14 August 2009

A new member joining us recently is:

Scott Simmons, North Bay, Ontario, Canada "MAMS for close to 10 years at 2 AIR MOV SQN 8 wing Trenton. Newly posted to North Bay, Base Traffic. "Without MAMS you're just a static display""

Welcome to the OBA!


From: Malcolm Porter, London
Sent: 24 July 2009 06:16
Subject: 2 piccies

Hi Tony,

Having unearthed some 'old' photos whilst preparing for a talk I am to give to the local branch of the A.T.A. I attach two that might be of interest:

1990 Farnborough Air Show

Whilst flying as L/M on the BAe146STA, we "hired" a MAMS (VR) team to demonstrate the ease of operation of the freight system.

The two bruisers on the extremes are BAe sales personnel!

Humanitarian Aid Project to Iran

Still with BAe and employed in Vienna to support the huge project, we used the 146's of TNT in addition to our own 200QC a/c.

Here the TNT loadmaster - an ex RAF loadie (Andover's) - puts himself up to make his mussus a widow! (He failed and he's still around) No names of course but it was Chris Hosea.

Best regards,

Malcolm Porter

Thanks Malcolm. I'm trusting that these two pictures will elicit some comments, favourable or otherwise!

On bottle of dog shampoo: "Contents should not be fed to fish."

Fresh backing for troubled plane

Defence ministers from seven European nations have pledged to continue to support the much delayed Airbus A400M military transport aircraft project.

The ministers from Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK now hope to agree a new contract for the plane by the end of the year.

There had been fears that some countries would decide to walk away from the troubled project.

The A400M's maiden flight is a year late due to technical and budget woes. A second deadline of March this year was also missed. The plane is not now due to take to the skies until the end of this year.

"We hope to save the programme. We have decided to open a renegotiation," said the UK's Defence Procurement Minister Quentin Davies.

The A400M project was launched in 2003, with orders for 180 planes so far. The plane was designed as a replacement for the main NATO military transport aircraft, the US-built Lockheed Martin Hercules.

"I am convinced this programme will be re-launched, which will be good news for the trade balance of our countries because I am convinced it has enormous export potential," said French Defence Minister Herve Morin.

Aviation analyst Saj Ahmad of FleetBuzz Editorial said Airbus will find itself under "immense pressure" to deliver to the new contractual arrangements.

"The A400M is Airbus' equivalent to Boeing's delayed 787 Dreamliner," he added.
"However, the key difference is that Boeing was caught out just prior to the 787 first flight, the A400M hasn't even been in proximity of a runway."



From: Pete Donald, Heathrow
Sent: 24 July 2009 06:55
Subject: Guestbook Entry

Good to know the Belize prop is restored. I was there when the Corsair crash-landed and we nicked the prop before the Fire guys!!

Still at BA after nearly 11 years but things aren't getting better for us.

Take care out there.

Great site Tony, thank you for all the memories.


It's getting tough for a lot of us Pete, in the meantime thank you for the kudos.

Circa 1980 - Taff James with the Belize Prop


From: Gus Turney, Calne
Sent: 9 August 2009 01:34
Subject: Guestbook Entry


Ref the Belize prop... I was at Brize back in June for the JATE reunion, and took the opportunity to drop by the school. Sad to say, the prop is gathering dust, on top of an ISO container, at the far end of Hangar 30.

Mick S is off to Cyprus, and I'm not sure if anyone has taken on the task of renovation.

Regards to all.

Thanks for that update Gus - perhaps someone out there might decide to take up the gauntlet?

On a baking pan: "Ovenware will get hot when used in oven."

From: Steve Tomlinson, Brisbane, Qld
Sent: 24 July 2009 07:52
Subject: Downunder Update

Hey Tony

Another great newsletter. With reference to the political penny pinching, it was sad to read the almost farcical shenanigans with respect to the support helicopters in Afghanistan! Yet another governmental blunder, it’s the only thing they’re good at?!

Anyway, I thought I would update my details for those who might be interested:

Home Address:
  3 - 672 Brunswick Street
New Farm, QLD 4005
Mailing Address:
  P.O. Box 47
New Farm, QLD 4005
Home Phone:
  +61 (0)7 3358 5068
Work Phone:
  +61 (0)7 3260 2366
  +61 (0)488 412 673
Work Email:

With respect to the Team/Duty experience:

1. As well as DAMO C with Merv Corke, Tony Ferrison, et al, I spent a little time as BLCO and on Mobile
2. OC AMF Port Stanley, F.I. with Dave Roberts & Vic Hopper (God rest his soul) (May - September 1984)
3. S Mov O / OC Supply & Movs Flt, Mount Pleasant Airport, F.I. (April - August 1985)
4. SAMO RAFAU HKG with Tommy Thompson & Terry Roberts (August 1985 - August 1988)
5. Station Operations Officer, Marham (September 1988 - March 1989)
6. AP3 Air Portability, JATE, Brize Norton (March 1991 - June 1992)

I’m off on 6 weeks leave from 17 August, having a week in HKG then into LHR for a couple of days before flying down to Spain for a week with my sister. Apparently it’s close to Alicante so I’ve dropped Bruce Oram a line to see if he would like to partake in some tonsil lubricant? I’m spending some time in London then down to see the folks in Milford Haven. Hope to break bread and share a glass with Stuart Cloke & Jerry Allen whilst in the Old Smoke. If there are any other “Old Lags” that remember me, I’ll have my mobile with me. Keep up the good work

Kindest regards


p.s. With ref to the RAF Mystery Photo 071009, I’m fairly sure the person on the far right that nobody could pin down is Flt Lt Dave Tisdale, a bit of a character!

