Battle of Britain: Prince Harry Joins Veterans to Watch Flypast
Around 40 Spitfires and Hurricanes staged a flypast today, 15th September, to mark the 75th anniversary of the Royal Air Force repelling the Luftwaffe's largest attack on London during the Battle of Britain.
Prince Harry joined veterans at Goodwood Motor Circuit in Sussex, to see the fleet of Battle of Britain aircraft take to the air, the most in any one place since the Second World War.
He was due to take part, but gave up his seat for a battle veteran when one of the Spitfires was grounded.
Today's events mark the day 75 years ago when the RAF disrupted two Luftwaffe raids on London, forcing Hitler to cancel his plans to invade Britain.
More than 1,000 aircraft battled for superiority in the skies, with many pilots dying in the process.
From: Chas Collier, Ewhurst, Surrey Sent: 17 September 2015 4:52 PM Subject: Battle of Britain Flypast 2015
On Tuesday 15th September Elaine and I ventured down to Goodwood, once known as RAF Westhampnett, where we witnessed the largest gathering of Spitfires and Hurricanes, plus a Blenheim light bomber, since the Second World War.
They took off as single aircraft at one-minute intervals then gathered together in group fashion to fly directly over our viewing area to where they were going to perform at other one time RAF airfields during the afternoon.
To say the least it was magnificent that in all those years since the Battle of Britain took place this was the first mass deployment of WWII aircraft. It was memorable and I’m very pleased we witnessed such a spectacle.
All the best, Chas
From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury Sent: 15 September 2015 5:17 PM Subject: Spitfires
I just watched a superb show of over 30 Spitfires and eight Hurricanes in a special programme on Channel 4 celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Batte of Britain.
I saw some Spits when I was at Mauripur; these were a batch of 30 sold by Israel to Burma that staged thru on their way to Burma. They staged thru in batches of 3 or 4 at a time. This was in early ‘55 and on delivery the ferry pilots would make their way back to Cyprus to collect another batch of Spits.
One of the pilots was Jackie Moggeridge; she was an ex ATA pilot from WW2 and came thru at least twice. On one occasion she arrived alone as the kite had problems at Sharjah and had got left behind. I must have been on duty on my own as she was the only kite due to arrive that day and I witnessed all of the following:
Every aircraft that arrived from the West had to have the interior sprayed by a Paki health officer. Anyway she taxied as close to the Air Movements section as possible, stopped and jumped out as she wanted to go you know where. The health officer chased after her and as she got to the passenger lounge disappeared into the ladies room leaving him scratching his jinnah and wondering what to do next
I've attached photos of one of the batches of Spits along with a photo of Jackie taken at Sharjah with two of the other ferry pilots and a couple of RAF ground crew.
Goodbye Mate: Boeing delivers 8th and final C-17 to Australia
Boeing delivered the Royal Australian Air Force’s 8th C-17 Globemaster III with a ceremony at the company's Long Beach final assembly facility this Friday morning September 4, 2015. This will be the last C-17 the RAAF receives.
Richard Noble has seen many aircraft come and go from Long Beach’s Boeing Co. plant, where he worked from 1978 until retiring in January. But as he watched Boeing hand over its latest C-17 Globemaster III military airlifter to the Royal Australian Air Force on Friday, the Long Beach resident couldn’t help but think about the eventual closure of the C-17 production, where he spent much of his career as a mechanic at the company’s East Long Beach plant.
“There’s a sadness,” Noble said, wearing a cap and sweatshirt with a picture of the C-17. “I thought it would go on. It’s been a benefit to the community. A lot of people were happy here, making great money... I haven’t digested it yet.”
While this was not the last ever C-17 - the final plane, No. 279, is in paint production - Friday’s ceremonial delivery of the eighth and the last C-17 Australia’s air force procured was nevertheless punctuated with references to the end of the plane’s production by 2015’s sunset. “With the departure of this aircraft, the time is fast approaching. Boeing will shutter our doors,” said U.S. Lt. Col Laird Abbott, addressing former and current Boeing employees and government officials.
In 2013, a week after Boeing delivered its final C-17 transport plane to the U.S. Air Force, company officials said they did not have enough foreign orders to justify keeping the program open and announced that they would slowly shut down the Long Beach plant, which at the time employed about 2,200 employees. The company also said in 2013 that 13 C-17s were without customers.
Today, a smaller group of employees remain at Boeing to work on the final plane and all but one C-17 has been sold to foreign customers, including Qatar and Australia. Australia procured its first C-17 in 2006 after its prime minister toured Pakistan and Iraq.
Air Commodore Gary Martin, Australia’s air attache, recalled U.S. Air Force C-17s transporting Australian soldiers to and from both countries. “That made a gigantic effect on our prime minister,” Martin said. Soon after, Australia would buy the first of eight C-17s to use for various military and humanitarian aid missions.
Friday’s delivery comes just five months after Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that his government plans to buy two more C-17s as part of his country’s $1 billion investment in the C-17 fleet and upgrades to the fleet’s military base. “As we prepare for the final aircraft to depart the home of the Globemaster, we pause today to reflect on our past but also look to our future,” Abbott said. “While the C-17 production portion of our mission comes to a close, the sustainment and capabilities portion of our mission endures.”
[Photo: Air Commodore Martin, Australian Air Attaché, speaks to the crowd as the Boeing company delivered the Royal Australian Air Force’s 8th C-17 Globemaster III with a ceremony at the Long Beach final assembly facility.]
Long Beach Press Telegram
From: Steve Tomlinson, Tenerife, QLD Sent: 27 August 2015 7:54 PM Subject: Dave Roberts
I’m sorry for missing the August deadline, I’m afraid I’m suffering the occasional loss of memory that comes with the rigours of older age.
I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Dave Roberts in Thailand earlier in the month. I had the privilege of working with him at UKMAMS and in particular at Port Stanley in 1984 where he was my SNCO.
He was a refreshingly forthright individual with a robust style of leadership who didn't “suffer fools lightly". I must have driven him crazy at times. He possessed a great wealth of knowledge & experience and was well respected at all levels of the service. He worked hard and played hard and took great pride in his work.
It is sad to realize that over the past few years so many stalwarts of the Movements trade that I worked with and valued as true characters & mentors; Dave Wall, Vic Hopper, Dave Eggleton, Terry Roberts, to mention but a few, and now Dave, have passed into movements' legend.
I've attached a few photo's of our time together in PSY hoping to show that he did have a gentler side to his nature. If pressed, I do have a few lighter stories about our time in the Falklands.
