FRIDAY the 13th is traditionally thought of as unlucky – but that was not the case for Eric King during the Second World War.

He flew on a legendary Halifax named “Friday the 13th”, which flew with 158 Squadron from RAF Lissett, East Yorkshire. He completed 34 missions, gaining the Distinguished Flying Medal on his 28th outing.

And on Saturday he celebrated his upcoming 90th birthday by visiting the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington, near York, to climb aboard the famous aircraft once more.

A museum spokesman said the plane got its unusual name after 158 Squadron had lost seven Halifax aircraft in succession with the registration letter F.

“When Halifax LV907 was delivered to the Squadron, it also bore this ‘unlucky’ letter and was given to the charge of Pilot Officer Smith and his crew. They decided to break this jinx by giving the aircraft its ‘unlucky’ title.”

During his look around the Halifax, Eric recalled his often painful memories of flying into battle. He said that initially the young crews, all volunteers, were enthusiastic and eager to get to work, but after five missions or so the seriousness of the situation and the peril they faced began to sink in.

He said he regarded himself as incredibly lucky still to be alive to make the trip and sit in his old “office”, the wireless operator position.