SEAMS News Archives

Visit to Vallance By-Ways

On the 10th April a group of SEAMS members were granted entry to Vallance Byways at Charlwood by Ian Sampson. Ian is a long serving volunteer with Vallance Byways and has been working hard towards  the re-opening of the museum and it’s new building.

For me, it was the first time I had ever been but I have known about the collection for some time. The group gathered at 2pm on the Sunday. Some members had been before,  some having a great knowledge of aircraft and some none at all. Personally I did not know what to expect but was pleasantly surprised.

Entering, you are treated to a history of Gatwick and it’s development with memorabilia for British Caledonian and Air Europe airways, my father worked for both of these. We were treated to an organised tour of the museum’s “Shackleton “, by Squadron Leader Mike Rankin.

Mike gave a great talk on not only the aircraft and it’s service but on his interesting career. The new building allows the collection of aircraft to be shown off to a very high level. There are various small exhibits around the edges of the building. They range from full engines to Engineering training aids. I must say one of favourite exhibits was the Lighting. To see one close up you could appreciate it’s scale and the dramatically raked wing. I was fortunate that my guest was my best friend’s father, he was a time served RAF aircraft engineer and later after the RAF a BA licensed engineer. He was saying how he was one of the few lucky few people to have been given a flight in a twin seat Lightning. In his words a memorable experience.

He was told where the ejector seat button was and the pilot said `if I say eject, don’t ask me what I said as I will be gone!’

With so many things to look at, we all spent a good few hours taking it all in. So a big thank you to Ian and hope to do it again next year.

Steve Rowland  Chairman