In an incident with disturbing links to the German Wings crash, dozens of military personnel were injured when an RAF transport plane returning to Afghanistan plummeted 4,400 feet in 27 seconds, causing terror and panic to those on board. The co-pilot, who eventually saved the lives of passengers and crew, was out of the cockpit when the incident began. On Sunday 9 February 2014, 189 passengers and nine crew were five hours into their flight from RAF Brize Norton to Camp Bastion. The Voyager ZZ333 was cruising at FL 330 when the captain dropped his personal camera between his seat-arm rest and his side controller. Shortly afterwards, he adjusted the position of his seat. That caused the side-stick to deflect fully forward, which resulted in the aircraft lurching into a steep descent. It was immediately clear that the aircraft was in serious trouble.
Captain’s “boredom” caused the accident
The Service Inquiry Panel has now concluded its inquiries. It found that the captain, who was alone on the flight deck whilst the co-pilot took a break, was unaware that it was his camera that had caused a pitch down command. On his return the co-pilot, now weightless due to the negative ‘G’ force, eventually succeeded in crossing the cockpit ceiling to get back to his seat, where he was able to pull his side stick fully and regain control. Fortunately, the aircraft landed safely at the Turkish airbase in Incirlik.
The report confirms that the captain had taken 77 photographs during the flight, the last as recently as three minutes and 20 seconds before the incident. The panel commented that if a single person is alone on the flight deck for an extended period of time they can become bored and under-aroused; it was more likely that in this situation the captain would find activities to maintain his general alertness.
That can, and in this case proved, dangerous. The Panel commented that whilst carrying a camera is not specifically prohibited by any rule or regulation, the Voyager Operations Manual clearly states that lone flight crew must refrain from ‘non-relevant duties’. The report author says this “would clearly include…taking photographs” and noted that the use of the camera “represented a complete lack of compliance with the policy regarding non-relevant duties”.
Co-Pilot absent too long
The co-pilot left the flight deck approximately 18 minutes before the incident. Senior training officers told the Panel that a pilot would not normally be expected to be absent from the flight deck for more than about five minutes. Perhaps, if he had been in the flight deck, he could have regained control of the aircraft much sooner.
“Potential loss of 189 of our people”
The report author describes the incident as a “near miss” and highlights that the incident had “the realistic potential for the loss of the aircraft and 189 of our people”.
This incident was clearly avoidable, and occurred as a result of human error.
The [Panel] were told of  passengers and seven crew members who had reported injuries. One passenger suffered an acute stress reaction, and was given oxygen on the aircraft before being taken to Acibadem Hospital in Incirlik.
A team of mental health nurses from RAF Brize Norton were deployed to Incirlik, together with Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) practioners to determine whether individuals felt able to continue with their onwards journey and deploy to Afghanistan.
18 personnel were found to be reluctant to fly on to Afghanistan, and a decision was made to return to the UK. Even so, by boarding time several passengers were exhibiting signs of distress and some needed treatment. 15 required medication before they could board the aircraft. Brize Norton medical staff met the plane on its arrival back home
Over the next 48 hours a number of passengers showed signs of distress and were classified as unsuitable to fly by medical staff. 12 passengers were returned to their home unit for either medical or pastoral reasons and a further 10 passengers were no longer required for duty.
Long term consequences
The Panel has been unable to track injuries that have been reported at home units after the incident took place, but it is clear to us at Bolt Burdon Kemp that there have been serious psychiatric injuries.
I act for several clients who were involved in this horrific ordeal, and who are suffering with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, amongst other injuries. Some are set to lose their military careers. A serious and life-threatening situation, especially one in which one has no control at all over the outcome, can - and often does - result in victims suffering with long lasting conditions such as PTSD.
Safety recommendations and broader lessons
Several recommendations have been made to enhance Defence Air Safety. These include implementation of a comprehensive strategy to effect a positive change in the safety culture with respect to loose articles on the flight decks. The strategy is to promote awareness of the risks loose articles pose to flight safety, and improve behaviours and accountability.
The report concludes:
“whilst at its heart this incident was caused by the simple and unthinking act of placing a loose article close to the aircraft controls, there are broader lessons to be learnt here.”
I would add, particularly in view of the pressure civilian airlines are under today after the revelation that the co-pilot responsible for the German Wings crash had locked his pilot out of the cockpit, that a priority must be to make it compulsory for there to be two members of staff on the flight deck at all times."
Redress for the victims
The Ministry of Defence owes the same duty of care to air passengers as any other British employer and/or airline company. Some aviation accidents are subject to the rules of international conventions and, therefore, shorter time limits apply even than to the standard claims under English law.