Thanks Steve - have a great trip back to Blighty!


'Combat ban' for Afghanistan helicopters

A Royal Naval Merlin helicopter lands aboard the HMS Illustrious

Helicopters earmarked by the Ministry of Defence to help British troops in Afghanistan will not be able to fly on combat operations because they are not armour-plated, senior RAF sources have disclosed.

A failure to equip the six Merlin helicopters – which will go to Helmand in December – with proper protection from bullets and rocket-propelled grenades will endanger the lives of passengers and crew, pilots have told The Daily Telegraph.

The disclosures come in the wake of public criticism from military leaders and senior politicians over the shortage of helicopters for British troops in Afghanistan.

The shortage has been blamed for some deaths, particularly in cases where troops have had to travel in lightly armoured vehicles on the ground, rather than by air.

The fleet of Merlins will help to alleviate this shortage. However, pilots are angry that requests for Kevlar armour to protect the aircraft have been ignored.

"I don't want people to come back strapped into their seats with bullet holes in them," said a source in the Merlin fleet. "We are going to send aircraft out to Afghanistan that are lacking in the required protection. It will be the same as driving a Snatch Land Rover along a road full of mines."

Senior RAF officers believe that the failure to meet the estimated £100,000 cost of fitting Kevlar armour to each aircraft has become an issue that could prevent them being used on operations in Helmand. As much of the country is unsafe for unprotected aircraft, they are likely to see little service until the problem is remedied.

The MoD might now delay their deployment in order to have them fitted with the armour, or it could deploy them as "a calculated risk".

The Merlins have been successful at negating the threat from surface-to-air missiles during their five-year deployment in Iraq. But in Afghanistan, their lack of armour may make them vulnerable to small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, which they will face when landing in "hot" zones in assaults against the Taliban. The Daily Telegraph has also previously disclosed the existence of intelligence that the insurgents are actively trying to
destroy a British helicopter carrying troops.

An RAF spokesman said: "Our Merlins have ballistic protection as standard, but we are always looking for the best ways to protect our forces. An urgent operational requirement to prepare the Merlin Mk3s for deployment will see the armour up-rated based on the advice of our technical experts."

On a blanket: "Not to be used as protection from a tornado."

From: John Belcher, Chippenham
Sent: 24 July 2009 18:29
To: Robbie Taylor, Doncaster, UK
Subject: Unknown Course

Hello Robbie

The photo you sent to Tony is No 18 JAMC. I don’t have the course dates but the full list of names is shown on the attached photo.

The UKMAMS Association ( has copies of just about every Junior, Senior, Operators, Controllers and Officer’s courses up to mid 2001.

All the best


Thanks John!


From: Keith Parker, Melksham 
Sent: 27 July 2009 05:56
Subject: Unknown Air Movements Course

Hi Tony

Here are a few guesses at the above course:

R5 Tony Cornett
M8 Ian Alder
M10 Rick Balchin
F5 Pete Fealey

Cheers for now

Keith "KP" Parker

Thanks Keith - I did notice that Ian Alder's name is missing from the typed listing - they've shown only 10 names for 11 chaps

On a fishing lure with a three-pronged hook: "Harmful if swallowed."

From: Charles Collier, Devizes
Sent: 28 July 2009 11:02
Subject: Djibouti Incident

In 1965 I was posted to the then British Colony of Aden. My job was organising the sales of redundant equipment by tender action to 70 odd Arab contractors. Where I worked in the Cemetery Valley area of the RAF Steamer Point base, we shared the site with the Aden Forces Pistol Club Range and as I’d been a good shot in the past, I decided to join.

Having joined, I was soon contacted by the club President, Col Drake-Wilkes and he told me that he wanted me to be his club secretary. I soon found out that life was full with this appointment as we were challenging the French Forces in Djibouti to matches.

In return, the French invited us to Djibouti for a return match. This was a lavish affair with no expense spared. To cut this story short now and come to the point I’m going to make: after these matches had taken place I had some leave accumulating. So I decided to buy a civil air ticket with Air Djibouti on one of their daily flights to the African mainland.

At the appointed hour I turned up in time for the departure from RAF Khormaksar civil airport departure area.

I was accompanied by a mixed group of Somali’s including three goats and two chickens carried loose! The aircraft captain – a small airline owner - was a French count who was there beckoning us on to one of his three DC3 Dakotas. All the passengers hurried forward to get a seat so when I arrived there was mayhem – goats where taking up three seats to themselves. At this point I saw that the Capt. was beckoning me to come forward to the flight deck – this I did and he told me to sit in the spare seat by the table.

He then went back into the cabin to make sure that his passenger and livestock payload were all seated and belted down. This done he strapped himself into the left hand seat and started engines; taxied the aircraft for takeoff; took off; climbing to operational height and finally, switching on automatic pilot. At this point the Capt. got out of his seat and invited me to sit in it as he was going to check on his passengers in the back end compartment.

I was quite thrilled to be sitting in the left hand seat at 30,000ft until I glanced to my right and saw that the rather portly co-pilot with a drooping moustache was asleep! I was not too troubled because I was keeping an eye open for any other aircraft straying into our path. It was at this point that the Capt. returned; I began to make way for him to sit down in the left-hand seat. He told me to remain where I was and he sat in the spare seat and put his legs up on the radio operators table closed his eyes and went to sleep! There I was with a dozen or so passengers not to mention animals, two aircrew - both asleep - and me in charge of the flight!

Minute after minute went by. I knew that the French operated Douglas Skyraider ground attack aircraft from Djibouti that would fly close to other aircraft just to let them know who is in-charge here! So I kept a close eye out for them. Through the haze I could see the African mainland and the town of Djibouti in the distance. It was at this moment that my two aircrew woke up as though an alarm had sounded. I gave the Capt. his seat and he landed us safely at our destination – the African town of Djibouti.

I ventured into the town centre saw a hotel; booked two nights’ accommodation; went up to my room and then went out to see the sights. I was walking down the main street when who should be walking in the other direction than the French Foreign Legion staff-sergeant that I’d met in Aden at the pistol competition, in uniform! He asked where I was staying – I pointed to the hotel. “Sacre Bleu! Follow me” he said, and stormed into the hotel demanding that the Somali receptionist return my belongings and cancel my booking. He went on to say that had I remained there for even just one night I would have had my throat cut and my belongings stolen.

We left clutching my bags, got into his jeep and drove off to the military base at the airfield. He took me to the fellow pistol club member French Air Force Capt George Orio’s married quarter and – thankfully after the Staff Sergeant's explanation as to my circumstances - they welcomed me with open arms. So I gratefully stayed with them for the three days.

The return journey to Aden was not as eventful as coming out: the Capt. was training another pilot in the command role so the training pilot flew us back. There were few passengers so I was with them at the back compartment. But I suppose with a training pilot at the helm all the aircrew up front stayed awake for the whole flight!

Next time you fly away on holiday think about what your pilots are doing at that time!

Warmest regards


Thank you Charles - it's not the first instance of sleeping cockpit crew; I've experienced the same on a cross-Atlantic flight. I wonder if any other members have similar memories?


Lyneham Movers Win Top Awards

Two members of 44 Mobile Air Movements Squadron (MAMS), 1 Air Mobility Wing (AMW) based at RAF Lyneham have been admitted as Honorary Freemen of the Worshipful Company of Carmen, an honour bestowed for a period of 5 years.

Flight Lieutenant Tom Rogers has been awarded the Carmen’s RAF Cup and Senior Aircraftman Steve Page the Carmen’s Movements Trade Trainee Award. The awards were presented by HRH The Princess Royal, at a ceremony held at Drapers Hall in London.

Flt Lt Rogers, 2IC of 44 MAMS said, “These awards were given in recognition of our past (movements training), present (current employment) and future (career potential) accomplishments.”

An extract from his citation reads, “Founded by the Worshipful Company of Carmen in 2001, the award recognises the year’s most outstanding student officer among those attending the Defence Movements School.

Flt Lt Rogers graduated with academic and practical achievement and went on to fill a long-term vacancy in 1 AMW. He immediately rebuilt esprit-de corps which lead to early command of a Mobile Flight, deploying to Iraq where he supplied specialist movement support of personnel and equipment with leadership, professionalism and courage. His current role has demonstrated his outstanding ability and he is an inspiration to peers and subordinates alike.”

SAC Page’s citation reads, “This award identifies the most successful RAF trainee among those attending the Basic Movements Training Courses at the Defence Movements School. SAC Page was an outstanding graduate who, for his consistently excellent exam results and his bearing, passed out as ‘best student’.

After 6 months at AMW, he was deployed to Iraq where he worked in support of the Air Transport Fleet. He proved an inspiration as he overcame his inexperience to impress with his drive and his capacity to inspire fellow tradesmen on his first tour of duty.”

The Carmen’s Company started in 1517 and is a guild of the City of London, reflecting the transport industry in all its modes. The name Carmen derives from the definition in the Oxford Dictionary dated 1580 as “a man who drives a car (a wheeled vehicle) a carter, carrier”.

The Worshipful Company of Carmen sponsor many Military Awards across all 3 services. Originally, they were affiliated to the Royal Logistic Corps, but decided in 2002 that it was time to recognise the other services. The Company of Carmen now hold an annual, Joint Services dinner, where awards are presented to 4 personnel from the RAF, 2 from the British Army and 2 from the Royal Navy.


On a 12-inch CD rack: "Do not used as a ladder."

From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster
Sent: 29 July 2009 14:47
Subject: RAF Lyneham 1968-1971

I arrived at Lyneham on a Sunday in July of 1968; it was raining. I got some bedding and a room in the Air Movements block, I looked around, but not too many people about and nobody that I knew.  So I got something to eat, looked in the Airmen’s Club, but didn't fancy it. It was getting near opening time, so I thought that I would try the local Pub.

The rain by this time was really belting down. Somebody suggested that I ought to take the shortcut, through the church graveyard. Off I go, across this, by now, quite muddy and squelchy grassed area. There were central heating pipes underground in conduits and all of the concrete covers were off as the pipes were in the process of being re-lagged. They were laid about 4 ft. deep in long lengths. I passed through the church yard, turned left, up the road to the crossroads, there on the left was the pub.

Not many people in, all locals. So I was getting into my second half gallon, when a chap mentioned, after looking out of the window, that the car park was flooded and he had better get off home while he could.

  The sky was flashing with lightning and the rain was really belting down. He opened the door and water flooded into the pub straight down into the cellar which was filling up quite quickly.  The landlord got quite worried and so was I, so I thought that it was time to try the bottled beer!

Not long afterwards, while the remaining customers and myself were now standing on the chairs (there was about 4 inches of water in the public bar) the landlord said he was closing the pub.

I got to the road, which by now was knee deep in water. It was difficult trying to identify the centre of the road, but I eventually made it to the church, where the water was even deeper, got through the gate started to make a bee-line for the Air Movements block. It was pitch black. Then, crash, bang, wallop! I disappeared down the unseen, flooded conduit. My first thought as I came up for air was how lovely and warm the water was. Gosh! did it stink. It was mixed like thick brown soup, with rust from the pipes. It tasted lousy too. Then I discovered that I could not get out. So minor panic. I eventually did, after considerable effort, as the water was higher than the top of the conduit. I paddled, squelched and tumbled my way back to the block.

What I must have looked like would have probably scared the pants off Dracula. I got under the shower fully dressed, trying to wash each layer of some of the filth off.  Boy, were my clothes and I in a bad way. I dumped all of my clothes in a smelly pile in the drying room, thinking that I would try and wash them at a later date.  Had to, no money for clothes; £10 per week didn't go very far even in those days.

The next day, collected my "Blue chitty" and reported to the Station Warrant Officer, along with other newcomers. He asked about the rain the previous night and how it might have affected anyone.  When I told him of my misfortune, he asked , "Was I in uniform or civilian clothes" as I was in civilian clothes it was alright then.  He promptly put me on duty as Orderly Corporal for taking an unauthorised short cut out of and into camp.

So started my last three years, for Queen and country, as a regular and my first day at Lyneham. I had just got back from lovely sunshine, after spending all my disembarkation leave at our house in Spain. Imagine how I felt!

One of the shifts on Strategic Air Movements was lucky enough to have me allocated to them. At that time there were two air movements sections, either side of the airfield; strategic and tactical.  Eventually the Britannia's and the Comets moved to Brize, and air movements was reduced to one section

After quite some time I was allocated a married quarter. Whooppee! hang on, where is Compton Bassett? Only many miles away, in the middle of nowhere, no shops at all, just a single GPO phone box, which was continually being vandalised. Wasn't I lucky?  I did manage to save a few shekels and buy an old banger of a car to help speed up the transport situation.

At Lyneham, as in life generally, there were many incidents worth a mention and I shall try my best to recount some of them.  I did two years on shift, my last year I shall come recount later.

I did take out an airfield driving licence (F1629). I had to produce my previous one from NEAF MAMS. The MT Flt. Sgt. said that he had not seen one before with all the lines filled out with different vehicles.

As you probably know the cargo hanger has crew rooms attached.  At one point, during a very bad winter, the powers that be decided to dig up all of the concrete floor and resurface it.  We were allocated one of those grass covered hangers across the main road, over a mile away; that created problems for us. I and others, had to drive both the 12,000 lbs forklift and Condec there and back many times in all weathers, and hours, we had to make sure that the loads were secured properly, and we were still using the same crew and shift office.

There were many civilian charters, mostly in the cargo role. Lots of those airlines no longer exist.

"Monarch Airlines" with a Britannia, came in quite often. One of the lads off shift , got a job as Loadmaster with them. Well, he didn't last long. His first charter into Lyneham his old shift was on duty.  He and the Flt.Sgt didn't quite hit it off.  There was an almighty row over the fact that the a/c had no lashing gear on board. So this lad demanded some on loan as had happened before, but not all of it was returned. It finished up with the powers that be contacting the Airline and made him a "Persona-non -grata". We got feedback soon afterwards that he was “let go".

We had an L749 Constellation, on a one way charter come in for loading. On shutting down its four engines (one of which had locking wire wrapped around the cowling) Oil poured out of all of them onto the nice new concrete pan. The station boss was not pleased, and wanted it loaded ASAP and told the captain to leave immediately it was loaded. In the meantime I gave the Loadmaster a lift to the NAAFI shop so that he could purchase 3 clothes lines to tie down the load down with.

There was another incident worth a mention. This one night the fog was a real pea-souper. The shift Sgt. eventually turned up from the Sgt's.
mess, towards the end of the shift and hHe wanted the land rover to check all the a/c which we had loaded. Yeah right!

Well, about an hour later, he gets back to the section in a terrible state. He said that he couldn't see to drive through the fog, got out of the land rover to get his bearings, then couldn't find the vehicle again. So he abandoned it, somewhere out there in the fog, with door open, engine running and lights blazing. Then he told me to go find it and promptly buggered off.

During this time there were virtually no visible signs of airfield security. That was until the hi-jacking's, kidnappings, shootings and bombings started to kick in. It got to the point where we were often asked to produce our F1250 identity cards by the RAF Police while we were loading and unloading aircraft.

At the start of my last years' service, on a night shift, we had loaded 3 Hercs; two flat floor loads and one palletised load, the latter being chained down and not using side-guidance. When finished we were told to offload the palletised aircraft then rearrange the load to accommodate a Herc prop which had been loaded onto a pallet for a u/s aircraft up route.

Two Condec's were required, one was driven by me and the other by a tired, moaning, miserable git of a civilian driver. He had whined all night 'cos he couldn't get any kip. Then to top it off we wanted his assistance once again, at about 0700, when he was of duty at 0800.

He kept "giving it welly" at the aircraft, pointing out, as loud as he could, that he had a long way to go to the MT to collect his car, together with the fact that he wasn't going to get any overtime, and he wanted to get home.

By now, we had 3 pallets off onto one of the Condec's, had the other one at the aircraft, with the palletised prop at the rear ready to place the other pallets onto it.

An exchange of words took place between us, very similar to my suggesting that he "make love and go away" thinking that he would walk off. But no, he jumped into the Condec at the aircraft, the one with the prop on, slammed it into gear, reversed quickly, braked hard, the pallet overrode the roller chocks crashing onto the pan. He got out of the vehicle and disappeared.

Nearly 0800, all the camp was walking to work and had a splendid view of it all. I sat down on the edge of the aircraft ramp with my head in my hands as if waiting for the hand cuffs. I kept thinking through a tired haze what it would be like with a ball and chain round my ankles. Also would the bread and water last for a long time?

