22 August 2003


Many of you are probably wondering where the last two issues of the Old Boys Briefs went - well, long story short - the issue scheduled for the 8th August was a non-starter as I had very little material.  The issue that was scheduled for the 15th August got interrupted by the huge power outage which hit the North Eastern United States and parts of Canada.

My own electricity was down for about 30 hours, at the end of which time the majority of the contents from my fridge and everything from my freezer had to be deep-sixed - not a pleasant task 

I'm left with an uneasy feeling about just how much we rely on electricity in today's modern society and how fragile the infrastructure of our communities become without it. It's also very unnerving to realise that so many people depend on the one system that supplies us (the Erie Loop) and that the failure of one small component can cause absolute havoc with the loss of power to so many millions.  

One thought amused me as I was eating my breakfast last Friday morning - heating sausage rolls over a candle, drinking warm water and listening to the news from a small battery operated radio - I thought to myself if Don Wickham was here he would have had the tea made by now!  FYI - for those younger members - Don was a flight sergeant on my team back in the 60's and 70's and had a real penchant for doing the seemingly impossible when it came to creature comforts in the most arduous of circumstances. Sadly, Don passed away some years ago.


From: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 01 Aug 2003 05:57
Subject: RAF Pilot Entry Test?

While sitting at your PC make clockwise circles with your right foot. While doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand repeatedly.

What direction is your foot going now?

Strange....... eh?


From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, UK
Date: 01 Aug 2003 06:24
Subject: OBA Brief - More on Salalah

Dear Tony

Thanks for the latest brief, much appreciated bringing a smile to a rather wet August summer's day.

The recent run of Salalah stories stirred some of my own memories from being with Gulf MAMF in 1971. 

One of our regular milk runs used to be courtesy of the Muharraq Argosy detachment (ARDET) with a departure at 6.30 or 7.00. The first leg was down to the old kinked runway in the one way valley which then served Muscat. We would have an hour and half or so to collect the balance of the day's load, which sometimes included a bunch of mercenaries, often from Balluchistan, if my memory serves me. 

The pax briefing was interesting to say the least. First they had to be told (preferably through an interpreter) that we were very sorry but the toilet was broken and would they please relieve themselves before boarding. This was a 'fix it' solution to an earlier trip when some of these guys had attempted to use the Argosy's facilities in squatting mode in turbulence! Not nice!

The next problem was that they all travelled everywhere with their weapons. They also had a reputation of letting off the odd round into the air when excited. Forget any rules about bundling weapons etc. Parting our passengers from their personal antique blunderbusses was not on the agenda. Instead, I would feign a tremendous interest in guns as an excuse to check that nobody had any rounds either up the spout or in the magazine!

These particular passengers had some very curious dietary requirements. We did not have to provide any rations for them as they would have eaten before departure. For some reason I never did fathom, I was told that they preferred a meal of some special 'grass' which we could not supply. They always seemed to smile a lot!

Once our passengers were loaded, it was on down to Salalah for a quick turnaround within the protection of the famous oil drum revetments.

Although all my Salalah QTRs turned out to be uneventful, the adrenaline did flow as we were always aware of the ever-present risk of a rocket or mortar attack. Needless to say, my 13th milk run was one of the least enjoyable days on mobile operations.

The trip back direct to Muharaq was usually empty, although we did occasionally have the odd casevac or a member of the Hereford heavies to keep us company.

Regards to you all - come back safe

David Powell


From: Steve Maunder, Exeter, UK
Date: 01 Aug 2003 06:35
Subject: Re: OBB 080103

Hi Tony,

Heard this relevant story the other week:

A young, good looking chap dies and goes to heaven. On arrival, Saint Peter is waiting at the gates. "Hello" says Saint Peter, "we've been expecting you". "Oh" says the the young chap, rather hesitantly. "remind me what you did for a living on earth, would you?" "That's easy" says the young chap very proudly " I was on UKMAMS for 15 years!" "Good man" replies Saint Pete "you have definitely earned your place here, pop along to stores, get your wings and halo and then straight into the VIP lounge" So the young chap walks through the pearly gates with a big smile.

10 minutes later, another chap arrives and the same conversation arises. "I was a VC10 pilot" he says. "Oh, right" says Saint Pete, " Go on in, collect your wings and go to the training unit, there's a good chap". So the chap walks looking rather perplexed.

