As an National Serviceman at the end of the 1950s I was posted to RAF Swinderby in Lincoln, long since closed but then a flying training school flying wide bodied, two seater Vampires. I was privaleged in being taken up a few times and allowed to take the controls in - more or less - level flight, a heady experience for a nineteen year old which I fondly remember to this day more than half a century on: Suiting up in flying gear and parashute, being strapped into the ejection seat by any numberof restricting harnesses, communicating through a squeeky throat mike, with the smell of rubber from the oxygen mask and the squirt of really cold oxygen every few seconds. I earned four pounds a week but would have gladly given that up for a few more flights in the legendary Vampire, nearly all parts of which were made by de Havilland at their Hatfield factory, near where I now live. They even made the Goblin jet engine which powered the aircraft. The de Havilland Vampire was not the first jet fighter, it came just too late to see action in the Second World War but was beaten into service with the Royal Airforce by the Glouster Meteor, another fighter which later was converted for flying trainer.
The Vampire, seen here, stands at the de Havilland Aircraft Heritage Centre, a museum established in 1959 and run solely by volunteers. Learn more here: