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USAAF Festival - July 2012

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The USAAF Festival & ‘Our Little Friends’ ~ 2012

 

As the 2012 show season is not many months away, it is a good time to announce that we intend to stage a repeat of the

‘Our Little Friends Wartime Weekend' bash again this year in East Anglia.

 

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2012 marks the 70th Anniversary of the USAAF’s arrival in the UK and a number of events are being staged to mark the occasion. On Sunday 8th July, an airshow is being organised at Tibenham Airfield, Norfolk and Military Vehicles are being invited to attend. This former USAAF Liberator base has much of the original runways still intact and former Hollywood movie star James (Jimmy) Stewart was stationed here as an officer and B-24 pilot. It is hoped to land the only operational B-17 Flying Fortress outside of the USA, at Tibenham over the course of the weekend; namely B-17 G Sally-B along with other wartime piston-engined aircraft.

 

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For those MV operators who are considering attending the Tibenham airshow and then wanting to stay in the locality for the ‘Our Little Friends’ wartime weekend, US Convoy and Hangar Dance the following weekend (July 14th/15th), I am in the throws of organising a week of evening themed events to mark the 70th Anniversary of the USAAF’s arrival in England.

 

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This will take a number of different forms but broadly speaking, will involve many of the local airfield museums and will include individual airfield tours - something which we never really get the opportunity to do on our large scale WWII vehicle convoy’s across the region. It is also hoped to include visiting the crash sites of wartime heavy bomber and fighter’s in the locality, listening to local people reminisce about their memories concerning the arrival of the US Forces in East Anglia and the impact it had upon them. Interactive and illustrated talks with well known USAAF authors and historians of the Eighth Air Force...........but by far the most important reason for organising this week long commemoration is to pay tribute to the memory of the men of the USAAF (both living and deceased) on this 70th Anniversary year and to honor them in the very best way we can..............by ‘keeping their memory alive.’

 

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If what I am proposing is ‘striking a chord’ in folks reading this and/or you have supported our WWII Convoy events in the past, then check your diary dates and plan a trip to East Anglia this summer. Suffolk is a reasonably good stopping off point for those attending the War & Peace show in Kent the following week who are heading down South from up North. I will also ensure that adequate and centrally located camping facilities are available for those wanting to set-up a base camp for the weeks festivities.

 

The concept of the ‘Festival’ is still far from finely tuned, but I can assure you that come the time, things will be all sorted out with a very interesting itinerary. As event organisers and co-organisers, we do have a few hits under our belt worthy of mention including ‘The Red Ball Express 1990 - 1995, Gathering of Eagles 2002, 2004, 2006, Operation Bolero 2007, Route to Victory 2008, and Our Little Friends 2011 - so you are working with people who have a passion for their pastime and who enjoy the challenge of new events and novel ideas.

 

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Their will be some associated costs involved (primarily for camping and any small entrance fee’s for museums etc) but as in previous years, the whole ethos of the event will be based upon charitable donations from the proceeds. In order to minimise my work load and based upon the success of our previous formulas, I find it much easier to co-ordinate all communications for the event via e-mail and telephone, so in the first instance, please make contact at USAAFfestival@yahoo.co.uk to express your degree of interest or to book tickets for the Little Friends hangar Dance on Saturday 14th July. Once I have a list of all interested parties on e-mail, I will send out regular update bulletins with more details. I will also update HMVF periodically.

 

For film of last years ‘Our Little Friends’ wartime weekend and convoy, visit my YouTube account at

 

http://www.youtube.com/b17fflyingfortress

 

1992 was the 50th Anniversary of the USAAF’s arrival in the UK and the East Anglian Tourist Board did an amazing job of publicising a huge number of events that spanned literally the whole region all summer and it was an incredible year. As a 17 year old student at the time, attending those events gave me the desire to move to Suffolk and ten years later, I did exactly that. In direct comparison to 1992, their are now so very few USAAF veterans left capable of crossing the Atlantic, that it is down to the later generations to keep their memory alive on this important anniversary year. 2012 will not slip by unnoticed.

 

NB - All the dance tickets (500+) for last year’s 1940’s Dance at Hardwick sold out well ahead of time, so if you plan to attend the ‘Little Friends Hangar Dance’ this year, don’t delay in buying your tickets.

 

 

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Clive D Stevens

Brome, Suffolk

 

PS - NOS, myself and a couple of other local folk are also in throws of trying to put together a unique USAAF commemoration in the area to coincide with our WWII Convoy - More about this as things become firmed-up.

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It sounds fantastic but I'm afraid I won't be able to attend. Our third kid will arrive early June...

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clive, al sounds really good, but I'm afraid work won't permit me and the guys the luxury of coming down to see you for a whole 10 days. Me, simon and Steve are very much interested in coming down to, probably 'our little firends' weekend. so will endeavour to book this weekend off with work and families etc.:-)

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Hello Clive, I cant wait really looking forward to this event, and something a bit different to bring along. Howard

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It sounds fantastic but I'm afraid I won't be able to attend. Our third kid will arrive early June...

 

Joris..........where do your priorities lie these days?

 

..........and to think that I was the guy who taught you how to push a P-51 into a hangar!

 

Joking apart, the last place you should be at such a time is in another country and you have supported the last two events admirably.

 

By the way, if its a boy and he is born late and over the weekend in question, I shall expect you to name him Mitchell in honor of the USAAF medium bomber:)

Edited by M5Clive

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clive, al sounds really good, but I'm afraid work won't permit me and the guys the luxury of coming down to see you for a whole 10 days. Me, simon and Steve are very much interested in coming down to, probably 'our little firends' weekend. so will endeavour to book this weekend off with work and families etc.:-)

 

I honestly wouldn't expect anyone (other than retiree's) to attend for 10 days flat out and then its Beltring week, otherwise your business would be facing certain bankruptcy when you got back from Kent!

 

The idea of the themed events on the weekdays in-between is primarily aimed at more local folk and will take place in the evenings after typical working hours, especially with the lighter nights. Those who want to camp for the whole 9/10 day bash are more than welcome, but I would expect that only to apply to retired folk, local MV folks and die-hard USAAF anoraks like me! The weekday (days) will be pretty much your own to do and explore as you wish with no set itinerary, other than suggestions and guidance, with the organised events taking place in the evenings and at a different USAAF location of significance each night.

 

I am thinking something along the lines of............

 

Sunday July 8th - Tibenham Airfield, Norfolk, Heritage Airshow. Wartime home of the 445th BG and Jimmy Stewarts old stamping ground. Military vehicles invited to attend and support this local airshow - camping facilities on the Saturday evening.

 

Monday - talk and presentation at the 100th BG Museum at Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk & opportunity to enjoy the museum.

 

Tuesday - tour of Maurice Hammond's Merlin engine rebuild facility and 3 x GMC's open-top tour of Eye Airfield remains, including the runway, hangars, site of living quarters, hospital, stopping at 4 x USAAF airfield crash sites for then & now photographs.(490th BG)

 

Wednesday - A visit to the 493rd BG Control Tower museum and airfield at Debach, Nr. Woodbridge, Suffolk to see Richard Taylor's vehicle collection and USAAF airfield remains.

 

Thursday - Tour of local sites where USAAF bombers and fighters crashed in Mid-Suffolk, accompanied by historians Stan & Cliff Bishop (who cycled to many of these crashes as school boys in 1943/44) followed by Fish & Chip Supper.

 

Friday - A well respected Eighth Air Force historian(s) (who cannot be named for legal reasons, and also because I haven't asked him/them yet!) will entertain us for the evening with a presentation on the subject of..........(classified information).......................this will take place at............(classified information on a need to know basis only)..........!

 

Saturday (Day) - Heavy Convoy to 3rd Air Division bases at Honington (364th FG) and Knettishall (388th BG) (recreating an exact route as filmed by a USAAF photographer in 1944) and ending up at Great Ashfield (385th BG)

 

Saturday (Evening) - Our Little Friends WWII Hangar Dance and convoy grand arrival (as per last year)

 

Sunday July 15th - 93rd BG museum open day and fly in at Hardwick, Norfolk at Maurice Hammond's warbird facility.

 

Monday - Depart the event and head to Kent for another week of fun and frolics at 'War & Peace.'

 

At this stage, this itinerary is speculation, but something along these lines is exactly what is planned. I have simply shown this in an effort to give possible attendees an idea of what its all about.

Edited by M5Clive

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Hello Clive, I cant wait really looking forward to this event, and something a bit different to bring along. Howard

 

Sorry Howard,

 

I know your enthusiastic, but the pace of the convoy will just be too quick for the Coventry Climax Fork Lift to participate. Perhaps you could park it up with NOS's Clark Tug in the corner of the field................

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Sorry Howard,

 

I know your enthusiastic, but the pace of the convoy will just be too quick for the Coventry Climax Fork Lift to participate. Perhaps you could park it up with NOS's Clark Tug in the corner of the field................

