19 October 2001


New members this week are:

Robert Taylor from Doncaster, UK

Al Randle from Christchurch, UK (currently in Akrotiri, Cyprus)

Welcome to the OBA!

From:       Thumrait Traffic Management, Oman
Subject:    MGI PhotoSuite II digital photo.
Date:        Friday, October 05, 2001 2:53 PM


Every week someone seems to mention the new C17's, as Dinger mentioned we are getting to be old hands at loading them, especially in the last few weeks, so I thought I'd share this picture with all you other OB's   Not only are we shoulder to shoulder with our American cousins, as the picture shows, we are wing tip to wing tip, and for those like myself whose eye sight is not quite what it used to be the RAF C17 is on the left.

Keep up the good work


Keith Parker

[Ed:  Thanks Keith - the photograph has been put into the Images 2000 page along with a couple more.  At the same time I placed a few more pictures courtesy of Nev Whitham into Images 1970...

From:           Ian Bell, Masirah, Oman
Subject:       Re: Tipped on its ass!
Date            Sat, 6 Oct 2001 11:10:00 +0400

Hi Tony

Thanks for that one !!!!!!!!

Still working 7 days a week, so you can guess what it's like here now.  I've never seen so many aircraft at one time, even on MAMS.  Got to go to you again soon.

Tell Ian Berry to write !!!


[Ed: Oh that I was younger.....]


From:         Jim Aitken, Brisbane, Australia
Subject:      Mystery Photograph Suggestions
Date:           Sun, 7 Oct 2001 20:10:21 +1000

Hi Tony

Reminds me of the time my wife and I were flying from Chicago to Niagara Falls in 1998. A hurricane blew down from the Great Lakes and we sat on the perimeter for 6 hours. No food or drinks on board for such a short flight. At one stage there was 54 aircraft held up and our flight was eventually cancelled.

Cheers Jim Aitken

[Ed:  I guess that photo was a real mystery Jim as you're the only one who even attempted to solve it!  It was taken of Halifax airport in Nova Scotia on the 11th September this year when all of the international flights bound for the USA were diverted into Canadian airports after the terrorist attacks.]


[Ed: Received the following in the OBA Guest book]

Date:             Thursday 10/11/2001 4:51:32am
Name:            Davy Jones
Referred By:   Just Surfed In
City/Country:  Wellington, New Zealand

Comments:      Having been 'working' for a living and have had a few IT problems so I've not been spending too much time on the web.

The site is great! I'm not normally first on young boy Matthew (11 yrs) normally takes the controls first...likes to surf the images! ac mad or what...the only way he can see military ac now, since RNZAF has very little left to fly!

Anyway, still alive and kicking some 15 months after leaving the Service. I note the telephone contact number is out of date on the members one is 00 64 4 4773164 (fax is 4773165)...if you're visiting drop an email or make sure you've the right address!

Cheers for now.


[Ed:  Thanks Davy - it's nice to hear from you again.  I made the changes to your phone number.]


From:       Jim Aitken, Brisbane, Australia
Subject:   Wanted terrorists reported in North Queensland
Date:        Tue, 9 Oct 2001 17:15:41 +1000 To: "John Moss"

Latest news reports advise that a cell of 4 terrorists has been operating on Palm Island in North Queensland.

Police advised earlier today that 3 of the 4 have been detained.  The Northern Regional Police Commissioner stated that the terrorists Bin Sleepin, Bin Drinkin and Bin Fightin have been arrested on immigration issues.

The Police advise further that they can find no one fitting the description of the fourth cell member, Bin Workin, on the island.

Police are confident that anyone who looks like Workin will be very easy to spot in the community.

[Ed:  How long have you bin Aitken to tell us that one Jim?]


From:        Jim Aitken Brisbane, Australia
Subject:      Change of ISP and e-mail address
Date:          Wed, 10 Oct 2001 17:55:29 +1000

Please adjust your address books to reflect the new address for me:  I will still maintain my dingoblue account until the end of the current month

This change has been brought about by an ongoing lack of customer service from an ISP who is about to "bite the dust" IMHO.  Sorry for any inconvenience, I am assured that Pacific Internet will supply a service which will be second to none. We'll see !!!!!


Jim Aitken (aka 'jayay')

[Ed: Got it!]


From:            Bobby Atcheson, London, UK
Subject:         FW: Shot Down
Date:             Fri, 12 Oct 2001 16:42:48 +0100

An American fighter pilot was flying his F16 aircraft over Afghanistan, when  he noticed a flying carpet on his left hand side, manned by a  man with a machine gun. He looked to his right and saw another carpet  alongside, also manned by a man with a machine gun.

He thought ' I've got to get out of this', so he accelerated flat out and  put his plane into a high speed loop and came up behind both carpets, which he shot down.

On arriving back at his Aircraft Carrier, he  was told to report to the captain immediately.  "You idiot!" said the captain, we saw what you did on our radar and now  we're in a load of trouble."

"What do you mean?" said the pilot, "I shot both carpets down!"

"I know that," said the captain,  "but they were Allied Carpets!"

[Ed:  Thanks Bobby - I think I mentioned earlier that there is a lot of humour floating around about this subject right now - pity most of it can't be repeated here...]


From:       Sam Coghlan, Harrington, Ontario, Canada
Subject:    Origins
Date:        Fri, 12 Oct 2001 18:56:32 +0500

I got this from my sister in Winnipeg. It's just too insightful! I have to share it:

The U.S. standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That is an exceptionally odd number.

Why was that gauge used?  Because that's the way they built them in England, and the U.S. railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English build them that way?  Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did "they" use that gauge then?  Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

So why did the wagons have that particular odd spacing?  Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads?  The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since.

And the ruts in the roads?  The ruts in the roads, which everyone had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for (or by) Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The U.S. standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever.

So the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse's ass came up with it, you may be exactly right, because the Imperial Roman war chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back end of two war horses. Thus we have the answer to the original question. Now the twist to the story...

When we see a space shuttle sitting on it's launching pad, there are two booster rockets attached to the side of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRB's. The SRB's are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah. The engineers who designed the SRB's might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRB's had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses' behinds. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system Was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse's ass!!!

Don't you just love engineering?


[Ed:  Perhaps George Lynes can use this trivia in his transportation studies?  Sam Coghlan is Chief Librarian of Oxford County, Ontario, and a close friend]


From:         David Stevens, Bangor, Wales
Subject:       Re:  Regrets
Date :         Tue, 16 Oct 2001 23:57:09

Dear Tony

Wow. I thought someone had died when I saw the 'subject'.

Regards David

[Ed:  Thanks David - not just yet]


From:          Bobby Atcheson, London, UK
Subject:       DFOW
Date:           Wed, 17 Oct 2001 13:54:12 +0100

Hi Tony,

I was surprised to see a blank newsletter last week so I thought I would make a contribution.

It concerns the dreaded Flying Officer Wiblin, or DFOW as you know him.  I thought he had been "done" before, but I realize now that I had seen his name mentioned in Ken Davie's profile.

Ken ran in the Chicago marathon two weeks ago by the way, and when he finishes I hope to hear from him (just  kidding Ken).  I'm sure you all remember Ken and the regular searches for his lost contact lenses.  I'm hoping to see him in Minnesota sometime next year.

Anyway ... DFOW was attached to Charlie team for a while and we were flying from Lossiemouth back down to Lyneham one night.  We were in our usual spot up front, port side, hoping the QM would get his act together and provide some coffee when DFOW, in his distinctive North-East accent, started pointing out of the porthole, very excited, and said, "Lads... Lads... look down there... just to the left of those lights... that's where I come from."

We leant forward to have a look and noticed that Ben Johnson, the team Sergeant, was walking to the back of the plane only to stop after a few paces and shout,  "Back in a minute lads ...  I'm just going for a shit."

We all fell about laughing at this and the DFOW looked confused.  After a few moments he turned back to the window and said  "Oh no ... you've missed it now!"

He told me once that he joined up to as he wanted to be a fighter pilot ... there's no punch line here, he actually did.  He said he'd been in flying training (Jet Provosts?) but failed as his navigation let him down. We were only interested in him being able to navigate his way to the accommodation to sort that out ... couldn't have him near the work.

