The damaged half crown coin found at the crash site
The damaged half crown coin found at the crash site

Golf club unveils tribute to wartime pilot who lost his life in Aylesbury Vale

Aviator Valentine Henry Baker was tragically killed when the prototype Martin-Baker MB3 fighter aircraft crashed just after take-off from RAF Wing on September 12, 1942

Thursday, 16th September 2021, 2:34 pm

Aylesbury Vale Golf Club, near Stewkley, has unveiled a tribute to a wartime pilot who met his death on land now owned by the club.

In July, the Advertiser reported on the unveiling of a long-awaited memorial to the airmen and women of RAF Wing.

One of the plaques on the airfield memorial marks the final take-off from RAF Wing of the legendary aviator Valentine Henry Baker, who was tragically killed when the prototype Martin-Baker MB3 fighter aircraft crashed just after take-off from RAF Wing on September 12, 1942.

Sunday, September 12, marked the 79th anniversary of Capt Baker's death.

After fighting in all three armed services during the First World War and being wounded on the beaches of Gallipoli, Valentine Baker became a top civilian flying instructor who trained many high-profile people such as Amy Johnson, King George VI and Kind Edward VIII.

Founding the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company with Sir James Martin, he established himself as a benchmark for test pilots.

His death led Sir James to dedicate his company to pilot escape systems. The world-leading Martin-Baker ejector seat that followed has already saved more than 7,600 lives.

The crash site itself was never recorded during the Second World War but Nick Ellins, co-founder of the RAF Wing Memorial, and aviation researcher Garth Barnard located it, and Valentine is now commemorated at the golf club.

Thanks to the help of club manager Chris Wright, the club's main function suite has been renamed the Captain Valentine Baker Suite, and a plaque, information board and some of the crash pieces installed in the lounge.

The display includes personal letters from the grandson of the pilot and the two co-managing directors of the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company, who are also the sons of the aircraft‘s designer, Sir James Martin. It includes a very emotive find - a badly damaged and scored 1938 half crown coin - found by Garth where the cockpit came to rest. Valentine Baker always flew wearing a full suit.

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