UK military flies Ghana troops, equipment to Mali

Britain's military has flown troops and heavy equipment from Ghana to Mali to support the international intervention in the West African nation, the defence ministry said Thursday.

A C-17 aircraft is carrying more than 120 members of a Ghanaian engineering company with vehicles and equipment to Bamako, where they will build housing  and assist with projects like road building as part of the African-led support mission to Mali, the ministry said. 

Peter Jones, Britain's High Commissioner to Ghana, said the U.K. was pleased to offer the transport capability to Ghana, calling it "a moment where the international community is coming together for a shared challenge."

In addition to providing logistical support and aircraft to support the French-led intervention in Mali, Britain has said that it will contribute to an EU training mission to support the Malian army and provide trainers to help prepare an African-led intervention force.

The Associated Press
It added the request from Ghana for a C-17 was made earlier this week, with the first C-17 flights taking off Monday evening and continuing on through the week.

The Ghanaian engineering company will "be there as long as it takes to solve the problem," according to Col. M'Bawine Atintande, public relations director for the Ghana Armed Forces.  He praised the U.K. for giving "so much support" in a statement released through Britain's defence ministry.
From: Steve Richardson, Trenton, ON
Sent: Saturday, January 26, 2013 11:10
Subject: RCAF Mystery Photo 012513


The photo depicts the first loading of a CC-177 on August 23,2007 with humanitarian aid destined for Kingston, Jamaica, in the wake of Hurricane Dean.

Back row left to right: Sgt. Drew Hine, Pte Stormont, MCpl Scott Simmons, Cpl Pattie Brown, Cpl Bouchard, Pte Splane, Cpl Roy.

Front row left to right: WO Keith Telfer, Pte Tasse, Cpl Guernon, Pte Pronovost and Sgt. Kirk Marsh.

The loading of the CC-177 was performed by 2 AMS Training and Standards and Line Crew personnel. Also, in 2007 2 Air Movements Squadron received the Gordon R. McGregor Memorial Trophy  for outstanding and meritorious achievements in the field of air transportation.

Take care,

Steve Richardson

From: Doug Dearing, Väröbacka 
Sent: Friday, February 01, 2013 12:09
Subject: RCAF Mystery Photo 012513

Howdy Tony!

How's this for the mystery photo (RCAF): 

Back row L to R: Sgt Drew Hine, Pte Michael Stormong, MCpl Scott Simmons, Cpl Cheryl Brown, Cpl Pierre Bouchard, Pte Kyler Splane, Cpl Francis Roy

Front row L to R: WO Keith Telfer, Pte Alexandre Tasse, Cpl Lisa-Marie Guernon, Pte Dany Pronovost, Sgt Kirk Marsh.

Only one I know is Keith, I cheated and found it on the net; amazing tool eh?

Hope all is well, keep up the great work!


From: Steve Harpum, Shrivenham
Sent: Sunday, January 27, 2013 15:39
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #012513

My sincere thanks to Tony Last for his massive 'blast from the past' in the last edition - so many names I recall.

Tony and I worked together a fair bit on MAMS, and then some years later we were on the Surface Movements team together at HQ Logs Command.  Happy days indeed. 

I still recall Tony and I coming home from a staff inspection to Germany with so much duty-free in the back of the company Ford Escort Estate that we were dazzling low-flying owls with our headlights and the steering was light to say the least.  Thanks Tony!




RNZAF Sgt Gid Wych
Sometime around July 2010 my FS came into my office in Main Store Ohakea and said “I’m afraid you didn’t get the Bagram post you were after, however, DCM has asked if you would consider Scott Base Op Antarctica?”

Disappointment and elation in one short sentence; there was only one possible answer - and so began my great adventure to the frozen wilderness that is Antarctica.

The first stage on my journey was two weeks Pre- Deployment Training (PDT) down in Christchurch prior to flying to ‘the Ice”.

This wasn’t PDT as you would expect, no weapons, (the penguins aren’t armed and are considered friendly!) no packs or mess tins (the food at Scott Base is legendary).

We were in luck, although the temperature was probably about minus 20 the clothing we had been issued by ANTNZ did its job all too well.  The weather outside was a bright and sunny blue sky day with an unrestricted view of Ross Island; Mount Erabus rising majestically above the surrounding landscape. What made it all seem even more amazing was when we realised we had just landed the C-17 on 3 metres of sea ice, that was all that separated us from the icy depths of the Ross Sea!
The first few days of the new deployment was a period of settling in, taking over from the Scott Base winter crew, a dozen or so hardy souls who had spent the last 13 months in this unforgiving icy domain.

In the first week everyone went through a two day Antarctic Survival Course this entailed spending a night out in -25º temperatures under a canvas polar tent that has changed little in design since they were used by Captain Scott and his team.

Sundays are when the “Fam Trips” are organised. 

These range from visits by Hagglund to the historic huts of Shackleton and Scott at Cape Royds and Cape Evans, climbing some of the more accessible peaks of Castle Rock and Tent Island and even being lowered down seemingly bottomless crevasses on an unfeasibly thin piece of string.

Our trusty Antarctic field trainers assured me it was the finest climbing rope, but they would wouldn’t they!

These vary from The Dry Valleys - areas of spectacular scenery and huge glaciers - to the huge Adele penguin colony at Cape Bird; a magical place where you can wander amongst the thousands of penguins and see their newborn chicks and ice flows being used as diving platforms by the comical Adeles.

A real treat is the appearance of the Emperor penguins who often arrive later in the season.  Whereas the little Adele is the "Charlie Chaplin" of the penguin world, the Emperor is without doubt Royalty with all the airs and graces to match.

Dangerous Air Cargo is another responsibility that involves close cooperation with your counterpart at Science Cargo over in McMurdo, some items cannot be shipped aboard USAF aircraft e.g. non US cylinders, these have to wait for the Kiwi C130 when it will be up to the Scott Base Cargo Handler to package and certify the consignment.

As well as the C130 you can expect to be involved with loads for the Twin Otter and Basler Aircraft, the latter being a heavily modified DC3 (Dakota), many of WWII vintage, that can often access places where the C130 cannot go!

The sense of community spirit found in Antarctica is almost a unique experience; you can expect to celebrate Halloween (costume essential), Thanksgiving (uniquely American and a great feed!) and Christmas in great style. A highlight of your tour would have to be seeing midnight in, on New Year’s Eve in 24 hour daylight at the coolest show on the continent, "Ice Stock" the most southerly rock concert in the world!

I was lucky enough to repeat my Antarctic adventure with a second season 2011/2012, which was every bit, if not better, than my first. 

This was more of a team bonding exercise that consisted of one weeks' Antarctic awareness training with Antarctica New Zealand (ANTNZ), followed by one weeks' intensive fire fighting training with the New Zealand Fire Service. The second week was by far the most enjoyable; it was hard training but as an exercise in team bonding it would be hard to beat.

I’ll never forget that first arrival on the frozen continent.  The flight down on the USAF C-17 had been a comfortable but uneventful 5-hour trip with only small glimpses of what was to come through the small porthole style windows on the rear para doors.

As the C17 came to a halt, and the front crew door was opened, all us first-timers stepped off with a slight sense of trepidation. How cold would it be? Am I wearing the enough cold weather clothing?

The survival training was another great team-building exercise.  During the process we learned about each other, and I suspect a lot about ourselves.  We all came back from our night out buzzing with excitement and keen to discover more about this unique environment we now found ourselves in.

Over the coming months we had many opportunities to put our new-found cold weather skills to the test.
In the early season the temperatures are down in the low 20s F. with plenty of spectacular snow storms.  Every trip over the hill to McMurdo was a case of logistical planning -- did you have your emergency pack of cold weather clothing and boots in the vehicle with you? Have you signed out? It’s only a couple of kilometres but early on it's quite possible to get stranded on the road in a complete whiteout that’s blown up from nowhere and could last for 5 minutes or 5 days!

The working week at Scott Base is a 6-day week with most people getting Sunday off.  However, this could vary depending on aircraft and science event movements, but everyone mucks in and any overtime (a frequent occurrence for the Cargo Handler) is made up for in one form or another.
Later on in the season when the ANTNZ Helicopter arrives, a programme of flights is put together and everyone at Scott Base is given a flight out to a variety of destinations.
The work of the Cargo Handler involves frequent trips (almost daily) over the hill to McMurdo dropping off and picking up cargo in the trusty Isuzu flatbed, or for smaller loads the V8 Toyota Ute. The cargo varies from strange scientific pieces of equipment (usually awkward and bulky) to frozen core samples and live fish that require hand delivery to the aircraft, there’s a great sense of satisfaction when you get word back that all the fish made it alive with no problems. It is the Cargo Handler's responsibility to check that all the permits for samples are correct and everything is in order for their return to New Zealand.
One of the things that makes a trip to "the Ice" such a memorable experience is the diversity of people that you meet, whether it be the Science Events passing through Scott Base or the folk over the hill in ‘Mactown’ (as McMurdo is fondly referred to).  There are countless interesting characters from all walks of life, each with an interesting tale to tell.
Alas, I think a third would just be greedy, and anyway Domestic Command says I need to have a Christmas at home. Antarctica has a way of getting in your blood and I have high hopes that one way or another, in the words of Mr A Schwarzenegger, “I’ll be back!”
From: Charles Collier, Albury
Sent: Monday, February 04, 2013 06:02
Subject: Yemen

Hi Tony,

I found this book in Waterstones book shop and it is a great read for all those who were posted to Aden.

The author Victoria Clark was born there in 1961 the daughter of the BBC correspondent for South Arabia.

She includes in her narrative story the whole history of the Yemen from before Roman times to the present day including when it was our British colony of Aden.

As I said is a good read as she became a journalist so her writing style is attractive as well as informative.

All the best



Richard Lloyd, who hails from Dalgety Bay somewhere on the coast of Scotland, has written all about his early years at RAF Northolt.  Click on the banner above to read all about it.
Due to a reorganisation of the host server, it was necessary to recreate the OBA Earth with a different URL.  Click on the banner above to get to the new address and be sure to bookmark it.

RAF takes delivery of BAe 146 C3 transports

Previously operated by TNT Airways, the passenger /freighter aircraft have been brought up to the new C3 operating standard under an urgent OP's requirement deal contracted with BAE Systems during 2012.

Now in grey service markings, the aircraft carry the military registrations ZE707 and ZE708.

Both 146-200QC aircraft will perform flight trials over the Donna Nook weapons range in Lincolnshire to test the performance of their newly installed self-protection equipment. Work to bring them to the RAF's theatre entry standard for Afghanistan has included the installation of two directional infrared countermeasures turrets beneath the tail and one below the forward fuselage, along with flare dispensers.

Acquired to help meet the UK's intra-theatre lift requirements inside Afghanistan, the transports have been purchased and modified under a programme worth an eventual £47 million ($72.7 million), according to figures released by the UK National Audit Office. They will be assigned to the RAF's 32 (The Royal) Sqn, which already operates two BAe 146s in the -100 standard for VIP transport tasks from the service's Northolt base in north London.

The Ministry of Defence says the new assets will be deployed to Afghanistan following the completion of training, test and acceptance activities, with its expectation being for their introduction during "spring 2013".

The UK Royal Air Force has accepted two freshly modified BAe 146 quick change transports, with the pair to be deployed to Afghanistan following the completion of training activities and electronic warfare system trials.

From: Ian Stacey, Sleepy Hollow, IL
Sent: Saturday, February 09, 2013 11:43
Subject: Brian Dunn - Memories

Hello Tony, 

Brian Dunn

I have many fond memories of Brian and our times together on D Team UKMAMS. In spite of the 47-year gap it is surprising how much of it remains so vivid.
From the Caribbean to Teheran, from Winnipeg to Nairobi and to many other destinations far and wide Brian and I were lucky enough to serve together as fellow team members. Although we didn’t know it then we were probably having the time of our lives. Brian was one of the mainstays on our team and could turn his hand from trim-sheet completion to fork lift driving, BFLP* assembly and all things in between.  *(Britannia Freight Lift Platform).
At left is a photo from our first stint on the oil lift in Nairobi. That's Brian on the pan at Embakasi Airport in December 1965.  I remember we worked for 7 days over the Christmas period without going to bed because our relief team from NEAF MAMS did not want to miss their holidays! At the end of the seven days we were totally exhausted and virtually sleeping standing up – well, we were invited to a Christmas party at the local nurses hostel that very night 

Brian was an enthusiastic volunteer in all of that and as always was a stalwart team member. The photo is of the MAMS team in Lusaka, Zambia in 1966 after we had unloaded the last shipment  from  the Civil  side of the Zambian Oil Lift. Brian is third from the right.

Incredibly, and mostly thanks to the OBA, I am still in touch with two other members of that team: Chas Cormack, centre, who went on to become a UKMAMS legend and Jimmy Jamieson (2nd from right) who now lives in Hereford.

So, we were faced with the alternative of going back to bed or going to the party. In true democratic fashion I put it to the team vote and I’m proud to say they all voted for the party!

Our second stint on the oil lift was in Zambia where we were all involved in various, nefarious activities that included some very profitable non-RAF aircraft handling.

We will all miss Brian very much, he was a true friend and colleague. We extend our deepest sympathies to Christine who as a silent member of our MAMS family kept the home fires burning while we were swanning around the world.

Ian Stacey

From: Xavier Sherriff, Flinders View, QLD 
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 05:28
Subject: Korea

Here is something we came upon while cleaning out the 37SQN loadmaster storage room.

