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90-year-old Taverham man celebrates birthday in Tiger Moth

PUBLISHED: 06:27 05 October 2011 | UPDATED: 10:01 05 October 2011

Ninety year old Ralph Medler taking to the skies above Norfolk in a Tiger Moth as a birthday surprise with Felthorpe Flying Group. Photo : Steve Adams

Ninety year old Ralph Medler taking to the skies above Norfolk in a Tiger Moth as a birthday surprise with Felthorpe Flying Group. Photo : Steve Adams

Archant 2011 0

Four generations of a family watched a 90-year-old war veteran as he took to the skies in a Tiger Moth on his birthday.

Ralph Medler was 90 yesterday and his family surprised him by taking him to Felthorpe airfield, near Thorpe Marriott.

Mr Medler, from Taverham, was a founder member of the Felthorpe Flying Group about 50 years ago, but had not been up in the skies since he lost his sight about seven years ago.

He did his pilot training on a Tiger Moth and after the flight said: “It was a nice flight, but it was a bit bumpy and windy.

“My family sprang it on me and I had no idea that I would be doing this, but I enjoyed it.”

The flight was organised by Mr Medler’s daughter Louisa Stewart, from Poringland.

She said: “Dad’s 90 and we all love him very much and we wanted to give him a good present.

“After all, what do you buy a 90-year-old? He’s got all the tools he wants in his shed.”

The youngest member of the family to see Mr Medler in the plane was great-granddaughter Grace Spinks, four, from Hellesdon.

Mrs Stewart’s three children were also present, including Megan, 12, who said: “I’m surprised that granddad has gone up in the plane, but it shows he’s brave. I would like to go up in a plane some time.”

Mr Medler was taken up in the Tiger Moth, which dates back to 1941 and was used in the Second World War as a training plane, by pilot Pete Harris.

They flew at about 3,000ft at a speed of about 100mph and cruised around Blickling before returning to Felthorpe after 30 minutes’ flying. Mr Medler’s wife, Kathleen Medler, 75, who married him 34 years ago, said: “It was hard to keep the secret, but he was really surprised. He was pleased and overwhelmed.

“He may be 90, but his brother’s 96 and just gave up driving.”

Mr Medler, a master builder before he retired, was in the Royal Norfolk regiment in the Second World War, and has five children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

The family is going on a Caribbean cruise for three weeks later in the year as part of Mr Medler’s 90th birthday celebrations.

Have you arranged a special birthday treat for one of your family? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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