Sunday, September 4, 2011

'Falcon of Malta'

George 'Buzz' Beurling was a celebrated Second World War fighter pilot
who lived to fly! Some describe him as a rebel and recluse, but Beurling
is being remembered for the phenomenal pilot that he proved himself to be....”
wrote a Spectator journalist in September 1st issue...2011.

He was the most decorated pilot of Canada's WWII effort
but still mostly unknown to the Canadian public.

This story so intrigued me, that I take the liberty to relate excerpts
from the article written.

His exceptional vision, his eyesight enabled him to identify enemy aircraft
way before others could,” Rick Beurling said Thursday as his brother,
Flight Officer George Frederick Beurling, DSO, DFC, DFM and Bar (RCAF)
was remembered in a tribute at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum
in Hamilton, Ontario.

A life-size bronze statue in honour of the fallen hero
was unveiled , September 1 (Thursday) in front of a packed hangar.
Behind it stood a Mark XVI Spitfire, similar to the one Buzz commanded.

As Canada's lead fighter ace in the Second World War, Beurling confirmed 32 victories in his four years with Britain's Royal Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

In July 1942, Malta was being bombarded by the Germans and Italians.
Beurling achieved 15 victories by shooting down 15 enemy planes in just seven flying days. He went on to score 27 confirmed victories in 14 flying days while in Malta. For this, he earned the nicknames...'Falcon of Malta' and 'Knight of Malta'.

That's incredibly amazing, very rare,” said warplane heritage curator, Caillin Kiwalczyk.No one ever really did it that quickly.”

In a CBC radio interview aired on November 13, 1942, reporter Bob Bowman
captured Beurling's personality and dedication, offering advice to young pilots:
           Apply yourself.
           Take in everything that's told to you.
           Don't stop studying.
           Don't stop working. (said the 21 year old)
           Shooting and flying are equally important..
Beurling was known for his deflection shooting...shooting ahead of a moving target so the target and projectile will collide...and said he was writing a book about it.
           It is most important to be able to judge angles and know when to shoot
           when you are coming in on the enemy in a turn...if you can shoot
           when you are coming in, you are a jump ahead.
Beurling told Bowman that flying was second nature to him. He always felt
comfortable in the air, but often wondered when the enemy was coming
right at him, if they would brake or keep coming. Beurling said he didn't break!
I keep shooting and hope he's going to blow up. Usually they get cold feet.

Rick Beurling described his older brother as one of the finest pilots
and marksmen of his time who died too early, at the age of 27.

(He died under mysterious circumstances while testing planes in Rome.)

Merle Baird-Kerr
written September 3, 2011

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