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John Clayton: Londoon Tour 4
An Astounding Aviation Museum
At Duxford

Why the World's Best Smoked Salmon Comes from London; Plus the World's Most Unusual Lawn Roller -
And What it Means to be REALLY Searched at Heathrow
Words and photos by John Clayton
Part five of a five part series

Gathering of Eagles; A Pride of Lions, or a Flight of Airline Pilots, might well describe an aviation heaven that's about 50 miles from London, 45 minutes by express train, and is known throughout the world as the Imperial War Museum (IWM) Duxford where you'll find yourself - especially if you're an aircraft buff - in an aviation paradise, and the home of many classic British, American and German aircraft from WW2.

Duxford - The Best Aviation Museum in Europe!

There are over 200 aircraft, military vehicles, artillery and some "minor naval vessels" here, that are totally spellbinding. During my trip with British Airways and Visit Britain to London, when our group took the train to Cambridge (only 8 miles away from Duxford) I decided to check out the largest aviation museum in Europe that has a history that's as colorful -- and as vibrant -- as its many aircraft. To write about Duxford, and what it encompasses, is to detail aviation history at its most enthralling and captivating. Duxford IS aviation and military nirvana.

welcome sign and site map at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, London

Classic WW2 aircraft? You bet, for starters how about a B17G Flying Fortress (the only flyable B-17 in all of Europe!), a B-29 Superfortress and a marvelous B-52 Stratofortress that flew into Duxford in 1983, an F-15 Eagle from the USAF, an RAF Mosquito, and an airplane that ushered in the true jet age for passengers, a British Comet, a superb German terror of the skies for allied air crews flying over occupied Europe - an FW 190, a German ME-109, a Lockheed SR 71 Blackbird, a B-24 Liberator and a classic C-47 Skytrain (a hugely popular variant being the famous DC-3) a nifty Hawker Hunter, a De Haviland Sea Venom, a Harrier jump jet that saw active service in the Falklands war, a superb Avro Lancaster, a classic Short Sunderland flying boat, several (yes, several !) Spitfires, an American Lockheed Lightning, a top notch British Westland Lysander, and a BAC Concorde among many others.

World War 2-era Grumman F8F Bearcat naval fighter plane at the Imperial War Museum Duxford

Lockheed P38 Lighting fighter at the Imperial War Museum Duxford

Not all the aircraft are on the Flight Line. Many are either in one of the hangars, or come from private sources such as The Shuttleworth Collection, the Old Flying Machine Collection and the Duxford Aviation Society.

The American Air Museum
Of special interest to American visitors is the above named truly marvelous museum, the planning for which began in the mid 1980s. A world famous architect, Sir Norman Foster, was commissioned to design it, and it is truly spectacular --- indeed there were over 50,000 individual US subscribers to help with the funding, and it opened with much fanfare in September 1995. It is 61 feet high and 330 feet deep, dimensions being dictated by the need to accommodate the classic, and huge, B-52.

Wonderful Workshops!
If you're into aviation virtually every aspect of Duxford will thrill you, but one of the things that I loved was the large number of workshops (many are the real WW2 hangars!) where skilled mechanics are restoring aircraft - as you see from the B-17 in the photo below. History buffs will know that back in the dark days of the early 1940s, Duxford played a crucial role in the Battle of Britain when it was an RAF fighter base, and also where the famous RAF Ace Douglas Bader was based - not only for his flying skills, but also because he had no legs and was fitted and flew with artificial ones.

B17 Flying Fortress undergoing restoration work at a hangar, the Imperial War Museum, Duxford

Later in the war the USAAF took over, and in December 1944 a fleet of the mighty P-51 Mustang fighters came in. Sadly by 1969 Duxford as an active air force base was no longer needed. But then the IWM stepped in, and requested that some of some of its (stored) aircraft be placed there on as permanent basis. Over the years it grew and grew, and by August 2005 Duxford welcomed its ten millionth visitor!!!

There are numerous air shows throughout the year, and to learn more about every aspect of the place, Google it and type in "Duxford Aviation Museum" and you'll see a long list of websites. Get your tickets online as well, as it saves time and money. For a single adult (16 to 59) it's sixteen pounds and fifty pence or online it's USD $27.72. There are rates for seniors (60 plus), kids, groups and students - information found and booked online. If you're in London, the fastest way to get there is a 45 minute ride in an express train from Kings Cross Station to Cambridge, and then either a bus or taxi to Duxford.

