It's the end of an era as veteran pilot dies

PUBLISHED: 16:44 06 July 2006 | UPDATED: 14:45 12 May 2010

George Unwin and his dog Flash, while George was serving  as a Battle of Britain pilot at Duxford. IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM

George Unwin and his dog Flash, while George was serving as a Battle of Britain pilot at Duxford. IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM

ONE of the last surviving Battle of Britain pilots has died at the age of 93. George Unwin, who was considered one of the greatest fighter pilots stationed at Duxford, died last Wednesday (June 28). Tracey Woods, Duxford s marketing and PR manager, said:

George Unwin

ONE of the last surviving Battle of Britain pilots has died at the age of 93.

George Unwin, who was considered one of the greatest fighter pilots stationed at Duxford, died last Wednesday (June 28).

Tracey Woods, Duxford's marketing and PR manager, said: "Duxford was saddened to hear that he had passed away.

"He appears in so many of the archive pictures and was very much associated with Duxford and the Battle of Britain when Duxford was a frontline fighter station.

"He was synonymous with that time."

George, who lived in Dorset, made his last visit to Duxford four years ago, during the Flying Legends airshow.

Ms Woods, said: "George drove himself up. He was active and played quite a lot of golf.

"It was an honour and a pleasure to speak to him. We spoke about his Alsatian dog Flash."

During his career, George was part of the Duxford wing under the command of Douglas Bader, who lost both his legs in a plane accident but continued as a Spitfire pilot.

At night, Bader used to file his legs and keep George awake. George used to moan and was given the nickname Grumpy George.

George was the son of a Yorkshire miner but was determined not to adopt the same occupation. So when he left his local grammar school in 1929 at 16 years old, he answered an advertisement offering RAF apprenticeships. He was successful and joined as a boy clerk training at the RAF apprentice school at Ruislip. He served at Uxbridge for four years.

His aviation career progressed and saw him selected for pilot training in 1935. In 1936 he joined 19 Squadron and served during the Battle of Britain.

He retired from the RAF in 1961, ending a career which saw him awarded the DSO and the DFM twice.

When he returned to Duxford for the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2000 he spoke of his days as a Spitfire pilot. "It was magnificant flying those things - the best feeling in the world.

"When you're a young man flying is flying, and in the Battle of Britain we were flying maybe three times a day."

George's wife, Edna, died last year.

George and his dog Flash have recently been turned into Corgi models.

n Duxford will be staging the Flying Legends Air Show at the weekend.

The show is dedicated to a selection of aircraft used in films and television programmes such as Foyles War, Memphis Belle, Pearl Harbor and Saving Private Ryan.

There will an opportunity, too, to meet veteran pilots and crew.

The gates will open at 8am and flying will begin at 2pm.

Tickets are adults £30, children £10, OAPs/concessions £25.

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