Emotional pensioner sees flypast dream come true 75 years after crash
An emotional pensioner has seen his lifelong dream fulfilled as a special flypast has taken place to honour 10 airmen who lost their lives 75 years ago.
Tony Foulds, who is now 82, was just a boy when he saw the B-17 Flying Fortress, nicknamed Mi Amigo, crash at Endcliffe Park, Sheffield, on February 22 1944.
The pensioner believes that the pilot had deliberately steered away from him and his friends, and has dedicated decades of his life to looking after a memorial to the men at the park.
Following a chance meeting with BBC Breakfast’s Dan Walker, who was amazed by the story, a social media campaign started to hold a special flypast to remember the men on the 75th anniversary of the crash.
On Friday, thousands of people gathered in the park to see Mr Foulds, who has tended to the memorial six days a week and got his son to fill in whenever he has been away, watch the planes, including F-15E Strike Eagles from the USAF and a Typhoon from the RAF, fly over.
Mr Foulds said of the airmen during the BBC broadcast: “If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t be here with my family.”
“It’s more than bravery, what they did.
“They saved me, and I mean saved me.”
The pensioner, who broke down in tears after the names of the dead men were read out at the memorial, thanked the vast crowd for coming, and joked that he would like to receive £10 from all of them.
Speaking from Tanzania, Dan Walker told Mr Foulds: “The last six weeks have been remarkable from my point of view.
“From you and I meeting on a dog walk in the park in the first week of January to me asking how you were – that’s how it all started – you telling me this unbelievable story and saying you’d love a flypast for the 75th anniversary, and here we are now.
“I know you jokingly asked everybody for a tenner who are there at the park today, but it’s not about the money, it’s never been about you.
“Tony, it’s always been about those 10 men who you think saved your life 75 years ago.”
Mr Foulds responded: “Well I know they saved my life, I didn’t just think it.
“If it hadn’t have been for them, I wouldn’t be here with my family.”
In the days before the flypast, Mr Foulds was also able to meet the families of the airmen that lost their lives as the plane returned from a bombing raid 75 years ago.
The pensioner described them as “lovely, lovely people”.
The phrases ‘#TonyGotAFlypast’ and ‘#RememberTheTen’ were top trends on Twitter in the aftermath of the event.
Using the social media site to react to the flypast, Walker, who is preparing to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for Comic Relief, said: “I knew Sheffield wouldn’t let us down. Wow!
“This is the most incredible thing I have ever been involved in.”
He later added: “The next step is getting Tony an honour from the Queen. Please retweet & like this and I’ll use this in the submission.”