she said that it was a very emotional moment. Leanda’s husband, Tim von Halle, who accompanied her to RNAS Yeovilton said, ‘Leanda has been talking about nothing else but this visit for the last four months!’

After completing her flight, Leanda said, ‘I thought I would split my helmet from grinning as I was so excited! The start up process was remarkable and it felt incredible when Glenn applied full power and I could see the two ground crew hanging onto the tail as we tested the engine.’

As we took off, all I could think was, wow, I can’t believe this is actually happening. I loved listening to the conversations between Glenn and Tim and I couldn’t believe how manoeuvrable the aircraft is – she can turn on a sixpence!’