Thousands of people headed for North Weald, home of the famous Battle of Britain airfield owned by Epping Forest District Council on Sunday 13 September 2009.
Three days of events and celebrations commenced on Friday 11 September 2009 when veterans of the Royal Norwegian Air Force flew back to the Airfield.
Back in 1942, the flight approach to North Weald would be very familiar to the veterans as they guided their Spitfires home. For this approach, the Royal Norwegian Air Force provided a Fan Jet Falcon Executive Jet, escorted by two of the most modern and formidable F16 Jet Fighters.
Accompanying the veterans on their fight from the Norwegian City of Bodo were senior serving officers of the NoRAF and the civic leaders including City Mayor Odd Tore Fygle.
Pictured above: Chairman Penny Smith and Councillor Cyril Hawkins greeting the veterans
Pictured above: F16 landing with parachute deployed
The veterans were met on the tarmac outside The Squadron by members of the RAF Association, Councillor Cyril Hawkins of North Weald Parish Council and Councillor Penny Smith, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council.
Pictured above: Chairman Penny Smith welcomes the pilots
Councillor Mrs Smith, welcomed the delegation to Epping Forest District Council`s Civic Offices on Saturday morning. She presented a glass globe of the world to the City Mayor as a token of the friendship between the two communities. Later, District Council Vice-Chairman, Councillor Anne Grigg welcomed the veterans to Norway House, today, the Council`s homeless persons` hostel but 70 years ago the North Weald Officers` Mess. Lunch was served at Hill Hall were many servicemen were billeted during the War.
The special links between Epping Forest and Norway culminated in a Fly-In and Community Day on Sunday. Visitors, young and old enjoyed the spectacle as Vampires, Spitfires and Hurricanes invoked memories of the airfield in its heyday from the 1940s and 1950s.
Pictured above: Representatives from Bodo in front of the Royal Norwegian Air Force F16
Stars of the Fly-in were the two Royal Norwegian Air Force F16 Jet Fighters as well as North Weald Airfields own historic aircraft including the only flying `Hurribomber` and the Hurricane and Spitfire of the RAF Memorial Flight. North Weald’s own Vampire, a Fighter Jet of the type flown by the RAF at North Weald in the 1950`s was joined by another owned by Norwegian pilot Kenneth Aarkvisla. Kenneth`s wife, Mette, was one of the number of ladies dressed in Norwegian national costume.
Mayor Odd Tore Fygle, was one of a number of people to try out the seat of an RAF Tucano, the aircraft used to train modern RAF fighter pilots.
Pictured above: Mayor Odd Tore Fygle was one of a number of people to try out the seat of an RAF Tucano
Many other guest aircraft flown into North Weald for the weekend were displayed along-side the airfields own resident collections. Static displays included two older RAF jet trainers, the Gnat of Red Arrow fame and the Jet Provost. Migs and Mustangs took to the sky during the afternoon.
As crowds enjoyed the displays of aircraft, community stalls and exhibitions, wreaths were laid in commemoration of the 36 Norwegian pilots who fell in conflict at North Weald. Brigadier Per Egil Rygg of the RNoRAF, reminded all present of the continuing sacrifice of the armed forces of Norway and Great Britain. Later, a short `Bond of Friendship ceremony took place to reaffirm the special links between the people of North Weald, Epping Forest and Norway.
Pictured above: Bond of Friendship ceremony
Families Revel in Community Day Activities
Other attractions at the Spirit of North Weald Fly-In and Community Day were vintage cars, the model flying club, WW II re-enactment groups, fairground rides and bouncy castles, and council and community stalls. Essex Police, Essex Fire and Rescue Service and the Herts Air Ambulance helicopter also welcomed families to special stands. There was also a chance for people to have a go at archery with Epping Archers.
Councillor Penny Smith said afterwards. It was a thoroughly enjoyable three days. The veterans are an inspiration. I was very proud of the associations our communities have maintained over the years and the roles of North Weald Parish Council and Epping Forest District Council in keeping those links going. Those were young men back in the early 1940`s. They arrived in this country and found a new home. In return, they fought for us and many of their friends and comrades made the ultimate sacrifice. North Weald stands as a potent symbol of the best in human nature.
Pictured above: F16 ready for take off
Pictured above: Norwegian Royal Air Force F16