Chris Goss relates how a Varsity training aircraft that was taken without permission by a mechanic from an RAF station during the peak of the Cold War, with tragic consequences.

At about 7pm on April 25, 1955, the RAF station of Thorney Island near Chichester in West Sussex was coming to the end of a major training exercise. The station’s personnel were expecting the return of three Vickers Varsity crew trainers from 2 Air Navigation School (2 ANS) when, without explanation or authorisation, Varsity T.1 WF246 started up and began taxying out. At the controls was 20-year-old groundcrew member Leading Aircraftsman Nanik ‘Nick’ Agnani, and nobody was sure what he was doing or why. Indian-born Nick was apparently obsessed with flying, but his eyesight was not good enough for him to be a pilot. He is said to have resented being turned down for military flight training, and had undertaken some private flying lessons – enough to start up the aircraft, taxi it and get it into the air.

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