 

Urgently wanted - (very) High Speed DIFFERENTIAL for Clarkat B :-D

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I had a very interesting meeting at home yesterday with three current serving USAF personnel from RAF/USAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall regarding potential USAF participation during the 'Festival' this summer.

 

The American Air Force locally are extremely keen to get involved and support the occasion and we are now pursuing many different avenues of enquiry, ranging from base personnel assisting us with traffic control to.........well.............erm, how can I put it................(its classified information again I'm afraid.............!)

 

But put it this way........................if we can actually pull it all off, you won't want to miss it !

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Hi Clive

 

Sounds brilliant, any ideas where we may be camping?

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Hi there and greetings from Sunny Suffolk ! :( This is my first post as im completely new.

 

Firstly ile introduce myself as an enthusiast of the 8th USAAF here in East Anglia. There are many reasons but i guess the main is that as an evacuee my father tells a tale of having a ride in a B17, how true this i will never know but he constantly lives at the bar on this tale at others expense ! I live at Martlesham Heath which hosted the 356th Fighter Group during WW2 and is around 8 miles from Debech.

 

I looked at the itinary and sore that you are planing a visit to this airfeild and wondered if you could be persuaded to come as far as Martlesham with a convoy there is a control tower museum here?

 

Please keep me up to date with any routes and convoy details as i will be following this both on the road over the week and here. As a new member i don't know if it was correct but i have posted a link to this event to my local radio station (BBC Radio Suffolk) as i know they are planing a special programme to commemorate this anniversary.

 

If it doesn't all make sense its because im a bit dyslexic

Regards Chris

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Sounds like the Diamond T is going to be in need of lots of fuel this summer.

If the modern day USAF are interested perhaps we should go to Lakenheath and fill up at their on-base station.

If i could i would convoy all day , every day but i my wallet, which isn`t well known for it`s open-ness is already is already in a cold sweat just thinking about it.

Me and Anji will be along at some point during the event.

One early request from an ardent fashion statement (yes me) can we have a different colour T-shirt this time my wardrobe is still full of navy blue ones.

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Any more news on this event as it seems to be very quite on here and im keen to get together and phtograph this weekend and possibly attend the hanger dance please

 

regards Chris

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Hi folks,

 

Yes, sorry for the lack of forthcoming information, which is not due to a lack of action, but more so a lack of concrete information to convey at this stage.

 

The facts are that the event is definitely on, no if's, but or maybe's.

 

I had a meeting with the organiser of the Tibenham Heritage Airshow last week and they definitely want a Military Vehicle presence, so Mike Warner has offered to co-ordinate this element of the festival and we are welcome to camp on the airfield on the Saturday evening prior to the Sunday 8th show.

 

I have recently met with an extremely well known US Eighth Air Force/Aviation Archeology world authority, who has countless books to his credit. His name is Ian McLachlan and his 1991 book 'Eighth Air Force Bomber Stories' was instrumental in sparking a lot of the interest that I have today in the subject. I am delighted that he has thrown his weight firmly behind the project and has offered to take one of the evening presentation. Ian's knowledge on his specialist subject is unrivaled and I am excited that such a well known author is happy to support the USAAF Festival for everyone benefit. If anyone planning on attending the event does not have the aforementioned book, it is an absolute must. Ian will no-doubt have some of his more recent titles available during the Festival for purchase, which he will be very happy to autograph.

 

I have just this evening returned from a meeting at a mid-suffolk venue which I am really hoping we can use to host the Festival, but as it is not confirmed, I cannot at this stage give any more firm details. As soon as I have concrete details of the event base camp, you will all be the first to know!

 

Talks are still on-going with the USAF locally, and NOS has been exceptionally busy organising the 388th BG Memorial Ceremony on Saturday July 14th. As we have said elsewhere, we are pleased to confirm that B-17 G Sally B from Duxford has been booked (and confirmed by Elly Sallingboe) for participation at the Knettishall Heath ceremony. Tony (NOS) has also been co-ordinating road closures, informing the local police and liasing with the local bus companies, so please don't think nothing has has happening, simply because little new information has been forthcoming. We are all working our butts-off to make this unique event come together for the benefit of all concerned, including you, the participants.

 

I have also had a meeting with Lesley Dolphin, a local BBC Radio presenter who is coming to our house next week to assist in the planning of a documentary she is working on to mark the 70th Anniversary and who is very keen to know more about the 'Festival' so I am hopeful of some increased publicity in this area.

