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Airways pilot on a sentimental journey

Friday, 18th June, 2010

* Former airline pilot Roy Day in Broken Hill for the first time in more than 60 yaers. * Former airline pilot Roy Day in Broken Hill for the first time in more than 60 yaers.

The co-pilot of the first Silver City Airways Lancastrian that arrived in Broken Hill in 1946 has returned to the city.

Roy Day, a former Royal Air Force pilot during World War II, turned 23 when he first arrived in Australia from England.
He is now 86 years old and has come back to reminisce.
"Just after the war I decided there was nothing for me in aviation so I decided to fall on my father's profession of a dentist. But when I found myself sitting amongst school kids who hadn't had a four-year break in their education, it was all a bit over my head," Mr Day said.
He said that he could see from the aviation magazines in England that they were "crying out for pilots," so he got his pilot's licence.
In the first week he was offered three different jobs, one of which was with Silver City Airlines.
"I went up for the interview on the Monday and they said 'can you fly on Friday?," Mr Day said.
He remembers that they drove him out to Heathrow Airport the day before when the airport "was a marquee and there was so much mud about."
The plane he was flying was a converted Lancaster Bomber that seated 13 people, and Mr Day said that they had removed the turrets and put metal in its place.
They left London and stopped over in Malta, Cairo and Khartoum.
The crew spent several weeks in Johannesburg and then flew out to pick up a team of six geologists enroute to Broken Hill.
Mr Day said he arrived here on November 30, 1946 and enjoyed a lavish dinner at a local hotel.
"We had dinner at the Royal Exchange, and all the top brass from the mine were there, and it was quite a formal occasion."
Mr Day said that the crew was taken on a tour of a mine and later flew back to Sydney.
He said this week that coming back to town gave him a "nostalgia kick," although he didn't remember a great deal from his first visit.
Roy Day is a resident of Cornwall in the UK and has three children and eight grandchildren.
He was looking forward to riding the Indian Pacific train when he leaves for Sydney today.

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