ENTHUSIASTIC pilot Wilson Taylor has finally got his RAF “Wings” – even if he did have to wait longer than most for the accolade.
The 89-year-old has finally been presented with the coveted honour exactly 69 years after he passed all his flying tests while training for wartime service.
His passion for the RAF started when he lived near RAF Usworth in Sunderland where he used to watch aircraft as a boy.
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In August 1940 he saw a Spitfire shoot down a German bomber near Barnard Castle and two years later, on his 18th birthday, he went straight to the RAF recruiting office.
He was posted to Canada in February 1945 to undergo flying training and took his Wings test in Manitoba later that year. However, on return to the UK the war was ending - he never flew an operational mission and did not receive his Wings.
He undertook a series of ground roles and was demobbed in 1947, but his interest in flying continued and he piloted light aircraft for many years as a member of the Newcastle Flying Club, making his last flight at age 85.
Last year he wrote to the Queen to ask whether the RAF would grant his dearest wish and present his Wings retrospectively.
And at a formal ceremony at RAF Linton-on-Ouse near York he was presented with the honour by the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Edward Stringer.
Station commander Group Captain David Cooper said: “Presentation of the coveted Wings is a huge milestone in any RAF pilot’s flying career.
“Linton-on-Ouse is the centre of excellence for basic fast-jet pilot training where our graduates receive their Wings on successful completion of this element of their flying training - so it was particularly apt that Mr Wilson was presented with his Wings at one of the World’s oldest military flying training schools.”
Mr Wilson was a teacher for many years in the School for the Deaf in Newcastle. He then ran units for deaf children in schools throughout Northumberland in order that they could integrate into normal schools.
He has also been a scout leader in Sunderland and a member of choirs in Sunderland, Wallsend and Gosforth over the years.
And although he no longer takes to the skies he retains his flying currency by using the flight simulator he has in his home - and regularly flies from virtual airports all over the world.