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Military Master!

AFM’s Alan Kenny had the opportunity to briefly chat with the BBC’s history expert, Dan Snow, about aviation


Historian Dan Snow poses in his flight gear before a flight to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 1943.

AFM: You have an impressive knowledge of military history. What era would you like to visit and why?

Dan: My first love is the 18th century, a period in which the foundations of our modern world were laid. The industrial revolution was changing our relationship with objects and nature, the first cross-channel hot air balloon flight took place and ideas about democracy and economics were developed which underpin our modern way of life. Europeans were exploring and mapping the world as never before. It was an exciting time to be alive.

Last May you flew with the Dambusters for the 70th Anniversary of 617 Squadron.
What was the experience like?

It was the most amazing experience. What made it special was the response of people on the ground. Everyone went wild, kids poured out of classrooms, cars stopped in the roads. The Lancaster means something to people.

Did you prefer the Lancaster or Tornado?

It's like choosing between two different types of delicious fruit! They were utterly different but both wonderful.

Do you have an interest in military aviation or just the military?

I am fascinated by the role that war has played in our past and technology is an important part of that story. The history of war in the 20th Century is hard to understand without realising the importance of military aviation, how it evolved and where it is going.

I noticed the Spitfire appears on your Facebook page a few times. Have you been for a flight in one?

I’ve never been in the two-seater Spitfire. I would love to though! It is a dream.

What plans have you got in the pipeline?

Coming up I'm rafting down the Grand Canyon for BBC2 in January, charting the history of the Winter Olympics in February and then looking at the history of the British in India later in the year. Then comes the First World War anniversary!

The specially painted tail of a 617 Squadron 'Dambusters' Tornado GR4. This was one of two painted to remember the raid in 1943.

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Filed Under Military Aviation Features, Airshows Features.


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Dave Baker said on the 10-May-2015 at 00:45

Expert? He thinks that Martin Baker invented the ejection seat!!

Gordon Clack said on the 27-Jan-2016 at 14:03

The Germans produced some of the first ejector seats which were powered by compressed air.
Trials were carried in the early 1940s and they were fitted to the Heinkel 219 nightfighter.
Two ex-Luftwaffe aircrew, Lt Heiner Fries and Fw
Alfred Staffa became friends of mine after the war and were the first or possibly second crews to use an ejector seat in combat. Sadly, both are now dead but I have photos of them if anyone is interested.

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