New RCAF trade badges
Starting on the top row, from left to right:
2. Air Combat Systems Operator (ACSO)
3. Load Master
4. Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech)
5. Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator (AES Op)
6. Flight Engineer
Royal Canadian Air Force Facebook Page
From: Mick Craner, Yeovil, Somerset Sent: 28 August 2015 9:05 AM Subject: Out of Trim and Overweight
Trim sheets - I remember them well - there were many long days during my days in the RAF, lots of them now are fading memories.
I do have a story that happened in Changi in the early sixties, it concerns a Twin Pioneer that was due to take some Army lads up country. The pilot came to check on his aircraft and realised that he was overweight (the aircraft that is), so he asked that the fuel load be decreased to bring things into limits. Fuel was removed and dispensed into jerry cans. When the pilot returned with his pax he discovered that some bright spark had loaded the jerry cans into the aircraft!
I am surprised that no one can remember Jim Lucas?
Regards Mick Craner.
Future Russian army could deploy anywhere in the world - in 7 hours
In the future, a fleet of heavy transport aircraft will reportedly be capable of moving a strategic unit of 400 Armata tanks, with ammunition, to anywhere in the world. And probably at hypersonic speed, enabling Russia to mount a global military response.
According to a new design specification from the Military-Industrial Commission in Moscow, a transport aircraft, dubbed PAK TA, will fly at supersonic speeds (up to 2,000 km/h) and will boast an impressively high payload of up to 200 tons. It will also have a range of at least 7,000 kilometers.
The PAK TA program envisages 80 new cargo aircraft to be built by 2024. This means in a decade Russia’s Central Command will be able to place a battle-ready armored army anywhere, Expert Online reports, citing a source in the military who attended the closed meeting.
One of the main tasks of the new PAK TA is to transport Armata heavy missile tanks and other military hardware on the same platform, such as enhanced self-propelled artillery weapons systems, anti-aircraft missile complexes, tactical missile carriers, multiple launch missile systems, and anti-tank missile fighting vehicles.
The PAK TA freighters will be multilevel, with automated cargo loading and have the capability to airdrop hardware and personnel on any terrain. A fleet of several dozen PAK TA air freighters will be able to lift 400 Armata heavy tanks, or 900 light armored vehicles, such as Sprut-SD airborne amphibious self-propelled tank destroyers.
“With the development of a network of military bases in the Middle East, Latin America and Southeast Asia, which is expected to be completed during the same time period (by 2024), it’s obvious that Russia is preparing for a full-scale military confrontation of transcontinental scale,” Expert Online says.
A source who attended the closed meeting of the Military-Industrial Commission told the media outlet on condition of anonymity that he was “shocked” by the demands of the military. According to the source, the PAK TA project has been ongoing for several years now and will eventually supplant the currently operating air freighters. But such a global mission statement for national military transport aviation has never been voiced before.
“It means for the first time we have the objective of creating an operational capability to airlift a full-fledged army to any desired place on the planet,” the source said. This means delivering a task force the size of the former NATO and the US troops in Iraq, in a matter of hours to any continent. “In the context of the current military doctrine that defies comprehension,” the source said.
The initial PAK TA specification entailed building subsonic air freighters with a conventional 900 km/h cruising speed and a moderate 4,500-kilometer range.
The program involves the creation of wide-body freighters, with payloads varying from 80 to 200 tons, to replace all existing Ilyushin and Antonov cargo aircraft.
The only operating aircraft with a comparable payload is the Antonov An-225 Mriya (up to 250 tons), but this is a one-off aircraft created specially for the Soviet Buran space shuttle program.
Last year, it was reported that future military air freighters will be developed by the Ilyushin Aviation Complex, with some experts saying the company may base designs on the Il-106 cargo plane (80 tons) project that won a government tender in the late 1980s, but was abandoned after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Now, with ambitious specifications and objectives, the PAK TA is a truly next-generation transport aircraft.
From: Arthur Taylor, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs Sent: 02 September 2015 7:11 AM Subject: Newsletters
Having got fed-up of asking my son to look up news of MAMS and other organisations, I bought myself a laptop.
At 80 odd years of age now, and at that time not really interested in getting into computing, I thought what the hell, and it was the best thing I have done for ages. It is so interesting to read all those back issues, and what memories they bring back!
My tours on UKMAMS were shortlived in comparison with many others that I know; however, I did enjoy my time at Abingdon and Lyneham.
From 1954 to 1960, I was on AQM duties with 47 Sqdn, then 30 Sqdn at Dishforth with Valetta then Beverley aircraft. I did a few detachments to Khormaksar, and judging by the stories from the lads who were stationed there, some must have done some trips with me - memories.
I rejoined the RAF in late 1960, as a Supplier and went onto Movements in 1970. After the usual Movements course at Abingdon, I was posted to HQ British Forces Gulf at Muharraq in the Booking Centre, the usual unaccompanied tour.
Then to Thorney Island on Movements and after doing an Advanced Movements Course I remustered to Air Movements and then was posted to UKMAMS Abingdon, joining Bravo Team, and had some good trips with them.
One notable trip was to Nairobi, was supposed to be a quickie. However, we prepositioned at Akrotiri by Belfast to await a Britannia then onto Nairobi. We left Akrotiri, got to Nairobi, offloaded our aircraft and had to await further aircraft over a 3-day period. All went well, we finished the task and got airborne in a Britannia to come home. One hour into the flight we had engine problems and so returned to Nairobi where we night-stopped and got away next morning leaving a Britannia there with an engine change.
During our stay in Nairobi we had all bought some fresh fruit, and this was in the front hold. We refuelled at Masirah, then onto Akrotiri. During that leg, the leader got a message that we were to deplane at Akrotiri and await a flight to Nairobi which was carrying an engine for the Britannia we left there. All our fruit was still in in the hold so we sent a quick signal to MAMS Abingdon to please pick up the fruit from Brize.
A Hercules arrived; we got away towards Nairobi, one hour out, ‘sorry lads, back to Akrotiri, problems.’ Back we went to a nightstop, got away next morning and finally after another 4 days got the engine changed on the Britannia. We eventually got home 16 days late. The fruit was on my back porch, and Kath was going mad because of the smell, and course it all had to be thrown away… fun and games.
I had detachments to Kai Tak and Kathmandu, which were all very pleasant. Then got posted to SNOWI (Senior Naval Officer, West Indies), Bermuda for 2 years. What a tour that was!
Came home to JSATC at Hendon after which I did a tour at Gutersloh, and of course the detachment to Wunstorft, which saw Kath and I in quarters at the Army Base in Neinburg, with Ian and Carol Liddlee living in the flat above us. That holds many memories including the winter when there was nearly 3 feet of snow and we were unable to get to Wunstorf. Then back to Lyneham before going up to 2 MT Sqdn at Stafford. I had a 6-month stint at Ascension Island Oct ’83 to Mar ‘84. I finally retired in April 1985. I went to work for a local haulage company, and did 21 years with them, a great family business.
Sadly, Kath passed away in March 2011, but I have remained in the house we bought prior to my retirement, and I have no intention of moving now.
Health wise am OK, the old boy now has spare parts all fitted, i.e. a pacemaker for the old ticker and a fistula in preparation for dyalisis when the old knackered kidneys decide that's enough.
Keep up the good work, my regards to all, old colleagues and the odd enemy.
New members who have joined us recently are:
Welcome to the OBA!
Steve Fuller, Kettering, Northants, UK
Arthur Taylor, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs, UK
Chris Gentle, Highworth, Wilts, UK
Mario Martinelli, Baldivis, WA, Australia
Bernie Lafrance, Nanaimo, BC, Canada
Maritime patrol is a ‘key capability’
The UK’s continuing Strategic Defence and Security Review process has identified the lack of a maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) capability as a key area of consideration, defence secretary Michael Fallon says. “Maritime patrol was one of the gaps in the last review [and] one of the capabilities we had to forego,” Fallon said at the show on 16 September. “It will be one of the key capabilities we will look at as we get to the end of this review.”
Fallon says the SDSR results will be released later this year, “but we’re not yet at the stage at which we have to take decisions.”
Lockheed Martin used the show to propose adapting 10 of the Royal Air Force’s C-130J tactical transports to an MPA or multimission aircraft (MMA) configuration, with Marshall Aerospace as its conversion partner.
The tri-service Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) exhibition took place in London’s Docklands from 15-18 September, attracting more than 1,500 exhibitors from around the globe, plus service chiefs and defence ministers from host nation the UK.
The work would incorporate a mission system similar to that on the Royal Navy’s AgustaWestland Merlin HM2 helicopters, but with five operator stations. The Hercules also would gain an active electronically-scanned array radar, weapons sponsons in front of the main landing gear for torpedoes, and under-wing pylons to carry anti-ship and air-to-surface missiles. Additional fuel tanks would increase endurance to 14h, and the SC-130J would be able to fly 1,000nm (1,850km) and remain on station for more than 6h without air-to-air refuelling.
The proposal also involves giving the aircraft replacement centre wing boxes, which Keith Muir, international business development manager for Lockheed Martin UK Integrated Systems, says could enable a service life of another 25 to 30 years. Lockheed says operational capability is possible before 2020.
Airbus Defence & Space has cautioned against the Ministry of Defence acquiring the Boeing 737-based P-8 without a competition, claiming that its C295 could be acquired for one-third of the cost. Airbus - which made an unsolicited offer to the MoD in June 2014 - is proposing supplying 12 C295s equipped with weapons and sonobuoys already in the UK military inventory.
Brian Burridge, vice-president strategic marketing at Finmecannica UK, believes the Alenia Aermacchi C-27J could perform a variety of duties for the RAF, including maritime surveillance.
An MMA offer to the UK would include a maritime search radar and mission system equipment from Selex ES, and airlaunched weapons from MBDA, potentially including the Brimstone air-to-surface missile, and could also fill a future airlift gap between the Airbus A400M tactical transport and Boeing CH-47 Chinook transport helicopter.
L-3 Mission Integration, meanwhile, has led the design of a candidate based on the Bombardier Q400, and a test aircraft is now ready for adaptation by Canada’s Cascade Aerospace. Dubbed the Q400 MMA, the platform will carry an additional 4,540kg (10,000lb) of fuel, and have a bomb bay for torpedoes.
“We will start flight testing next year,” says Nicholas “Flash” Gordon, director international programmes for L-3 Mission Integration. L-3 will provide a mission management system already operational on some Lockheed P-3 Orions, radar and electronic warfare equipment from Selex ES and acoustics from Ultra Electronics Sonar Systems.
Gordon says the modified type will be able to fly 800nm and remain on station for more than 4h, After a first conversion at its Greenville ,Texas, site, the remainder of a roughly 12 aircraft fleet would be modified in the UK.
Saab is promoting the capabilities of its Saab 2000-based Swordfish MPA, while Northrop Grumman believes that the UK requirement could be partially filled using its MQ-4C Triton high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle, operated in conjunction with the P-8.
From: Bill Girdwood, London W5 Sent: 02 September 2015 9:32 AM Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #082815
Good to get a response from both Len Bowen and Tony Mullen [OBB #082815]. Certainly the 2 officers who were prepared to put their heads above the parapet in times of extreme pressure out on task. I know that Tony is right about the significant number of overweight sorties, but that was the penalty for rule of thumb and the captain always had the last word.
I was on a Britannia out of Chittagong carrying 236 pax! A lot of kids, most sitting on the floor, some small nuns and a whole lot of American tourists! Drac Fraser was the captain. It was still East Pakistan then but quickly became Bangladesh. Happy days!
Someone will have to write an erudite piece on the merits of weight and balance sheets... in particular for the Bev, which had to have a vertical balance struck, as well as the normal horizontal one!
Team Spartan using delay to refine its FWSAR proposal
Canada’s fixed-wing search and rescue (FWSAR) capability is a mixed bag of 1960's-vintage deHavilland CC-115 Buffalo and mid-1990's Lockheed Martin CC-130H Hercules aircraft.
Steve Lucas, a retired Royal Canadian Air Force officer, is unequivocally confident that an Italian-designed twin-engine turboprop, the Alenia C-27J Spartan, can replace both fleets admirably.
“We have the best airplane for the job,” said Lucas, a navigator who capped his RCAF career as Chief of the Air Staff from 2005 until he retired in 2007, and who now is Canadian spokesperson for Team Spartan. “If you look at all the things it can do, it is the most suitable aircraft.”
The C-27J features the same engine/propeller combination as the RCAF’s newer J-model Hercules and cruises at 583 kilometres per hour-slightly faster than the H-model Hercs and significantly faster than the Buffalo. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 30,500 kilograms and a range of 4,260 kilometres with a 10,000kg payload - also factors in its favour.
“Thanks to its rapid response time, size, endurance and maneuverability, it can reach remote and austere locations around the country, including those in the mountains, in the far North and at sea,” Lucas told Skies on Sept. 14. “It is the only aircraft in its class that is fast enough to respond to SAR incidents across Canada while working from existing main operating bases.”
The RCAF’s six remaining Buffalos, stationed on Vancouver Island, are still eminently suitable for the kind of low-and-slow SAR missions offshore and in coastal mountains, but are costly to maintain. The 11 H-model Hercs flown out of Winnipeg, Man., Trenton, Ont., and Greenwood, N.S., do give search teams longer legs for Arctic and east coast offshore missions, but are less suited for close-quarters work.
Enter the C-27J Spartan, one of several contenders for a single-fleet contract for 15 to 17 aircraft and 20 years of in-service support. The Canadian government issued a complex 4,000-page request for proposals last March, but the Sept. 28 deadline for industry response recently was extended to next Jan. 11, apparently at the request of all potential bidders.
From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts Sent: 10 September 2015 12:35 PM Subject: Latest Visit to BZZ Hi Tony,
Well you couldn't make this up if you tried; Al Irving and I were just about to enter the main gate at Brize Norton for our visit (9th Sept RAF and Mobile, Air Movements Associations) when who should fly by in perfect formation but The Red Arrows right over the top of us! It couldn't have been a better start to what, once again, proved to be a very enjoyable day for all 10 of our members. Sgt Mark Hayes was our guide for the day, and very good he was too at keeping us old codgers together and moving from place to place. Firstly we had a light lunch in the Sgt's Mess, which delighted Nick Price because he only ever made Corporal during his time (his words not mine).
Our first port of call was The Movements School where we had an excellent briefon training and recruitment, also a very infomative brief on the current progress of the A400M Atlas aircraft.
A visit to the Training Hanger to see how our latest Movers are not only taught how to load aircraft but also stuff containers was next on the agenda followed by a quick tour of the pan, past Air Cargo and a quick visit to the huge passenger lounge where we were able to observe all the goings on around the airfield, which by now included the Red Arrows back from flying (we think it was a salute to Her Majesty on being the longest reigning monarch). We next moved on to the HQ of 1 Air Mobility Wing (AMW) the successor of MAMS. The outgoing OC, Wg Cdr Neil Jones, gave us an excellent brief on his time on both UKMAMS and 1AMW. It was both constructive and informative. Neil will be sadly missed as he is set to reappear in The Voyager Project which deals with Passengers, Freight and Air to Air Refuelling, so a mixed bag for him I'm sure.
Sqn Ldr Ken Felton the 2/ic of 1 AMW was next to infom us how the Mobile element was trained and supported which was most interesting, as most of us know what it is like balancing work on Mobile and a life at home. Next came the pinnacle of the day, a visit to the pan to see around an A400M Atlas which was fantastic not just because there are only two out of the three aircraft that have been delivered at Brize but this one was being loaded with pallets for Akrotiri. It was a great end to a smashing day. I think everyone was knackered but most unusually even the weather was good to us. So what now you ask? Already we have been asked to prepare another visit going for early next year, any takers?
Cheers for now mate Keith
Mike Perks, Rod Burke, Keith Wilson, Tim Buckeridge, H Firth, Jackie Brice, Keith Parker, Harry Jones, Al Irving and Nick Price
From: Nicholas Price, Cheltenham, Glos Sent: 13 September 2015 2:39 PM Subject: About time Air Movers were properly recognised.
On the 9th September 2015 I had the honour of being one of a party of fellow retired movers on a visit to RAF Brize Norton. We had a very informative and enjoyable day. I was amused that my first ever visit to the Sergeant’s Mess for lunch should take place some 37 years after departing the RAF in 1978 as a long serving corporal! No 1 Air Mobility Wing Brize Norton, so many unsung heroes out there across the globe working all the hours until the job is done, dealing with every conceivable disaster.
So how about some recognition, these guys spend enough time flying the routes, once fully qualified perhaps add in hours flown and give them a brevet?
One remark that drew my attention, it seems there is a lack of recognition by the aircrew of those guys sat in the back of the aircraft, like magic the aircraft loads and offloads itself!
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC Date: 13 September 2015 19:56:20 BST To: Nicholas Price, Cheltenham, Glos, UK Subject: RE: About time Air Movers were properly recognised.
That's a nice rendition of the half brevet - I've been saying that for donkey's years about MAMS getting recognition in the back - we fought to get flying suits and we fought to get hot meals instead of gobbly boxes. I imagine those at the top are reluctant to take it any further as that would mean awarding us flying pay too.
The Canadians have the right idea - my understanding is that they create their LMs from within the Air Movements (Traffic Technicians) trade and then after they are qualified they can do tours as both LMs and also back on Air Movements, but they wear their brevets regardless of the current duty.
UK Royal Air Force receives seventh A400M Atlas aircraft
The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received the seventh A400M aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space, strengthening its transport fleet capability to carry out extended world-wide tasks.
Currently, the RAF is operating four A400M aircraft from Brize Norton, while three others are being fitted with UK-specific systems required to operate in hostile environments.
UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne said: "This significant milestone marks an important achievement for all those who have been involved in the UK's A400M Atlas programme, from the MoD and the RAF through to our industry partners.
"Those flying the aircraft are hugely impressed with its capability, and with a protected Defence budget and our investment of £160bn in equipment, we look forward to growing the UK A400M Force over the coming months."
The A400M is a multi-national military transport aircraft designed to serve as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities. It is powered by four EuroProp TP400-D6 turboprop engines.
Powered by four EuroProp TP400-D6 turboprop engines, the A400M will have a lifting capacity of up to 30t, and can also be configured to conduct long-range cargo and troop transport, medical evacuation, aerial refuelling and electronic surveillance missions.
"Those flying the aircraft are hugely impressed with its capability, and with a protected Defence budget and our investment of £160bn in equipment."
Moreover, the aircraft will be able to operate both at low and high-level altitudes and to deploy troops and equipment between and within theatres of operation using either parachute or landing on short, unprepared or semi-prepared strips.
UK MoD Chief of Materiel (Air), Air Marshal Simon Bollom said: "The fleet now has the core capabilities required to train the instructors and crews, and to undertake logistics missions.
"As the fleet continues to build, more advanced military capabilities will be introduced as planned over the coming months including aerial delivery of stores, parachuting and advanced self-protection capabilities."
The new aircraft are scheduled to replace the RAF's decommissioned fleet of C1/C3 (C-130K) Hercules transport aircraft in 2020.
From: Don Mackenzie, Pictou Landing, NS Sent: 13 September 2015 8:27 AM Subject: My Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar
Perhaps the most difficult thing to comprehend as a flyer is where the best or the worst meals were served. Now I have to admit at 412(T) Sqn, the VIP operation within the RCAF, I just got lucky! However, my most memorable times were when we did the Service Flight 37/38.
After departing from Ottawa we headed to St. Hubert, Chatham, Fredericton, Summerside, Shearwater, across the ‘Big Pond’ to St. Johns and finally the last stop Gander. Now that we were on the ground I helped the FE with dropping the TUBS! Never could understand why we were dressed in full CF’s [No.1's] when flying suits were available.
OK, let’s get back to the menu. We used to have block-booked rooms in the Albatross Hotel. The first thing the waitress would deliver to the table were 2 Jugs of Blue Star and then would set the menu before us. Well, they got so used to me, before the rest of the crew had even ordered I had 3 lovely NFLD “Newfy” fish cakes placed in front of me. Now that was a down-home meal!
I used to love flying to Newfoundland. Some of the people we met - I can remember vividly some of the housewives who used to use the Cosmo like a bus. “Look my dear, we just have to make it to Halifax to our sisters, it’s Christmas you know, and all the big sales are on.” How do you try and explain the 6 boxes of gifts were just too large for the aircraft? So here we are unpacking the boxes and stuffing the gifts wherever we could find the room. (I know I have deviated from your subject matter, but felt it was a great story to share.)
Oh, p.s. I live in a place called Pictou Landing, just outside New Glasgow in Nova Scotia. If any Mover requires a bedspace they'll be most welcome.
History's most dangerous humanitarian mission - When Allied pilots dropped food into Nazi occupied territory
The Nazi occupiers in the Netherlands were fed up with Dutch resistance movements by late 1944. For five years, the Dutch had spied, sabotaged, and smuggled Jewish refugees and Allied aircrews. But what really pushed the Germans over the edge was a railway strike that fall.
As a retaliation, the Nazis starved the entire population. They cut off food deliveries to the country and stopped local farming by destroying the dikes and flooding the fields. By the time winter hit, the Dutch citizens were eating fried tulip bulbs and drinking soup made from their own hair for survival.
The Netherlands were led by a royal family in exile. Dutch Queen Wilhelmina petitioned the British and American governments to do something to save her people before it was too late. President Franklin Roosevelt, himself of Dutch ancestry, replied to her entreaties, “You can be very certain that I shall not forget the country of my origin.”
Just a month before he died of a cerebral hemorrhage, Roosevelt sent word to Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower that the Allies should deliver food to the starving Dutch people.
There was a problem for the Allied air crews: The best planes for air-dropping food were the bombers, planes that German anti-aircraft artillery units fired upon at every opportunity.
Still, Eisenhower ordered them forward and on April 29, 1945, a pair of Royal Air Force bombers flew into German airspace as part of Operation Manna.
Eisenhower had contacted the German leadership in the Netherlands, but he hadn’t even received a verbal agreement from the Germans that they wouldn’t fire. When the first pair of planes crossed into contested territory, it was uncertain if the German gunners knew what was happening. The planes were ordered to fly low and slow, meaning they would be easily destroyed and the crews would be unable to bail out.
As the first planes crossed into the Netherlands, German guns took aim and tracked them - but none fired. Orders from senior Nazi Party officials had apparently made their way down the line and the Allied crews could fly through certain corridors with relative safety.
While some aircraft were later hit from ground fire, it was very little and sporadic. For 10 days, the Allied crews dropped flour, margarine, coffee, milk powder, cheese, chocolate, and salt on fields, racetracks, and airstrips. More than 11,000 tons of food were dropped in the British’s Operation Manna and the American’s Operation Chowhound.
The gratitude of the Dutch people was sent up to the low-flying crews. Throngs of people waved at the planes and messages, including “Thank You," were spelled out in tulips on the flower fields. One beneficiary of the airlift, Dutch resistance member and future actress Audrey Hepburn, would go on to support international aid agencies and cite her own experiences as a motivation.
On May 8, 1945, Germany surrendered and the airlifts came to an end as aid began arriving over land and sea.
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough Sent: 13 September 2015 5:58 PM Subject: My Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar
Kips, Grub and Grog
In my two years with F Team at Abingdon, I rarely went back to places so that they became elevated to consideration as ‘favourite’ status. There were some “might have beens”. There was the hotel night stop at Victoria, The Gambia on a Herc run to Ascension in 1969. We were having breakfast when the young co-pilot came back after a morning stroll somewhat gaga. Apparently there was a Swedish cruise ship in port and as a result the beach was littered with nubile young ladies sunbathing topless. As a man the decision was made that we just had to go u/s. So we headed back up to YumDum air strip with its tin hut air terminal and the crew, ground engineer and F Team went over that aircraft with a fine tooth comb. It was totally and utterly serviceable!
However, the “challenge” for this newsletter does remind me of story that has been told before but some may not have heard. Once upon a time in far off Far East Air Force Headquarters, Changi, lived a Command Catering Officer who decided that it was time that he went out and visited the sharp end. So he arranged to go as supernumerary crew with one of the RAF Changi Hastings' runs to Bangkok. On arrival at the hotel, and abandoned by the crew, he was dining alone in the hotel that night. However, he recalled that, when checking the paperwork that routinely passed across his desk at HQFEAF, one of the most popular culinary delights which regularly featured when he signed off the bills, was this hotel’s Chinese Chicken Soup. Summoning the waiter he asked for the Hotel’s ‘special’. Met with a blank stare, he said: “Your most famous Chinese Chicken Soup!” The waiter smiled knowingly and promptly returned with a 6-pack of local beer.
David Powell F Team UKMAMS Abingdon 1967-69
From: Andrew Downard, Ballarat, VIC Sent: 13 September 2015 8:11 PM Subject: My Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar
My vote for the ‘Best Drinking Hole’ would have to be the Marine Bar on Gan. Run by the SASF guys, it had everything you could possibly need - beer and burgers. The burgers were usually cooked by the “Honey Badger” who drove the aircraft's honey wagon… what could possibly go wrong?
Dress code was ‘optional’ and there was only one monsoon drain between the Marine Bar and the Movers block, well two or three monsoon drains depending on beer consumed and navigation capability.
If you were seriously off-track you might end up in ‘Fruit Bat Alley’ by the sergeant's mess. All-in-all the best part of the best posting ever!
From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts Sent: 14 September 2015 6:54 AM Subject: My Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar
Hi Tony, My favourite hotel has to be "The New Stanley" in Nairobi but I have to add I first went there in around 1971, it was relatively new. It had a large thorn tree growing in the lobby and up through a restaurant where people could leave business cards or messages pinned to it. You could also sit around this tree and watch the world go by.