Guess who was put on a F252 as being responsible? As it turned out I was only admonished; I guess they had to show that some action had been taken. I felt terrible and actually lost the plot after this. Oh yes, from then on the civilian driver avoided me and Air Movements like the plague; nothing happened to him of course.

Before handing in my airfield driving permit, I wrote a letter to the RAF News which was printed. I had pointed out that I was a Supplier 11Q.Eq.Am., employed on Air Movements virtually as a full time specialist vehicle driver with only the same pay as an ordinary Supplier. There surely wasn't another trade group that had this unpaid advantage over its airmen, or was there?

Well, shortly after that all the driving was carried out by either MT drivers or civilians.

Then shock, horror; they posted me to the station stores at St. Athens. It looked like payback time to me! I did manage to wrangle my way out of that though as I had less than a year to serve, plus I had already applied for Lyneham as my last tour of duty in readiness for civilian aviation employment. Add to that the fact that I had not been near a stores in 11 years.

I asked to be taken off the cargo shift and was placed on the reception desk in the pax section, that job entailed wearing best blue. Shortly afterwards I moved over to the Route Hotel reception. There were a motley collection of huts under the supervision of a MALM. He was a nice chap, just biding his time like me. All I did for the remaining few months was turn up, issue a few keys and not too much else.

(As an aside, before I left the cargo shift, the DAMO (younger than me F/O), asked to see me in his office. He was one of those officers who gave a dam, took an interest in his position and his men. He said that he was sorry to have lost me off his shift and lots of other things that made me blush. He also told me that he was being posted to Washington USA and wished me well in my quest for employment in civilian aviation. Whilst in the States, he wrote me a letter asking if I wouldn't mind if he wrote me a reference. Boy what a surprise! I’ve still got the letter.)

I set about contacting many airlines, and had quite a few interviews.   Amongst them, was Midland Air Cargo operating out of Coventry with Bristol Freighters. A "Lord", don’t you know, conducted the interview, but I wasn't impressed. They shortly went bust. I did apply to the Kenyan Air Force, who were recruiting ex RAF personnel, but it was a three year contract, so no joy there. Also Bristow Helicopters, together with Airwork at Bournemouth, same thing.

One of the Airlines that came into Lyneham was Lloyd International.  I met their operations director and asked him if I could spend a fortnight’s leave with them, to gain civilian aviation experience, at their base at Stansted which he agreed to. So off I went. They had two Britannia’s and two Boeing 707s, all in the PCF role.

It was quite interesting, and I learnt a lot in that short time. He offered me a job, as loadmaster, but I wasn't sure about something or other, you know a feeling that you get.  Well not long after they went bust.

I had this urge to settle down, grow roots, have a family and above all have a permanent home and a profession.  It’s not too much to ask, is it?

After my experiences with airlines I changed tactics. I started to look nearer home to Bristol and contacted the Director at Bristol Airport, also the Operations Director of Rolls Royce Operating at Filton. Who amongst their collection of 7 Aircraft had an Argosy? This A/C operated daily between Filton and Toulouse, with shift workers and cargo, in connection with the Concorde project. After interviews at both airports I was offered two jobs. What a choice! The only thing was, Rolls Royce had gone bust in 1971, and the operating division, was the last part of the company to be re- taken on. So the loadmaster job had to wait. Well, I couldn't and I accepted the job offer at Bristol Airport Authority.

I was nearly 30, I had spent half my life in RAF uniform. I had signed on at 15 for 12 years. Nobody told me that the 12 years didn't start until I was 18.  If you have kids, especially a boy of 15, take a look at him and wonder if he is old enough, as many thousands did, to take this step in life.

Bristol Airport as it appears today
I was able to leave the RAF 3 months before demob date, my 30th birthday, with one months annual leave, one months terminal leave and one month attachment to the airport.

When clearing Lyneham (yep, with my blue chitty), the Cpl. in SHQ asked me for my F1250, and promptly cut it into tiny pieces. That was it for me, I felt as though he might as well have stabbed me in the heart. Boy did that affect me.  I collected nearly £270 as a gratuity, pay off I ‘spose, and off I set into a new life in Civvy Street

I wrote many letters to airlines, always getting a reply, often with the prospect of an interview. I kept away from the London airports, just ‘cos I didn't fancy working at any of them.  I gained a lot of useful interview experience each time and I felt better for the opportunity. I did a lot of homework beforehand to gain as much information as possible about each company, which would give me something to ask questions about.

In 1971 there was not a problem in finding work, especially in civil aviation. Ex RAF people were sought after, as at the time, there was no equivalent training opportunities in Civvy Street. Some of the people I met working for airlines Loadmasters etc., hadn't a clue about floor loading strengths, angle of restraint and such  or indeed how to load aircraft properly.  (Funny, I met some of them in the RAF too!) Most seemed only interested in wearing smart uniforms with gold rings which meant nothing really, although I must admit it was something that I did at one point. Years later I progressed and eventually wore lovely tailored suits to the office.

On refection I had made lots of good friends, lots of not so good friends, but that's life.  One chap, an ex Boy Entrant like myself (he was 30th Entry, I was 29th), became my best friend on our first posting together at St Mawgan. We’re still pals, and now that we are both retired meet nearly daily for lunch, once a week for a night out and often go back down to Newquay to meet another old buddy, to chew the fat over old times.

