“Wings & Wheels” North Attica, Greece
March in Greece is the season of blossoming during which people love to enjoy nature. Starting from the Carnival with Dionysian rituals and fertility dances that are different all over the mainland and in each island and continuing on Clean Monday, the first day of Lent: a celebrated public holiday with outdoor excursions, picnics, delicious fasting foods and the widespread custom of flying hexagon kites.
Although no one knows where the kite tradition comes from, some say the ancient Greek mathematician Archytas of Tarentum designed and made the first kite fly to test aerodynamics, while others believe it started when people wrote wishes on the kites wanting them as high as possible for the Gods to answer. It is now such a consolidated tradition throughout Greece that in the previous days the weather forecast for Clean Monday is the most followed program on the media.
We also follow the weather forecast before our Jaguar XK and E Types excursions hoping that despite our British cars are used to the rain, they will not get wet but remain shining under the Greek sun and, thanks to the Olympus Gods, they usually are.
We named our Spring meeting “Wings and Wheels” because we had the honor and the permission to drive the wired “wheels” of our classic Jaguars into the Air Force Military base of Tatoi and park them in front of “wings” of the classic airplanes displayed in their open air historical museum.
Our Jaguars entering the Hellenic Air Force training airfield leading to the museum.
Our legendary Jaguar troop formed a squadron of 9 E Types, 3 XK’s, 3 MKII and 1 S-type all standing proud as colorful soldiers in front of the flying glorious warriors of the skies.
The Hellenic Air Force Academy is responsible for supplying the Hellenic Air Force with pilots, aeronautical engineers but also air traffic and air defense controllers.
It was founded in 1919 as the Military Academy of Aviation and renamed in 1967 as the Icarus School in reference to the figure of Icarus in ancient Greek mythology. The figure of Icarus still forms the centerpiece of the academy's badge. In the Hellenic Air Force, all the pilots are still named Icarus.
For mythology lovers, is in brief, this is the Icarus legend:
Icarus's father Daedalus, a very talented and remarkable Athenian craftsman, he built the Labyrinth for King Minos of Crete near his palace at Knossos to imprison the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster born of his wife and the Cretan bull. Minos imprisoned Daedalus himself in the labyrinth because he gave Minos's daughter, Ariadne, a ball of string in order to help Theseus, the enemy of Minos, to survive the Labyrinth and defeat the Minotaur.
Daedalus fashioned two pairs of wings out of wax and feathers for himself and his son. Daedalus tried his wings first, but before trying to escape the island, he warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea, but to follow his path of flight. Overcome by his folly, Icarus soared into the sky, but in the process he came too close to the sun, which due to the heat melted the wax. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms, and so Icarus fell into the sea and drowned in the area which today bears his name, the Icarian Sea around Ikaria, a beautiful wild island southwest of Samos.
There is a strong connection between aircrafts and our Jaguar cars: Malcolm Sayer during wartime was an aircraft engineer but later he became the automotive aerodynamist responsible for the engineering body development of Jaguar E-Type.
He spent the last twenty years of his life working at Jaguar Cars and was one of the first engineers worldwide to apply principles of “aircraft streamline aero function” to improve air penetration by modeling the shape of cars.
Except of the amazing outside display we visited the indoor museum with very interesting and rare airplanes.
In this picture our British friend Yvonne and our Greek friend Melina with the two flags are leading our group in front of a De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth a famous British training aircraft that first flew in October 1931.
One of the many fields where the museum’s activities have been unique is the recovery of 2nd World War aircraft wreckage. This activity, internationally described under the term “Aviation Archeology”, is conducted both by the museum and the private sector.
On May 1993 a mixed team composed of personnel from the museum and the Hellenic Air Force’s special team of frogmen, hauled up the remains of a British Blenheim Mk.I bomber from Lake Prespa and in July 1996 the same team completed the spectacular hauling up of a British Blenheim Mk.IV F, which was shot down during the battle of Crete near the city of Rethymno.
In restoring our Jaguars, we rescue and save glorious mechanical treasures rusted in forgotten barns. By giving them a second chance of life we maintain in healthy conditions this “moving museum” for the next generations to come.
After our private guided visit, we thanked Colonel Miltiades Fakitsas for his kind hospitality and we switched on our engines to reach our next destination on top of the mountain of Afidnes, north of Athens.
The Lakkagini Country Restaurant is a wooden paradise for gourmet, flora and fauna lovers as inside their lush park they have also a large collection of animals as lama, kangaroos, goats, deers, birds and donkeys: a real treat for children of any age.
After parking our Jaguars under the pine trees, we moved to the panoramic “prive’ hall” where we presented our new members to the rest of our Club.
The atmosphere was friendly and relaxed and after a toast we sharpened our knives to attack and kill our hunger through the delicious creations of the chef.
Another successful and joyful meeting was over, we said goodbye to each other making an appointment for the next gathering before Easter.
Meanwhile we have organized a high tea gathering at the prestigious Yacht Club of Greece for the crews participating at the Mycenaean-Minoan Rally-Tour and some of our Greek crews will be present to welcome them to this friendly International joint-meeting.