Call for more young volunteers to restore historical Mosquito aircraft

Martin Watkiss (left) and Giles Silom (right)

Call for more young volunteers to restore historical Mosquito aircraft

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Two former air cadets are calling on other young people to follow them in helping to preserve aviation heritage at a museum in London Colney.

Since becoming the newest and youngest volunteers, Giles Silom, 22, and Martin Watkins, 20, have spoken of their "real pride" at being able to work on the historic Second World War de Havilland "wooden wonder" Mosquito fighter-bomber at the de Havilland Aircraft  Museum, Salisbury Hall.

The St Albans pair, both former members of 220 St Albans Squadron of the Air Training Corps, found that the wood and metalworking skills they were taught at Verulam School immediately saw them join the team of a dozen skilled volunteers working on preserving the Mosquito prototype.

Mr Watkins of Potters Field said the training they have received from other team members "is just like an apprenticeship."

He said: "It is a fantastic privilege to be working on part of our local history. Not many people get the opportunity we have."

The pair signed up as volunteers after visiting the museum just a few weeks ago. Ahead of them and other volunteers are many months of work to prepare the prototype and two other Mosquitos among its collection of more than 20 de Havilland aircraft.

This will mark the 75th anniversary next year of the type’s maiden flight from Hatfield airfield in November 1940.

Mr Silom, of Becketts Avenue added: "It really is a privilege to be working on something that is part of both our national and local heritage and we love it here."

"It is so important that there is another generation who will be able to continue the job of preserving that heritage, because the present generation won’t be around forever."

The prototype is currently dismantled for a full inspection and repairs, and once the wings and tail have been given new doped-on Irish linen fabric covering it will be reassembled with its restored internal and cockpit fittings, cockpit canopy, Merlin engines and undercarriage.

It will be repainted in its wartime livery of yellow undersides and camouflage topsides. The Mosquito was designed at Salisbury Hall and was the first of a number also built there in specially built hangars in 1940 and 1941.

With plans already approved for a large new display hangar, the museum welcome more volunteers aged from 18 to 80 years. For more information visit www.dehavillandmuseum.co.uk.

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