Tag Archives: Aviation History

Coastal Dawn: New book features Bajan RAF ace Aubrey Richard de Lisle Inniss

‘Coastal Dawn’ also includes Battle of Britain Jamaican Pilot Officer Herbert Capstick

by Andy Bird, author ‘Coastal Dawn’

Dear Barbados Free Press,

Pilot Officer Aubrey ‘Sinbad’ Inniss – of No 236 Squadron in 1940 will feature in a forthcoming book entitled “Coastal Dawn” to be published this July 2012, by Grub Street Publishing, London.

“Coastal Dawn” will also feature the only Jamaican to take part in the Battle of Britain, Pilot Officer Herbert Capstick also flying with No 236 Squadron.

From Amazon.com booksite

In 1940, the defence of Great Britain rested with a handful of volunteer aircrew, Churchill’s ‘few’. Overshadowed in later folklore by the more famous Spitfire and Hurricane pilots, there were other pilots, observers and air gunners – just as courageous – flying the Bristol Blenheim MKIV-F. The future of the country and arguably that of the free world depended also on their skill, morale and sacrifice. Remarkably little has been chronicled of these men and their aircraft – the ‘Trade Protection’ squadrons formed by Hugh Dowding – allotted to 11 Group in October 1939. The aircraft’s range and endurance made it suitable for defence of coastal shipping against attack on the southern and eastern shores of Britain, and for operations further afield. Indeed during bitter fighting casualties among Numbers 235, 236, 248 and 254 Squadron Blenheims were high on operations over Norway, Holland, France, Dunkirk and then the Battle of Britain where the Blenheims were completely outclassed by Messerschmitt 109 and 110 fighters and fell easy victims, scythed from the sky. But the record of the aircraft and their crew was an immensely proud one. Drawing on contemporary diaries, periodicals, letters, logbooks, memoirs and interviews with survivors, lauded historian Andy Bird reassesses the vital role they played and repositions it in history. In doing so, he justifiably embraces the heroes we have left behind.

About the Author,  Andrew D. Bird

Born in Berkshire, England in 1962 , like many of his friends, Andrew had only one ambition during his school years, and that was to fly fast jets with the Air Force. At the age of 13 he was enrolled into the Air Cadets during which time he became friends with MRAF Sir Arthur ‘Bert’ Harris C-in-C RAF Bomber Command 1942-1945, leaving the Air Cadets in 1980. Andrew then served with the TAVR before joining the RAF Regiment. Andrew is an aviation artist as well, exhibiting his work at the Guild of Aviation Exhibition, London, his work has been shown in galleries in London, the Home Counties, and Toronto, Canada.

His first book ‘A Separate Little War’ reached the number three position in The Top Ten Best Sellers List in 2003 (Glasgow Herald & Daily Mail Weekend Magazine) it was reprinted twice in hardback. The author up-dated ‘A Separate Little War’ for the paperback edition 2008.

Further Reading

BFP: Battle of Britain 70th anniversary – Remembering Bajan RAF ace Aubrey Richard de Lisle Inniss

Blenheim Mk IV photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, History, Military

Murderous North Koreans mourn Cubana Flight 455, ignore their bombing of Korean Air

No tears for Korean Air Flight 858

“The story of Kim Hyon Hui, the beautiful North Korean agent who planted the bomb, is truly compelling. You see, she once lived in Cuba where her father was the North Korean Ambassador to Cuba…”

On Thursday, October 6, 2011 our Barbados diplomats in Cuba stood shoulder to shoulder with the North Korean Ambassador at a memorial service in Havana for the victims of Cubana Flight 455.

I have to wonder if anyone at the service was thinking of how North Korean government agents planted a bomb on Korean Air Flight 858 and murdered all 115 people on the airplane in 1987.

What do you say to the Ambassador of a country that murdered children flying home to see their parents? What do you say to the Ambassador of a country that kidnapped people at random off Japanese beaches?

What do our diplomats talk about with the evil North Korean despots? The weather? Or perhaps “How are those executions by bulldozer coming along? Quite efficient, saving on ammunition like that. Would you like another glass of wine, Ambassador?”

North Korea’s leadership are truly evil, and I’m not just talking about a few big ups at the top. The evil permeates all the way down. Did our diplomats not feel just a little hypocritical as they watched the North Korean Ambassador lament the loss of lives on Cubana 455? I’d like to know.

If you don’t know about Korean Air Flight 858, you owe it to yourself to take a few minutes.

The story of Kim Hyon Hui, the beautiful North Korean agent who planted the bomb, is truly compelling. You see, she once lived in Cuba where her father was the North Korean Ambassador to Cuba.

From Wikipedia

Korean Air Flight 858

Kim Hyon Hui

North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, History

Of Aircraft Graveyards, and rotting Bajan plantation homes

Last year I was privileged to see the photography collection of a man who worked for a time at the aircraft disposal facility at Kingman, Arizona. The photos were works of art, but so much more too. On his days off, the photographer took his camera into the cockpits of the doomed airliners and documented every switch, every scratch and what remained after ten thousand flights.

A Douglas DC6 photo showed a flight plan dropped between the seats by one “C. Moss” in 1959 that remained there until the photographer found it thirty years later. The same aircraft had a plexiglas dome installed so the navigator could take star shots in the high arctic where compasses cannot be trusted. As I looked at that photo I thought about the man who could hold a sextant steady enough in turbulence at twenty thousand feet to do any good. I admire that pilot because he was a better navigator than I’ll ever be.

Most of my friends at home don’t understand how a person can get sentimental over a junkyard for airliners that are past their useful life, but my flying friends understand immediately. The airplanes are a connection with the people, now passed on, who made the aluminum, steel and oil come alive.

I feel the presence of those gone before me as I touch a fifty-year old mixture control worn smooth by a thousand hands.

I get the same feeling when I touch the wall of the restored Morgan Lewis windmill, but with more sadness then anything when I touch some of the other crumbling bits of history around the island. When I walk the ground at Newton, I can feel the souls of the thousands who toiled and died there – but so much of what they built was deliberately left to rot.

In our haste to assert ourselves as a people and to break the chains of our colonial slave masters, we somehow decided that the structures of the plantation class were oppressive – so we let them rot.

Deliberately, I believe.

We thought that destroying the structures of the planters would somehow free us, and that is what we did.

Are we better for that?

I say that letting the plantation homes rot didn’t free us from our past. It set us adrift without the tangible bits of history that connect us to where we came from and who we are.


Special thanks to Keith Clarke of Barbados in Focus for the shot of the old mill base. A hundred years from now Keith’s photographs of contemporary Barbados will be treasured as future generations look at the past to develop a sense of who they are.


Filed under Barbados, History, Slavery

Wonderful old photos – Seawell Airport, Barbados

Seawell airport Vickers Viscount

BWIA Vickers Viscount, BOAC Bristol Britannia 312, Terminal 2, Wardair…

Ian Bourne put up a collection of old Barbados aviation photos at The Bajan Reporter and has links to more. Wonderful stuff from another age where folks dressed up to fly like they were going to church. The hats, the skirts, the ties!

Worth a look for a smile.

The Bajan Reporter: Long before there was Grantley Adams Int’l Airport in Barbados there was Seawell Airport…


Filed under Aviation, Barbados, History