 

The event posters are all but finished, Maurice Hammond has recently shown me the proofs for the 'Our Little Friends' Hangar Dance posters and Dance Tickets and the posters for the Heritage Airshow at Tibenham have been circulating for a few weeks now. On top of all this, we are all still working full time for a living and putting this deal together during our free time.

 

It will not disappoint.............: )

 

Keep checking back for updates!

 

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B-24 Liberator Witchcraft at sunset - Willow Run, Detroit, Michigan. Photo: Clive D Stevens

Edited by M5Clive
A bad memory !

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I think we're going to try for a weeks holiday between the two events so we can attend both. Just with the Jeep though; I'd need to do a bank job to afford the fuel to take the truck there and back!

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Hi Clive thank you very much for the comprehensive update. Unfortunately it was me who forwarded this stream to Leslie so hopefully your ok with it (guess you are)

 

I do not that in one of the paragraphs you mention road closures etc etc. I don't have a WW2 vehicle just an ordinary car, do you think i would be restricted in getting to places or are there some form of pass or something i can obtain to allow me to be in places to get the best photos/video i would like to get. (im not press related).

 

I have the whole weekend off so am planning on following and attending the Hanger Dance. Im not fantastic at take photos but have added a couple so that you may see my stuffLINE 5.jpg

 

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Regards Chris.

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Chris - the only road closure is the short stretch immediately in front of the Knettishall Memorial, and just for the duration of the service, so no problems with access as you will already be in position with the rest of us :cheesy:

 

Nice pictures!

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Hi Clive thank you very much for the comprehensive update. Unfortunately it was me who forwarded this stream to Leslie so hopefully your ok with it (guess you are)

 

 

 

Hi Chris

 

Had a three hour meeting this morning with Lesley here at home where we were 'roughing out' the plans for a one hour documentary for BBC Radio based upon the USAAF 70th Anniversary - Friendly Invasion.

 

I think if it all comes off, it will be a very good bit of radio due to be broadcast this Autumn across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambs and Beds.

 

Cheers for the heads-up and good photo's too !

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Hay Clive was that you on BBC Suffolk Tuesday & Wednesday talking to Leslie. Nice programme:) cant wait for the documentary later in the year.

 

Chris

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.......

Sunday July 8th - Tibenham Airfield, Norfolk, Heritage Airshow. Wartime home of the 445th BG and Jimmy Stewarts old stamping ground. Military vehicles invited to attend and support this local airshow - camping facilities on the Saturday evening.

 

Monday - talk and presentation at the 100th BG Museum at Thorpe Abbotts, Norfolk & opportunity to enjoy the museum.

 

Tuesday - tour of Maurice Hammond's Merlin engine rebuild facility and 3 x GMC's open-top tour of Eye Airfield remains, including the runway, hangars, site of living quarters, hospital, stopping at 4 x USAAF airfield crash sites for then & now photographs.(490th BG)

 

Wednesday - A visit to the 493rd BG Control Tower museum and airfield at Debach, Nr. Woodbridge, Suffolk to see Richard Taylor's vehicle collection and USAAF airfield remains.

 

Thursday - Tour of local sites where USAAF bombers and fighters crashed in Mid-Suffolk, accompanied by historians Stan & Cliff Bishop (who cycled to many of these crashes as school boys in 1943/44) followed by Fish & Chip Supper.

 

Friday - A well respected Eighth Air Force historian(s) (who cannot be named for legal reasons, and also because I haven't asked him/them yet!) will entertain us for the evening with a presentation on the subject of..........(classified information).......................this will take place at............(classified information on a need to know basis only)..........!

 

Saturday (Day) - Heavy Convoy to 3rd Air Division bases at Honington (364th FG) and Knettishall (388th BG) (recreating an exact route as filmed by a USAAF photographer in 1944) and ending up at Great Ashfield (385th BG)

 

Saturday (Evening) - Our Little Friends WWII Hangar Dance and convoy grand arrival (as per last year)

 

Sunday July 15th - 93rd BG museum open day and fly in at Hardwick, Norfolk at Maurice Hammond's warbird facility.

 

.......

 

Does this plan still stand or has it been revised?

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Erm............loosely !

 

The weekday events have not returned anywhere near the level of interest I was perhaps hoping for, but then again, being the week before 'War & Fleece' at Beltring, perhaps it is hardly surprising that people cannot afford to have two weeks off work in succession.

 

Therefore, I could see little point in working on a packed itinerary if their were only going to be a handful of people to enjoy it, so things have been a bit thinned down from the original plan, but nevertheless, it will still be a great opportunity to widen one's knowledge on all matters USAAF and Eighth Air Force related.

 

My other concern at this moment in time is the severe weather forecast for this weekend coming which is pretty dire. Although this may not directly effect our planned activities, other than the Tibenham Airshow on Sunday, it could effect where we camp, as I am very reluctant to tear up the grounds at the Cornwallis with heavy trucks etc if the ground is sodden. This is something that I am going to have to monitor as the time draws nearer and base our decisions upon how much rain we actually get prior to kick-off. NOS has come up with a great emergency alternative..............but we have to be careful of his daffodil and tulip bulbs !!!!

 

As far as the planned itinerary goes it looks something like this........

 

Saturday July 7th - Military Vehicles able to access airfield at Tibenham from 11.00am onwards for overnight campers etc.

 

Sunday July 8th - Tibenham Airfield, Norfolk, Heritage Airshow. Wartime home of the 445th BG and Jimmy Stewarts old stamping ground. Military vehicles invited to attend and support this local airshow - camping facilities on the Saturday evening.

 

Monday - Currently a Free Day, but with the option to organise a trip to either Debach Museum (which Richard Taylor is happy to open up for us if their is sufficient interest) or to some of the local sites of USAAF interest, including the crash sites of 100th BG B-17's in Norfolk/Suffolk.

 

Tuesday - Trip to Duxford 'Imperial War Museum' for an inside guided tour of a Boeing B-17 G in the capable hands of Tony (NOS) Goff. This will mean paying the entry fee for the museum, but the tour of the bomber is free of charge. Own transport necessary, but car sharing is an option for those who have brought MV's to the event and do not have civvy cars to use.

 

Wednesday - MV tour of Eye Airfield remains, including the runway, hangars, site of living quarters, hospital, stopping at 4 x 490th BG airfield crash sites for then & now photographs. Room available in the back of GMC's for those without vehicles.

 

Thursday Evening - Respected historian and renown author Ian McLachlan (USAAF Bomber Stories, USAAF Fighter Stories, Final Flights etc.) will give a presentation on USAAF aviation archeology in East Anglia detailing some of the in-depth stories behind the chapters of his outstanding series of 'Eighth Air Force Bomber Stories' books. Location: The Cornwallis, Brome, Suffolk.

 

Friday Evening - A presentation on the story of the USAAF in Suffolk including archive colour footage of the 490th BG at Eye and an interview with local land owner Peter West, who used to fly aboard the 490th BG B-17's from Brome in 1944 as a member of the ATC. This evening presentation details the construction of the aerodromes, their operations, the mass production of war materials in the USA and the return and disposal of war surplus aircraft after WWII. Presented by yours truly! Location: The Cornwallis, Brome, Suffolk.

 

Saturday (Day) - Heavy Convoy to 3rd Air Division base at RAF Knettishall (388th BG). Here we will participate in an official dedication and unveiling ceremony of the new 388th memorial wing stones. This will be in the presence of both base commanders from nearby USAF Mildenhall and Lakenheath and members of the US 3rd Air Force in Europe. After the ceremony, we will convoy up onto the old airfield remains for a flying display by B-17 G Flying Fortress and airfield tours of the old base. Return to Eye (possibly via Fersfield aerodrome) to get prepared for the evening 1940's dance at Hardwick.

 

Saturday (Evening) - Our Little Friends WWII Hangar Dance and convoy grand arrival (as per last year). Entry by ticket available from myself - All proceeds to Charity - We raised over £10,000 last year!

 

Sunday July 15th - 93rd BG museum open day and fly in at Hardwick, Norfolk at Maurice Hammond's warbird facility.

 

The program is subject to change if the weather looks like having a significant effect on our enjoyment, but of course the weekend activities are set in stone.

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For those not sure what crazy things we get up to on one of our USAAF themed events - take a look at last year's bash via a great little video I shot of the event on my YouTube account...............

 

 

 

........................and when you get bored of that one have a look at what it is like to fly aboard the largest gathering of operational B-17 Flying Fortresses in 'many a can of beans' which I shot in August 2010.

 

(Part 1 - Pilots Briefing and engine start-up)

(Part 2 - Take off and formation and landing)

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Great stuff Clive and a massive amount of work for you guys but this is what our hobby and history is about. I loved it last year as you guys know how to nail an event and it is something you often get to do. I can't make it as I have to get ready for W&P as have to sort my kiddies out - party time for them.

 

For those who are still deciding then do it - get there - you will have an amazing time - its a hell of an experience and again real time travel.

 

Cheers!

 

JB!

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