I wouldn't change any of the time spent in the RAF. I gained invaluable experiences and expertise, especially serving as a Corporal, which gave me an advantage in my chosen new career in Airport Management. One twist of the knife, is the fact that because I left the RAF prior to 1975, I am not entitled to a service pension, not even a gong or two either, what a bummer! One thing worth mentioning; on arrival at Bristol Airport I was given an employee number, 824, which by strange coincidence was the same “last three” as my previous RAF service number – spooky!

I retired from Bristol Airport after 27 years in 1998 at almost 57 years old.   I had asked for and was given an early retirement package. My time spent there is another tale to tell; I'll see what the money’s like before putting that amazing story to paper.

Finally, a special mention to two people who's friendship I respected and valued greatly during my service in the RAF and long after, both of whom, sadly, have been selected for their ultimate postings. Squadron Leader Harry Pollard and Warrant Officer Geoff Bear. Bless you both.

Gerry Davis

Thanks so very much Gerry - it was a pleasure working with you on both this and your previous literary submission. Perhaps it will entice others to do the same before all gets lost to the sands of time!


Sir Stephen Dalton takes over as Chief of the British Air Staff

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton has taken over as Chief of the Air Staff from Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, effective from Friday 31 July 2009.

The Chief of the Air Staff is the professional head of the Royal Air Force. He is responsible for generating a balanced and integrated Royal Air Force capability, and for maintaining the fighting effectiveness and morale of the Service. A member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, he reports to the Chief of the Defence Staff, advising on strategy and policy.

Sir Stephen said: "I am very conscious of the enormous privilege and responsibility that I have been given as the Chief of the Air Staff to lead the Royal Air Force over the next few years. I recognise that I take on this honour at a time when the RAF is continuing to make the vital and highly effective contribution to the UK Armed Forces' enduring military operations in Afghanistan.

"Combining these with the RAF's other operational commitments - 24/7 protection of United Kingdom airspace, the continuing obligation for the protection of the Falkland Islands, maritime air operations around the UK and search and rescue missions across the UK - means that the Royal Air Force is exceptionally busy.

"However, the commitment, resolve and performance that I see right across the Service makes me intensely proud of all Royal Air Force personnel who consistently deliver the highest quality results at home and overseas."

Sir Stephen joined the RAF in 1976 after graduating from Bath University with an honours degree in aeronautical engineering. His career has ranged from active service as a fast jet pilot to more recent Ministry of Defence postings as Director of Air Operations and then Director General Typhoon. During the height of the Cold War he flew the Jaguar on three tours, based in the UK and Germany, in both the tactical reconnaissance and ground attack roles. Flying the Tornado GR1A he went on to command No 13 Squadron. It was during this posting that Sir Stephen deployed to the Middle East on Operation JURAL, flying armed missions over Iraq in support of the United Nations sanctions.

Previous to his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen was Deputy Commander in Chief Personnel, based at HQ Air Command, RAF High Wycombe. He was promoted to Air Chief Marshal in April 2009 and was made a Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath in the 2009 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Looking forward, Sir Stephen added: "We will face significant and demanding challenges in the coming years - operational, economic and international - but I have no doubt that as a Service we, the Royal Air Force team, have the requisite qualities, spirit and ability to meet them head on and continue to be a 'Premier League' air force.

"I am acutely aware that it is the quality, commitment and agility of the officers and airmen and women of the Royal Air Force that will enable us to adapt to future circumstances and requirements and thus continue to deliver the highest quality military airpower for this country.

"I am committed to doing my best to meet successfully and help resolve the challenges facing Defence in the round, and the RAF in particular, and I look forward to the honour of leading and working with all those who commit themselves to service in and support of the Royal Air Force."

Defence Professionals

On a carpenter's drill: "Not intended for use as a dental drill."

From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Sent: 02 August 2009 15:02
Subject: A Yukon story...

The Lord High Admiral

In the early ‘60s, I was on 437(T) Sqn, RCAF Stn Trenton, Ontario, flying as a Loadmaster on the Yukon. On this particular trip we were flying a training mission from Trenton, Gatwick, Düsseldorf and return.

The Aircraft Commander was a fellow we shall call S/L “Suddendrop,” a newbie, F/L “Mac” was the co-pilot and the lead FE was an old WWII vet F/S “Bob.” He was an outstanding fellow who had served with the RAF during the last Germanic unpleasantness. When we lost the Yukons, Bob went with them and hauled horses etc. from Europe to South America. The rest of the odds & sods aboard, although a pleasant group, need not concern us.

During the flight to London, F/L Mac told us that this was to be his first visit to the Misty Isles and wanted to explore London with “the guys,” as he’d heard what grand fun we were rumoured to have. F/S Bob told him, “Stick with us, Sir, we’re gonna do it up brown.” As we shall see, it was not to be.

Upon arrival LGW at zero dark thirty and a quick trip to Duty Free, at least two 4-40-45 clubs were formed (4 guys, a 40 ouncer of adult beverage, consumed in the 45 minute train ride to Victoria Station), We then cabbed it to our fave digs the Piccadilly Circus Hotel, arriving in fine fettle. As we were checking in and sorting the start time for the night’s activity, Suddendrop surprised Mac with the news that he had made arrangements for two tickets for the theatre and expected Mac to attend with him and leave the unwashed to their own devices. Eye rollings and silent curses from Mac.

In the evening, we all set out and, as you can expect, quickly broke up into smaller groups so as to move more quietly and surreptitiously through Soho and environs seeking XXX delights. Somehow, Bob ended up at the Lord High Admiral Pub, not too far from Victoria Station that had been a watering hole for the troops during the war and still attracted guys like Bob. There, Bob fell into the company of some RAF types and celebrated as one would imagine, shooting watches etc.

Too soon, it was time to return to the hotel as showtime was in a matter of hours. To toast his departure, one of the RAF guys bought Bob a large whiskey and with a shout of “Per Ardua Ad Astra,” Bob downed the drink in one swell foop! Now, Bob had been drinking beer all night, and, with the offer of whiskey, he foggily prepared his stomach for a shot of Canadian Rye. Instead it was treated to a bolt of cheap Scotch and went into rebellion.

Racing for the front door and the sidewalk where he could rid himself of this Scottish Demon, he crashed into a passing Bobbie and projectile vomited over the immediate real estate. “Well, well, wot do we have here, then?” was the last thing Bob remembered hearing.

After the theatre and a late dinner, Suddendrop and Mac returned to the hotel and, along with his room key, Suddendrop was handed a note asking him to call the London Metropolitan Police Department, K Division. Upon doing so, he was asked if a F/S Bob was a member of his crew and, if so, please come and get him as “He’s rather drunk and stroppy.” Mac told us later that the cab ride was very quiet and was amazed at how much anger a small London taxi could contain.

Upon arriving at the gaol, they were taken to the place of Bob’s incarceration. It was a damp, fetid, most likely rat-infested place suitable for Jack the Ripper, Professor Moriarty or Fagin but not a member of Her Majesty's Service, but there he was, on the floor.

Now, even when turned out parade ready, Bob was not the most photogenic person one could imagine, he was skinny and balding (hockey stick with sparse hair?), with a bad comb-over as well as having the start of a dowager’s hump. Add the FE’s lament, cracked, dirty and broken fingernails and we’re getting there. Picture poor Bob lying on the cell floor, passed out in a fetal position covered in his own projectile matter and having to hear, “On your feet, F/S Bob, that’s an order!” shouted by Suddendrop. Bob rolled over to escape the noise.

“Damn it man, on your feet, we haven’t got all night,” went on Suddendrop. When this elicited no response, Suddendrop made a fatal error. He stepped toward Bob and nudged him with his shiny shoed foot.

Bob leapt to his feet, grabbed Mac by the arm to gain his balance, and shouted, “You saw that, Sir, he kicked me! You saw that!” An “Oh S**t!” moment…Bob now owned Suddendrop.

On arrival at the aircraft later that morning it was painful to see Bob in such a bedraggled and hung condition. He should have been anywhere but there. Timbuktu looked good. The brightest spot on F/S Bob’s horizon was the fact that Suddendrop was somewhat solicitous to him what with having “Kicked the s**t out of me, last night,” as he would have some believe. Handy to have primed witnesses at a Courts Marshal.

Things did not improve as the day lengthened, it was Bob’s turn in the FE seat and, as we prepared to flash up the Yukon, it was odd to hear Suddendrop in the left seat, turn to Mac in the right seat and announce, “Would you ask the Flight Engineer to commence the start up checklist.”

“Yes Sir, Flight Engineer, please give us the star up checklist.”

“Yes, Sir, start up check list in hand, are the pilots ready?

“Are you ready, Sir? asked Mac of Suddendrop.

“You damn well know I’m ready, Mac, are you?”

“Both pilots are ready, Engineer.”

“Starting the checklist, Sir.”

For those of us on intercom it was strangely amusing to hear the chatter when the A/C isn’t talking directly to the working FE. And so it went all the way to Düsseldorf, where the story got even more interesting. Another time, perhaps.

Please do tell more Tony!


From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: 03 August 2009 09:00
Subject: NSRAFA Cosford & Valetta VX538

Hi Tony,

There was not much to report on our July meeting; our speaker was one of our members who works with the National Trust as a guide at Sunny Croft which is a property in Wellington, Shropshire, built in 1880 and showed us a series of slides of all the treasures in the house. The thing I found of interest was a very old un roadworthy Daimler in the garage with the very first Shropshire number plate AW1 which is priceless.

Just another bit that might be of interest:

I imagine that when you were at Salalah you staged thru Ryan. I staged thru there a number of times and on one of the visits took this photo of this poor old Pig VX538 that belly flopped on take off in 1954.

I've let the RAF Collection at Hendon Museum have the photo for their archives. Was the wreck still there when you passed thru?



Thanks John - I staged through Ryan many times during the mid-60's (nearest town is Mukalla, formerly in the British Protectorate of Aden and now in Yemen). I recall it was so very desolate that if there had been a rusty bike sitting out in the open it would have been noticed, let alone a whole aircraft... it must have been scrapped.

On a knife set: "Never try to catch falling knife."

From: Scott Simmons, North Bay, ON
Sent: 05 August 2009 10:35
Subject: CAF Mystery Photo 050109

Good day.

The member with their back to the photo is Warrant Officer Keith Telfer. On the far left is (then) Pte. Stormount and in the middle is myself, MCpl Simmons. We were all on 2 Air Movements Squadron.

This photo was taken in approx Jul/Aug of 2007; it was a relief flight to Jamaica after the hurricane and the first airlift that we did with our new CC-17701. 15 pallets of relief supplies were brought in.

Scott Simmons

Thanks for the info Scott - welcome to the OBA!


From: Jack Riley, Hervey Bay, Qld
Sent: 08 August 2009 02:57
Subject: Hervey Bay

Greetings all

I thought it might not be a bad idea to do a travelogue. Some of you may not know that Hervey Bay calls itself the whale-watching capital of the world. This pretentious claim is based on the fact that it is the only place in the world where whales and their calves come to rest and recuperate. They swim from the Antarctic, rest in the bay, travel north to the top end of the Barrier Reef to mate and deliver their calves, and then begin the long journey home, resting here once again before they tackle the hardest leg for the calves.

