In July 1946 Douglas Bader, having resigned his commission in the RAF, joined the Shell Company’s Aviation Department (he was later to become its Managing Director). Bader’s responsibilities were concerned primarily with Shell’s refuelling arrangements on airfields which meant him flying across much of the world. The company provided him with a single-engined Hunting Percival Proctor V aircraft which had a speed of 120 mph and a flying duration of about five hours but had limited navigational aids. He often had to fly to outlying exploration camps and with his military background would take precautions against an accident. As part of his survival equipment he would take with him light weight metal small boat paddles.
After four years flying with the trusted Proctor, often with his wife Thelma by his side, the company provided him with a twin-engined Miles Gemini which was replaced in 1964 with a Beechcraft 95 Travel Air with modern navigational aids. Douglas Bader retired from Shell in1969, aged 59 and the company gave him the Travel Air, ‘to preserve his customary mobility’.
DOUGLAS BADER’S PADDLES ARE DISPLAYED IN THE NEW A LEGEND IN HIS OWN LIFETIME EXHIBITION IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL