D-Day 80 Part 5 – The Return Home

In the morning, it was up not too early, breakfast and a taxi to Caen-Carpiquet airport.

The early risers had already gone, some to fly the beaches and some heading off home. The only aircraft left were the three Cubs and the Fairchild from the UK, and the L4 and L5 of Iza and Arnaud. As the organisers they had a very justified and well-deserved lie-in!

Preflight complete, I wandered down the line to say my goodbyes and then set off for Le Touquet. The other Brits were routing via Calais, so I was on my own again. Slightly strange feeling to be flying without anybody else in close proximity!

I crossed the Seine at Pont de Brotonne. I’d like to say it was a carefully chosen waypoint due to being a “distinctive feature with large vertical extent”, but I can’t. Like most people these days I was just following SkyDemon and kind of stumbled across it…

Le Touquet was quick and painless like last time…

…and I was soon on the way to Rochester, an exact retracing of the outbound leg. One of these days we’ll spend longer than 40 minutes in Le Touquet, but it was time to get home. Racing the weather again, which you wouldn’t really believe, as the weather was glorious approaching Cap Gris Nez:

Mid-channel with the White Cliffs of Dover clearly visible ahead. This time I didn’t make the mistake of thinking they were low cloud!

Dover Harbour:

And finally in to land at Rochester. There was plenty of daylight left…the aircraft could have gone further but the pilot was nackered. I almost clipped a runway light on the way in, and this was where the hotel room was, so I decided a rest was needed.

Before I hit the hotel, guess who turned up? Yes, two gents from Border Force spent 10 seconds checking my passport and 10 minutes chatting about Cubs, D-Day and the channel crossing. Of course they wanted a photo by the aircraft…they had seen the inbound GAR and wondered what an L4 was…the fact that it had no registration on the side was even more intriguing to them!

Meanwhile the Dutch lads were already home to a victorious welcome:

After the stroll to the hotel ( they gave me room 216 again – I should have left my posters up ), a quick bar meal and a 50 minute call home. Then it was time for a big sleep.


Final day! Four legs. The plan was Rochester to Fenland to Sherburn to Eshott to Perth. Breighton had a vintage aircraft fly-in that day, and while the Cub would have fitted in nicely, there was no time. Sherburn was used instead. As it turned out, a good choice. Great airfield – and FREE landings for Perth based aircraft due to the reciprocal agreement. Free stuff is good.

On the way out to France there was a 20 kt tailwind at times. Now on the return trip it was a 20 kt headwind. A free headwind is NOT good in an already slow aircraft.

I got in early, packed up and set off just as the airfield opened…

The plan was to fly, land, refuel, pee, pay and fly again. Four times. No time for anything more than a quick snap. Fenland:

Gordon from the tower in Perth captured this screenshot as we were passing Gringley on the Hill:



And finally, 21 hours and 45 minutes flying time from Perth, we were back where we started. Almost 22 hours in a vintage aircraft means that this is how I walk now:

Ears ringing at about 2100rpm, back permanently contorted and a numb bum that took several days to recover. I was nackered. Again.

It was all worth it for the fantastic experience, new friends and awesome adventures.

But it was worth it mostly for the privilege of being allowed to fly down the D-Day beaches in formation with other genuine WW2 veteran aircraft to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the invasion and, in our own small way, honour those who took part.

And finally…

A quick point about the photos for all five parts of this D-Day 80 trip report…a lot are mine but quite a few are from the WhatsApp group. Thank you to everyone who posted pics, hope you don’t mind that they are being used to spread the word – I’m planning to go through one by one and give credit where credit is due.

An excellent selection of superb photos from the event can also be found at:


Jusqu’à l’année prochaine..!