Last weekend saw the Blessing of the Boats ...we have eleven ranging from 32 to over 200 passengers. Our favourite is the smallest because one spends less time going out and getting home and because one is at whale's eye level. They are very inquisitive creatures and seem to enjoy putting on a performance at very close range .... sometimes within touching distance.

This weekend is Whale Festival Weekend with seafood stalls, a procession of illuminated floats on the whale theme and then the inevitable firework display. As the whales are well offshore they are undisturbed. Needless to say the Bay is crowded at the moment with folk from all over the world. We went for dinner at the Boat Club the other night and were chatting with a very pleasant German lady of some 35 Summers who seemed to have her whole family in tow .... 10 of them.

And this is going to become even more common. It was announced today that Emirates have teamed up with Virgin Blue to fly from 22 places worldwide landing at Hervey Bay Airport via Sydney . And just think... when we came here 15 years ago there were no roundabouts nor yet a traffic light. I suppose they call it progress!

The season starts in mid July and extends to late September. Yesterday there were about 100 whales here. So there you go... and as the sun sinks slowly in the West...


Impressive Jack - it's a good job they're friendly!

On a package of earplugs: "These earplugs are non-toxic, but may interfere with breathing if caught in windpipe."

From: David Powell, Princes Risborough
Sent: 09 August 2009 17:26
Subject: RAF Mov Officers Reunion

Hi Tony,

If not already approached, would it be possible to include something in the next MAMS Old Bods newsletter regarding the 61st RAF Movement Officers Annual Reunion?

Unfortunately I will have to miss this year’s reunion as I have been given tickets to a Fleetwood Mac concert at Wembley that same evening. Just as enjoyable but probably quieter!

David Powell F Team 1967-69

My pleasure David - see below. I just know you're going to enjoy that concert, I know I would!


61st RAF Movement Officer's Annual Reunion
RAF Club, 128 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7PY
Friday 6th November 2009 at 1830 Hrs

Calling All Team Leaders, Current and Past!

The 61st RAF Movement Officers Annual Reunion is at 6.30pm on Friday 6 Nov 09 at the RAF Club, Piccadilly. If you haven’t had an invite, it probably means that you are not on the Reunion Data Base, in which case contact Sean Roberts:

Flight Lieutenant S Roberts RAF
SO3 A4 Ops Mov (Plans)
Hurricane Block
RAF High Wycombe
Walters Ash
Bucks HP14 4UE

These are noisy enjoyable evenings, usually with a good turnout from the old and bald from Abingdon and Lyneham, as well as current movers. As Sean says in his latest ‘call out’, "The reunion data base contains some 900 names and keeping it up to date is a challenge so please feel free to spread the word about this invitation."

On a Japanese food processor: "Not to be used for the other use."

From: Alan Rae, Corby
Sent: 11 August 2009 11:02
Subject: South Atlantic

I have just returned from visiting the other half in the South Atlantic, we stayed in the new Liberty Lodge which is there for the SAMA Veterans to use when they revisit the Falklands. It is a fantastic facility and is open for serving personnel to use as well.

I got chatting to the caretaker and I was reminiscing about being there in 82/83 and about the couple that Derek Barron and Polly Parkin used to stay with before the Coastels came along. The couple were called Giles and Crystal Mercer, I cannot recollect the street I think it was Hebe St?

Anyway the reason I post is to find out whether anybody has any decent quality old photo's of Stanley Harbour, in particular of MV Ranagtira the RORO we used to stay on prior to moving on to the Coastels. I have searched my old photo's and I cannot find any, so is there anyone out there who has a photo of the ships in the harbour?

Please let me know.


Al Rae

Let's hope you get some responses Al


From: David Stevens, Bangor
Sent: 11 August 2009 13:25
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA OBB #072409

Dear Tony,

They just get better and better. Many thanks.

Targeting weekend 29/30 August - (2009!) to go into the attic and search the archives. One of my daughters will be here to help me in case I fall off the ladders!

Promise to let you know if I find anything of interest.

Best regards


That's great David - do you want me to arrange for the National Geoattic camera crew?

On an insect spray: "This product not tested on animals."

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: 12 August 2009 12:23
Subject: NSRAFA Cosford Branch

Hi Tony,

We had our August meeting yesterday; again the usual good turnout.

Pathfinder's Badge

Our guest speaker was a Barry Hope who gave us a very interesting talk and screen show of some of the history on Bomber Command in WW2. Of course most people know of the sacrifice of those young chaps; 55000 of them that perished had an average age of 22 with a high percentage who were still just teenagers.

He arrived dressed in a Wing Commander's uniform sporting a navigator's brevet and a Pathfinder wing on his top left pocket flap. He is absolutely passionate to get some national recognition for the men who served in Bomber Command including a memorial to be erected in London and feels that a campaign medal should be have been issued

Ending his talk with Winston Churchill's statement that 'Fighters are our Salvation but Bomber Command alone will provide the means of our victory'. Then as he says Churchill turned his back on them at the end of the war.



Thanks John. There is a Royal Air Force Pathfinder Museum located at RAF Wyton, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. For more information click here


C130 - 40 Years of Sevice with the RAF

A brilliant aircraft! My log book shows that I flew in her, XV307, 4th February 1973 from Sharjah-Akrotiri-
By coincidence our team had been deposited in Sharjah a few days earlier by her sister ship, XV306.

On a box of birthday candles: "Do not use soft wax as ear plugs or for any other function that involves insertion into a body cavity."


On a child's scooter: "This product moves when used."


That's it for this issue

Have a great weekend!