Bill lets fly on mystery of Shrewsbury's missing Link

What happened to Shrewsbury's plane that never flew?

The trainer was an early form of flight simulator.
The trainer was an early form of flight simulator.

That's the question being asked by Bill Kerswell, who wonders how many Salopians remember the Link Trainer – an early flying simulator – which used to be based in the county town, and which he himself got to "fly".

Bill, who lives near Church Stretton, said: "There was a Link Trainer at the London Road headquarters of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) in the late 1950s. It was like a plane on a roundabout, and you got in and spoke to the controller through a radio. I think the Air Training Corps used to use it mostly.

"I wonder if anybody remembers it or if there is any record of it. It was taken away in about 1960.

"I was in the ROC based at Shrewsbury. They moved from there in 1959 down to Holywell Street where they had this bombproof HQ. It had been in London Road, the other side of where the Shirehall is now, a hut in some trees. It's now a car park.

"I joined the ROC to avoid going into National Service – they said if you join the ROC you will be fine."

A Link Trainer, as explained in a wartime book.

Bill himself got to "fly" in the Link Trainer, as well as doing some real flying as one of the privileges of being an observer.

"I got on all right. It was probably provided during the war. I can't find a photograph of it, I should have taken some pictures but didn't.

"We used to go flying quite a bit from RAF Shawbury and RAF Valley as you had the right to have air experience flights as observers at the time."

The trainer was an early form of flight simulator.

Bill has no idea what became of the Link Trainer.

"It was probably scrapped. It should have been preserved and taken to Cosford or somewhere, but they didn't bother in those days," he says.

"They were smashing up Spitfires at Shawbury, and Hurricanes were burned at the end of the airfield. It was a terrible shame. They were supposed to keep one of everything, but they didn't. I suppose they had nowhere to put them. They had scrapyards at every airfield."

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