A perceptive reader will be aware, by noting from the Introduction, that the hand-written original manuscript for this memoir was completed in June 1997. Since then, I tried to find a commercial-risk publisher to print the text but, of the few companies operating this method of production, none had the capacity, for years ahead, to take it on. The majority of publishers now operate a so-called 'subsidised publishing' operation whereby the author is required to pay, up-front, all or nearly all the costs of the first edition, which in his case might run to '£6000 average', I was informed. There is no guarantee that the author will recoup his outlay and it must be regarded by him, therefore, to be a very high-risk investment It was a risk I was not prepared to take. Thus, six months after completing the manuscript, I felt that I might as well bin the book!
My 'cajolers', Group Captain J T Jennings DFC, and British Airways Captain Richard Wood - who had persuaded me to put pen to paper in the first place - encouraged me to keep trying and I thank them for their continued interest, help and support.
I had hoped to have the book published to coincide with the 50th Anniversaries of the events described in Chapters 9 and 10 but, when this seemed to have become a pipe-dream, my younger daughter Katherine coaxed me into contributing Chapter 10 to the magazine FlyPast, to see if it might generate interest from the public and, more especially, from publishers. Katherine had by then produced a second beautiful daughter and had her hands full taking care of both her children. However, she managed to find time to compile a disc for use by FlyPast, and the article (extracts from Chapter 10) was printed by that magazine - unfortunately just too late to meet the 50th anniversary date of the Atlantic crossing. But at least I had managed to get something into print, thanks to the help from my daughter - for which I offer my gratitude.
I have the habit of keeping my friends and acquaintances up-to-date with my personal affairs by notes written on my Christmas cards, and in 1998 I gave them news of the book. One such was J B (Ian) Craig, a fellow Scot and FP of my old school, formerly of Hawker Siddeley/British Aerospace, and now retired; he is mentioned in Chapter 15 and was head of the Aircrew Publications unit for that Company at Kingston-upon-Thames. Ian is a former RAF Meteor/Venom/Hunter squadron pilot whose prospectively formidable RAF career was snatched from him when he was grounded because of a debilitating medical condition which forced his retirement at the early age of 27. Fortunately, he continued his work in aviation and provided my RDT3 office with valuable service for the RN and RAF during the development of Harrier, Sea Harrier and Hawk. When he read a photocopy of my manuscript (he had requested a sight of it) he immediately and freely volunteered to make an initial typescript and, mostly using his own equipment, subsequently try to prepare it in disc form with illustrations and photographs, for publication as a book or on the Internet. I derived great pleasure from our discussions and our ferreting to ascertain the accuracy of the text, and I hope and trust that he did too (any remaining errors are mine alone!). This memoir may never have had the chance to see the light of day but for Ian's energies. I offer him my profound thanks.
Other aviation contacts of mine (bar none) were prepared to provide data for solutions to my queries on problems arising. To all of them I pass on my thanks. None backed away and all questions were satisfactorily resolved. Among these contacts are former RDT3/Handling Squadron officers Jack Watson, Norman Want, Alf Jones and Bernard Noble. Also included is Norman Bate MBE, Registrar of the RAF Arnold Scheme in the SEAATC, USA. And Trevor Mountford of the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, Farnborough. And in addition, through Ian, the well-known Kingston Hawker/BAe Aerodynamics Department aircraft performance duo Trevor Jordan and Ken Causer, particularly Ken, whose advice and expertise made possible the high standard and computer production of the artwork for use in the Figures of the text. And finally, Angela Catlin, who helped Ian with the placement of the photographs and arranged the production of a CD ROM.
Sadly, of the individuals named in the book, some half have now passed on, and the attrition rate inevitably continues without abatement. It is a pity that they could not have read this memoir to assess its contents and muse over the events in which they were personally involved.
However, none had the wherewithal to be able to declare that the book had been completed and could be published than my daughter Katie or her husband Bryn Jones who decided that it could carry the Internet title shown below, viz "www.bill-wood.uk"