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The day I met James May

The day I met James MayBack in June 2009 whilst on the Gliding Scholarship course at 633VGS I heard some news that James May was filming a new series called James May's Toy Stories and he was at RAF Cosford to build a 1:1 scale Air fix Super marine Spitfire and this was going to be the world's first attempt at doing this.

Being inquisitive I set off with some other cadets who were the course at 633VGS to find the Top Gear host and to see how the model building was coming along. When we tracked him and the BBC crew down we saw they had recruited the help of some 13-14 year olds from the local Thomas Telford School and had already began working on the air fix model. We decided to go and have a look around and see what was going on. James May was polite enough to have a chat with us, and he showed a keen interest in the Air Training Corps, as well as the Vigilant T1, operated at RAF Cosford by 633VGS.

We talked to James about aircraft and in particular, the Vigilant T1 and how he said he would like to fly in it. Unfortunately we never got the chance to fly him as he was constantly working all the time and we had a busy Gliding Scholarship flying programme to complete each day.

He asked me what I did at RAF Cosford and I told him that I was a Flight Staff Cadet at 633VGS and that I was working towards being a Grade 2 pilot, I explained to him what this meant he thought this was a great way to help interest in aviation take-off.

I also told him about my time in the ATC, that I attend 2438 (Bishop Ullathorne) Squadron in Coventry and how I am hoping to become a G1 instructor at 633VGS within the 12 months. We obviously had a quick chat about Top Gear as well!

James, invited all of the staff at 633VGS up to the grand revealing of the spitfire and he was very hopeful and really believed it would work - and having had a look around as the work was in progress, we were able to share the same hopes for the project.

On the last day of filming was the grand revealing of the air fix model. I, along with the staff and the other cadets from 633VGS drove up to the top of the airfield to watch the great unveiling happen. Knowing it was going to be on TV, we all tried to find an angle where the cameras would fall on us, even it if was for just a brief second.

With the hangar doors closed we joined the crowds of people who arrived to view the revealing of the world's first 1:1 scale Air fix model. We lined up at the side with a lot of the television crew, including James May's parents and we waited in anticipation for the spitfire to be pulled out by those involved in constructing it.

Before the hangar doors opened, James May stood out the front and welcomed everyone to the event, including ex-Spitfire pilots, and the RAF Cosford Station Commander as VIPs. There was a problem with the microphone so while attempting to film an introduction to the opening of the hangar doors, James talked to the crowd whilst the crew sorted out the technical problems.

After finally filming a good enough shot for the introduction to the crowds, the hangar doors were cranked open by the RAF Museum Cosford staff and the school children who created the model. The children pulled the model out of the hangar using two ropes. It was going well until it crossed the hangar threshold and the wheels shook and bent - but that was overcome.

We then all moved towards the Spitfire to have a look at it along with the VIPs and members of the public.

This whole episode of James May's Toy Stories was aired on the BBC on October 27 2009 .

Knowing that I stood a great chance of being on the television, even if it was for just a second I watched the show with anticipation. To my surprise, not only was I shown on the screen, I was captured and aired in 3 separate shots.

It was quite an experience seeing the show being filmed and was great to see the full episode on television.

The world's first 1:1 scale Air fix model


Article Submitted by:-
Cdt Sgt Luke Carter - 2438 (Bishop Ullathorne School) Squadron
13 Nov 09

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