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Cockfield: War veteran Norman Gregory flies a plane for first time in 70 years

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 June 2014

A 92-year-old war veteran is hoping to take to the skies again after enjoying an “extraordinary day” which saw him get behind the controls of two aircraft.

Norman Gregory, of Cockfield, whose Lancaster bomber was shot down over Dortmund in Germany in 1944, joined other veterans in flying to and from a special event in their honour in Gloucester last Saturday.

As part of Project Propeller, Mr Gregory flew from RAF Honington with Squadron Commander, Jerry Neild, of RAF Lakenheath, in a Beech Sierra, enjoying the return journey with Wing Commander ‘Gus’ Cabre, of RAF Marham, in a Cherokee.

In Gloucester Mr Gregory, who was a prisoner of war (PoW) in Germany from May 1944 to May 1945, got to share stories with other Second World War aircrew members who had also be invited to the Project Propeller reunion.

There was also a salute from a Spitfire and Hurricane of the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.

Mr Gregory described his experience of piloting a plane again as “lovely,” it having been 70 years since he last got behind the controls.

“I will look forward to doing it again some day,” he said. “I flew two aircraft myself; on the way back for about an hour.

“I’m not used to single-engine aircraft. I wasn’t very happy with it. The wings appeared to be jumping up and down more than I was used to.

“On the return flight I was much more used to the single engine by then and I flew it quite happily.”

He said the whole day had been “extraordinary,” and he has already been asked to be part of Project Propeller next year.

Sqn Ldr Neild said “without a doubt” he had a fantastic time with Mr Gregory.

“I have said before it was a pleasure and a privilege and I don’t take that lightly,” he said.

Sqn Ldr Neild and Wing Cdr Cabre are both part of RAF Honington Flying Club.

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