Strangely my favourite bar would have to be "The Long Bar" also in the New Stanley. Although there were many bars in Nairobi, nothing came close to the Long Bar especially on a Friday night when everyone was winding down for the weekend. I went back there in the early nineties and sadly the hotel, along with the rest of Nairobi, looked very old, tired and run down. (A bit like me actually).
From: David Stevens, Bangor Sent: 14 September 2015 9:25 AM Subject: My Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar
A number of possibilities come to mind, but in order not to bore our readers I will come straight to the point: Harry's Nightery in Bridgetown, Barbados stands out head and shoulders for me.
October and December 1964 - Exercise Rum Jungle (and trust me there was no shortage of rum for E team on this mission!) deploying The Royal Worcester Regiment in October, and recovering same regiment in December. We had an extended stay in Barbados on the deployment phase because a Britannia went 'sick' and we were held back to assist with the engine change - off-loading and reloading that is - not the nuts and bolts bit!
Anyway, the point is, that the team spent many happy hours 'load planning' etc in Bridgetown's mecca night club, Harry's Nightery - it truly had everything.
We never ran out of rum for the duration of our extended stay in October because we had a very cosy arrangement with the customs officials at Seawell Airport (now Grantley Adams Int’l) whereby a different team member went every day to collect some duty free (best Bacardi rum); drive out to the 'sick' Britannia; loiter and then drive back to the hotel. The customs officials knew exactly what we were up to and played their part; good revenue for the airport etc. etc. as far as they were concerned.
I cannot remember the name of the hotel [That would be the Caribee Hotel in Hastings as per Charlie Cormack’s email in OBB #090211] but it too was excellent. The only downside to that particular stay in the October was when the hotel got really busy and the management asked us to share rooms. I had to sleep - same bed! - with SAC Gibby Gibson! Neither of us enjoyed the experience but we had a good laugh about it - LATER.
Navy and RAF withdraw from Defence College for Technical Training at Lyneham
Plans to turn MoD Lyneham into Britain's first tri-service military training hub were scuppered after defence chiefs announced the Royal Navy and RAF will not move there.
This winter was to see the first of three tranches of recruits attending the Defence College for Technical Training (DCTT), which also promised to breathe new life into the area with new opportunities for businesses and job seekers.
But last week Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced following a review of the third and second phases ordered by the Navy and RAF, both forces have pulled out of the scheme, leaving just the Army's Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) recruits to train at the site, which has costed £121 million to create.
Mr Fallon said: "Due to the enormity of the task we planned to implement training transformation in a phased manner, split into a series of tranches, the first being the relocation of the REME Schools from Bordon and Arborfield to MOD Lyneham. For the subsequent tranches of the programme, the original intent was to consolidate additional elements of the DCTT at MOD Lyneham. However, a recently completed re-evaluation of the programme has determined that the consolidation onto a single site at MOD Lyneham is not the best solution."
The cancellation of the second and third tranches will not only mean significantly fewer trainees will now be on site, but will also see a dent in the forecast of 3,000 jobs for the area.
But North Wiltshire MP James Gray remains confident MoD Lyneham will still be a boost economically.
He said: "It might appear to be a blow in the short term, in terms of the number of personnel there over the next year or two. But in the long term, I'm hopeful it won't make much difference to the local economy.
"There will be plenty of scope for other army training centres to move to Lyneham to take up the spare capacity. If I know MoD accountants, they will be absolutely certain to make sure every single space at Lyneham is taken up by some use or other.
"The important thing is that the base was saved in the first place. The threat was that the closure of Lyneham as a home for the Hercules would have been followed either by years of it lying empty and unused, or it being turned into something awful that the community here did not want or need, like a jumbo jet refuelling centre, or somewhere with loads of houses."
From: Peter Clayton, Wroughton, Wilts Sent: 18 September 2015 5:40 AM Subject: Britannia at Kemble Airfield
I recently took these photos of the Britannia at Kemble Airfield. I was lucky to go on one of the open days to have a look round inside. There was a video of the aircraft’s arrival at Kemble when it was recovered from Africa; the low pass over the runway with wheels up was spectacular!
I hope that you can use the photos. [I found an external video tour on YouTube that you may want to watch]
From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts Sent: 14 September 2015 12:23 Subject: Simon Spence
A few weeks ago my wife and I were staying at the Victory Services Club in London and saw this item in one of their circulars. I contacted Simon and asked his permission to print this to which he has agreed, apologising for the photograph; which just goes to show that he still has a sense of humour!
As you can see although he couldn't get a commission in the Supply Branch as he wanted, he has done very well. Good on him!
From: Arthur Taylor, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffs Sent: 19 September 2015 7:49 Subject: Tales from the unexpected - how did he get that Posting?
Many times I have been asked, how did you manage that one? So here goes, and it may be of use for the Newsletter.
In March 1974 I was sent to Kathmandu to relieve… can't remember his name, but he had to come home for the STM course. As usual, in the course of a few beers, he told me he was posted to Bermuda, but had children and really didn't see how they could continue their education out there, and really didn't want to disrupt his family at Lyneham.
So I said, ‘OK, I can do that’ and thought no more about it. I got back to Lyneham at the beginning of May and was met by the said Sergeant who asked me if I was still interested in the posting to Bermuda. If so, we could do an exchange posting. I agreed and we did the paperwork.
In August 74, I handed over the married quarter at Lyneham and we set off for Swindon station for transport to Brize Norton to catch the Dulles flight. At Swindon Station Kath and I were met by Reg Carey who informed us we were not going to Brize, but were booked on a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Washington the following day. Accommodation in London was booked at the Chevron’s Club. We took the train to London and booked into the Chevron’s Club. We decided to go for walk in the neighbourhood theatre district and saw that Danny Large was appearing. Kath wanted to see him so we spent an enjoyable evening at the theatre. The next morning we made our way to Heathrow and had a great flight to Washington where we spent the night. The following day we headed the 40 miles down to Baltimore via bus and taxi to catch the flight to Bermuda.
We arrived in Bermuda and were met by Alan Beatty; we knew each other as we had been in Supply together many years before. Alan had arranged our accommodation. “The Penguins” was a two-bedroom bungalow with its own mooring right on the water’s edge in Somerset village. It was a nice place, but there were a lot of frogs on the driveway; they didn't move too swiftly so many got squashed when we were driving in and out!
