Over the years we have helped many families learn the final fate of their loved ones, or we have acted as guides to take visiting families on vacation to the spot where their loved ones were involved in a crash. Below are just a few testimonials from grateful families who we have helped over the years:
Daughter of George Kyle, pilot of a B17 which crashed on The Cheviot, Northumberland
Growing up as the daughter of WWII B17 pilot, George A. Kyle, Jr, I had heard the stories of Dad’s crash in the Cheviot Hills. Dad’s mother had kept the newspaper accounts. Like most of the WWII veterans, Dad rarely spoke of his military days and the incident seemed very remote to me. Most of what I knew was from reading those newspaper clippings that my grandmother had given to me and which are now yellowed from age. Until that is, through the wonders of the internet and email…a friend gave Dad a particular website address, which he passed on to me. That website led me to the ACIA group.
ACIA’s Jim Corbett had visited Dad’s crash site on many occasions, first hiking up the Cheviot Hills as a young boy, with his father. It was his first sight of that broken B17 44-6504 that ultimately led Jim into his explorations of other WWII aircraft. His painstaking research and enthusiasm in his work have proven to be invaluable to me. Because of Jim’s devotion to his work, for the first time in my life, my father’s WWII experience came to vivid life. As I held in my own hands a beat up piece of the fuselage that Jim had sent across the Atlantic, I was immediately transported back to that raw, winter blizzard of December 16, 1944. I flew from my home in the Atlanta area down to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to present this piece of history to Dad on his 75th birthday!
We have subsequently visited Jim in England…I hiked the Cheviot Hills with both Jim and his father to personally visit the crash site. With Jim’s help, I have been able to piece together much that had been left untold. He has brought the past to the present and it has been an enlightening experience. I have a renewed appreciation of what my father, his crew and the other “young men” went through during one of the most important times in our nation’s history. My father and I have became much closer and I learned something new with every conversation.
As you read through the ACIA website, keep in mind that these fascinating ‘stories’ are so much more…they are true life experiences, histories that need to be told. And that is exactly what Jim is doing. I urge any family member of a WWII veteran to explore these web pages…you will be glad you did.
Carol Kyle Sage
Son of Brian Waugh, pilot of Rapide G-AFMF which crashed in Northumberland.
It was in 2002 that ACIA contacted me in New Zealand via email inquiring whether I was any relation of Brian Waugh who had been the pilot of DH89 Rapide G-AFMF which crashed on the Northumberland moors on 19 February 1954 with all eight occupants surviving. ACIA’s communication came as a real surprise and I was intrigued when they told me about the remaining wreckage still on site.
I was surprised and taken aback by this inquiry; not because of the aviation connection or good detective work that ACIA had done, but simply because as an experienced aviation historian here in New Zealand I am usually the person contacting others about similar aviation incidents. This time it was the other way around! One of the legacies my late father left me was an abiding interest in aviation history and over many years I have been researching, writing and publishing aspects of airline history, mostly related to the New Zealand context.
After the 1954 Rapide accident my parents and older sister and brother decided to seek a new future and like many English people in the post war years of the 1950s cast around overseas for employment. My father secured a job flying Rapides for a small South Island scheduled operator and they emigrated to New Zealand seven months after the Northumberland crash. I was born three years later but didn’t ever have the opportunity to visit the United Kingdom. In July 2004 I was due to be in the United States, attending an international Wesleyan Church conference, in my role as National Superintendent of the New Zealand Church, and with my contact with ACIA I thought, ‘Why not get across to the UK and visit the crash site in the 50th anniversary year?’ And that is what I did. I contacted my niece, Cathryn, a New Zealander working for the BBC in London and her brother Robin, my nephew, who was completing a Masters degree in Geology at Leeds University, and asked if they would be interested in coming north to inspect the wreckage. I was somewhat surprised when they expressed real keenness about the whole adventure so it was soon all go!
On 4 July 2004 we arrived at ACIA researcher Jim Corbett’s home to very warm hospitality and it was good to meet Jim after all our correspondence. It was a very special experience for us all, not least because it was the first time any Waugh family members had visited the wreckage since my father, in his injured state, had been carried from the site on a stretcher 50 years before.
I am very grateful indeed to Jim Corbett’s work in escorting us to the site and commend him and ACIA in their efforts to commemorate all the early air crashes of the area. The sites themselves are important and some key artefacts should be permanently displayed in local museums, especially if they are at risk in the open conditions.
Rev Richard Waugh