From: Steve Richardson, Trenton, ON Sent: Thursday, April 02, 2015 6:48 AM Subject: RCAF Mystery Photo 032715 - RCAF Air Transport Group Aircraft
Clockwise rotation from the top centre of the picture:
CC-129 - Dakota Douglas C-47
CC-106 - Yukon Canadair CL-44
CC-109 - Cosmopolitan Canadair-CL-66B
CC-137 - Boeing 707
CC-132 - Dash 7- de Havilland DHC-7
CC-150 - Polaris A-310-300
CC-130 - Super Hercules-Lockheed Martin Model J
CC-177 - Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
CH-147 - Chinook Helicopter CH-47
CC-115 - Buffalo - de Havilland- DHC-5
DH-106 -Comet- de Havilland Mk.1/Mk.1XB
CC-119 - Flying Boxcar Cargo, Fairchild Packet
Left Side Bottom- RCAF LM Circa 1995
Right Side Bottom- RCAF Old Loadmaster
Many thanks to Doug Dearing of Hanover, Ontario, for the artwork!
From: Tony Freeman, Thornhill, Dumfries Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2015 4:13 PM Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #032715
Thank you Tony, as always an excellent newsletter.
I read the article on the Great Escape with interest. Roger Bushell, 'Big X' was an Auxiliary Officer. He learnt to fly at weekends. He never went to Cranwell or anywhere like it.
He joined 601 (County of London) Squadron, known as the Millionaires Mob, due the exclusive nature of their membership. Indeed, Roger was something of a playboy himself and a first-class skier who has a run named after him in Switzerland.
Like so many auxiliary pilots he did in the air what amateur sportsman do effortlessly on the ground, what their more professional counterparts have to train hard to achieve. He was one of the first auxiliary pilots to command a regular fighter squadron.
Many thanks for your lovely e-mail regarding my Dad.
As a family we have been overwhelmed by the messages received from the RAF Mover's family, and it has been lovely to hear from people that we have lost touch with over the years but will see at the funeral on Thursday.
On behalf of my Mum, Sandra, many thanks for your kind words.
From: Baz Chappell, North Las Vegas, NV Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2015 5:14 PM Subject: RAF Mystery Photo 032715
Regarding RAF mystery photo 032715. It would be Don Wickham aboard a S&D Forklift in the early 60s. I met Don when he was a FSgt at Changi in 67.
My old F/Sgt. Don Wickham now sadly not with us. When going to a job we always had wait in the team Landrover outside his married quarter while he finished a full pot of tea before he would consider joining the rest of the team. He retired to Wales and I met him once and we had a lovely chat about old times.
Taff Price (F Team Abingdon 1966/70)
From: Allan Walker, Burnley, Lancs Sent: Friday, March 27, 2015 4:46 AM Subject: RAF Mystery Photo 032715
Thanks for another great newsletter. The RAF mystery photo is Don Wickham and I think it was taken at RAF Abingdon.
From: John Wickham, Basrah Sent: Thursday, March 26, 2015 10:32 PM Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #03
Thank you, was a lovely read and a nice surprise to come across Dad's Photo. There can't be many around still that can remember him or served with him, do post the results, I wont respond however it is nice to know your Father!
RCAF’s new bird reaches its nest
CFB TRENTON - There is a brand new workhorse in the Royal Canadian Air Force’s hangar of strategic airlifting capabilities. It was flown in from Long Beach, California by Commanding Officer of 429 Transport Squadron Lt. Col. Jean Maisonneuve and “Bison” pilot Capt. Nathan Trescher. While #705 taxied its way to Hangar 1, Mast. Cpl. Ken O’Keefe raised a Canadian flag out of the roof hatch.
Lt. Gen. Yvan Blondin, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), noted the new military plane will improve the Canadian Armed Forces’ response capability to both domestic and international emergencies and provide support to a variety of missions, including humanitarian assistance, peace support and combat.
In addition to Blondin, Minister of National Defence Jason Kenney, mayors of both Quinte West and Belleville Jim Harrison and Taso Christopher, Commanding Officer of 8 Wing Col. Dave Lowthian and members of the 429 Sqn. family attended the arrival ceremony in Hangar 1.
“We’ve chalked up enormous successes with our first four Globemasters,” added Blondin. “With the arrival of our new aircraft, we will be more agile, more flexible and better able to respond when the Government of Canada calls on the RCAF.”
From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts Sent: Friday, April 03, 2015 10:08 AM Subject: Defence Privilege Card
My clever wife, Daphne, found this whilst trawling the net to find a bargain whilst we are swapping our car; lo and behold this came up. How often have we said that we wished for a system similar to the way that the Americans look after their Veterans. Well at last here is one. I don't know how long it has been out, there doesn't seem to be any history on it, so maybe it's new. I will certainly be using it as it promises to save me at least £5k on a new car, where I was looking for a second-hand newer car. I was astounded how many companies have signed up to it and the list gets bigger all the time.
One thing I'm not sure of, on the card it says "Register for Free." To actually get the card it is £4.99 for 5 years.