London Has Europe's Most Delicious Salmon!

Do you ever think about smoking? Do you ever wonder what happens if you smoke too much? Then again what about hot smoking or cold smoking? Now, you're probably wondering what on earth I'm talking about, but all of this plays a key role in the smoking of salmon!!! When our travel media press group was invited to the factory of one Mr. Lance Forman located in - as we arrived there - what seemed to be a very large industrial area, I was ready to be bored to death.

Then we all met the man himself - Lance Forman, and it changed everything.

Lance Forman standing in front of rows of dried salmon at his factory

He was magical and spellbinding. Although I love smoked salmon, I'd never given much thought to where it came from. Mr. Forman it turns out, is so respected, and his smoked salmon so sought after by top chefs and the best hotels, that it is THE best smoked salmon in the UK - and, for all I know, the best in the world. It certainly tasted that way when he served all of us some. His mesmerizing talk felt more like a family conversation regarding the process he goes through to make HIS smoked salmon the best. He told us that too much smoke and the subtle flavors the salmon is overpowered. Mr. Forman gives his product a perfect blend of air drying, and something called "dehumidification with precise quantities of smoke produced by (are you ready for this?) friction burning oak logs all sourced from sustainable forests." Wow!!!

Although he invited us to see his brilliantly conceived (and cleverly designed factory operation) it turned out that Mr. Forman has another equally brilliant side to him. I found it so interesting, it was as if JK Rowling (Harry Potter author) had given me not only free access to her bank account, but also told me the inner secrets of her writing!

The brief facts are these. Most everyone in the UK was sure that when the final announcement came as to who was going to host the 2012 Olympics, the foregone conclusion was that it would be Paris, France. At the very last moment it was awarded to London. Mr. Forman, so I recall, told us that in view of this there had been no specific plans on where London would put the big, main stadium. When the reality hit on that decision, all the top Olympic officials wanted to build it in exactly the same place as (are you ready for this?) where Mr. Forman had his factory. There was also the question of where all the other businesses located around Mr. Forman's factory would move to.

site of the 2012 Olympic main stadium, London; Lance Forman's new factory is situated farther back
This is the Olympic site- and location - of the main stadium, as it appeared in July 2011. Mr. Forman's new factory is on the far back, other side, and is probably too difficult to see in this photo, taken in what the Brits told us was "inclement weather, that will soon pass."

As a former Brit, I loved THIS very British understatement, as it was raining harder than I ever knew torrential rain could fall - indeed, with such intensity I thought we should start building an Ark!

But now that London HAD the 2012 Games, how would they go about building the stadium where all these buildings now stood? The answer was very simple. A law called Eminent Domain.

This means "compulsory purchase or expropriation, and is an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent. The property is taken either for government use or by delegation to third parties who will devote it to public or civic use or, in some cases, economic development." Mr. Forman is a very astute businessman, and an equally dazzling entrepreneur. Virtually all the other businesses caved in to what the Olympic officials wanted.

Except Mr. Forman.

He believed so much in HIS rights and what HE wanted, that in the end all the "Powers That Be," including the Mayor of London and the various Olympic Committees etc, were so "peeved" (and I'm not using the EXACT word here!) by Mr. Forman's persistence, that they agreed to his requests -- that he could build a new factory right next to what would be THE Olympic Stadium!

I suggested to Mr. Forman that he write a book called "David and Goliath -- or how I Conquered London, and won the 2012 Olympics." Yes, a very provocative title, but Mr. Forman, so I found, is an engaging and very talented gentleman, but because so much of my life has been imbued with the art of persistence, I loved his thought processes and determination to win and that - at the very least - this intriguing David and Goliath saga be given a far bigger audience. Check out his fascinating and multi tiered website at and make sure YOU take his tour, and see his wonderful, creative and innovative new building.

Like the man himself, it's spellbinding.

Rolling Into World History!

To close out my conversation with you, here's an offbeat story regarding how the Wimbledon Tennis Tournaments got started. It was this huge green roller.

the green roller at Wimbledon

When we saw it prominently displayed at Wimbledon, Mr. Ashley Jones (who was our multi talented guide, and who possessed more intriguing inside information about Wimbledon than I ever knew existed!) asked us to stop so he could tell us - gasp! - about the roller. I was ready to fall asleep.