Just a couple of things to finish on concerning fellow ex 50th Entry Hereford brats (Boy Entrants).  Dave Breckon e-mailed me to complain about about how tough life was spending his time in California,  jet skiing and lazing by his pool. Phil Clarke in Austria is going to give me a bell when he gets back to England so we can have an ale or two.

The last time we had a beer was in a pub outside Wildenrath when we flew over there as part of our Movements course ... turned out the German barman knew Phil's Dad when he had been a POW in England during WW2 ...the German that is ... not ...

Hope this finds you well,



[Ed: Thanks Bobby - I well remember Ken always losing his contact lenses - when I first contacted him last year I reminded him of the fact - I do believe he was gobsmacked!  I know that the DPOW was in charge during the Oil Lift in Africa back in the 60's when three of his team 'opped it over the wall. See "The Oil Lift" in Articles on the web site for full details]


From:         Ken Dixon
Subject:      Census of ex Masirah personnel.
Date:          Tue, 16 Oct 2001 07:07:11 EDT

Dear Masirah Veteran

We are in the process of forming a group of ex Masirah Island residents into 'The Masirah Island Veterans Association'. In this process we are building up a database (census) of people who qualify as such and have contacted you to see if you would be able to help. The whole idea is to reconnect old friends and comrades and keep contact with Masirah.

If you have been one of the select band of Masirans, please read the attachment and accept our invitation to register.

Thank you

Yours sincerely

Ken Dixon

PS Offers of help will be warmly welcomed


The Masirah Island Census

If you, or any member of your family, have ever served on Masirah Island, in the Sultanate of Oman, we invite you to contact us. It matters not how long you spent there, if you have been there, you are one of us.

Very few men or women who experienced life on 'our' island, realize that they are one a very special breed. A fraternity of 'chosen people' having been gifted with the privilege of being a part of nature in its most basic form.

It is a well known fact that anyone who served on the island is left inexorably with an indelible impression, whether good or bad. On the day of return to civilization, many will have mixed feelings. The vast majority will be filled with sadness. Some are just glad to get away from the place but one thing is certain... one day in the future, maybe a year, maybe twenty, Masirah Island will come back to haunt you and you will be filled with inexplicable and overwhelming a long lost lover, you will not be able to get her out of your mind.

The sad part of the Masiran experience, is that many ex-islanders, lose touch with friends they made while they were there. No matter what nationality people are, American, Pakistani, British, Indian or even Filipino, many search in vain for that link that will revive their very special relationship with the island.

Since the introduction of foreign personnel to the island some fifty years ago, thousands of expatriates have experienced the Masirah phenomenon. A conservative estimate is that well over a million people have visited its shores. Imagine, if you can, how many people have gone before you, perhaps into the SAF shop for the latest cassettes; into the Walli Camp for some mungus, or spent the weekend on the beaches near the Mountains of the Moon, 'bundhu bashing'. Perhaps they all experienced the fabulous Fish and Chip nights at BERS...Remember those RAF lads who pioneered the way for us all, and those stalwart men of the SOAF sergeant's mess, who constructed Masirah's own Championship golf course!! All of them are Masirans and will have their own special memories of the island. All of them are very special and privileged people.

Some time ago a group of us Masirah veterans decided to make a census of all those who have visited the island since the pioneer days. It all started out of curiosity, but it was not long before we realized just how big the task was. From the information we received from many quarters, we found ourselves in the process of forming a unique club...'The Masirah Island Veterans Association'. Suddenly we were creating that special link... the link that will bring us altogether again.

The format of our regular newsletter has been drawn up already and will include to following features:

· The editors column.
· Reports from the island.
· Letters from members.
· Local Events.
· Recent SOAF bundhus and fishing news.
· Horse racing in the Mess.
· Competitions. (prizes)
· SAF Shop & price list.
· News from The Embassy Flat in Muscat.
· Shopping. Bargains in Muscat.
· Stories from the BERS Dining-in Night and barbies.
· New members list and Database search for old friends.
· Amateur Radio spot.
· The BBC World Service column from BERS
· 'The Pub'
· Nature. Animal and Bird watch plus the Turtle slot.
· Majid's Workshop. A special place for our Asian colleagues.
· The Hurricane Shelter...a weather forecast for the island.
· (and much more... your ideas would be very welcome)

Until we have a complete database we are unable to say how frequently we will be able to produce the newsletter- monthly or quarterly but bear in mind, that it will be necessary to charge a small membership fee to cover printing and postage costs.
It hoped that our first newsletter will be sent to all members sometime before Xmas this year and if anyone would like to submit an article under one of the said features, please let the editor have it before 30th November for inclusion.

The Masirah Island Veteran's Association cannot succeed without the help of everyone. Please help us to enjoy Masirah again by supporting us. Membership is not mandatory but you can still help by getting your name on the (free)database.

Register Now.

To register and get your name on the database, please complete this simple questionnaire:

Postal Address:
(e-mail / telephone)
Are you still on the island?
If not, when were you on Masirah?
How long did you stay?
Where did you work and what position did you hold?
(If in the military, please give your rank and number)
Your date of birth:
Would you consider becoming a member
of the Masirah Island Veteran's Association?
Would you be able to contribute as a regular feature writer?
Are you looking for old friends?
Are you an Amateur Radio Ham?
Can you introduce any other Masirans? (details on a separate sheet please)
Can you say what your own special memory of Masirah is?

*Members will receive the periodic newsletter, the association badge and a certificate of membership. To all those who register but do not wish to become a member of MIVA we offer our sincere thanks for taking the trouble and send you our good wishes.

If anyone has a question they would like answered, please send a stamped addressed envelope or an international prepaid letter to:

The Secretary
Masirah Island Veteran's Association.
50 Greenfield Crescent
Waterlooville, Portsmouth PO8 9EJ
England. UK

or send your e-mail to:


From:         Ken Dixon
Subject:       Re: Census of ex Masirah personnel.
Date:           Tue, 16 Oct 2001 09:01:03 EDT

Dear Tony

Thanks for your quick reply.   You've been on the island.... so what are you waiting for.... a census means you! For goodness sake man, commit yourself   We only started this about a month ago and we have already 520 people in the database, pleased to register...No, not pleased...Proud... It makes you think, doesn't it?   Can you tell me something about your own outfit and what you did on Masirah? I would really enjoy hearing from you. Of course, it goes without saying that I would reciprocate and support you also in our forthcoming website if you would like that.

Your comments about the present situation out there, is poignant and extremely relevant. Apart from reactivating the memories of our members, we want to stimulate a sort of fund that will help arab children on the island... I don't know what, at the moment.. but something that would be useful... even the construction of a playground would help. Both myself and my friends enjoyed Masirah to the point of worship and we want to put something back into the island for those people... Right at this moment when Christians and Muslims have been thrown into conflict, I truly believe that we... as Masirans... should band together and support our Omani friends...imagine how they must be feeling about this terrible situation?

Anyway, my friend, thank you for your message and please stay in contact. We in the Masirah Veteran's Association need your backing so we can help them.   All the best, Masiran... you're a very special person for having been there...never forget it.


[Ed:  Very interesting - perhaps Ken will start a web site about the island?]


New on the website this week is "Tactical Airland Operations" - a tongue in cheek account by Jerry Porter.  You can find it on the Articles page.


It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Jack Gimblett recently.  Jack was the very first Warrant Officer on UKMAMS.  The following obituary was copied from the RAF News:

GIMBLETT. J.E.(Jack) husband of Mary, died in Worthing Hospital after a short illness on August 19. He joined the RAF in 1938 and served for 33 years. His initial service was as a fitter; he then remustered as an air loadmaster and retired as a supplier, even though he was much a mover at heart. He served with MAMS in various parts of the world and became a staunch supporter of the association. After some years in retirement, he moved to the RAFA housing at Sussexdown and spent his final days in Princess Marina House. He loved and lived for the RAF. He was a member of RAFA, the Burma Star Association and the British Legion. He will be greatly missed by Mary, his two sons and daughter, and his grandchildren, as well as all his friends inside and outside the service


Well, that's it for this week - get those fingers onto your keyboards!

Have a great weekend

Best regards