Later we had to move to new accommodations as “The Penguins” was sold. We managed to get a two bedroom house in Somerset overlooking the Little Sound, terrific views, elevated and was called “Jacobs Ladder” - it was built on the side of a hill.
My posting was to the staff of the Senior Naval Officer West Indies (SNOWI), working alongside the Royal Navy were two Army chaps and me, and what a posting it was! As you can imagine Kath and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I had the use of a Royal Navy car - the speed limit was 20 mph and I went to court twice for speeding. I was fined 40 dollars the first time, and the second time was the week before I came home, so I got away without paying.
If I ever go back to Bermuda and get stopped again I’ll have to pay it as it’s on my record! It was funny really because we used to play the Bermuda Police at cricket and football but they had a job to do, so no regrets.
Two Royal Naval ships arrived on station that used to come in at times for AMP. The Royal Yacht Britannia came in for two weeks. What a crew! After invites on board for a social evening, there were evenings in our Senior Rates Mess and my home.
Kath went mad when I invited the CPOs to our place, but in the end all was OK and only 24 came. Thankfully we were assisted on the hospitality side by many of the staff from SNOWI.
I used to meet and greet all RAF aircraft staging Bermuda, the accommodation there was arranged by British Airways with whom I worked with when handling RAF aircraft. As you can imagine that was a good job, but the other part and main task was the flight requirements of all RN personnel on ships in the West Indies and I was kept busy.
I could go on for ages, had a great tour. On the way home we stayed in the USA for two weeks, driving from Washington to Orlando, Florida and had 5 days there doing all the usual tourist things.
What with all the travelling whilst an AQM and then MAMS, people say why don't you go to so and so, but why, we did it for a job, it was hard work, but "free".
Nowadays I go to the coach station, park the car, get on a coach and go on holiday, someone else does the driving, I just sit back and hopefully enjoy the ride.
Take care and my regards to all,
From: Jim Marchant, Cupar, Fife Sent: 20 September 2015 15:56 Subject: Watering Holes
From the old days at Abingdon -
The Red Lion
Mr Warrick's Arms
The Nag’s Head
All within wobbling distance of takeaways!
From: Mick Craner, Yeovil, Somerset Sent: 22 September 2015 8:05 Subject: Best Restuarant
An old favourite eating establishment was The Banana Leaf Apolo that I used to visit when stationed at Changi with 48 Squadron (Hastings).
After I left the RAF, we lived in New Zealand. My late wife and I, along with two friends, went to Singapore for a holiday. One of our friends was a lovely Fijian lady. We took our friends to the Banana Leaf.
Once seated, a banana leaf is placed in front of each diner, a group of staff then dish out the food in heaps onto the banana leaf; rice, curried prawns, curried chicken, curried lamb, curried fish, pompa doms, mixed vegetables and Indian bread. We were each also served with a large bottle of Tiger beer.
Our Fijian lady friend said that she could not possibly drink such a large bottle of beer. Now the curry at the Banana Leaf can be rather hot, in our case volcanic! After about five minutes our lady friend called out “Waiter! Please bring some more beer!”
Oh happy days…
Petrol Station in the Sky Helps Jets on Their Voyage
Moving people from one airfield to another, however, is only part of Voyager’s role and it is not until you see the flight deck or speak with the crews that you begin to understand its true capability and purpose.
Owned and maintained by AirTanker and operated by Nos. 10 and 101 Squadrons from RAF Brize Norton, Voyager is currently deployed to No. 903 Expeditionary Air Wing (903 EAW) at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Its role: to dispense fuel to British and Coalition jets conducting strikes against ISIL on a daily basis in the skies above Iraq.
Using its 2 wing pods and, on some jets, the Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU), Voyager is capable of delivering up to 50 tonnes of fuel at between 600 and 800kgs per minute.
This means it can fill a pair of Tornado GR4s from nearly empty to full in less than 10 minutes, ensuring the jets spend as little time as possible away from their task and allowing them to remain in the skies for over 7 hours rather than having to land and refuel at a forward airfield that may be under threat.
When you first approach the aircraft, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for a regular airliner, about to whisk you off to an exotic holiday destination. The RAF jet is, after all, an Airbus A330-200, with 291 seats, a number of galleys and an in-flight entertainment system.
A Flight Commander and Voyager Captain explains: “The Voyager presents an air-to-air refuelling capability that combines reliability, fuel capacity, modern avionics and the benefits of two-hose refuelling. It can fly a 7-hour sortie and still have around 50 tonnes to pass to other aircraft. It can also carry nearly 300 passengers along with their cargo, and has a range of aero-medical fits.
“We’re very proud of what we’re achieving over Iraq - namely that we are offering the best AAR support possible to both the Tornado crews and to our coalition colleagues.”
A Mission Systems Operator (MSO) controls the refuelling. Sitting at his station behind the co-pilot, the MSO trails the 90-foot refuelling hoses, and then prepares the aircraft to dispense fuel. He also controls Voyager’s external lighting, matching it to the conditions and the needs of the other aircraft.
Once the receiver aircraft arrives, the MSO clears them to pass behind Voyager and line up with the basket, before giving approval to connect, through the radio call ‘clear contact’. The crew remain in communication with the fast jets at all times in order to let them know when Voyager is about to turn, and to communicate with them in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Sgt Paul is a Voyager MSO and explains: “It’s a very quick and efficient process; once we have met up with the fast jets and they have arrived on our wing, they can be full and ready to carry on with their mission in a matter of minutes. Other than dispensing vital fuel, the process gives the crews some well-earned respite from their combat mission and time to arrange clearances for entering their next operating area.
“The Tornado aircrew have had many years of refuelling in the Middle East and are superb at their job, even though the weather sometimes makes the process difficult. There’s no doubt that the Voyager crews have the easier end of the deal, but we are an essential part of the whole mission and are only too aware of the difference we are making on the ground.”
From: Len Bowen, Chisholm, ACT Sent: 22 September 2015 23:30 Subject: My Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar
As usual thank you for the last excellent edition of OBA the Newsletter, and again as usual the letters therein triggered old memories.
In particular Tony Mullen's letter ref a Bev overload struck a chord. (Hi Tony; glad to hear that you're still around and that you weathered the floods. If you're ever in Canberra call me. Penny & I are in the phone book and there's always a cold one in the fridge and a good single malt on the sideboard).
