Tuesday, 23 February 2010
It looks as though Mercedes-Benz wanted its simulator to be run-in, as it were, before inviting Ray Hutton and me to drive it. Inaugurated 25 years ago, on 10 May 1985 at the Daimler-Benz Research Centre in Berlin Marienfelde, we flew there, my diaries tell me, via Bremen, between 14 and 16 August. The Sunday Times Magazine published the feature on 10 November 1985 headed GOING FOR A SPIN, BUT ONLY THE FEEL IS REAL. The Walt Disney animation would be passé nowadays. You would get Avatar in three dimensions but it felt realistic enough at the time, when Berlin still had a wall and Checkpoint Charlie was a bit more than a sandbagged memento of a divided city. For some reason the BBC's royal correspondent Michael Cole was included among Mercedes-Benz's guests and we saw Checkpoint Charliefrom "our" side. Flight back was diverted to Bremen, where the flight crew regretfully ran out of flying hours. Mr Cole drew himself up to his full six foot three and remonstrated with BA that we, the passengers, had run out of passenger hours. We remained in Bremen overnight while Elizabeth, who knew Ray had been visiting East Berlin and had not heard from him, fretted, sure that he was somehow locked away behind an Iron Curtain. Who would have thought that 25 years later, with Ruth, Jane and Alex we would have a multi-duck dinner in the Reichstag roof. See view.