No. 5 Air Experience Flight (AEF) was an RAF(VR) unit that operated out of Marshalls airfield, a civilian establishment near Cambridge, at that time. For us cadets, a Chipmunk flight was just about the best thing in the world. We had about 15 minutes of instruction on how to jump out of the thing in an emergency, (we were supposed to climb out of the cockpit, then crawl across the wing, and launch ourselves into thin air with one hand on the ripcord). We then strapped on a parachute and climbed into the front seat. Like in the Tiger Moth, the instructor sat in the rear seat. I don't imagine that health & safety laws would allow 14 year olds to do stuff like that now.
But the most delicious moment was when the instructor declared over the r/t "You have control"! You cannot imagine how that felt. A real Royal Air Force plane - albeit World war 2 technology - and I, a 14 year old in a leather flying helmet, was in control of it. Banking, climbing, resisting the urge to try dive bombing, calling out height and airspeed as we were told to do. I was ready to set an easterly course and take on the whole Soviet Union. For 30 minutes, I was Douglas Bader.The instructor landed it of course, but if he had let me then I would have willingly given it a go. 14 year old boys are immortal, you see.
I did more flights in Chippies over the next couple of years, but if I live to be 100 I will remember to my dying day every moment of that first flight.
Great days indeed. And I was there....