Cheers for now
Left click on the card to get to their website
RNZAF hails 50th birthday of Hercules
NZ7001, a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Hercules, turned 50 this March, as it was delivering aid in the Pacific. The cargo plane was the first of five C-130s that arrived at RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai in 1965. Since then, the C-130 has been at the forefront of many New Zealand Defence Force operations, missions and exercises. The hard-working plane flew out of Whenuapai on Sunday morning with aid for Tuvalu and picked up more in Suva. After delivering that cargo to Tuvalu, it returned to Suva for the night. The next day, it took three pallets of medical supplies and 40 Fijian soldiers to Port Vila in Vanuatu and returned to Suva for a second night.
40 Squadron Commanding Officer (CO) Squadron Leader Steve Thornley said that it was a great privilege to be CO on such an occasion: “In the 50 years these amazing aircraft have served New Zealand, they have spanned the globe supporting everything you could expect of an air transport aircraft, both in peace time and on active operations.
Waypoint Airmed & Rescue
This month alone we have seen C-130s delivering aid, supporting NZ Defence Force personnel in the Middle East and moving an elephant for Auckland Zoo. It is this sort of utility that keeps these aircraft in such high demand all over the world and is a testament to both the quality of design and the commitment of those that work on them that the first of our fleet of five has reached this milestone.” As for the birthday celebrations, Thornley said these would be short-lived as the maintenance team had to turn her around for another mission to Vanuatu. However, specially designed tail art has been installed on NZ7001 that it will wear for the coming twelve months.
To ensure the C-130 remains fit for purpose, all five aircraft in the RNZAF fleet have been upgraded in a Life Extension Upgrade project led by the Ministry of Defence out of RNZAF Base Woodbourne in Blenheim.
This project has replaced mechanical, structural and avionics components, installed new flight deck communications and improved navigation systems. The last aircraft (NZ7002) is due to be completed in December 2015.
40th Anniversary of the Closure of RAF Gan
The 40th anniversary will take place at Gan 23rd March to 6th April 2016
From: Charles Gibson, Monifieth, Angus Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 9:21 AM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
When I was stationed at Luqa, Malta, we used to get USA Navy aircraft on a regular basis.
One day an American serviceman was loading one of their aircraft and hit a parked Argosy with the 12,000Lb Forklift. His immediate response to us was, "How much do you want?"
He was not very pleased when the DAMO advised him that it was not how things were done in the RAF!
From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster Sent: Wednesday, April 08, 2015 11:54 AM Subject: Flying on the Ground by Gerry Davis
At last my book, Flying on the Ground, is available on Amazon.
This is a personal story covering my 44 years through Boy Entrants, Airman, RAFVR Officer and Civil Aviation Airport Official.
Amberley to get two new C-17s
RAAF Base Amberley will soon receive two more heavy-lift C-17 transport planes as part of a $1 billion purchase. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Tony Abbott at Amberley, where the C-17s are based.
Australia already has six massive Boeing C-17 Globemasters that have been involved in diverse operations, from humanitarian drops in the Pacific, to repatriating bodies following the MH17 tragedy.
The Government said the two additional C-17s would provide vital heavy airlift support to regional and global coalition operations and greatly increase Australia's capacity for rapid and effective disaster rescue, relief and humanitarian aid. The billion dollar investment includes $300 million to upgrade the facilities at Amberley.
RAAF Chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown said the additional aircraft will help the air force continue its global humanitarian work. "The 7th and 8th aircraft and the initial, additional facilities and people will allow 36 Squadron to continue and sustain that rate of effort well into the future," he said.
Since they were first acquired by the Howard Government, C-17 aircraft have transformed the ADF's capacity to transport large loads over long distances and to deploy its vehicles, helicopters and heavy equipment within Australia and overseas.
C-17s have been integral to recent ADF operations, including:
Delivery of equipment, personnel and more than 175 pallets of aid as part of Operation Pacific Assist in Vanuatu.
The provision of much-needed humanitarian aid and materiel in Iraq.
The recovery of MH17 victims from Eastern Ukraine.
Relief assistance to those affected by the Japanese tsunami, the Christchurch earthquake and the Queensland floods.
Australia has worked closely with the United States Air Force to acquire the first aircraft within six months of the initial order and the second aircraft within 10 months of the delivery of the first. This will mean that the ADF will gain additional operating capability within a short time-frame.
The Queensland Times
PM Tony Abbott chats with personnel on the tarmac at RAAF Base Amberley
"These aircraft make the strong arm of Australia longer than would otherwise be the case," Mr Abbott said. "These aircraft, particularly with aerial refuelling, can go potentially right around the world, anywhere in the world where there is an airstrip capable of handling these aircraft; we can get to within about 24 hours thanks to these planes and the refuelling capabilities that the KC-30s give us."
From: Bryan Morgan, Abingdon Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 9:35 AM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
In 1984, together with John Morley, a current Hercules captain, I flew to Addis Ababa to set up Operation Bushel for the relief of Ethiopian people up country who were suffering badly from a long term drought. Those of long tooth will remember that their plight was highlighted by Michael Buerk, of white suit fame, in his piece on the BBC news (pictured at right). Getting to Ethiopia was not without its problems, the main one being securing visas from the Ethiopian Embassy in London. Flights had been booked but with only hours to go we were still awaiting our stamped passports. Fortunately MOD rallied and arranged for the Met Police to take us to Heathrow - a journey completed in just 18 minutes!! Kensingston High Street at 75 mph (probably a conservative estimate) was a new experience - a white-knuckle ride remembered to this day. The driver was extraordinary and was more than worthy of his F1 ticket!
We had a couple of weeks to set things up before 2 x Hercules with UKMAMS and Eng/Admin Support, arrived and things went fairly smoothly given the lack of a military representation at the British Embassy.
John and I stayed on for the first two weeks of the operation, which went on to last two months and my lasting memory was probably having the Russian Air Force carrying out exactly the same operation on the other side of the pan about 70 yards away. We were under constant scrutiny, even to the use of binoculars, but in my time there never the twain were to meet.
I would be very interested to know if any Old Bod who took part in Op Bushel, after I had left, managed to make any contact with Igor and his colleagues?
From: Joseph Gillis, Grand Mira South, NS Sent: Saturday, March 28, 2015 9:16 AM Subject: C130 Makes History in 1963
I’ll bet there will be a lot of interest from our readership about this feat!
C130 Makes History in 1963
During 1963, a KC-130F aircraft made history by landing and taking off from the aircraft carrier; USS Forestall (CVA-59). The crew successfully negotiated 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 un-arrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs at gross weights of 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds.
Lockheed's only modifications to the original plane included installing a smaller nose-landing gear orifice, an improved anti-skid braking system, and removal of the under wing refueling pods. No tail hook...No catapult. Painted on the side of the fuselage; "LOOK MA, NO HOOK." The airplane became the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier, a record that stands to this day. (The carrier operations start at minute 2:00 on the video. Coverage stops abruptly.)
From: Christopher Briggs, Coventry Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 3:05 PM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
I used to run the Foreign Air Force desk in the cargo shed at Brize Norton. During my time there I saw some amazing loads, including the Cord car sent to the UK by the King of Jordan for repair and the palletisation of currency for the Shah of Iran.
The foreign aircraft were usually Hercs and were always parked near each other. The crews were put up in the same hotels in Swindon so, for example, you would oftentimes see Israeli, Egyptian, Spanish and Italian crews all sharing the same bus into town. The various reps for the air forces would give us gifts (not allowed of course); it used to be pistachio nuts from the Iranians, coffee from the Brazilians, Chianti from the Italians and so on. I do sometimes wonder what happened to the Iranian rep who was a WO in their Air Force, he was a nice chap.
The Cord car owned by the King of Jordan
The Royal Air Force is Flying in South Sudan
Peacekeepers need supplies before the rainy season washes away their shelters
It isn’t easy to travel in South Sudan. It’s a harsh land that quickly changes from scorching deserts to inhospitable swamps. Supplying an army or a peacekeeping force in the country comes with its own special set of frustrations.
Thankfully, the British Ministry of Defense just boosted the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) with a deployment of a Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules. The plane will help peacekeepers resupply before the rainy season starts.
Troops serving with UNMISS have it rough. A civil war rages between soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and those fighting for Riek Machar - the country’s rogue ex-vice president. Peacekeepers are trying to protect civilians caught in the middle.
According to UNMISS, the peacekeeping force is responsible for 112,590 people under its protection. But the fighting disrupts supply lines, making the tough job of moving supplies even more difficult. Then there’s the impending arrival of the rainy season. The rains tend to start in the spring and can last for six months. The deluge turns dirt roads and airstrips into muddy sludge. Logistics will soon be a nightmare.
Before the British contribution, UNMISS had access to only a single C-130. It’s a problem in light of the coming storms. “[The] RAF contribution will double the C-130 capacity,” UNMISS spokesperson Ariane Quintier told War Is Boring. “It is crucial as the rainy season has not started yet and the airstrip in Malakal is perfectly usable for a C-130.” This is the first time the RAF has committed air assets to a U.N. mission in Africa. It’s not a permanent deployment.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence declined our request for comment, but UNMISS officials expect the Brits to stick around until about mid-April. The RAF will fly in supplies, vehicles and humanitarian aid that would otherwise be difficult to transport. British flyers will deliver supplies to the U.N.’s facility in Malakal. The base is home to one of UNMISS’s largest protection of civilians (POC) sites. It houses 21,368 civilians … and counting.
The town of Malakal sits in the disputed Upper Nile region and has been the scene of heavy fighting between government troops and Nuer rebels. Violence continues to drive civilians toward U.N. troops for protection. The airport is a critical hub for moving supplies to the Upper Nile. “Malakal is one of the only airports in the country [that has] a long enough airstrip to allow a C-130 to land,” Quintier said. “Malakal is very hard to resupply during the rainy season, especially from Juba, which cannot reach Malakal by road,” she added. “The only option then becomes the Nile and barges.”
According to UNMISS, 60 percent of roads in South Sudan are unusable during the rainy season. And the rain doesn’t just cause problems getting around the country, it also causes flooding. The rising water levels can make life in the POCs frustrating … and even dangerous.
When a South Sudanese barracks mutiny exploded into full blown civil war in 2013, both sides quickly began to prey on civilians. Ethnic militias looted homes and cleansed cities of rival groups. Refugees fled to U.N. bases for protection. The peacekeepers’ mission changed practically overnight. Predatory militias and bandits gathered outside the gates. The peacekeepers no longer patrolled cities looking for troublemakers - they defended their bases as if under siege. Thousands of men, women and children relied on them for protection. It was a job the U.N. hadn’t anticipated. The civilians were safe from violence, but the peacekeepers hadn’t built their bases to house thousands of South Sudanese families.
Military engineers hastily dug latrines and built make-shift shelters for the refugees using whatever supplies they could find. They had no idea how long the fighting would last, and certainly didn’t expect the civilians to stay for potentially years. “POC sites have always been considered as a temporary solution to an emergency and a crisis,” Quintier said. “These sites have never been made to last, they do not respond to international standards in terms of space and sanitation among other things.”
Kiir and Machar’s feud wouldn’t likely end anytime soon. The war trudged into 2014, and the rainy season loomed. Military engineers once again set to work. They began digging rudimentary drainage systems for the camps. But the rains came earlier than expected. The flooding was particularly bad at the U.N. camp at Tomping, where rain decimated its shelters. Worse, flooding washed through the camp’s make-shift latrines and spread human waste throughout the camp.
Quintier said that improving living conditions in the camps for all seasons is a top priority. She added that it’s a work in progress, and that the U.N. is diverting resources to the problem. “In Bentiu and Malakal, both sites have been extended to respond to a growing number of arrivals as well as meet international standards,” she said.
The base in Bentiu is the largest POC in the country, housing 52,908 people. The camp’s population doubled after a gruesome battle for the city last April. Mongolian peacekeepers ferried residents from the city by truck as government and rebel forces raped and slaughtered their way through the town.
The people of South Sudan can survive the rain. They’ve done so for centuries - and the British aerial resupply missions should help. But the war is the biggest problem. That won’t change until South Sudanese leaders agree to end the killing.
Doctors Without Borders criticized the UNMISS leadership for mishandling the crisis at Tomping. The organization accused aid officials and troops of “shocking indifference.” Though peacekeepers shuttled Tomping’s residents to other camps, activists insisted they weren’t doing it fast enough. The ongoing war, limited resources and a constant stream of more civilians seeking shelter made the evacuation almost impossible.
Rains wreaked further havoc on bases all over the country. UNMISS aid coordinator Toby Lanzer posted videos of conditions in Malakal on his YouTube account. It depicted people living in waterlogged tents surrounded by rubbish.
Over time the rainy season dampened the fighting, and Kiir and Machar eventually signed a peace deal. But predictably, the rains stopped and the two sides resumed fighting.
Displaced South Sudanese have now lived in the POCs for more than a year. Fighters and bandits roam the country and fight over towns and villages, so many civilians have no interest in returning to their homes.
War is Boring
From: Stephen Bird, Chester Sent: Wednesday, April 15, 2015 5:33 AM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
I think for me it’s got to be my four month detachment to Aviano AFB in Northern Italy, working alongside the Americans and Italians (don’t expect to see an Italian between 1400 1700). This detachment for me was one of my best experiences in my 24 years in the trade. I was the only Mover on the detachment with two aircraft a week; a C130 on a Monday and a B707 (PCF) on Thursdays.
The Americans were great, they could not assist me enough on the equipment front, anyone who has worked alongside the Americans are well aware that they were never short of the ACHE we needed. They could not believe that the Royal Air Force would only have the one trade person on the ground to handle the two aircraft per week from an air transport perspective. They used to come out and watch in a amazement whilst I shot from pillar to post doing the ground side of everything, from loading up pallets into the main hold and 60 plus passengers onto the B707. If I was lucky there would be a couple of Waddington Movers on the aircraft to assist.
It was not uncommon for me to glance across onto the adjacent pan to see a C141 being turned around by a team of 20, whilst I was buzzing around. There was never any issue with them check weighing the pallets etc., they were very helpful, but come aircraft day and I was on my own!
Chinook helicopter makes accidental 800ft cargo drop in field
A Chinook helicopter taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior has accidentally dropped a box of rations hundreds of feet into a field, just 100 yards from the M4. This is the moment an RAF Chinook helicopter taking part in military exercises in Wales made an unscheduled cargo drop in a field outside Cardiff. The transport helicopter dropped a box of supplies hundreds of feet, scattering rations ranging from dried meals to Tabasco sauce and boiled sweets among sheep grazing in a field. The slip from an underslung cargo net was photographed by a retired couple watching the helicopters taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior Mary Salter, 68, and her husband Michael had been watching the aerial display from their house in Thornhill, north Cardiff, on Sunday afternoon when they spotted the box crash down around 100 yards from the M4. Mrs Salter said: "It came loose from the netting and fell out, leaving many other boxes behind within the net," adding that it was lucky the aircraft had not been carrying a jeep or a car, as some had been earlier in the drills.