Another 10 minutes go by and another chap arrives and again the same conversation "I was an RAF policeman" he says". Saint Peter replies " Thank the Lord, I've been waiting ages for a man with your experience!". "Oh great" replies the snowdrop thinking he's on to a good thing. Saint Peter replies " look after the gate for me, I'm dying to go to the loo!!" 

I have just survived my first Air Cadet Annual Camp as Camp Commandant at RAF Brampton but managed to arrange visits to 20(R) Sqn (Harrier OCU), RAF Lakenheath and to 13 Sqn at Marham which went down really well with the cadets!

It is a small world after all! Whilst at Brampton, I was in the Officers Mess having dinner on the Wednesday evening with the rest of my staff and who should walk in but Sqn Ldr Steve Munday (Rtd)!

The last time we met was when we were working as Cpl (Steve) and SAC (me) on day shift Load Control at Lyneham in 1979/80. It 's certainly strange where old movers meet again! Steve is now working for an I.T. company who have a contract at Brampton. 

Had my first annual inspection last night with the Lord Mayor of Exeter and our Wing Commander, thankfully all the cadets behaved themselves and we received very good marks! Check this link out re our inspection! 

Am a "gentleman of leisure" at the moment, so if anyone knows of any general management jobs in the South West (Torquay) I would be most grateful.

All the best and keep up the good work with the site.

Steve Maunder
Kilo Team


Fourteen passengers, including a former pilot, refused to rejoin a holiday flight after they were involved in two high speed test runs to check a faulty warning light.

The light came on as flight MYT392, a Boeing 757-200 operated by MyTravel, was preparing to take off from Minorca with 230 passengers bound for Leeds-Bradford airport. It indicated that the aircraft was airborne when it was still on the ground.

The captain used the recognised procedure of accelerating along the taxiway, a test area beside the runway, and braking sharply to redistribute the luggage in the hold. The first attempt failed but the second succeeded in switching off the light.

Women and children were in tears as the aircraft then returned to the terminal at Mahon airport, where staff transferred luggage from the rear baggage hold to the front.

The captain stood on a chair and explained what had happened. He said that all safety precautions had been carried out and that the airliner was now ready for take-off.

Maurice Atkinson, 72, a former RAF pilot, and his wife Sheila were among those who refused to get back on. Mr Atkinson said: "A lot of people did not want to, but when the pilot said that if they stayed behind they would be responsible for getting themselves back home, only 14 refused to go on board."

Mrs Atkinson said: "It was very chaotic. A lot of people were very upset. It was supposed to have been a computer problem that caused the light to come on, but I did not want anything going wrong as we flew over the Pyrenees." The couple, from Harrogate, paid £100 each for a flight home on Saturday, a day late, and spent £46 more on train fares. They plan to seek compensation. Flight MYT392 arrived at Leeds-Bradford eight hours late.

MyTravel said: "The captain took all reasonable safety measures and kept passengers informed at all times. Anyone who did not choose to fly was assisted with alternative flights."


From: Mark James, Brize Norton, UK
Date: 05 Aug 2003 10:52
Subject: Change of Details

Just a quick note to give change of details. 

I am now stationed at Brize Norton (ITOC). My e-mail remains the same but my new telephone number is 01993 212811

Taff James

[Ed: Thanks Taff - I have changed your details.]


From: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 10 Aug 2003 10:42
Subject: Loadmaster Trade

Hi Tony

I found this post on the 'uk.people ex-forces' newsgroup. It would appear that the "Loadmaster" trade in the RAF is about to have a name change. I wonder if the guys who are still serving can shed any light on this. The thread did not contain any specific info other than the fact that the RAF are constantly changing 'job titles'. I am sure that in my day (around the time when Pontius was a pilot!!) the Loadmaster (AQM) trade was not a direct entry but rather a remuster from Air Movements or Equipment branch. Be interested to know the latest update.


Jim Aitken

Does anyone know about this, I can't get an e-mail address to have it answered by RAF....(Their websites don't give an e-mail contact).

Son joined RAF as `loadmaster` and completes training this October. However about 2/3 months back he (and apparently all others on the course) was informed that the ministry would no longer designate them as `loadmasters` but some other generic name (can't remember what, but think to do with some type of operator) The `new` name being a more generic type. The reason apparently is to allow for flexibility in allocating personnel to various aircrew functions. He is to say the least P.O'd big time although he retains Sgt and actually slightly higher pay as a result, he feels the badge is downgraded, he also informs me nothing he can do as they make the rules and YOU DO NOT challenge them.