However, the more words that came bubbling out of his mouth about it, the more intrigued I became, and suddenly I was wide awake. It turns out that way back in 1872 this Pony Roller (is that a great name or what!) was donated to what was then a croquet club. It was given by a titled gentleman who thought by giving a gift like this it would "smooth the way" in his efforts to get his daughter into the Club. It proved to be a paragon of perfection in its assigned job of keeping all the croquet greens as flat as the proverbial pancake.

Because it was so marvelous at keeping everything so forbiddingly flat, it was (much later on) used for what had now become tennis courts. The Brits are, if nothing else, unique in their quest for coming up with offbeat, even crazy things. This was proved by the fact that the pony who pulled this huge, heavy roller, was custom fitted out with (are you ready for this ever so only-the-British-could-do-this!) leather shoes so that it did not leave hoof pints on the grass!!! Aaah, the British, they're so, well as I said, crazy!

In 1877 the pony roller broke, and despite my best efforts to find out why or how, there is no historical record of this important event. It was estimated to cost ten British pounds to fix - in today's dollars about forty bucks. Back then though, that was a lot of money. As the club didn't have that to fix it, they decided to hold a tennis tournament in July of 1877 in the hope that'd generate the money for the roller's repair. They raised seventeen pounds, or $60. No word on if it was repaired, but that's how the Wimbledon Tennis Tournaments came into being. No word either, on if the young girl got into the club, but then no women were allowed to play until 1884.

So, as we close out this 5 part series, if you want more ideas on nifty things to see and do in London, check out - if you want to roam further afield in Great Britain, check out all the nifty ideas generated by the fine folks at Visit Britain at and if your travel desires make you want to explore not only England but the rest of the world, see the British airways website

Super Security Search at Heathrow

I'm all for airport security, but when I arrived at Heathrow for our return BA flight to San Diego, I went through the MOST, I mean the MOST intense and truly thorough security search at BA's new Terminal 5. First I went through the usual sort of doorway to see if I was OK. Then I was "wanded" and wanded again. The very official looking man doing all this said, under his breath, "I can't understand this." Then, looking at me in the face, said "Do you have anything sharp on you?" As I still retain segments of my British understated sense of humor, I said "Yes, my mind." He probably wondered if that was REALLY what I'd said, because without further ado he told me they wanted me to "go over there."

security search at Heathrow Airport, London

We went to a nearby cubicle, and in a whisper told the two uniformed women that I needed a "three two." I was then asked to stand against a wall with my hands in the air, then turned around and asked to do the same thing against another wall. Nothing came of all this, and looking bored they said "have a nice trip -- and thank you."

I still wonder what "three two" means.

Related Articles:
London Tour Part 4; London Tour Part 3; London Tour, Part 2; B17 Bomber; Buckingham Palace; The Ritz, London; An American Student in London

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For "Ride With John Aboard Europe's Most Dazzling and Luxurious Train":

You and your trains and boats and planes, you always make me want to get off my more-than-ample behind and travel! Thank you again for yet another vicarious adventure.

Richard F., Saugerties, NY

Yes, Richard, THANK you for your kind words, so delighted you (with all YOUR worldly travels) enjoyed it. Travel journalism has given me the opportunity to be aboard and relish, some of the best and finest in train travel. The Orient Express was THE thrill, THE total enjoyment, of the best of the best. So good to hear from you.

From "Always training John."

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For "Harry Potter's 'Hogwarts Express'":

Loved the Hogwarts Express article.

Nancy – Hawaii

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For "Tantalizing Takeoffs, Trains, Trips and Tennis":

Dear John,

Lovely story as always, and your photos are superb. You do have a way with words.

Corinna – Washington DC

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That is indeed an interesting and enlightening article. I will remember how to get away from the airport and to London proper. Wimbledon looks spectacular; I suppose they're going to use some of it for the Olympics?

Mary J. Purcell – London

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John - excellent as usual and full of interesting details and anecdotes. Masterful writing!

