The Open Door

The Flixton Valetta: Bob Bland

The Flixton Valetta
The Flixton Valetta with Despatchers


We had for sometime known about the existence of a Valetta in the museum at Flixton on the Suffolk/Norfolk border. After a previously arranged visit had to be postponed, we finally made it this summer. It turned out to be a beautiful summers day when 4 ex 55 Coy. AD colleagues that included Ken Law, Ken Wall, Pete Steward and myself arrived accompanied by our ‘keepers/minders’ (the wives).

Several enjoyable hours were spent looking round the aircraft and static exhibitions, but it was the Valetta itself that took up most of our time. Just looking at the "pig" took one back over the fifty years or so that had passed, since last setting eyes on this make of aircraft. It immediately evoked much talk of our days flying over the jungles of Malaya in these planes. Just standing in the open door looking out over the wing with its attached Hercules engine, took me back in time as if it was only yesterday. While the inside of this particular aircraft is not quite like the Valetta’s in use in Malaya, because of the interior lining of the fuselage etc. etc. for this museum example had been used in its final flying years as a passenger/troop carrier. Nevertheless it still had the spar across the floor. Much talk and reminiscing about the hazards of heaving heavy packs over it whilst competing with the ‘g’ forces and up and downs of the turbulent air over the jungle ensued. We all wondered how we managed to have the strength to carry out the task. Certainly in our ageing state, we would not manage it now.

I am sure any ex Despatcher that flew in this type of aircraft, would soon like us, have many memories come flooding back that had lain dormant for years, simply by paying a visit if you are in the area. After our visit we all enjoyed some good hospitality in the pub that stands just outside the museum, again all within the keeping up of ‘tradition’ of course!!. We are not ones to let the side down.

Note: VX580 served with the Middle East Air Force in Malta & Aden

Open Door Contents