My late father’s desktop computer still works well, or well enough for me, anyway. Email and a search engine are all I require. He used to pass his afternoons watching black and white war films and Westerns on YouTube. Perhaps it is regress rather than progress, but I prefer to pass time reading books.
His keyboard password is always troubling, ‘sea vixen.’ He worked any many planes over the years, why did he choose the Sea Vixen for his password? Did the aircraft linger much longer in his memory than even the brilliant Harrier on which he spent his final working years?
The de Havilland Sea Vixens which inspired his pawword were from 890 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service which had been based at HMS Heron, the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton in Somerset.
The Sea Vixens were aircraft that had caused me deep fear during childhood years, a fear recalled in memories of childhood discussed with my mother.
It seems likely that the Sea Vixen would have inspired fear in any young boy whose father worked to maintain them on a daily basis.
There were one hundred and forty-five of the sea version of the aircraft built. Their safety record seems to have terrible. Fifty-five of them were lost in accidents, thirty of those accidents were fatal, twenty-one of the accidents involved the loss of both the pilot and the observer. More than fifty men had died flying in an aircraft that took no part in any war.
That stories of the Sea Vixen frightened a boy in the 1960s is readily understandable, any child whose father worked on aircraft that might unexpectedly come crashing from the sky would have reasonable grounds for fear. Five decades later the aircraft still has a capacity to prompt a feeling of fear.
I remember seeing a model of a Sea Vixen hanging from the ceiling of an antiques centre at Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire. It carried the markings of 890 squadron and the serial number XP924, my father worked on the maintenance of the radio and radar of the original aircraft that bore the number XP924.
The question occurs too late for it to be asked as to whether my father shared a similar apprehension regarding the aircraft. He had used ‘sea vixen’ as his keyboard password for at least a decade – it used to be written on a beer mat for anyone who wished to use the computer. Did he use it because for him this alarming aircaft was always the first he remembered?