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Bucket List? - Oh Yes !


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So sorry to hear of your aborted “bucket list” flight Griff.

Yes mechanical problems can occur , and do , but their treatment of you their client was abysmal .

The one positive to take from this debacle is the extra few months of building anticipation you have now to look forward to. 

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Sorry to hear about your aborted flight Griff. As people have said, lousy customer service. The only upsides that come to mind are i) you will get another "go" in due course and ii) the fuel pump malfunction didn't occur during your bucket list flight, which might have made the experience a little too exciting.

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The Warbirds secretary emailed me Thursday mid afternoon offering potential available flight dates for Sept / Oct but no apology or explanation of what happened or how we as a group were treated.  I briefly replied stating I would reply in detail about their lack of customer service once back from Norfolk as I just didn't have the time on Thursday, she was surprised to hear I wasn't happy as she said they had never had any complaints before. (Well, they have got one now).

I informed her that all the dates she had offered were Mon - Fri working days.  They were not acceptable as that would mean me having to cancel one of my clients, some of my clients have been patiently waiting for up to six months for me to attend to their tiling and I refuse to be that selfish. I could maybe attend on a Saturday, she informed me that Saturdays were not available due to insufficient emergency fire cover.  I said after the weekend I would look at dates for May and that was that.  I copied these emails to 'My' group that were there on the day, then departed for Norfolk

Then Unbeknown to me at the time, one of our group that was there on the day decided to 'Stick her oar in' and gave the Warbirds secretary a call Thursday teatime.  (The secretary was not present at the airfield on the day) to explain what had happened.  This was not a complaint, just giving clarification.  The secretary was shocked & hugely disappointed to hear the details & informed our 'Oar Paddler'  (Ok, it was Polly and you don't mess with or tie up in knots our Polly when she has something to say).  The secretary stated that Richard Grace (Warbirds owner) would be dismayed and embarrassed when she informed him of the details.  All this was relayed to me from Polly as I was on the road driving down to the wet shed - Good Girly our Polly, saved me explaining it all via email and had given Richard Grace the heads up earlier than I could have done, Polly would have put it better than me too :default_icon_bowdown:





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Friday 17th, we are in the wetshed on a scheduled maintenance weekend (Details on the TLC thread in due course)

Mid forenoon I received a call from a Mr Richard Grace introducing himself as the owner of the Spitfire and the Warbirds outfit

He was full of apologies as to how were were (Not) treated and explained what had happened.

The Spitfire with a client onboard suffered an abrupt engine shutdown on take off, it achieved an altitude of maybe 20ft when this occurred, the pilot had managed an emergency landing fortunately there was enough grass runway available, the aircraft was then towed back to the hanger.  The client then had a 'Situation' in the briefing room and needed the attention of the staff, this was ongoing when I knocked on the briefing room door at 1155.  Meanwhile Richard was dealing with the hanger ground crew and the Merlin. (The actual fault was too much fuel pressure causing an immediate shutdown) this could not be repaired in time for the remaining three flights of that day.  The two following clients after me were rang to inform them of this before they arrived.  Me and my group were dismissed and abandoned in the car park with no prior phone call.  The next communication I received since the briefing room door incident was an email I received Thursday mid afternoon

Richard then stated what should have happened

I should have been rang during our drive down from home - Never happened

I should have been greeted with an explanation of the ongoing situation with the distressed client,  We should have been directed to the hotel or the Pilots café with instruction to have lunch / drinks with Warbirds picking up the tab.  I should have been informed that in due course one of their staff would come to find us when able to do so, take us to the Spitfire for a tour / photographs - especially our grandsons, introduce us to the ground crew etc.  The warbirds team should have been making a fuss of all of us and trying their best to make up for our disappointment.  Then discussions about a future date before we departed for home

Richard emphasised that his team do not treat people like we got treated, this situation has never happened before and it had brought to light a flaw in their operations with clients and that it would be put right and measures taken to ensure that it would not happen again, he was embarrassed and disappointed with himself and his team.  Could we book another flight date?

I explained to him why I could not make a future Mon-Fri flight appointment until next year.

He asked if I could come on a Saturday? But what about insufficient emergency fire cover?  Yes he stated due to the airfield cutting back on services to survive (Covid - there it is again) that full fire cover wasn't currently in place on weekends.

He was most keen to put the situation right and make up for their lack of customer care last Wednesday, so he stated that sufficient emergency fire cover would be in place and if the airfield refused to provide it then he would damn well ensure it was on 'Our' Saturday even if he had to pay for extra cover himself.  He also stated that it wouldn't now be just a normal client flight and that on our arrival our group would be given a full hanger tour, I suspect they don't normally offer this option due to H&S plus covid sanitising, then as much time as we liked close up with the Spitfire on the ground for photo's etc, especially my grandsons.  Then on completion I would be airborne 

Now in my experience sh1t happens in life now and again, it is just how it is.  What matters is how one deals with the consequences and how to put it right. IMHO Richard has done his utmost to put it right.  He cannot really be held responsible for a mechanical failure, I of all people understand that.

So during this coming week, I will discuss with the Warbirds secretary and 'My' group a suitable Saturday this / next month.  Then Wx permitting and the god of mechanicals / Sods law we go again and I should be airborne.  Fingers crossed



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Well Griff that's more like it! It doesn't excuse what happened or rather didn't but while it's not an excuse it is a reason and  they are going to go to great lengths it seems to atone. You' ll actually finish up with more of a humdinger of a day than you  would have had had all gone to plan. Result!



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Result - As it turns out I can't manage a Saturday in October due to not everyone in my group being able make it, especially the grandsons and they are top of my priority list.  School half term week however has turned out to be a godsend and manageable along with the rest of the adults.  I had to move a client over from the Friday to the Saturday which he is happy to do.

So I'm booked for 1530 on Friday 29th October, Wx and aircraft serviceability allowing.  This is the last flight Warbirds offer until the spring of 2022.  Counting down the days once again, fingers crossed


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Just read this thread for the first time ...

What an amazing bucket list item ... and such a shame about being let down at the last minute like you were. But it sounds like the final outcome might result in an even better experience. 

But on the subject, funnily enough I was in my house Saturday just gone when I heard this engine noise outside in the distance. 

We live only a couple of miles from a local light airfield, so often get low flying light aircraft - Cessna's etc. But it didn't sound like one. I recognised the noise - no, the sound - no, the MUSIC. What was this ? It is very recognisable if you have heard it before, which luckily I have done a few times before.

Surely it was the sweet music of a Rolls Royce Merlin engine I was hearing ?

So I rush outside and look and listen, and lo-and-behold a few seconds later this Hurricane appears overhead and does a banking turn right over my house ! Didn't have time to take any photos, but it was relatively low so you could see from the wing shape and tip it was a Hurricane and not a Spitfire.

I am lucky in where I live (and not too far from where I moved from 15 years ago too) that I am quite near a well known WW 2 RAF location. On certain significant days they had a Spitfire or Hurricane do a fly past over the building, and both my old and new house are right on the flight path so I could sometimes get a cracking view as it flew overhead 2 or 3 times as part of it's circuit.

It is certainly a wonderful and distinctive sound that you never forget !

Unfortunately the old WW 2 location was sold a couple-or-so years ago and made into luxury private accommodation, so the fly-pasts don't seem to happen anymore. I don't know what this one was about, but it was a welcome sight none the less.

Griff - when your flight does happen, enjoy every second of it, on behalf of all of us that will never be able to have the experience !

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we are quite lucky in Canterbury, just about any spitfire flight down this way has on its itinerary a low flyover of the spitfire memorial at the top of the cliffs at Capel (usually with a wing waggle in salute) and then if they are heading straight inland they pass over canterbury, if there is even another airshow at folkestone then that is the place to view from, the best, a sudden roar and one or two low flying spitfires rising over the cliff and across the memorial, just a few feet above your heads.

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I shot these (!) from my front garden during the Victory Show which takes place near the next village every year. 

A few years ago we were visiting Arundel Castle when I heard a merlin engine. As I went to the window to see the Spitfire the guide, an ageing local said, "We get sick hearing that bl**dy thing round here!"



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