Agnes Huff – London

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For "Exciting Adventures in London — By Way of San Diego":

Hello John,

I enjoyed reading your article on London by way of San Diego, it was a fun and informative read. You flew past Carlsbad on your way to San Diego. Have you visited Carlsbad lately? When you have a couple of days available I would like to invite you to visit Carlsbad. You can get to Carlsbad by train as well. I look forward to part 2 of the article.

Frankie Laney – Carlsbad, CA

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Thank you very much for your story to me and Old Town Trolley Tours. I am happy you had a nice tour and that we were referred to you! I enjoyed reading your story and can't wait until I forward this email to my Manager and the General Manager tomorrow,

Yoli – San Diego, CA

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That is wonderful! I really enjoyed Part one of five....awesome writing skills you have!! A true gift!!

Best regards,

Agnes Huff, PhD – Los Angeles, CA

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Great stuff, thanks for sending this through and the other emails – great read…

Val Austin, Senior Visit Britain International Press Visits officer, London, UK

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As a subscriber to Traveling Boy, I love reading your stories John. I send them through to my Mum as she appreciates them too!

Lisa, Australia

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For "Must See Attraction" in Northern Spain:

Hi John! Loved your article and Castro de Santa Tegra is added to my "want to see" list. Would love to visit Portugal and Spain and this added to the desire.You are a marvelous source of information and I'm sure Travel Boy will appreciate your experience and information. I look forward to reading more of your articles.

Nel Stingley, Hermosa Beach

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Mr. Clayton,

Thank you for your intriguing article on Castro de Santa Tegra. Quite literally, I have never even heard of the place, but it it is now officially on my 'bucker list.'

Brock Alston, Boulder, CO

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I saw that! That was so cool! I wasn't expecting it, so when I started reading it I was thinking, "Wow, another person wrote something similar to what I was saying to John!" Hahahaha! I didn't recognize it at first. :) That was really nice - thank you for answering me regarding the UK. I'm going to buy a travel book and check out the places you were talking about. Your experience about Normandy got me appreciating visiting battle "destinations," if you will, so I'd like to check out a couple of those that you mentioned.

Always a pleasure,

Cristina Lovett
Museum Educator, The Banning Museum

My dear Cristina,

If you go to the current Traveling Boy website, and click on my current story about crazy signs around the world, at the end of the piece you’ll see your question and my answer/suggestions about your travels.


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John, your ardent love of travel and discovery, seem to be the grist for your excellent writing skills.

Having just returned from a visit to France, to visit old friends, and enjoy that lovely country, it is not hard to comprehend how travel truly spawns, witin all of us, inspiration out the "gazoo."

Terry Hare

My dear Terry,

Thank you so much for your wonderful and very, very encouraging words. They made my day - hey, it made my month!!!



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(The letter below was sent in response by a reader to the article A Most Unusual Tourist Attraction)

Did you ever serve in the army? Were you in a combat zone? This affinity/hobby of war for the sake of the competitive and challenge is beyond me. I served 3 years (mandatory) in the Israeli army and was only involved in it while I had to be there (even that seems like too much). This article is inspiring to me because of the answer of the cemetery official and the figures of dead on both sides. I can not understand saluting to a person who did his best to kill as many people as possible. If you live out of fear or brainwash you will never stop killing and harming. Does that deserve a salutation or pity?

On Behalf Of Etan, USA

Etan, Greetings:

Many thanks for your thoughtful email with regard to my Traveling Boy story about my visit to the German cemetery in Normandy. To answer your first question, yes I did serve in the Army although NOT in combat. I‘ve been in this great country, the USA, for 48 years and was born in London, so when I was 18 I had to spend time in the Army doing (what was then called) National Service. I was in North Africa and Malta. Although I wished I’d been in combat, I never was. As a travel journalist I was, obviously, very happy that you found what I wrote inspiring, based on the comments of the French manager of the cemetery, and of the tragedy of how many young lives were lost on all sides due to that dreadful conflict.

He, the old, guy, was a fascinating individual, and I really enjoyed chatting to him. I’ve always had a (and let’s call it what it is) fascination with war, and the military, and have watched (almost!) every show on the Military channel, the History Channel and the Discovery Channel, countless times. I’ve also been to many WW2 sites around the world. Yes, I agree with your view that war is terrible, but what if we – the Allies - had not done anything about Hitler? Could we, or should we have allowed him to run amok around Europe and the rest of the world? I think not.

