Mixing with millionaires

Tom Moulson, 601 Squadron’s first National Service pilot, reflects on life with North Weald’s ‘Weekend Warriors’



In the sad, drab days after the war, much of London was under rubble, the air was sooty and everything was rationed or for export only. The compulsory 18 months of military National Service added travail for many young men about to transition from school to work. But for those like me who since boyhood had yearned to fly, chosen the RAF, applied for pilot training and passed the tests, it was a godsend.

So here I am, just before Christmas 1950, reporting for duty at North Weald, Essex. I have behind me the immense pride of sewing cloth wings onto my tunic, plus three months’ additional voluntary service to qualify on jets, and I join the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF). Instead of the Volunteer Reserve with its light duties and light aircraft, I shall become a civilian for five days a week and a frontline Fighter Command pilot at weekends and for two weeks abroad every year.

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