These photos were taken by FSGT Leon Murtagh, a C-47 pilot during the Korean War.  Not really Air Movements but hey, it's a bit of RAAF history!


Xavier Sherriff

From: Syd Avery, Guardamar, Alicante
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 12:30
Subject: Kathmandu.

Hi, Tony and yo’all to’all,

Yes, the picture of Mac Bernhardt was taken in KTM, and by me, not Brian Hunt. I have a picture of both of them on my laptop in Belgium, taken on the disused runway where we used to park the Britannia.

We had to wear civilian clothes as per the agreement with the Nepali Government, and KTM was the only place I worked with both Brian and Mac.

Here is a picture taken around 2004 showing the former Britannia parking area across the runway where the Dornier and the Twotters are now parked.

Rearguards to all,


Australian airlift comes of age

The big news at the 2011 Avalon show was Australia's
decision to obtain a fifth Boeing C-17 strategic airlifter. Two
years on, this aircraft has arrived and another C-17 has been ordered and
delivered, bringing the Royal Australian Air Force's total of the type to six examples. When asked about how this has changed, Canberra's Airlift Group commander Air Cdre Gary Martin uses only one word: "Unbelievably."

Martin says the C-17 has revolutionised the RAAF's ability to travel rapidly between points with more than five times as much cargo per flight as the Lockheed Martin C-130. In one airlift operation between the United Arab Emirates and Afghanistan in September 2012, a single C-17 moved cargo weighing one million pounds, much of it outsized, in only four days. He estimates it would have taken two C-130s two months to transport the same payload.

The C-17 is emblematic of a broader transformation of the RAAF's airlift capabilities. In the 10 years from 2006 to 2016, the RAAF's airlift fleet will drop to 46 from 47 aircraft, but this slight decline will be more than made up for with capacity, which will rise to 965t from 673t, or 4,441 passengers from 3,931. The average age of the fleet in 2016 will fall to only nine years, compared with 24 years in 2006.

While engine power, range and speed will grow, costs to support the fleet should fall. What is more, RAAF airlift assets will no longer require navigators and flight engineers following the retirement last year of the C-130H.

Aside from supporting Canberra's contribution to the war in Afghanistan, RAAF C-17s have supported relief efforts for a range of humanitarian crises. In March 2011, RAAF C-17s supported relief efforts following the tsunami and earthquake in Japan. C-17s have also supported relief efforts that followed natural disasters in Australia and New Zealand.

Despite its extensive use of the C-17 - Martin says that at any given moment one aircraft is likely to be airborne - Canberra has yet to fully utilise the type's capabilities. It is exploring the type's suitability for air drops in support of naval operations, including air dropping rigid-hull boats for special forces.

Canberra received its full complement of five KC-30As between 2011 and 2013. Martin says initial operating capability (IOC) is likely in the first quarter of 2013. The IOC includes the ability to refuel the F/A-18A/B through the hose-and-drogue method, and the carriage of passengers.

And although C-17s are equipped to receive fuel via a boom, this capability has yet to be implemented. Eventually, the RAAF will be able to refuel its C-17s via the boom that equips its Airbus Military A330 multirole tanker transports - designated KC-30A in RAAF service.

The other significant new type planned for the RAAF Airlift Group is the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J, of which 10 will be obtained under the US Foreign Military Sales mechanism. The C-27J replaces the de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou, which was retired in 2009.

Although the Caribou was popular with RAAF crews, the C-27J is an eminently more capable aircraft. It is more powerful and will be equipped with armour and directional infrared countermeasures.

Martin says the main attribute which aided its selection over Airbus Military's rival bid with the C295 was the C-27J's cargo capacity: "If you look at the internal size of the aircraft, the C295 could not fit vehicles such as the Land Rover replacement or special forces vehicles. The C-27J came out well on top in these areas."

The balance of the fleet is rounded out by 12 C-130Js - delivered between 1999 and 2002 - and eight Beechcraft King Air 350s. The RAAF Airlift Group also operates five charter jets for VIP transport, three Bombardier Challenger 604s, and two Boeing Business Jets.

When the C-27J arrives, Canberra will have a powerful array of airlift capabilities. This will serve it well during war and peace in the 21st century.


The RAAF's first KC-30A has returned to Spain, where remedial work is ongoing to improve stability of fuel flow in the boom. Software to control the boom also needs to be upgraded before the equipment can be used operationally
New members joining us recently are:
Tom Burrows, Sudbury, Suffolk, United Kingdom
Mark Lawlor, Brisbane, QLD., Australia
Dave (Wishy) Wash, Eastern Passage, NS, Canada
Welcome to the OBA!

