His Wellington undercarriage was badly shot up and his crew thought they were going to die, but he miraculously brought them in safely

The recent death of Tayport's Jim Pow has robbed Scotland of a man who excelled in areas of aviation, politics, business, and ex-service and community affairs like few others.

As a wartime Wellington bomber pilot with Coastal Command, Jim was a master of that fiendishly difficult skill; the night-time destruction of German E Boats in the North Sea. This called for low-level flying, mastery of the infant equipment, stopwatch timing, and sustained nerve. Based at Norfolk, his crew became legends as far north as Hull. Typically, his regard for the slow and poorly-armed Royal Navy MTBs, who fearlessly tackled the same enemy, was never short of immense.

When passing over Rotterdam, one of the first V2s, the Reich's rocket-propelled weapon, rose past his port wing. Convinced this was a new anti-aircraft weapon and that his last moment had come, he found time to radio its details on a special channel. The incident was later commemorated in a painting commissioned by the Royal Aeronautical Society.

Post-war, as part of the embryonic Joint Intelligence Unit, Jim taught himself Russian to a standard so high, the remaining grade was reserved for only the bilingual. It was Jim who produced the first picture (via a Czech agent for five shillings) of a Soviet jet fighter, a MiG9, which was merely an airframe lashed above a BMW003, the type used to power a Messerschmitt 262.

When a dozen jet fighters flew across Red Square on May Day 1948, the world was astonished and wanted to know how the Soviets had come by such technology and implemented it so quickly. Much was Jim's anger to uncover that Gurevich (the man that put G in MiG) and Vladimir Klimov, the Soviet's top engineer, had been allowed to visit Rolls-Royce at Rugby and surreptitiously export 55 Nene and Derwent engines, at the time the world's most powerful and finest jet engines, in exchange for timber and some tinned crab. Jim Pow's subsequent row with Harold Wilson, then president of the Board of Trade, who had arranged the barter, will make good reading when the papers are eventually released.

Jim was born in Calcutta, where his father worked in the jute industry but his early death necessitated the family's return to Tayport.

He settled in the town, too, in the later 1950s, where he was snapped up by NCR to become involved in pioneering computer work, and rose to director of industry standards and relations, Europe.

Tireless and talented, Jim also became vice-chairman of the local Royal British Legion Scotland, as well as being instrumental in establishing the Aircrew Association to fight for pensioners' rights. Community involvement beckoned further; he served for 22 years as an independent SNP member on Tayport Council and was twice provost. He became a Fife regional councillor for another two spells as well as being appointed justice of the peace. With his background and experience, it was no surprise that he became Radio Tay's first chairman in 1980, a post he carried out with hallmark humility.

In 1944, when the undercarriage of his Wellington was badly shot up, and the crew thought they were going to die, Jim miraculously brought them in safely. He believed that God had spared them and, from that moment onwards, every day was a bonus.

While his tall, stooped figure will be much missed at future RAF Leuchars open days, his surviving family and friends have no reason to mourn, only celebrate with pride Jim's splendid time with us all. Literally, an extraordinary man.

Jim Pow, aviator, politician, industrialist; born May 5, 1921, died February 14, 2001