Anyone know anything about this or if there is a site I could get info? would appreciate help

[Ed:  I was able to respond as the following e-mail shows.]


From: Tony Gale, London ON, Canada
To: Jim Aitken, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 11 Aug 2003 04:29
Subject: Re: Loadmaster Trade

Hi Jim,

I do recall I had included this in one of my newsletters - and I can understand the frustration of becoming "generic" aircrew.  The following was obtained from

Weapon Systems Operator

Welcome to the new look Non Commissioned Aircrew website. From 1st Apr 2003, RAF 'Airmen (Aircrew)' became known as 'Non-Commissioned Aircrew'. The new branch of Weapon Systems Operator (WSOp) replaced all four trades (Air Electronics Operator, Air Engineer, Air Signaller and Air Loadmaster) and new graduates will be awarded a new 'Rear Crew' brevet. Air Electronics Officers and Navigators will now be known as Weapon System Officers (WSOs).

Until naming conventions have been confirmed I have kept some parts of this website under the previous titles of AEOp, Air Eng, ALM and Air Sig.

This website is unofficial. To that end, all views and comments are those of the author and may not reflect official policy.

Any comments or suggestions are welcome, just email them to the webmaster:   using the link in the 'Website' menu at the top of each page.



An RAF base near St Andrews is advertising its services to wealthy golfers wanting to land their private planes near the "home" of the sport.

Professionals including Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus already fly into RAF Leuchars for major championships at the Old Course. Prince Andrew is also said to use the airstrip, which is three miles from the links, when he plays at St Andrews.

The base is now marketing itself as the most convenient location for golfing parties travelling by air. It has calculated landing fees for private aircraft including Learjets, Gulfstreams and Boeing Business Jets.

On a website to deal with bookings, RAF Leuchars calls itself the "air gateway to the home of golf". Helicopter transfers from the base to the course can also be arranged. It hopes that being the closest airfield to St Andrews, having a 8,500ft runway and providing customs and immigration services will attract customers.

Landing a plane will cost from £24 to £1,262, according to size, while parking will be charged at between £18 and £94 per 24 hours.

It is thought to be the first time that an RAF base has advertised its facilities for use by civilians. The decision was prompted by a Government initiative encouraging military units to make money by marketing their spare capacity.

An RAF spokesman said: "Professional golfers and pop stars have been making private arrangements to fly into RAF Leuchars for several years.

"But the Ministry of Defence looked at the benefits of developing and extending facilities for charter and private flights. The base will continue to perform its existing military role. It is the RAF headquarters for training the crews of Tornado F3s, the interceptor aircraft that accompany bombers and defend airspace.

"There won't be a conflict of interest between military and civilian because it is obvious that operational commitments will take priority."

Initial profits from the project would be reinvested at the base with additional proceeds going to the MoD.

Alan McGregor, manager of St Andrews Links Trust, said: "The home of golf welcomes anything that brings in more people. There have been a lot of recent developments here including several new courses.

"I'm sure those coming from abroad will welcome getting even closer to the course, without having to fly to Glasgow or Edinburgh.


From: Gordon Black, Swindon, UK
Date: 17 Aug 2003 14:40
Subject: Pete Cowan

Just to let you all know that Pete had a quadruple heart by-pass operation in Guy's Hospital London this week

Everything went well and he has been moved from the ICU to a normal ward. He is expected to recover well and be home later this week.



From: Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date: 18 Aug 2003 10:26
Subject: Air Loadmasters - No 48 Sqn RAF Changi

Hello Tony, 

I'm back on line after fending off the dreaded W32 Blaster Worm!

Anyway, my mind now goes back to my days as a DAMO at RAF Changi 1971. The resident air transport squadron, No 48, had a problem with a number of it's aircraft: they would unaccountably start climbing or diving as the trim tabs were moved without the pilots touching the controls. This phenomenon went on for a couple of weeks and affected a number of aircraft. Various possible causes were investigated by the squadron engineers but they were completely at a loss to suggest what was causing it.

It wasn't long before the squadron executives started putting two and two together. They saw that a common denominator was emerging over the crews that were involved with these malfunctions of the pitching trim control. They had narrowed it down to two crew members that had been on every incident. So they split these two onto different crews and sat back and waited for the next occasion to happen. Sure enough it did and the common denominator was the ALM!

