The photo above sees him in a Fuji T-1B trainer—at the Saitama Subaru Sakitama Garden in Gyoda, Saitama Prefecture—and joking with the tour guide that the instructor’s seat is a comparative sofa compared to the student pilot accommodation in the front. As a boy, he had received a copy of The Dumpy Book of Air Forces of the World (Sampson Low, 1957!) and thought that this very type of aircraft from faraway Japan looked really exotic and not one he’d ever be likely to see!
When his full-time work permitted, he contributed articles to magazines back home (including Aeroplane, Air International, Air Pictorial, Aviation News) and in Germany (Flugzeug Classic, Jet&Prop). In Japan, he combined editing and translating tasks while writing extensively on Japanese aviation history subjects for niche Arawasi publications from 2005 to 2011. An active member of the Japan Aviation Journalists’ Association (JAJA), he has a track record of all of five Japanese-language articles:
Koku Fan (Oct. 2012 issue)
After the flood reports from the Royal Thai Air Force Museum and the Tango Collection hangar in Bangkok, Thailand
Maru (Apr. 2014 issue)
A six-page feature article on the highly recommended Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum in the UK.
Puten News (JAJA magazine, Feb. 2015)
A two-page feature, including some amateurish photography, on Danish military aircraft seen at UK air shows in the 70s.
Puten News (May 2016)
A Photo That Brings Back Memories: a Japanese version of the Where It All Began story that appears below.
Puten News (Aug. 2016)
A look back at the air show that marked the Royal Swedish Air Force’s 50th anniversary in 1976.
Now working from home as a freelance editor/translator, he hopes to be able to devote more time to expanding and maintaining this website.
Where It All Began
(Photo: Alexander ‘Alec’ Thompson [1908-1995])
The above photo of a Bristol Belvedere HC.1 of 72 Sqn Royal Air Force was taken by my father, Alexander “Alec” Thompson, at Biggin Hill airfield in Kent on September 14, 1963, when I was nearly eight years old. My first ever air show, this must have been where the seed of my interest in aviation was sown.
Surprisingly, as I apparently turned as white as a sheet after the pilot of what I now know to have been a 56 Sqn Lightning F.1A had approached from down in the valley to sneak up behind the crowd. Making his presence very much felt, the culprit was clearly visible as he banked low overhead.
Interestingly, some World War II aircraft—six German, one Italian and one Japanese—from the then Air Historical Branch collection were among the aircraft on ground display that day. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, all stealthily eluded Dad’s camera. It was to be 1998—all of 35 years later—that my camera caught up with that day’s Japanese representative, the Mitsubishi Ki-46-III (Dinah, coincidentally one of my mother’s many nicknames!) at RAF Museum Cosford (below).
That very same Belvedere (XG462) safely made a forced landing in the Libyan desert after suffering an engine fire on October 5, 1963, a mere three weeks after this photo was taken. Its restored nose section is today on display at The Helicopter Museum in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset (link). I must go and photograph it myself one day, just for old times’ sake.
(With thanks to one John Chapman for posting a list of aircraft from that fateful day at Biggin Hill on the Scramble website [link].)
While I have your attention, I would just like to take a moment to point out that:
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Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this website are copyright
J-HangarSpace/Paul Thompson, who takes all reasonable steps to avoid infringing any copyright.
J-HangarSpace/Paul Thompson owns and operates this site for the benefit of anyone with an interest in its content. Grateful thanks are extended to those listed below, who have kindly contributed photographs directly to this website, and to those who have made their images widely available. Of those mentioned below, special mention must be made of Takao Kadokami, whose collection dates back to 1955 and Akira Watanabe’s images from the 70s and 80s; examples of their photos are gradually being incorporated.
India Arjun Sarup
UK Andy Binks, Tom Meikle
USA William T. “Bill” Larkins
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Please note that Japanese personal names on this site are reversed to appear in the Western style with the surname last.