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Graduation, but no commission


Finally getting accepted into the air force
Ken Adam Artist
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I kept... applying for the air force, and was always turned down. And then one day, much to my surprise, in 1941, I think, I was accepted, and then started training, first of all, you know, in the elementary stuff in Scarborough and Harrogate, and then at Perth in Scotland where we started flying on Tiger Moths, and then I was sent over to Canada to complete my training there. And since I had never been to the United States, and also at that time I had a girlfriend in New York, I thought it might be nicer to train in America. So I managed to get on the Arnold Scheme, which was a General Arnold, and I trained with the Americans in... first in Florida, then in Georgia, and finished my last advanced training in a place called Dothan, Alabama, which was unbelievably primitive, you know. They still had, of course, the colour bar, and you couldn't... you were not allowed to mix, you would have been immediately sent back, and so on. But it was a very good experience for me.

Sir Kenneth Adam (1921-2016), OBE, born Klaus Hugo Adam, was a production designer famous for his set designs for the James Bond films of the 1960s and 1970s. Initially, he trained as an architect in London, but in October 1943, he became one of only two German-born fighter pilots to fly with the RAF in wartime. He joined 609 Squadron where he flew the Hawker Typhoon fighter bomber. After the war, he entered the film industry, initially as a draughtsman on This Was a Woman. His portfolio of work includes Barry Lyndon and The Madness of King George; he won an Oscar for both films. Having a close relationship with Stanley Kubrick, he also designed the set for the iconic war room in Dr Strangelove. Sir Ken Adam was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2003.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: RAF, Royal Air Force, 1941, Scarborough, Harrogate, Perth, Scotland, Canada, New York, USA, Arnold Scheme, Florida, Georgia, USA, Dothan, Alabama

Duration: 2 minutes, 2 seconds

Date story recorded: December 2010 and January 2011

Date story went live: 15 August 2011