William was in charge of the panel beating shop at Short Brothers in Rochester before and during the Second World War. His son, Jack, also worked there at the same trade.
Such was his expertise that William developed a method of beating out the leading edge of a Sunderland flying boat wing in just four hours – a job that was supposed to take a fortnight. Because he was paid on a piece-work basis he earned a lot of money.
At home, he built his own aeroplane, his Luton Minor as it was called. It had been a real family effort. His wife Doris stitched all the fabric that covered the aircraft and his son Jack, later to become a bomber pilot, helped with the construction. “When I was a teenager my father and I started the engine up and it nearly blew the fence down” Peter recalled.
On the day that war was declared William Mason completed his project and the Luton Minor was ready for a test flight. BUT under wartime restrictions all private aircraft were grounded. So, William, despite his pilot’s licence was not able to carry out his plan of towing it behind his car to Rochester Airport for the test flight. The design allowed the wings to fold back so that the plane could be towed through the streets.
Having built the aeroplane himself, William decided to hang on to it until after the War when he planned to take to the air in his Luton Minor.
Once again his plans came to nothing as after the War new restrictions on private aircraft came into force and his little Luton Minor never did take to the skies. It was eventually given to the Air Cadet Corp.
William, his sons Don and Jack and the Luton Minor