As terrible as war is, it seems human beings cannot find another way to settle certain problems – although I’m hugely encouraged by the approach of the EU and how so many people now realize that fighting is NOT the answer. So I live in hope war might be a thing of the past, but I doubt it.

My saluting M. Wittman’s grave. As I stood there I was, to be totally honest, in awe of the fact that I was standing above the grave of this incredible Nazi tank Ace who was the top, or among the top scoring tank commanders in the Panzers. I saluted not who he was, nor – certainly – what he stood for – but for his talents as a tank tactician. Most British and American historians of that war, and who are really interested in such things, will confirm to you that whatever else one might think about Wittman, he was a brilliant tank commander. That, and only that, was what I was recognizing.

For 16 successful years – 1992 to 2007 – I was on three top LA radio stations (KABC, KKGO/KMZT and the KNX) with my show “John Clayton’s Travel with A Difference” and I always enjoyed hearing from my listeners - even though at times what they sent me might not have been what I was expecting. In other words, I found it fascinating to hear both the upbeat, offbeat and down beat. When I wrote what did I knew that it would generate some responses like yours. While I do not (NOT!!) advocate TBoy's writers' doing stories that are provocative, the fact remains that human beings (whether they admit it or not) like controversy - witness Glenn Beck, O'Reilly etc and of course R. Limbaugh. What I am saying is that if you, as the writer, feel strongly about something, you MUST put those thoughts down in your story. While I abhor all things that guys like Wittman did as a Nazi, the fact is he was a brilliant tactician.

I must share with you yet again how delighted I was – and still am – by your words, and I’m so glad you wrote and said what you did, and that you took the time to share your feelings. I do hope you can – at the very least – accept my thoughts and ideas that I’ve laid out in this email on this very sensitive subject. Perhaps even more so, for someone from Israel.

With best regards,.


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John, Your refection on how young those can be who die in war reminded me of the A.E. Houseman poem at the entrance to the Fighter Command museum in London (beside the photo and engine of the RAF fighter pilot who died in the Battle of Britain): "Here dead lie we because we did not choose to live and shame the land from which we sprung. Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose; But young men think it is, and we were young."

Eric, San Diego, CA

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Ringo and Deb can have their Oasis - this to me smacks of heavenly travel - thanks for the article and photos.

Brenda - Richland, WA

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Hi John,

I have read a few articles about R for Robert, but yours by far is the best. My grandfather was co-pilot John Slatter (my Dad's dad). It is so neat to hear about ancestry. There is actually a book published called R for Robert. Another interesting detail.... I live in NH, and in 1985 a lawyer with many interests from Concord,NH and a sonar exploration company from Salem, NH were the ones who started the project to pull the Wellington out of the Loch. I am always trying to find information about that side of our family, and love to read articles such as yours. Thanks for the piece.....

Cyndi - Raymond, NH

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Greetings my dear Cyndi

I was born in Kensington in London, and although I've been in this great place called the USA for 48 amazing years, if it is still true that Brits ARE noted for understatement, let me tell you that your email not only made my day, but gave me a huge, huge thrill.

I am a WW2 aficionado, and had one of the biggest "thrill sensations" of my life, when the French government invited me to the 60th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6th, 2004. In fact, I sat 50 feet from world leaders like Bush, Putin, and Queen Elizabeth. When I went to Loch Ness and heard (and saw!) that a wonderful Wellington had crashed there, and that it also pin pointed WHERE it had happened, I was in nirvana. I stood on the side of the road and, as I gazed out at the cold and forbidding waters that day, I was instantly transported back to the time and day when it happened - and in my imagination I saw and heard it all. So to get your amazing and (to me) riveting letter, was and is totally amazing - and wonderful.


