Sunday, January 08, 2012

Health & safety ban WWII Spitfire pilot, 91, from sitting in... a Spitfire

A WWII Spitfire pilot who survived deadly dogfights with the Luftwaffe was barred from sitting in a restored model — due to health and safety rules.

Hero Eric Carter, 91, was delighted to be invited to inspect a newly-revamped Spitfire in the city where he trained to fly.

But when he asked if he could get in the cockpit, officials at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent told him it was a health and safety risk.

Eric put his life on the line day after day battling Messerschmitts in his Spitfire XVI LF RW388 over Arctic Russia.

He said: "You couldn't make it up. I used to fly those things every day fighting the Germans — now that really was a health and safety concern!

"To think that I couldn't sit in a stationary Spitfire in case I got hurt. I just wish the Luftwaffe had been so caring. The people at the museum had their reasons, but I had to laugh."

Eric took part in a secret, successful operation to keep the port of Murmansk open to preserve supply lines to Russia after the Nazi invasion in 1941. He volunteered knowing the average life expectancy for fighter pilots was 15 minutes. He is still feted as a war hero in Russia.

Eric, from Chaddersley Corbett, Worcs, said: "I was young and must have been mad, but perhaps we were a tougher generation."

Stoke-on-Trent City Council said on the day of Eric's visit there was no "proper seat" in the plane, which had been recently coated with paint containing traces of radioactive radium.

He added: "For those reasons, and because of his age, the people on the day thought it best he did not sit in the plane."

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1 comment:

  1. You should have made it happen....He's earned the right to sit in any Spitfire in existence.... Give some people a little authority and they are too stupid to use common sense....

    Steven Frost