The container landed in a field of nearby Hill Farm, scattering its load of army rations including dried meals, sugar, salt, coffee, tea, chewing gum, cakes, energy bars, sausages, and plastic cutlery. Mrs Salter added: "I have certainly never seen anything like the helicopter display, and it was extremely impressive. During the first part of the morning, we saw up to 10 helicopters flying past every half-hour or so."
Exercise Joint Warrior has been taking place for more than a week, with manoeuvres the length of the country. The UK-led NATO exercise has seen 55 warships, 70 aircraft and 13,000 personnel take part. The drills have been focused in the north of Scotland, but manoeuvres have also taken place across England and Wales. Aircraft including Apache, Lynx and Merlin helicopters, have been flying out of the St Athan base in the Vale of Glamorgan as part of the war games. Other countries taking part include America, Netherlands, France, Denmark, Spain, Germany, Belgium and Poland.
Joint Warrior is held in the UK twice a year, but the current manoeuvres are the biggest they have ever been amid heightened tensions with Russia. An MoD spokeswoman said: “Safety remains at the forefront of all our operations and an appropriate review will be undertaken to determine what happened and what lessons can be identified. No one was hurt in this incident.”
Talking of rations... who remembers this little lot?
From: Thomas Geoghegan, Folkestone, Kent Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:11 PM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
I served alongside the USAF at RAF Northolt, mixed well and took advantage of their PX.
I remember one famous Crew Chief, Chief Master Sergeant Barass, ex-Air Force One circa John Fitzgerald Kennedy, real nice man; seldom without a huge green cigar. He commanded great respect from the other technical staff, most of which were originally British, having transferred to the USAF during the Korean conflict years.
I remember in 1969 standing with pride alongside a USAF three-star General watching Lecky Thompson winding up a Harrier aircraft to position it at St Pancras Station in central London prior to taking part in the trans-Atlantic race. My friend, the general, was as impressed as I was!
It felt good to work alongside our friends from across the great divide; they had a great "can do" attitude.
In civilian aviation, in BOAC/Pan Am days, I came to know more former USAF staff with the same cooporation between both airlines.
Airbus boosts plane's profile as alternative to Hercules
Airbus has launched a hearts and minds campaign to make New Zealanders aware of what it has to offer the Royal NZ Air Force to replace its ageing Hercules.
The European plane maker is taking out a series of adverts in the Herald for its new A400M plane it hopes to pitch when tenders are sought. Adverts highlight the plane's capabilities ahead of what is shaping up as an intense, high-stakes battle between manufacturers when the RNZAF seeks tenders to replace five Hercules, now more than 50 years old. The two air force Boeing 757s are also due for replacement early next decade as part of a $1 billion-plus overhaul of the transport fleet.
New Zealand politicians have already flown on a jet-engine powered Boeing C-17 Globemaster used in Australia, seen by some analysts as having the inside running to replace the Hercules. Airbus says its advertising campaign - the first it has done in this market - is aimed at letting the public know there are alternatives.
"We think we need to speak up and explain there is an alternative," Airbus defence manager NZ Valentin Merino said. "We have a feeling we need to explain there is an alternative to the C-17 to comply with what New Zealand wants to do."
New Zealand would soon make a "very important" decision about planes that would be around for 30 or 40 years. "It is a moment of truth - we want to be sure that there is an alternative that is not so well known among the general public," Merino said.
The advert says the heavy lift turbo prop plane can carry cargo for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in this country and the Pacific. It can also fly to Antarctica with sufficient fuel to turn around if it cannot land, Airbus said.
RNZAF top brass have flown on the A400M and a senior officer had a look at the plane at the recent Avalon Air Show in Australia, Merino said.
There had been no call for tenders and Merino said it could be several years before the air force made a decision on which planes to buy. The Government would outline more details of what it needed the planes for in a White Paper due for release later this year. The Ministry of Defence would then seek options for aircraft to meet that criteria.
Airbus is also promoting its smaller C295, a twin engine plane that could be used for short-range maritime surveillance as well as short- to medium-range humanitarian and military missions.
Victoria University Centre for Strategic Studies senior fellow Peter Greener said an aircraft manufacturer advertised at Wellington Airport several years ago, ahead of a training aircraft decision, in another "hearts and minds" campaign. "The manufacturers are wanting to raise the profile of their product," he said. "It seems unusual in terms of newspaper advertising about large investments that will be with us for decades to come but anything that raises public awareness and adds to the debate is useful."
The advertisements were a way of publicising the plane without breaking strict rules about approaching decision makers.
The bidding process follows set rules and any direct approaches are carefully governed with a clear and transparent tender process. "You can publicly display your wares but that's very different from lobbying the defence minister or the air force," said Greener, who was previously academic dean at the Command and Staff College of the NZ Defence Force.
He said it was difficult to directly compare the Airbus and Globemaster, which was also flown by the Royal Australian Air Force. "It's definitely not a case of apples and apples. The issue for New Zealand is what do we want the aircraft to do - mostly."
Embraer's KC-390 twin jet military transporter, which last month completed its first test flight, and the latest model Hercules, could also be in the running.
The New Zealand Herald
From: Wayne Harker, Edmonton, AB Sent: Thursday, April 16, 2015 9:37 PM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
By far my most memorable occasion working with members of other nations "Movers" was Exercise Strong Express in Bardufoss, Norway, in September 1972.
We all (British, Canadian and American) movers worked together on mixed IALCE (International Airlift Control Element) teams to unload and load the aircraft from all nations for this NATO northern flank exercise.
When an aircraft came in, the senior mover of the nation flying the aircraft led the team for that task. This worked well for aircraft for our home nations, but I am not sure how we handled aircraft of other NATO nations. I recall trying to offload a jeep and two trailers off an Italian "Boxcar" C119. The Italian troops had loaded the jeep and trailers daisy chained when the aircraft was loaded. The troops felt they could just hook up the two trailers and back them off the C119. Their English was not great and none of us spoke Italian. FUN! We all learned a lot about each other's aircraft and loading methods. Until that time I am sure no British or American loaders believed that we Canadians could show up with 3/4 ton vehicles loaded into a Boeing 707.
Our off-duty time was spent in each others drinking tents. The British introduced us to a ridiculous drinking game where we passed an empty beer can around the table and smashed it against our foreheads in succession two see who was finally NOT able to put a new dent in it.
Each country did host one big evening party with food and drinks for all. Many Zappers, Flashes, hats etc. were traded while we were there, and in my opinion we all went home with a better understanding of our foreign allies, their equipment and their methods.
From: Alan Rae, Brize Norton Sent: Saturday, April 18, 2015 5:18 PM Subject: FW: Lyneham Update
I received this email with regards to jobs at the old RAF Lyneham, you may wish to include in the next newsletter to give the guys and girls some information about what is happening at the new site.
From: Roland Barth, Lyneham Sent: 17 April 2015 09:03 Subject: Lyneham Update
Gentlemen - mindful that you will have links to retired Lyneham Movers, you may wish to pass on to any looking for employment in the area that recruitment is just about to start for the Soft Facilities Management contract at Lyneham that will include posts from H&S to passes and permits and everything in between. The contract is through ESS and Interserve [check out the web-site for links and details www.compass-group.co.uk].
Alternatively Karen Bridges is the lady in charge of recruiting for the contract and she has said that she will be happy to be contacted directly Karen.email@example.com should you wish to send her a CV.
Hope all is well at Brize Norton - sadly, the only aircraft I get to see now are the occasional C130s that buzz the construction site that is Lyneham!
Roly Barth Wg Cdr | Project Lead - Special Projects Team | Lyneham Capability Delivery Programme | HQ DCTT
From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury Sent: Monday, April 20, 2015 2:22 PM Subject: Working Alongside Foreign Air Forces
Mauripur in the mid-50's belonged to the Royal Pakistan Air Force and we were a lodger unit using it as a staging post.
Just six British other ranks working three 24 hour shifts along with an NCO and an officer. We were there on Air Movements to handle RAF aircraft night stopping on their way to and from the Far East and Australia.
The staging post was also used by other air forces; mainly the USAF and US Navy, the French Air Force plus a few others, all of whom used our passenger lounge.
The Americans used it almost as much as we did. The main aircraft were Super Connies, Skymasters and DC3's. Each Sunday morning a US Navy Super Connie would arrive from Palam and stay for an hour or two whilst the passengers used our lounge. I had many a chat with a General and others including entertainers who were on their way to Dharan. I didn't mind being on duty on Sundays because of this. The aircraft would return on the Monday making its way back to the Far East.
The American Air Attache had his own DC3 based at Mauripur and he would often come into the section. I remember on one occasion he had departed for Kandahar but soon came back saying, "Forgot my briefcase!"
The French also used Mauripur as a staging post; Skymasters, DC3's and Nordatlas. Once a month a Skymaster would arrive from Vietnam, usually about midnight so they wouldn't be too popular. However they had air hostesses and we got to know them fairly well. Chocolate was a rare commodity at that time in Pakistan and they would bring us a few bars.
One incident I recall with the French was when the crew and passengers had all got back on board and the crew started up the engines and tried to move forward but couldn't because the chocks were still under the wheels! Our Aircraft Servicing Flight chaps had already packed up and gone back to the billets, the pilot slid the cockpit side window back and was giving us a load of French verbal and we had to get our coolies to risk their necks and crawl under the engines and pull the chocks away!
The Pakistanis ran the Air Traffic Control and they would phone us when an aircraft was arriving. It was really funny because they couldn't say the letter 'V' and would say, "we have a Wickers Waletta in circuit." There was always an RAF officer in attendance in ATC.
We had a lot of contact with the RPAF but when Pakistan became a republic in 1956 then it became the PAF. Mauripur later was renamed Masroor after one of their CO's flying a Canberra had a bird strke, crashed and was killed.
Centre of our aviation history
The RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre features three separately themed hangars to fascinate visitors and delight aircraft aficionados.
The early aviation display hangar features an interpretation of the Bleriot aircraft that Louis Bleriot flew across the English Channel in 1909, the restored Douglas Boston bomber, Lancaster Merlin Engine and a collection of memorabilia from the era.
The entrance hangar is dedicated to military aviation involvement in the war and peacekeeping from 1946 onwards. Aircraft currently on display include the restored Canberra bomber, an Iroquois Huey helicopter and a Bell Sioux helicopter synonymous with the MASH TV series. This hangar also contains a refurbished Australian Army Pilatus Porter that will be officially unveiled at the July 19 heritage centre open day. Outside this hangar is an old workhorse of the RAAF, the Caribou Battlefield airlifter.
The centre's third hangar is dedicated to the fast jets of the RAAF dominated by everyone's favourite - the F-111 - also a Korean War vintage Sabre fighter and a Mirage. The French-built Mirage interceptor carries the story of the pilot who flew this aircraft on its last mission from RAAF Williamtown to RAAF Amberley. To take the heritage centre into the present and future, the Air Combat Centre-operated F/A 18 simulator was in operation on Sunday.
The RAAF Amberley Aviation Heritage Centre is open to the public on the third Sunday of each month, from 9am-3pm at RAAF Base Amberley. Admission is free and photography is welcomed.
Visitors are welcomed too from the personnel who greet you at the gate to those who guide you in and the volunteers who are more than happy to answer questions, point out features of the displays or just check if you're okay. Flight Lieutenant Steve Finch said the centre attracted about 500 visitors each time it opened.
The Queensland Times
From: David Anderson, Cambridge Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2015 6:13 AM Subject: Foreign Air Forces
1970 Took me on an unbelievable posting to RAF Support Unit Decimomannu, Sardinia. We were a support unit for visiting Harriers from Gutersloh and Wittering (they were using the air-to-ground range).
Myself, Dave Stanbury, Derek Spry and George Stout arrived on the first Belfast, full to the gunwales with freight required to commence the set up of the unit. Our first task was to assist MAMS to offload (does anyone remember that?).
I believe we replaced the Canadians (when they withdrew from NATO) at very short notice. We were working alongside the German Air Force, USAF and of course the Italian Air Force.
We got a good rapport going between the other nations and were soon “loosing” to them at football. I remember Derek Spry getting the title of “Bobby Charlton” because of his footballing skills and lack of hair!
Sometimes the ITAF were rather late in advising us of imminent Herc/Belfast/Argosy arrivals. I can remember one occasion when a Herc was taxiing towards the pan before we got the news. Dave Stanbury raced up in his car and I followed on the forklift. He parked his car very close to the pan and very close to a slave pallet. The reverse thrust from the Herc engines lifted the slave pallet and it landed on the roof of Dave’s car. The Loadmaster was not very impressed (neither was Dave with his caved-in roof!) Anyone remember that?
I will never forget the excitement of the arrival of the first detachment of Harriers. There was quite a contingency of Italians, Germans, Americans and of course ourselves standing beside air traffic to welcome the arrival of what was then an awe inspiring aircraft; it had not been seen before by most of the other services.
On arrival, the Harriers came in low and fast in front of the ATC, one at a time, then came round again, slow, hovering in front of the crowd. They then turned in to face the ATC tower, hovered & bowed, turned and blasted off into the sky again before returning to land. It was a joy to see the expressions on the watching crowd, especially the Americans!
Cheers for now,
From: Keri Eynon, Thatcham, Berks Sent: Thursday, April 23, 2015 3:45 AM Subject: Working with other forces
I remember working with the Americans and Italians on joint exercises at Vaerlose in the north western outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark, normally in September or October of each year.
The different approach to the way aircraft were loaded was always cause for amusement or even bewilderment, especially in the case of the Italians. Two occasions readily spring to mind.
On one aircraft the Italians had a bridged Landrover and as we prepared to slacken the chains to ease the lowering of the ramp their load master stopped us saying it had to be left as it was. As a result, when he lowered the ramp the inevitable happened - the whole floor fitting came out with an almighty crack! Thankfully no one was nearby or hurt.
During the same exercise an American asked the Italian Loadmaster why they drove their vehicles on, to which came this classic reply "Because we canna get them on sideways" (think of this said with an Italian accent!). The front vehicle was secured with just one chain around the towing hook, again when asked about other restraints we were told that it would be supplied by the "bulkhead and side walls!"
The one good thing working with the Italians was the cup of vino given when getting on the aircraft. Happy memories. There are others but these in particular always stuck in my mind.
New members who have joined us recently are:
John Perkins, Cooma, NSW, Australia
Welcome to the OBA!
Steve Edwards, Queanbeyan West, NSW, Australia
This newsletter is dedicated to the memory of Mick Mylchreest