Kingston Aviation
George Cottrell
Transcript: 7
First day at Langley

The Langley factory was more modern with much better facilities than Kingston – and it had its own airfield. George had always wanted to work inspecting whole aircraft and at Langley he achieved his ambition. He progressed through to working in the Flight Shed, where new aircraft were readied for test pilots to fly.

The first time I went to Langley, I didn’t know what I was gonna do. I knew it was going to be on aeroplanes but what I didn’t know, as nobody told you.

The charge hand – the assistant foreman as they were then – met us, two of us, where the coach pulled up and said, ‘Right you two come with me’.  The first place we went into was where they build the wings and I thought, ‘oh my God, I hope I’m not in here’. The racket!  ‘Cause all the riveting was done with rivet guns and that you know, ’cause they’re all steel, aluminium covered wings. And the racket going on there was -it was terrible. I thought to myself I shall go mad if I have to come in here.

Anyway, this assistant foreman said to this other young lad with me, he said, ‘You, here, report to the Senior …’ – I forget what he was then, the charge hand anyway.  ‘There’, he said ‘go in that office. Report to him’. He said, ‘You’ – that’s me – ‘You come with me’

So I walked with him and we went in the main production hanger. All aeroplanes. I thought, oh good – is this going to be me. And it was. And as I say, I went in there and I was taken to a spot – to a desk and all that- told what I was going do. And of course, I started work on the Sea Furies.

Now they were built in ‘bits and pieces’ and I got the tail section, my first inspection job, then. I did alright there and I worked my way up ‘till I got on complete aircraft. There was only one place to go when you got on a complete aircraft – if you were good enough – that was into the Flight Shed, where you check aircraft before flying. And I got in there – happy days! I was, I’d achieved my objective.