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  3/15: Alfred Worden dinner and talk (Pontefract) (Page 3)

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Author Topic:   3/15: Alfred Worden dinner and talk (Pontefract)
Buel
Member

Posts: 113
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 03-18-2013 01:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Procter:
Despite the change of plan for the autograph session it didn't end up like the lifeboat deck on The Titanic did it.
And the only reason for that is that the place was under 2/3 full as opposed to the Charlie Duke night where it was packed out.

As I've said, it was a great talk but I have to say it is a shame that a little preparation would have enabled Al to show the video that he wanted to.

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 03-18-2013 03:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Anybody on this forum who had the opportunity to attend Ken Willoughby's latest astronaut encounter but chose not to do so can start kicking themselves about... now! Another excellent event well attended and equally well received by everybody I encountered.

As is the norm for one of Ken's events Al spent the morning at Carleton Community High school being rigorously interrogated - I mean interviewed by media students. Those guys were well prepared. With all the right gear, questions and photographic backdrops it was a very professional and slick production that impressed Al enormously.


Their resulting DVD production will be made available to the rest of the school; just as well as the planned lecture to the bulk of the students had to be postponed due to unforeseen technical issues with the lecture theatre.

The dinner that evening was attended by around 65 guests. Nick and Bryar Deakin were one of two suppliers with a juicy selection of Worden goodies. Bryar basking in her recent TV glory.


Al kicked off proceedings with 15 minute intro that covered his time here while flying at the Empire Test Pilots School in the early 60s; he loves the UK and told me "I would move over here tomorrow if I could find something to do".

Professional portrait photographers were on hand and Al signed guests photos, along with a host of other items, following the after dinner auction.

Saturday's public talk was not a full house; around 260 tickets had been sold the last I heard. It was great to meet so many collectSPACE members, young and old. The oldest clearly being Moorouge (Eddie). Then there was Brian, Steve (how is the new banjo string), Mike, Tykenaut and his wife Nikki, OWL and his wife....."Mrs OWL", Crash, Aileen, Kite and others; my apologies if I missed anybody out.

Eddie, your faith in me is appreciated as much as it is misguided; I did show you the queue for those wanting to meet me but as you will recall, there was nobody in it.


Al's presentation lasted around an hour and this was followed by a brief Q&A and then the raffle. I might suggest to Ken that any future event has a longer Q&A as something tells me it would be well received.

The only fly in the ointment was the failure of a brief launch video to run, despite having done so at an earlier rehearsal.

I have to confess I was a tad surprised at the lack of evident crowd control. Whether it was the smaller crowd than previous or the stern talking to by Deputy Head and proud scouser David Jones prior to the signing, the queue seemed good natured and orderly. I was in and out of the theatre for the duration of the signing and did not see anybody trying to jump the queue.

I did discuss the matter with a couple of guests as the signing progressed but as one chap and fellow cS member put it, "So what if Charlie's signing could have been a tad slicker. I've had a great time, I've heard a superb lecture and had two items signed for £30; people should stop moaning". His words not mine.

The highlight of the weekend for me was an exclusive private tour of the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre organised by Julie McDermott (aka "Mrs OWL").


The centre, owned by brothers Fred and Harold Panton is the largest and most authentic Bomber Command museum in the country. The centre piece is a beautiful Lancaster bomber currently being restored to flight status. Fred's daughter, grandchildren and a small group of close friends and volunteers operate the site. Despite being officially closed on a Sunday Fred, Harold and everybody else at the museum could not have been warmer, friendlier or more welcoming.

Fred and Harold in particular were as awestruck with Al as we were with the Lancaster. I overheard Fred say "I can't believe it. An Apollo astronaut... here! Who'd have thought it possible."

The Panton family business is chicken production. Coming from a farming background himself Al recounted childhood memories of his father's farm. He recalled "preparing" chickens for dinner. "Don't get too attached to your chickens" was Al's advice to Fred. "It makes them tougher to eat!"

Suffice to say, should any chicken owning collectSPACE members ever find Al Worden on their doorstep, don't ever leave them alone with Al!!!

The weather on Sunday was appalling but Fred and Harold insisted on rolling the precious Lancaster out before taking Al for a taxi around the apron. The grass landing strip was water logged and they feared the craft would bog down.


I accompanied Al and a handful of others, including the pilot, aboard the aircraft. Boy it was tight. A claustrophobic's nightmare, there was barely room to swing a mouse, let alone a cat. The experience could not help but heighten my respect and admiration for the brave guys who flew those things.

My father served with the RAF as an air frame fitter during WWII repairing and servicing Spitfires, Hurricanes and now I'm told the occasional Lancaster. He would have been very much at home in the confined aircraft interior and the encounter inevitably brought a bit of a lump to my throat.

With the engines about to fire up I chose that moment to bail, leaving the second best photographer Andy Green (formerly Stardome) to take on-board pictures. I squeezed my 6ft 5in frame, "racing snake" figure out of the hatch... like toothpaste from a tube.

When those Merlin engines spluttered in to life the hairs stood up on the back of my neck; I defy any patriot not to feel the same way. I was fortunate enough to witness the launch of STS-125 from the Press site in 2009 and the assault on the senses was just as intense; just as loud. But at its peak the shuttle lasted for a few seconds; the Lancaster went on for 15 minutes. Simply AWESOME!


Piloted by Fred's grandson Andrew, accompanied by engineer Keith and rookie co-pilot Al Worden I was confident the aircraft was in good hands. The same could not be said however for the rag bag, moth eaten rabble that accompanied them. The last time I saw a "crew" that motley was aboard the Black Pearl with Johnny Depp! To my horror I spotted OWL (Andy McDermott) manning the rear gunner's turret but the grin on his face reassured me; The Luftwaffe were safe, as were the hanger "barn doors" immediately adjacent to the aircraft!

The adventure ended in the cafe with warm drinks and warmer encounters, press interviews and photos. The cafe served as a gift shop too, but most humbling were the photos, mementos and memorabilia; a memorial to the 858 servicemen that gave their lives for this airfield in WWII.

OWL and I donated several prints as a mark of our gratitude and appreciation for the hospitality and in recognition of the outstanding work done by the museum. Al was more than happy to sign, inscribing one classic shot of the Apollo 15 CSM in lunar orbit..."To Fred & Harold; Me in MY Lancaster." Fred assured Al the print would make it on to the wall of the museum; an honour not lost on Al.

I can highly recommend a visit either in person or via the museum's website for those living farther afield.

I must thank Ken and his support team for affording me unfettered access on what was an outstanding occasion. Al was a joy to be around. Erudite and eloquent on a host of topics from history to politics, education to Socialism. Always quick witted with a smile to match. He was always keen to speak to anybody and everybody who fell within his orbit.

The guy reminded me of the Duracell Bunny. Bright and full of energy he just went on and on and on...

What you may ask will the future hold for Pontefract? I heard a rumour or two but in all honesty I can't say anything because I don't know what Ken has up his sleeve, besides his arm. Safe to say, if the well founded rumours are true expect something very special for later in the year. A chance perhaps to stop kicking yourself and dig out the cheque book!

spaceman
Member

Posts: 922
From: Walsall, West Midlands, UK
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 03-18-2013 06:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman   Click Here to Email spaceman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice one Rick, the smile on Al's face beaming from the cockpit of the Lancaster says it all. Sounds like a great day was had by all and a fitting finale to such a great weekend.

Kite
Member

Posts: 231
From: Northampton UK
Registered: Nov 2009

posted 03-18-2013 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kite     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a great post Rick. Would have loved to have been with you all on Sunday. Al is certainly a remarkable man and I can well imagine how much he enjoyed himself. I must try and get there one day.

On Saturday we travelled up north early and spent a few hours at the Yorkshire Air Museum. We enjoyed it very much, despite the cold, but felt it a pity more planes could not be under cover as some were a bit weather beaten. The exhibition rooms were excellent. So after a great meal in Pontefract followed by Al's super talk we had a brilliant day. Roll on the next one.

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 03-19-2013 04:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ken has asked me to thank everybody who attended the Al Worden event last weekend. In particular THE team of folk who helped with logistics, transport and general preparations. Without their help he could not pull these things off.

Further to my previous post I have sent a selection of photos from the weekend to be added to this thread soon. As the old saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words.

robert_l
Member

Posts: 95
From: Dundee,Scotland
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 03-20-2013 05:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for robert_l   Click Here to Email robert_l     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Picture taken of me with Al Worden before the Dinner on Friday Night


I won a canvas print in the auction of the painting showing Al recover the film canisters during his eva


Col. Al Worden talking about his flight to the Moon at Pontefract England

Tykeanaut
Member

Posts: 1623
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 03-20-2013 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sorry for the delay, it's difficult to get a signal in the depths of North Yorkdhire!

Great event, as always. Nice to meet up with all the "usual suspects" once again. Also pleased to meet Roz and Olav(f)? for the first time.

Crowd control went "out the window" once more! I just can't understand what is so difficult about this part of the evening. It wasn't bad at all, I'm afraid it's just the principle with me - sorry.

Many thanks to all, especially Ken for his tireless effort in organising these events. Here's to the next one!

Buel
Member

Posts: 113
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 03-20-2013 01:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Tykeanaut:
Crowd control went "out the window" once more! I just can't understand what is so difficult about this part of the evening. It wasn't bad at all, I'm afraid it's just the principle with me - sorry.

Exactly my point. The only reason that everything went okayish was due to the fact that there was a lot less people than last time.

Unfortunately, I seem to remember some really sensible ideas put forward on this forum regarding crowd control (Eddie, I think?) and I think I'm right in saying that there were some promises that they would be put in to action. Shame.

(I feel, at this point, post-rant, that I have to again say how great Al was!)

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 03-20-2013 07:35 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The queue was good natured and orderly. In anticipation of this issue I took several photos over a 30 minute period to illustrate the point.

A handful of guys near the front with cameras taking photos with everybody else either in the queue or heading to join the back of the queue carrying items purchased from the dealers outside the main theatre.

The entrance to the theatre is over my right should just out of shot.

Recent posts would suggest a massive ruck akin to the Wales/England rugby match. Perspective please gentlemen.

Classic storm in a tea cup!

robert_l
Member

Posts: 95
From: Dundee,Scotland
Registered: Jul 2008

posted 03-20-2013 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for robert_l   Click Here to Email robert_l     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Colour corrected picture of me and Al before dinner.

spaceman
Member

Posts: 922
From: Walsall, West Midlands, UK
Registered: Dec 2002

posted 03-21-2013 03:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceman   Click Here to Email spaceman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Slightly off topic but connected; if the gentleman that purchased collectables from us on Saturday night (£100) is a member of this forum and is reading this post can you please email me off page. Thank you, Spaceboosters.

On edit: Sorted.

Buel
Member

Posts: 113
From: UK
Registered: Mar 2012

posted 03-21-2013 04:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Buel   Click Here to Email Buel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick Mulheirn:
The queue was good natured and orderly. In anticipation of this issue I took several photos over a 30 minute period to illustrate the point.
Unfortunately, it would seem that some people do not appreciate constructive comments. My (and others) constructive comment was that it is a shame that there wasn't some sort of crowd control procedure in place.

Now, Rick and others have then posted how 'everything was fine', which, broadly speaking, it was but you are missing the point — IF the arena would have been at full capacity, as it was with Charlie Duke, then the same problems would have taken place.

Just because everything went okay (because the lack of people, as stated) does not mean that things couldn't have been better planned. Surely we all want to learn from our mistakes and all contribute ideas and advice to make things even better/smoother than they are?

People are taking these comments as some sort of personal attack on Ken, which it certainly is not!

As we all have stated, he does a brilliant job and we all had a great night BUT we must be allowed to offer ideas as to how it could go better without the defensive reactions.

So, hopefully,now I have clarified exactly what I/we mean, we now won't get the obligatory 'Everything was fine, here is the evidence to prove it' posts.

Steve Procter
Member

Posts: 971
From: Leeds, Yorkshire, UK
Registered: Oct 2000

posted 03-22-2013 04:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Steve Procter   Click Here to Email Steve Procter     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As previously mentioned the autograph session went well with the queue orderly and good natured. As Buel rightly points out, the lower numbers (compared to the Charlie Duke talk) attending will have contributed to that.

The only way forward I can see as regards some sort of 'control' is that each ticket is numbered (not necessarily your allocated seat, should that scheme be in operation) with the earlier purchasers getting the lower numbers and that everyone is asked to join the queue as per blocks of numbers ie 1-50, 51-100 etc. I seem to recall Autographica using a similar method for Buzz Aldrin some years back.

Alternatively there is the 'supermarket deli counter' method where a numbered ticket is collected on arrival and then they are called out as above.

If the signing took place in a different room from the auditorium there could be a further element of 'control' on access as ticket numbers are checked at the door.

Sledgehammer to crack a nut though...? I don't mind the current system, it works for the most part and no blows have been traded (yet).

moorouge
Member

Posts: 1490
From: U.K.
Registered: Jul 2009

posted 03-22-2013 09:49 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for moorouge   Click Here to Email moorouge     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick Mulheirn:
Ken, I understand, is planning on numbered rows and seats being called in sequence; tickets will be checked by somebody you would not want to argue with! I've also suggested the signing table be roped off to ensure members of the audience do not push in from he sides.
Posted on 31st January. So what happened, especially as my ticket (and I assume all the rest) was overprinted with a row and seat number? Had one known that it was to be a free-for-all for the autograph one could have chosen to sit with one's friends rather than sitting in the allocated seat.

There remains one unanswered question about the evening. What was Robert wearing under his kilt? Was it worn in true Scottish fashion or was he mindful of the sensibilities of the ladies present?

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 03-22-2013 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Eddie, a true Scotsman will tell you there is nothing worn under his kilt. It is all in perfect working order.

Rick Mulheirn
Member

Posts: 2457
From: England
Registered: Feb 2001

posted 03-23-2013 12:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here is a brief but interesting interview with Al Worden in Pontefract on Saturday last. Episode 179

Tykeanaut
Member

Posts: 1623
From: Worcestershire, England, UK.
Registered: Apr 2008

posted 03-24-2013 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Tykeanaut   Click Here to Email Tykeanaut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wish I could have got to the Licolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Looks like a great day was had by all. Terrific post about it Rick.

MartinW
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Posts: 3
From: York, England
Registered: Jul 2012

posted 03-24-2013 05:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MartinW   Click Here to Email MartinW     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Have been to four events now, Al Worden probably the best one so far; the only disappointing one was Richard Gordon, and that was because the room wasn't great, and the sound was poor.

I look forward to Ken and team arranging another great event,

With regard to the autograph queue, it's usually a good natured affair.

Previous worries about time running out seem to have been solved with a return to the new school and Saturday lectures.

There will always be someone who has to be first in line, no matter how its organised! Personally, I'm happy to sit back, and wait a while.


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