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Hello John,

Ed Boitano (who I met on a Star Clipper cruise in the Mediterranean last July) has sent me a link to your above article on the 'Little Steam Trains of North Wales' which I read with interest. One of the photo captions mentions a sign above the train in Welsh, which says: FFORD ALLAN GOFYNN'R DEITHWYR DDEFNYDDIO'R BONT I GROESI'R LEIN. Rougly translated it is a Notice to travellers to use the bridge to cross the line. In Welsh bont is a bridge or archway, Groesi is a crossing, Lein a line, (in this case a rail line or alternative it could mean a line-out (as in Rugby football - but that's another game!) Although born in Wales as Ed may tell you my Welsh is very limited, but trust this answers your question and it amuses! Kind regards,

John Dann - Hove, East Sussex, England

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How wonderful to know that people in Hove (for heavens sakes!) are reading Traveling Boy. I remember -- with much fondness --- visiting Hove during my early years in the UK - charming and very British, so I hope it is still that way and that it has NOT been over run with neon signs and crass commercialism.

Thanks too for your comment about the Welsh wording on the bridge. There were so many wonderful things that intrigued me about Wales, and one of them was - and is! - the language. I mean you'd see this long series of words in Welsh, and then underneath it would give the British translation, and it'd very often be only one or two words. I attach a photo I took of a road sign to illustrate my point. In any event, thanks for your kind words and interesting feedback. MOST appreciated.


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Dear John,

Your website is fantastic. I am building a Messerschmitt BF109E Model in Balsa Wood and I have a problem in finding the numbers of its original colour (BF 109E-3 with a Donald Duck painted at rear of Romania.)I've been looking around and tried to see through the internet but can't find any help. Please if you have this information and can help me, I would appreciate it very much and I thank you in advance I send you my best regards,

Philip Vella - St. Julians, Malta

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Hi Philip,

Very nice to get your email and I'm so glad you like what you've seen and read on Traveling boy. Sadly, I do not have the answer to your question either. I do, however, have one suggestion and idea.

Among all my aviation books form that period, I have one called "Aircraft of World War 2." It is published by Chartwell Books, 114 Northfield Avenue, Edison, New Jersey 08837, USA. The editorial and design was done by Amber Books at Bradley Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London N1 9PF, England. Their website is

As the above book is jam packed with fascinating facts about all the aircraft from WW2, I feel that if you write to both of them with your question, they might be able to help you. The book is written by Robert Jackson and he seems to be a mountain of information. Google his name and see what comes up.


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Hello John, I don't know if you remember me or not but my name is Cliff Pleggenkuhle, Jr. I flew for Cal from 1964 to 2003. I got the article you did on Wes Coss from the Cal Chief Pilots office. The communications people forwarded the article to them. Anyway, I sent the article to the Golden Contrails editor and he is going to include the article in our next edition. The contrails is the publication of our retired group the Golden Eagles.

I have read the book and it was great. It would make a good movie. I also sent your article to my old banker, who is a airplane and WWII nut and I think he is sending you an article about the underground in WWII. He writes articles of interest in a weekly local paper in Liberty County, TX.

I will quit rambling and just wanted to let you know your fine article on Wes will be appreciated by many.


Cliff Pleggenkuhle, Jr., Huffman, TX

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Sir...A good friend, a captain with Continental Airlines, Cliff Pleggenkuhle sent me your website. Indeed, your story about the great escape (albeit brief) was one that should be shared. Chuck Yeager also made his way to Spain and his story was somewhat similar. But it takes a real writer to set the plan in motion (and I really mean...motion) as you have done.

I'm taking the liberty to send you a copy of my newspaper column about another hero that I have known. Ironically, your mention of the escape of Wes being true can set aside the Great Escape of Stalag whatever. The untrue part that it was led by an American pilot when actually it was a Dutch pilot named Bob Vanderstock and others. When I went to Belgium with my friend Pieter Cramerus, a Dutch ace who flew Spitfires during WWII for the RAF, he told me about his friend Vanderstock's escape. Then, he introduced to me this fantastic former agent of the Belgium Underground who married his cousin. The rest is in the article. I hope you enjoy it. Thanks again for your expertise in writing the word.

Bob Jamison, Dayton, TX

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You're getting some serious journalism on your site! Literary indeed. Award-winning potential, and I'm not just talking about YOUR stuff!!

Terry Cassel

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Of all the stories I've written in my lifetime, I cannot think of any one that gave me as much pleasure and joy, in writing the piece about Wes. It required all my best "creative juices," and also - truly thrilling for me - gave me a marvelous opportunity to put words together about battle, about flying and about military history. Knowing how important editing is to any story, and to a reader's enjoyment of same (in other words it has to flow freely and be very concise) I wrote the article in one sitting, and then re-wrote it six times.

I have no idea who this Terry Cassel is, but I cannot tell you how thrilled and how, yes overwhelmed I am, by his brief (editing again proving that less is more) comments about my story. Thank you Ed for giving me this opportunity to put THIS story on the amazing Traveling Boy website. And Wes, thank you for allowing me to chat with you and glean from you (and then your book!) all the fascinating stuff that came together as my article.

Thanks must also go to my wife and my two daughters who have always believed in me, and who (as Father's Day has just passed) gave me the most wonderful and heart wrenching Father's Day cards imaginable. I have always told them that anything is achievable and possible, and that one should NEVER give up. Keep on knocking on doors and even if 20 are closed in your face, if you find yourself knocking on the 21st one, that'll very probably will be THE one that opens up for you - and demonstrates that your determination to never take NO as any sort of answer is a key part of success.

Finally, all of this has only been made reality, by my living and working in this place called the United States of America. Thank you all for everything.


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Thanks so much for sharing this great story - I am going to copy it to VB who runs the Travel Journalism awards.

Fiona Stewart, Edinburgh

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Nice piece. I adore Scotland, wish I could live there someday...

Chris, Pawling, NY

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I enjoyed reading your piece on France; it was very informative. Unfortunately, I've spent very little time in France; it's more to the favor of my oldest brother. But your words painted a good picture.

Danny Simon

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Hi John, I am a friend of your daughter Heidi and she sent me your link so I could read your articles. I have heard so many things about you from her but reading your article I can see why she is so proud to call you her Dad. Your writing transported me to Chewton Glen, I hope to one day be lucky enough to stay there!

Frances Crymble, Auckland, NZ

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You describe a city on wheels - er, wings - and an absolutely perfect way to travel. SHOWERS & FLOWERS! Amazing! I love that your passion for all-things-aviation comes through in this story about an almost unbelievable airplane. Thanks for breaking the news in such an engaging way!

Richard Frisbie, Saugerties, New York

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Good article on the biggest commercial airplane in the world. Very interesting. Love your easy personal writing style. Can't wait to get inside one of these sky monsters. I wonder how they will ever recoup their expenses. But then again, with the Arab nations overflowing with cash I shed no tear of sympathy. If anyone has to beta test these babies, it should be them.

Peter Paul, South Pasadena

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Dear John Clayton:

Thank you very much for your enthusiastic report on the Zeppelin Museum. I am very pleased you like it as we -- the people working there -- do. We try to collect everything on Zeppelins and to make it available to visitors. Only the number of visitors I would like to correct: since the opening in 1996 we hosted more than 3,600,000 people. So we are among the most visited museums in Germany.Thank you very much again -- and kindest regards,

Ursula ZellerDirector

Hi John,

I know the places you describe in your aticle, and I usually feel exactly the same as you did, when I wander in the countryside - I live in this region. How could this places, so peaceful today, be such a hell for some men? But if you're attentive to many details in the ground and the scenary, finding shell shrapnels and tumb stones for example, then you begin to understand

Thank you John.

Florence L.
City: France


It's as if I was there with you. I grew up with Sgt York comic books. To see the real place where a real person so heroically saved the day is something I never expected to experience. Thanks for the historical detail and great photos.

Richard Frisbie
City: Saugerties


As a history and Churchill buff, I found your article to be chilling. I hope someday to make it to the museum. Is the CWR at all part of the Imperial War Museum? I don't know how I missed it in my only trip to London back in 2000.

Thanks again,

Gary Avrech
City: Santa Monica

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Hey Gary....

Yes it is. If you go online and click on the IWM website, you'll find out even more information about this intriguing museum. Thanks for your times and words.



Very excited to see your appearance in the Boitano Blog. I don't know who the hell all those Boitanos are, but I know who John Clayton is! Hey, I wrote a note on your column on the Cabinet War Rooms. I'll be a regular reader. I certainly hope all are well and happy on the Peninsula and that all your travels are still terrific.

Ed P


I urge anyone traveling to London to put the Cabinet War Rooms high on their "must see" list. All who've taken my advice have thanked me, just like I thanked you, and do so again, for recommending the museum to me years ago. But then, it's just one of many suggestions of yours, every one brilliant!

Port St. Lucie, FL

Stay tuned.

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