Worthing war hero flies high after 50 years

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FOR the first time in more than 50 years, a World War Two veteran returned to the cockpit of a plane he piloted in Africa.

On Saturday, at Shoreham Airport, 92-year-old Steve Stevens, of Rowlands Road, Worthing, flew in a de Havilland Dragon Rapide – the same model of plane he took to some of the most remote parts of Africa on missionary trips 58 years ago.

Back then, he flew the plane for three years before losing sight in one eye.

He said: “To sit in that cramped cockpit that, at 92, I had considerable difficulty getting into was a great nostalgic experience. With my feet on the rudders, and my hands on the control column, and looking at all the instruments in front of me that were exactly as they were 58 years ago when I got out of the plane for the last time, brought back memories of the past.” The trip was organised by Air Atlantique Classic flight, a Coventry-based company which offers flights in vintage planes, along with Mr Stevens, who has released two books on his experiences as a pilot – Early Wings Over Africa, and his autobiography, From the Balklan Air Force to the Berlin Airlift.

On the day, Mr Stevens was filmed for a documentary, which he said one television programme had asked to use and would appear on DVD.