Imagine the surprise of the demolition crew that discovered wooden airplane wings holding up a garage roof at Connah’s Quay on Dock Road in Flintshire, Wales. Uncertain of what they were looking at, but knowing enough not to destroy the artifacts, garage owner Alan Sullivan and the crew contacted the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum Cosford in Shropshire.
Part of Historic Handley Page O/400 Bomber
Over the years, many interesting objects have been found in UK garages, but the historic World War I bomber wings foundin Flintshire have to be among the most amazing. The wings were positively identified by curators from the RAF Museum, and Sullivan held up demolition of his garage roof and building to allow time for the wings to be closely examined. Experts came in and carefully removed the historic wings, transporting them for safekeeping. This emphasizes the fact that owners of garages all over the UK should scour the structures carefully before scheduling demolition or reconstruction.
How did the Wings come to Flintshire?
So how did these rare bi-plane wings come to be used for holding up a garage roof in Flintshire a century after the First World War? There is no way to be certain; however, historians have speculated that it has something to do with the nearby RAF Sealand Camp, which was used during WW1 as a flight training school. After the war, the site was requisitioned by the War Office, and transitioned into RAF Sealand Camp. If only garages could talk, the mystery of how the rare wings came to be part of the roof construction would be solved. Unfortunately, WW1 historians will never know for certain.
Removed and Stored for Posterity
This remarkable slice of UK history has now been painstakingly removed from Sullivan’s garage roof, and transported to RAF Stafford, which also houses other remnants of Handley Page O/400 WW1 bombers. After this stunning discovery, demolition crews in the area will be extra diligent in examining garages and other structures prior to tearing them down. Kudos to the crew members and Sullivan for taking the time to have the wings examined by museum curators, and for holding up demolition to allow for their safe removal.
History of the WW1 Bomber
According to RAF Museum curator Ewen Cameron, “The Handley Page O/400 is a vitally important aircraft in the history of the RAF.” He went on to explain that one of the primary reasons the Royal Air Force was established in 1918 was for the purpose of operating as an independent arm of the UK military. The goal was to construct and operate aircraft that would be able to strike deep into the heart of the enemy’s territory, and the Handley Page O/400 bomber bi-plane was the main aircraft that enabled the RAF to achieve its goal.
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