As a child, I lived under skies which were filled with all sorts of interesting aircraft, with both Eastleigh Airport (now Southampton International) and AST Hamble within cycling distance, and Lee-on-the-Solent within a bus ride, while BOAC's and Aquila Airways' Short flying boats flew over our house at rivet-counting height on late finals for Southampton Water. At the age of seven I flew for the first time, in a Dragon Rapide at a Navy Day event at Lee, and marvelled such creatures as Fireflies, Gannets, and Wyverns. Trips with my father to the Farnborough Air Show were another annual highlight - seeing new types (including the hovercraft's first public outing) and the marvellous aerobatic displays of 111 squadron's Black Arrows (including a formation roll with 18 Hunters!). My first "proper" flight was Southampton - Bergen in a Fred Olsen Air Transport Dakota (one day the charter will appear). When not looking at aircraft, I made models of them (plastic kits, and rubber-powered balsa), and read about them: my grandfather gave me a copy of Max Immelmann's biography "Eagle of Lille", and the library had a good collection of "Biggles" books.

Following such a promising start, my direct experience of aviation has been distinctly limited. The RAF turned me down for a short-service commission, and I turned gliding down after a trial flight which confirmed my suspicions about the necessity of a go-around capability in aircraft. As a passenger I have between 25 and 35 hours passenger hours in Dakotas (can't get used to calling them DC-3s), Rapides, and such "modern" types as BAC 1-11s, Tridents, and the Caravelle.

John Carrivick Lawler (aka JohnL) (aka DCA-852)Like many others, I've had to earn a living, and drifted into computer development (it was supposed to be a 6-week fill-in before going off to read Sociology). Most of my spare time was gradually taken up with music (tenor sax, flute, and guitar in the sixties; folk singing and early music more recently) and wargaming (my club even ran a WWI aerial campaign), until some friends talked me into trying historical re-enactment. Nearly 30 years later I'm still doing it, although I've given up the fighting bit and generally appear as a sixteenth century physician these days. I also do a bit of street theatre and have appeared on TV in historical programmes (the photo is from "Royal Deaths and Diseases", and shows me as the 14th-century physician John of Gaddesden (the nose and the chins are all mine, and the good doctor is engaged in uroscopy)).

I dabbled in computer flightsims way back on the Amstrad PCW (anyone remember "Air Combat Emulator?) and 286 PCs, but missed out on MS Flightsim until my wife developed an interest in the Air Transport Auxiliary with a view to getting into WWII re-enactment. FS98 was acquired to help her in this, and of course I had to have a go. Then I found out about VAs, and joined first DC-3 Airways, and then Bluegrass and Solent as well. Since then, I've started collecting charts, airline timetables, and more books on aviation.

I'm been married to Jo, nearly 20 years my junior, a museum curator and early musician (also a re-enactor and book collector), since 1990, and have a son (by my first marriage), Richard, who is a busker and "a passing fine juggler".

John Carrivick Lawler (aka JohnL) (aka DCA-852)

John Lawler