Air force chief stands by aging Sea King helicopters

Eventually I’m going to replace some equipment on it if I want to keep it flying longer, but I’ve got flexibility.”

That flexibility will likely be needed amid recent reports that the air force won’t receive the first of its planned Sea King replacements, U.S. aerospace giant Sikorsky’s Cyclone maritime helicopters, until 2015 — seven years later than scheduled.

The effort to replace the military’s aging Sea King maritime helicopters, which provide aerial support for Canada’s naval frigates, has been one of the most controversial and problematic military procurement projects in Canadian history.

The Mulroney government signed a contract to replace them with new helicopters in 1990, but the newly elected Chretien government cancelled the order three years later despite having to pay $478 million in penalties.

A new contract for Sikorsky Cyclone helicopters was signed by the Martin government in 2003, with the first one to be delivered in November 2008 and all 28 to be with the air force by early 2011.

But Sikorsky has yet to deliver a single aircraft to Canada under the $5.7-billion program, and the Canadian Press recently reported Sikorsky doesn’t anticipate delivery of fully capable Cyclones until at least 2015.

Sikorsky has loaned the Canadian Forces four interim - meaning incomplete - Cyclones, but the Sea Kings, which first flew in 1963, continue to shoulder much of the burden.

Blondin acknowledged he would have preferred having the Cyclones two years ago, but he maintained that, reputation aside, he’s “not nervous” about the Canadian military’s Sea Kings continuing to fly missions.

“I do not know when the Cyclone is going to show up,” he said. “So I’m waiting for the Cyclone, but am very comfortable flying with the Sea King.  “The airplane is structurally sound,” he said. “I’ve got great (mechanics) following all this, and it’s still able to do a great mission. It’s like any other of my airplanes,” he said. “It would not fly if I had any doubt that I’m putting my people into a risky situation.”

(TV programme of interest: Britain's Flying Past', Thursday February 28th, 2100hrs,  BBC2,  - the history of the Sea King helicopter.) 

The head of the Royal Canadian Air Force says he’s confident the military’s 50-year-old Sea King helicopters can stay in the air long enough for their troubled replacements to arrive.

“It’s good for a while,” Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin said of the Sea Kings, in an exclusive interview Wednesday.  “In the short term, the Sea King can fly.

A number of Sea King crashes killed pilots and crew in the last decade, earning the helicopter a reputation for being old and unreliable.  Each also requires more than 30 hours of maintenance for one hour of flying time.
From: Keith Hubbard, Tenby
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 10:20
Subject: 50th Anniversary for 51st Entry

Hi Tony,

We are trying to trace ex-51st Boy Entrants from Hereford.

Next year is our 50th anniversary and we would like to hear from anyone who has any information or contacts for ex-boys.

They can contact me


From: Arthur Rowland, Huntingdon
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2013 12:07
Subject: Re: Brian Dunn - Arrangements


Brian and I were on separate teams during the oil lift, but we remained friends for over 40 years. He was also captain of our golf club, and secretary for a number of years where he was supported wholeheartedly by Christine.

I have told Chris' that he was part of our MAMS family, and will be sadly missed by all who served with him.

I attended Brian's funeral and it was a splendid "full house" function. I met up with Dave Stevens who was my team leader many years ago, which was really good.

Christine told me how much she valued the mails and support which she received from the MAMS OBA "family", it shows the continuing strength of our community.

All the best.


Flight Lieutenant Fran Capps, 32, originally from Dulverton, Somerset, is believed to have been on a winter skills training course when the avalanche struck in the Cairngorms.

Flt Lt Capps was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 2001 as a logistics officer and worked on a variety of Royal Air Force stations, the MoD said.

Most recently she had worked with the Chinook Force at Royal Air Force Odiham, and she had previously served on operational tours in Iraq, the Falkland Islands, Afghanistan and Qatar.

From: Lucy Temple, Basingstoke
Sent: Saturday, February 16, 2013 09:37
Subject: Fran Capps

Hey Tony,

Sadly you will have already heard of the very sad loss of Flt Lt Frances Capps?

Fran was a wonderful and courageous woman who I know many will miss dearly. A paragraph in the newsletter would be greatly appreciated.

Kindest regards


Her commanding officer, Officer Commanding Logistics Squadron, Squadron Leader Georgina Mews said: "Fran was an exceptional person to know, having unbounded passion and energy and being loved by everyone on the Squadron. Her loss will be felt across the whole Logistics Community and wider."

Canadian Loadmasters & Traffic Techs

This newsletter is dedicated

to the memories of

Brian Dunn


Fran Capps