There seems to be a trend here with Squadron re-deployments and over-weight loads. In my case it was the Aussie Sabre SQN returning from RAF Labuan to Butterworth in early 1966 after providing us with air cover from October 1965 to January 1966 .... and also with a highly alcoholic Christmas & New Year festive season, too. Exactly as with Tony's tale, no weighing capability on Labuan to meet the needs of the squadron fly-away kit gear, limited time and an over-reliance on the inbound manifests to give me what proved to be hopelessly inaccurate weights .... e.g. a re-arming trolley shown as 1,200 lb .... well, yessssss .... but that was BEFORE the ground crew strapped FOUR extra 30mm Aden Gun barrels to the damned thing for ease of movement.
Won't dwell on the whole sorry saga, which was subsequently well reported in the RAF 'Air Clues' flight safety magazine (see attached cartoon* reproduced with thanks from Bill Overton's book 'Blackburn Beverley') and which I also used as part of an article I wrote for the 'RAAF Supply Journal' in the mid-1980s entitled "I Learnt About Air Movements From That". As the DAMO on the day I, too, was well and truly in the frame after the incident, but only saved from morning tea with AOC FEAF with hat on and without benefit of cup and saucer by the fact that the Bev crew, with a strong attack of get-home-itis, had ignored VERY late V1 and V2 calls and pressed on with the take-off, and that the SQN ENGO had also given his personal assurance of the accuracy of the weights in front of my old mentor, SGT Nobby Clark and more importantly my SAMO. Still had an uncomfortable few minutes in said SAMO's office, however!
Meanwhile back at the ranch... Favourite Hotel, Restaurant or Bar. Tricky one after 50 years (and one week; very important that) in Air Force uniform, a lot of which in the movements game. Perhaps best to focus by postings:
DAMO, RAF Labuan. 1965/66. The Keng Wha restaurant in Victoria Town on Lab. Otherwise known as 'The Pink Palace' because of the pink fluro tube illuminations. My first introduction to REAL Chinese food as against the MSG-laced tat then served up in 'Chinese' restaurants in UK at the time. Also my introduction to using chopsticks. Mandatory if you went out with the boys, and if you couldn't master the art you went hungry as the choicest morsels were whipped away from your fumbling grip by a set of flashing sticks wielded by your neighboring diner - or even from across the table by somebody with long arms. Finest corn & crab soup ever and groupa balls & ginger to die for. Had my 21st Birthday Dinner there. Over a dozen of us ate and drank ourselves into a stupor for about Malay$350 - when it was MAL$10 to the Guinea (that's 21/- to all you heathens). Birthday Boy paid half and the rest split up the balance.
FEAF MAMS. 1966 -68. Hotel - The New Nana Hotel, Patpong Road, Bangkok. Our regular night stop en-route to and from the OP CROWN FORCE airfield at Leong Nok Tha in far NE Thailand. Again, to avoid an 'Adults Only' rating for the next Newsletter best we draw a veil over the proceedings, but, being sure that the Statute of Limitations has now well expired, shall we say that the Flight Imprest often covered more than just a light post-flight meal for the Team?
Restaurant - A close thing between the OLD 'Singapore Sate Club', behind the burnt-out Alhambra Cinema, where you sat on up-turned orange crates round open char-coal braziers, ate sate at 10c a stick with each stick at least 6" long with all the peanut sauce you could handle, and a young boy brought round cold cans of Tiger at 75c each; or else Fattie's Curry House on Albert Street where towards the end of the month, when money was tight, you and your lady friend could eat yourself to a standstill on beautiful curry, and if you split a large bottle of Tiger or Anchor between you, your bill still only came to SPD$10 - 12.
Bar. The 'Down Under' Bar in the RAAF Seletar Officers' Mess was hard to beat, and easy to stagger back to your room from, too. Once Mr Lim, the Mess Head Barman has won the Singapore Lottery and established his own little eatery there, you could get a plate of Bee Hoon or Nasi Gorgeng at all hours of the day or night for a few bucks to sop up the Tiger, too!
Of course if you went a bit up up-market for food, chilli crab from the street stalls at Bedok Corner between Changi and the city (now about 8 miles inland, under the Freeway between Changi International and Singapore City thanks to land development). Sitting with your legs dangling over the sea wall chomping on the best chilli crab anywhere, ever, and watching the passing shipping on the South China Sea - Joseph Conrad eat your heart out!
PAX Officer, RAF Luqa, Malta. 1972/73. Has to be 'Chisk** & Cheesecake' brunch at the open-air cafe in Victoria Square in Valetta on a Sunday morning. Best heart-starter ever after a big 'do' in the Mess or out on the town the night before. You could see half of the Officers Mess members, together with their respective partners, all hiding behind sun glasses and all pointedly ignoring each other to avoid discussing the frivolities of the previous evening.
Joint Air Transport Establishment, RAF Abingdon. 1973-75. Of course 'The Black Horse' pub just outside the Station. Already mentioned previously in these pages.
We went there so often than No 1 son, Callum's, introduction to the world en-route home from RAF Hospital Wroughton was him placed in his bassinet on the bar of the 'Black Horse' while Penny & I as proud parents basked in the glory of new parenthood - and parted with several more pounds than we could afford at the time to stand drinks for the regulars.
Penny's parents, Steve and June Stephenson, even ran the place for a couple of weeks while the Landlord and Landlady took a holiday. Poachers turned game-keepers if ever there was!
MATU 1 1980/81 and later on various Exercise Planning and RAAF Protocol Staff tasks. My No 1 over-all then and even now all-time winner. The Darwin Sailing Club. There may well be many finer individual bars, restaurants and hotels throughout Australia and elsewhere where my Teams and I have worked between 1980 and 2013 when I finally hung up the Air Force blue (or DPCU cams for that matter), but the Darwin Sailing Club provides a unique combination of excellent food at good prices, cold beer, fine wines, friendly folk, an incredible venue - and even a place for a quiet kip. Quiet kip? Within easy(ish) walking distance from the Base (you could always re-hydrate at the Parap Pub en-route), a banana lounge on the Club lawn was the ideal quiet place to sleep under the palm trees between shifts on exercise, when the alternative was a room in 'Tin City' with either the door closed and the air-conditioning imitating a chain saw beside your ear or else the door open, complete with aircraft noise and AVTUR fumes. Then at ENDEX watching the sun set on Mindle Bay over the top of a glass of chilled wine with half a lobster or a slab of fresh barramundi in front of you; unbeatable.
Oh the memories ... and the ability to actually recall these memories by one so old, too!
Till the next time,
*Think the Crown Copyright should have expired on this by now. **Chisk - Maltese lager. Not bad at all, and about a 4 on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being Fosters and 10 being Yorkshire Black Sheep Ale.