What he had been doing was to go to ramp and climb up to the control lines that are exposed in the overhead coving. Then he would take out a pair of pliers and undo the wire locking at the turnbuckle. He would then turn the adjusting screw on the item and relock it, leaving no trace of his action. Having accomplished this deed the aircraft would start climbing or diving and the crew would very quickly have to re-trim for level flight. He would watch the recovery action and secretly receive great pleasure in his secret accomplishment - a complete screwy oddball!.

He was charged with putting the lives of the crew in danger and, I believe, discharged from the RAF.

All you, now aircrew, ought to be aware that such guys do exist! 

Regards to all



Trade union leaders have met workers at RAF Lyneham to kick-start a campaign to save the base, which has been earmarked for closure. 

Earlier this year the government announced the Wiltshire airbase would close by 2012, as part of a strategic review of military airbases. 

But the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) wants to keep it open, safeguarding thousands of jobs both at the base and in support industries. 

North Wiltshire MP James Gray has given his support to the campaign. 

TGWU national organiser Jack Dromey met civilian staff at RAF Lyneham to speak to them about the campaign. 

Mr Dromey has branded the planned closure of the base within 10 years "a reckless gamble". He says the closure announcement was premature and damaging, and wants the government to rethink its plans. 

RAF Lyneham is currently home to 50 Hercules transport planes and their crews, which will be moved to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.


From: David Barton, Kings Lynn, UK
To: Brian Harper, Thumrait, Oman
Date: 19 Aug 2003 13:55
Subject: Yellow Tractor at Masirah

Hi Big Brian,

What's this about a yellow tractor in the sea? If my memory serves me correctly, the event occurred during the visit of the CSE Show party. Two or three of the party missed the transport to the yacht club while drinking in the mess. I volunteered to take them down there but the only vehicle I could lay my hands on was the Air Movements tractor.

Once on board we headed for the yacht club and think we may have taken a diversion to look for turtles. We ended up bogged down in the sand. I abandoned the tractor and walked to the club and after a drink or three, walked back to my billet. Needless to say, next morning the proverbial hit the fan and I was called before O/C Eng. to answer for my misdeeds. I got quite a rocket but what saved me was I think the fact that I had 'fixed' a rotten trip to Hong Kong to shop for the Masirah PSI shop (got delayed a week in Kuala Lumpur to add to the misery). Anyway, I got away with it but the MTO was livid and certainly had his guns out for me.

Some weeks later there was an urgent need to get the Condec to the bomb dump and there was no qualified driver to hand so I took it upon myself to take the vehicle to the dump. As you may remember, the only bridge on the island crossed the stream from the desalination plant, the bridge was quite narrow. While negotiating the bridge, a 'golly' on moped decided to cross at the same time and as a result I caught the front headlight of the Condec on the bridge railing. The railing bent and the light broke. Within seconds the MTO was there and I was promptly charged with causing damage to one of Her Majesty's vehicles and damage to the bridge.

Martin Coombs, the SAMO had to take the charge initially ( I even had to explain to him how to go about it!). Of course it was remanded for the C.O. and I was later marched in to face the music. Being a technical charge there was no way round it but the Works & Bricks dept. (MPBW) were not concerned about the bridge railings as they were going to be changed (so they said) - I had friends in that dept. too.

I was found guilty to the charge of damaging the headlight and fined £5. The C.O. had a chat with me afterwards and almost apologised about the fine. There was a twist in the tail, there was a change in currency exchange and as a result the fine ended up only £4.50!! Yes, as you say Brian, a photo would have been great.


Dave Barton.

PS. Tony, I thought you may like this one - It was the only 'charge' I ever got and not long afterwards I was promoted to W.O: Don Wickham swore that the way to get promotion was to get charged and I have a feeling he was once Court Martialed!!


From: Dave Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
To: Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
CC: A whole bunch of people too numerous to mention here 
Date: 20 Aug 2003 22:49
Subject: Chris's Trip


OK you lot this is what you have been waiting for, well most of you anyway. Flying Royal Brunei.

Dep Bn BI 72 10.30 25/10
Arr Lhr BI 97 0625 26/10
Dep Lhr BI 98 0930 21/11
Arr Bn BI 71 1935 22/11

Trust this gives family time to organise themselves. Goodison Park & Lords are "must do's".

Tony, plse be so kind to inc in next OBA. Cheers.

Ed & John , fyi, plse circulate/publicise, there are some who would have known Chris before we left UK in '79.

Sheik you are lined up as escort for pub guide London, no ifs & buts it's called payback time!.

Ian, as I said before Chris is keen to see Lyneham base & Compton Bassett and to attend a meet n greet if possible. Your Top Table would be cream on the cake, and an honour.

There you go, trust all will do whatever they can to ensure Chris has a memorable trip. Be aware he is travelling solo.

Any mails for Chris to my address plse. I'll go & 'ave a rest now!!.

Thanks to all in anticipation. Be good, be aware & be safe.




From: Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
To: Dave Cromb, Brisbane Qld., Australia
Date: 21 Aug 2003 03:58
Subject: Re: Chris's Trip


You do realise that Royal Brunei is a DRY airline!...... Although every time I went to Brunei if you asked for cold tea you got Heineken in a tea pot!

No problem Lyneham and Compton although I'll be a civvy then myself. No probs accommodation just need dates closer to the venue. Top Table full at the mo but we'll work on it. Also closer to the date I can organise a beercall in a pub nearby where we've been attending in double figures, one of them, Keith Smith sends his regards.

Cheers for now,


[Ed:  I was a little confused about this Chris chap (who he was etc.,) and so sent an e-mail to Ian Berry asking for some background.  The response is below]


From: Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date: 21 Aug 2003 07:44
Subject: Re: Chris's Trip


Welcome back - Gordon Gourdie has been worried! We've just started some mischief on pprune about Loadmasters for Saudi.

Chris is Dave Cromb's son who is now in his mid 20s and this will be his first visit back to UK since they emigrated. Geordie Sanderson was his Godfather who sadly died of stomach cancer whilst on the Mobile Explosives Team at Chilmark in 1978. We're still trying to track down his widow Mavis who is somewhere in the North East. Chris is hungry for info on Sandy and so any photographs I find etc I forward on. He was born in Compton Bassett hence the request for a visit to there and Lyneham. we were in Compton Bassett all together and what a great time it was. We had our own families club and I still remember flying back a procured air conditioner from Akrotiri in 1978 to keep their beer cellar cool.

I'm busy typing out 'from the 540' and 'where are they now' at the moment for Mick Cocker. Want a preview? Anyway a week Saturday I'll be on my way out to see Dave in Brisbane and I've promised him all my back copies of the 'Cue Sheet' the magazine of the TEARS Assn which is another good read.

If you need more info please ask.

Regards for now,



From: Ian Berry, Swindon, UK
Date: 21 Aug 2003 12:21
Subject: Shot Taken Inside a Herc - Circa 1972

This is one I took on our way back from Sumburgh in the Shetlands during Operation Delivery Boy in August 1972.

Left to right: Ian Place, John 'Troop' Smith, Gerry Keyworth, Roy 'Lurch' Armstrong.


From: Charles Cormack, Swindon, UK
Date: 18 Aug 2003 17:57
Subject: Scrabble!!

Someone out there either has too much spare time or is deadly at Scrabble. (wait till you see the last one!)

GEORGE BUSH: When you rearrange the letters: HE BUGS GORE

DORMITORY: When you rearrange the letters: DIRTY ROOM

EVANGELIST: When you rearrange the letters: EVIL'S AGENT

PRESBYTERIAN: When you rearrange the letters: BEST IN PRAYER

DESPERATION: When you rearrange the letters: A ROPE ENDS IT

THE MORSE CODE: When you rearrange the letters: HERE COME DOTS

SLOT MACHINES: When you rearrange the letters: CASH LOST IN ME

ANIMOSITY: When you rearrange the letters: IS NO AMITY

MOTHER-IN-LAW: When you rearrange the letters: WOMAN HITLER

SNOOZE ALARMS: When you rearrange the letters: ALAS! NO MORE Z

A DECIMAL POINT: When you rearrange the letters: I'M A DOT IN PLACE

THE EARTHQUAKES: When you rearrange the letters: THAT QUEER SHAKE

ELEVEN PLUS TWO: When you rearrange the letters: TWELVE PLUS ONE

And for the grand finale: PRESIDENT CLINTON OF THE USA: When you rearrange the letters (With no letters left over and using each letter only once): TO COPULATE HE FINDS INTERNS

Yep! Someone with waaaay too much time on their hands. But isn't that interesting!


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards