27 November 2009

New members joining us recently are:

Joe Gillis, Sydney, NS, Canada "I am still serving (38 yrs), albeit as an Army Reservist, and presently CO 2nd Bn Nova Scotia Highlanders Cape Breton at Victoria Park, Sydney."

Jean-Pierre (Jeep) Pichette, Trenton, ON, Canada "Currently a staff officer at CFAWC Trenton as a reservist. Previously served at 1 Air Mov Unit Edmonton (twice) and flew part-time LM with 435 Sqn in the late 1970s. Will deploy from January through July 2010."

Welcome to the OBA!


From: Malcolm Porter, Upton-upon-Severn
Sent: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 15:27:22 -0500
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #111309

Hi Tony,

Many thanks for the Newsletter -I see that Gerry (Mr Mover) Davis has been writing to you again!

Two items for inclusion in your next edition:

I have 'taken over' a local farmer's field - very close to the old runway of RRE Defford (Worcestershire) that houses the following "farm implements"

Hawker Hunter

Jet Provost

Mk 7 Meteor

In addition to the above there are two Vampires (not the neck-sucking kind!)

Only the Hunter is really worth a second look; I am on my 2,000th look c/w with wire brushes and tools kits. I must have the only garage in Upton Upon Severn with a Hunter Jet Pipe Tail Assy and camera magazine panel cover in the garage! If anyone is passing by, or in the locality, do look in (bring yer own wire brush!).

Anyone who wishes to attend-please get in touch as we are holding the very last CL44/Yukon Reunion at the RAF Club, 128 Piccadilly, London, on Saturday 22nd May 2010. I already have bookings from former 'Air Movers' but would love to see more.

Very best rgds,
Malcolm Porter

During his or her lifetime, the average human will grow 590 miles of hair.

First RAF Merlin arrives in Afghanistan

The first RAF Merlin helicopter has arrived in Afghanistan as part of a move to boost air support on the front line.

The full Merlin deployment to Afghanistan will be completed by the end of this year, providing a significant increase in UK military helicopters and flying hours available to commanders on the ground. The Merlin will perform a wide range of military tasks, making it a valuable asset for British forces. The helicopter was stripped down and transported by a C-17 aircraft from RAF Brize Norton and has arrived at Camp Bastion for re-assembly and extensive pre-flight checks before it takes to the Afghan skies.

Armed Forces Minister, Bill Rammell, said: "We recognise the importance of helicopters for operations in Afghanistan. The deployment of the Merlin helicopters is evidence of our ongoing commitment to increase capacity, and further improvements to helicopter capability in Afghanistan will follow over the next 12 months."

A Merlin helicopter from RAF Benson is loaded onto a
C-17 at RAF Brize Norton for delivery to Afghanistan

Group Captain Jonathan Burr, Station Commander at RAF Benson, said: "The Merlin Force has pulled out all the stops to get the Merlins to the front line as quickly as possible. The Force is now ready to take on the challenges of operating in the harsh conditions of Afghanistan and is
eager to contribute to the UK effort as they did so successfully in Iraq."

The Merlin helicopter arrives in Afghanistan

Squadron Leader Mike Cook, Senior Engineering Officer for the Merlin Force, said: "The first group of engineers taking the Merlin to Afghanistan have worked extremely hard at RAF Brize Norton to prepare the aircraft for its journey. The entire Engineering Squadron has risen to the challenge over the previous months to make sure all the aircraft are in top condition for the forthcoming deployment."

The Merlin Force, based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, returned from operations in Iraq in August 2009 and will provide vital support to ground operations and increase the capacity of the UK helicopter lift in Afghanistan by a further 25 per cent. Since returning from Iraq the crews have undertaken intensive pre-deployment training at El Centro Naval Air Facility in California, whilst the aircraft themselves have received a £45m upgrade that will give them improved performance in the harsh conditions of Afghanistan and protection against threats.

Defence News


From: John Delia, Melbourne, Vic
Sent: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 08:11:59 +1100
Subject: Fast Jet

Hello, Tony

I'm one of your avid readers from Australia.

The attached pic might be of interest for your next publication? Not quite Air Movements but another aspect of relocating aircraft.

Air Force cut backs are at an all time high. I believe this was the result of a fire in an F111 at Darwin. The only way to get it back to Amberley was on the back of a truck.


John Delia, Melbourne.

It's so bad even the pilots don't get to ride in the planes anymore

Thanks John - the cut backs are not limited to Oz, most of us are sufferin' in one way or another.

You have no sense of smell when you're sleeping!

Reflections by Gerry Davis


Part I - The Transition from the Royal Air Force to Civilian Transportation

Had I made the right decision?  Would I fit in?  Is this the right choice for a new career?  Well, it’s too late now Buddy, I said to myself (I bet you chat to yourself too!).

I started off at Bristol Airport as a member of the Duty Crew, a fireman and airfield labourer.  Amongst some of the duties was baggage and cargo handling and they even had one of those large forklifts.  One of my tasks was to put out the “goosenecks; a paraffin filled container similar to a watering can with a wick coming out of the spout.  We had to place these either side of the small runway in crosswind conditions for small aircraft as runway lighting when the daylight was fading.

During the course of an interview with the airport manager, he told me that he was shortly going to introduce the post of “Airport Duty Officer” He was awaiting the approval of the Airport Committee before going ahead with the advertising.  He suggested that I would make a suitable candidate but to keep my mouth shut about it.

It was a further nine months before the interviews started and I got one of the jobs.  There were five of us; another ex-RAF Boy Entrant (like myself), Sqn Ldr Harry Pollard (my old boss), and two other ex-RAF bods.  Setting up a new department in an organisation that had a mind-set akin to the Stone Age was extremely difficult and led to much animosity, distrust and bloody-mindedness against us.

These were extremely difficult times for me and my colleagues.  The biggest problem we had to face was the “Union”. For those of you not in the know, this is a system whereby if you ask a member of the workforce to do a specific task and they don’t like it, then it’s classed as either bullying or “Not my job mate.”

I found out in a very short time that the workforce consisted of, in the main, one extended family; a large part of the fire section and all of the cleaning section.  If you fell out with one then you fell out with them all.  They all seemed to have long memories and held various grudges against the five of us.  It was extremely difficult to get rid of anybody in those early days as they would probably all walk out as a result.

The fire section and ATC were the two sections of an airport that can close it by withdrawing their labour.  The number and types of fire vehicles and their manning is laid down as part of the airfield licence; boy did the fire section take advantage of that fact!  They worked a wonderful scam with overtime. There was minimal manning required to operate the fire vehicles and this was worked to full advantage, mostly with sickness cover.  There were many humorous interludes too.  On one fine Sunday ATC called the fire section to ask one of them to intercept a car that was driving down the main runway.  It was duly stopped, checked and escorted to safety.  The occupants were a priest and two nuns who somehow had got lost on the airport; the priest did say that he had never been on a road that wide before.

The airport underwent lots of different growing pains; the aircraft movements went up and down with the recessions and various fuel crises that we all had to endure.

The difference between my life as an RAF Air Movements corporal and my new career were miles apart.  For a start I was involved in making decisions of policy and manning requirements including recruitment and also attended management meetings regarding anything to do with the
general running of the airport.  For my various responsibilities I had a budget to adhere to. 

One incident from those early days comes to mind.  Our hours of operation at the time were 0700 to 2200 daily, with an hour either side for getting ready and closing down. 

During the night we had two elderly night watchmen who would lock up the terminal at night and open up in the mornings.  This one particular morning I arrived at 0600 but could not get in as the door was locked.  The night watchman was fast asleep and I couldn’t wake him from the outside.  It was doubly embarrassing as I was surrounded by an ever-increasing number of other staff and passengers.

As aircraft numbers and passengers increased, the running of the airport was constantly being reviewed with staffing levels and job descriptions being updated regularly, sometimes with the cooperation of those concerned and sometimes not.

My 27 years there was quite hectic.  I had witnessed several section heads and others suffer from nervous breakdowns because of stress; there were two section heads that, independently of each other, died after getting home from work.

Next issue: The Airline Industry and Customs Officer's Duty Free Scam


Recognition for reservists' vital role in Afghanistan and Iraq

RAF reservists who defied rocket and mortar fire to equip British troops have been honoured.

Members of 4624 Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF), based at RAF Brize Norton, were handed medals on Saturday for their service in Afghanistan and Iraq. The squadron has flown to Iraq and Afghanistan hundreds of times – often coming under heavy fire as it supported regular forces by delivering weapons, supplies and humanitarian aid. The reservists have also helped transport the coffins of fallen servicemen.

Senior Aircraftman Stephen Green, 48, of Yarnton, is a laboratory production administrator by day, but since 1982 has also been a reservist with the squadron. SAC Green was presented with the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan by Air Vice-Marshall Lord Beaverbrook at RAF Brize Norton.

He said: “I’ve been fired at in Afghanistan and Iraq but I wouldn’t give it up. The camaraderie is terrific. “I’m proud of this medal and of course I enjoy it. I’ve been doing it for 27 years and I’m not bored of it yet.” SAC Green said he served on six flights from Basra in Iraq which saw 219 rockets fired in 115 separate attacks.

Corporal Marie Pawley, 46, of Milton-under-Wychwood, joined up 14 years ago after seeing an advert in the Mail’s sister paper the Oxford Times.

She gave up a managerial position at a psychiatric hospital to become a full-time reservist in 2005. Cpl Pawley won the Volunteer Reserve Service Medal.

She said: “I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve flown. But operations in Iraq and Afghanistan couldn’t be successful without us, and even the regulars would agree with that. “It can be a bit hairy. I remember a mortar landing 15 metres from our hut and the walls shaking. “I was under a table wearing body armour. I thought I was a goner.”

Lord Beaverbrook paid tribute to the reservists and their families and employers for their sacrifices.

Oxford Mail

Children laugh about 400 times a day, while adults laugh on average only 15 times a day

From: Barry Martin, Kingston, NS
Sent: Thu, 12 Nov 2009 22:00:52 -0400
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #111309


I can answer WRT Steve Richardson's question about there being a list of what is in the time capsule: Pictures, newspaper clippings of current events, personal possessions etc. were all put in the capsule, but no itemized list was made.

It was WO Bill Warrick's idea to put it in there. Sadly he's no longer with us - he was a good man.


Thanks Barry!


A400M completes first ground run of all four engines

Airbus Military’s delayed A400M transport has been edged closer towards its planned flight debut before year-end, with the type having run all four of its engines simultaneously for the first time.

Achieved at EADS Casa’s San Pablo site near Seville, Spain, the 18 November milestone saw aircraft MSN001’s Europrop International TP400-D6 turboprops run at ground- and flightidle settings over a 4 hour period. The engines “performed flawlessly”, says Airbus, with subsequent inspections showing “that there had been no hot-air or fluid leaks”.

The engine runs came at the end of a three-day test period which had started with so-called “dry” and “wet cranking” of each TP400 in turn, before progressing to use the aircraft’s auxiliary power unit. The engines “will be run up to maximum take-off power in further runs planned to take place shortly,” Airbus says.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders visited Seville to witness the engine trial, which he says “paves the way to the A400M first flight in the weeks to come.” The company expects to fly MSN001 before the end of next month, but has yet to commit itself to a firm date, noting: “it will take place only when the [flight test] crew feels the aircraft is ready”.

Meanwhile, Airbus personnel are so busy with preparing MSN001 for its first flight that they have so far not found the time to remove the South African flag from the aircraft’s fuselage. Pretoria earlier this month surprised the company by cancelling its order for eight A400Ms, deliveries of which had originally been scheduled to begin next year.


In what country will you find the most Universities? India.

From: Joe Gillis, Sydney, NS
Sent: Fri, 13 Nov 2009 08:59:51 -0400
Subject: CAF Mystery Photo 111309


From left to right in the photo are:

Captains Glen Watters, Della Middlestead, Al Astles, Major J.P. Pichette (CO 1 AMU) Capt Joe Gillis, MWO Dan Vardy and Capt Brook Bangsboll.

The command team from the First and Finest Air Movements Unit at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Photo was taken around 1991


LCol Joe Gillis
(Presently CO of the 2nd Battalion of the Nova Scotia Highlanders (Cape Breton), Nova Scotia, Canada.

P.S. Great site and please keep it up.

Thanks Joe and welcome to the OBA!

From: Jean-Pierre Pichette, Trenton, ON
Sent: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 17:33:50 -0500
Subject: CAF Mystery Photo 111309

My good man,

I was very surprised to see the Canadian Forces mystery photo in the last edition.

First, the photo shows the officers of 1 Air Movements Unit (1 AMU) Edmonton, likely taken in 1991-92. From left to right: Capt Glenn Waters (now a Major in Greenwood), Capt Della Middlestead (she left the CF in the mid 90s to become a consultant in Ottawa), Capt Al Astles (if my memory serves me well, he was posted to BC - Comox I think - where he retired in the late 90s), Capt Joe Gillis (he retired from the CF, became a Reservist and he is now the CO of the Nova Scotia Highlanders in Sydney), MWO Dan Varty as our Unit MWO (he retired from the CF mid 90s and moved to southern BC to become a ski and motorcycle instructor), Capt Brook Bangsboll (now a LCol in Ottawa I believe), and myself in the middle as the CO of 1 AMU.

Congrats and I enjoy reading your publication. Keep up the excellent work. I am now a member of your organization.

LCol JP Pichette
Canadian Forces Aerospace Warfare Center
8 Wing Trenton, Ontario, Canada

It's interesting to see where everyone is currently. Nice to have you along Jeep, welcome!

In ancient Japan, public contests were held to see who could fart the loudest and longest!

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Sent: 15/11/2009 14:18
Subject: Mauripur Reunion

Hi Tony,

We had our 14th Re-union this weekend as usual at the Falcon Hotel in Stratford on Avon. On Friday evening 68 members and wives gathered for the dinner and dance. Before we had our meal two of the chaps stood up and in turn read out the names of all the members we've lost this last year, 18 altogether which included two lads from my era 1954-56; quite tragic but of course inevitable.
One of them was "Lofty Newhall" (Clerk General Duties: does the RAF still have them?) who was quite a character. I can remember on one occasion he walked into the section (Air Movements) dressed in one of those one piece denims short legged variety which made him look quite comical as he was well over six foot tall.

Chiefy High from ASF also came in to have a look at what we had chalked up on the arrivals board; he was a little tubby bloke and used to walk around dressed just in his shorts carrying an eight inch ruler continually scratching himself with it to try and ease his prickley heat. Lofty walked up to him and loud enough for all of us to hear jokingly asked Chiefy if he could have a fitter to fix his gestetner (do they still have them?) and Chiefy answered him loud enough again for all of us to hear to "go away" or words to that effect!
Though we have unfortunately lost these chaps two new ones found us this year and hey presto one of them is from my era; we were in the same billet at Mauripur and and when it started to be run down and closed by the end of '56 followed me down to Steamer Point in Aden. So this weekend we had quite a few memories to stir.

I really enjoyed the weekend and it's planned to have our 15th one at the same time next year.

As we packed up and got ready to depart members of the Aden Veterans started to arrive to enjoy their get-together.



Thanks John, a mixture of sad moments and good times by the sounds of it.


From: Taff Farrow, Stafford
Sent: 11/15/2009, 2:30 pm, EST
Subject: Guest Book Entry

Superb site!

Please could note my e-mail address change New e-mail address

Thanks again for a great site.

Taff Farrow

Thanks for the heads up Taff, I've changed everything this end.

Cats cannot taste sweet things.

Bye bye, Caribou

A ROYAL Australian Air Force (RAAF) Caribou aircraft has completed its final task in Papua New Guinea and returned to Australia last week, closing a 45-year relationship for the aircraft with the country.

The Australian Government announced earlier this year that the current fleet of 13 Caribou, operated by No. 38 Squadron from RAAF Base Townsville, will be retired in late 2009. They have been a workhorse of the Australian military and are still recognised as one of the most capable short-haul transport aircraft in the world.

The Caribou, so well suited to the difficult local terrain and conditions, has a long and distinguished history in PNG since 1964.

Operating in provinces such as Central, Oro, Milne Bay, Goroka and Madang, the Caribou has provided much needed assistance to many Papua New Guineans. However, helicopters can now do some of the work previously handled by the Caribou and there are bigger and more efficient transport planes.

This long service life has taken its toll on the Caribou. They are increasingly expensive to operate, and are not providing the necessary return expected by the RAAF.

The Caribou is also less able to effectively support the Australian Defence Force in other environments in which it operates. Training of RAAF personnel must be focused on providing them with the skills required to support modern and capable airframes.

Australian Defence Force aircraft, including the C-130 Hercules, will continue to train in Papua New Guinea. Operational air lift requirements, such as those assisting the civil community, will be effectively managed by the Australian Defence Force across its aviation assets.

The Caribou has supported PNG famine relief operations in 1997, tsunami relief operations in 1999, Cyclone Guba relief operations in 2007, and the mudslide which affected the Highlands Highway in 2008 as well as providing transport support for the PNG Defence Force. Most recently, a Caribou has been transporting building materials provided under the Basic Education Development Project to schools in the Kokoda area of Central province.

With the harsh terrain and the remoteness of many communities around PNG, it is often difficult to get relief supplies into disaster-struck areas. The unique capabilities of the Caribou, including short takeoff and landings, has seen the light transport aircraft cope well with the challenging flying conditions in delivering much needed assistance to affected communities across PNG.

The Caribou, replaced the previously-used Dakota aircraft and its main operational role has been in support of the Australian Army.

While slow and noisy, the Caribou is a versatile transport aircraft, capable of short take-offs and landings on unprepared runways that cannot be used by other military transports. The Caribou has been used by the RAAF for flare-dropping missions, medical evacuation, search and rescue and paratroop training exercises, but the main task was always the airlift of troops, civilians, supplies, ammunition, mail and food.

The RAAF began receiving its first Caribous in 1964, however in July 1964, some Caribous being ferried from Canada to Australia were diverted to Malaysia and South Vietnam to support Australiaís increasing commitment in the Vietnam War. During nearly eight years of operations in Vietnam, the Caribou, which used the call-sign ‘Wallaby’, carried over 600,000 passengers. Australiaís Caribou detachment in Vietnam began winding down in June 1971, and the last aircraft arrived back in Australia in February 1972.

The National


From: David Powell, Princes Risborough
Sent: Mon, 16 Nov 2009 21:46:57 -0000
Subject: One From the Grey Cells

Hi Tony

Thanks for the latest excellent Newsletter. What a coup securing the Rompers Green cartoon strips, some of which I did manage to catch although I was entombed in the Old War Office at the time. Anyway, while not quite in the same league, the UKBAGS staff car story did remind me of one incident from own grey cells.

This involved the often forgotten forward airstrip RAF Gong Kedah just south of the Thai border in Kalantan where I had been detached for two weeks in 1965 to close the unit. Actually the two weeks extended to nearly 3 months when HQFEAF forgot we were still there having removed the pin from the map, but that’s another story.

Anyway, one lazy afternoon who should swing by but one of the senior Hastings pilots from RAF Changi enjoying a bit of in-theatre family leave exploring the wonderful beaches and islands along the north-western coast of Malaya, complete with a trailer and a 16 ft speedboat. They were about to head back south, but the trailer had become seriously non-road-worthy, could we help? Unfortunately, the minimalist resources of our soon to be closed MT section (one fitter plus hammer) could not assist.

But, as I was about to fly back to RAF Changi for a couple of day’s R&R on the weekly RNZAF Bristol Freighter, we offered to recover said bust boat to base.

The fact that the pilot in question had a very attractive daughter who was later to beak many a heart when she married a Red Arrow, was obviously irrelevant.

So it was that the following day a Bristol Freighter, supposedly empty apart from one passenger and the mail, trundled to a halt at Changi to be met by the DAMO. The look on Bryan Morgan’s face was a picture when the clam-shell nose-doors were cranked open to reveal the trailer mounted speedboat. “What’s that?”

I replied, “Oh just my 600 pounds of excess baggage!”

David Powell

The lense of the eye continues to grow throughout a person's life.

From: Graham Flanagan, Stafford
Sent: Tue, 17 Nov 2009 14:29:11 -0000
Subject: Heather


Many thanks for your entry in OBB #111309 about Heather.

It was most appreciated by myself and the 'boys' as were the messages of condolence sent by OBA Members.


Graham (Geordie), Iain and Kevin


From: Keith Parker, Melksham
Sent: Tue, 17 Nov 2009 15:59:02 -0000
Subject: Sad news - Chas Finn Kelcey MBE

Hi Tony

So sorry to hear the sad news of Chas Finn Kelcey, both Phil Smith and myself will remember him for a lot more than "Rompers Green" although that said both of my sons were avid readers of the article and still talk of outings to Swidnod and Woolley Bassett and if we are at an airshow it's always good to see " The Red Barrells," sadly the real stars "The Green Gottles" (Herc formation) are no more.

No Gents! what Phil and I remember were the times when Chas used to fly into Masirah during the Seeb/Bait shuttle he was so skilled at flying low level we all used to crowd onto the flight deck to witness the spectacle of approaching Masirah at the end of a knackering day, skimming the plateau near Palm Wadi, zooming down to zero feet shooting along the runway and then a steep climb and a wing over at the end of the runway, we all clung on for dear life feeling like our heads were coming through our underpants but what a finale to a hard day.

But we weren't alone, the whole station would turn out to see the flypast on the ground if they knew that Chas was flying. Thrills and spills were few and far between in those days, but a quick announcement on Radio 65 of the pending arrival would bring out everyone.

As the close down of Masirah drew ever closer, we didn't see too much of Chas, except that is for the night we were all sat at the open-air "freebe" cinema in the NAAFI, when suddenly Chas arrived overhead in usual style, I swear we could see the grooves in the tyres he was so low, and this was in the dark he did at least have all the landing lights facing down on us.

The last time I had the honour to fly with Chas was on the last Herc out of Masirah, Phil and myself had manged to yet again get on the flight deck to witness Chas's last pass over Masirah we took off, flew the usual circuit and then dropped down as low as he could to skim up the runway waggling his wings. Chas as relaxed as ever just turned and said in true Flt Lt Coole fashion "Right that's that now let's find those Pyramids in Egypt."

Wherever you are Chas thank you, keep those wings out of trouble and stay the right way up.

Cheers Tony


I have goosebumps!

It is illegal for tourists to enter Mexico with more than 2 CD's!

From: Keith Parker, Melksham
Sent: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 14:49:46 -0000
Subject: Remembrance Sunday Parade

Hi Tony

Did anyone else recognise Jim Ryan the one time mover and later MALM marching past the the Cenotaph last Sunday on TV?

Well done Jim, good on you!


Keith Parker


From: Paul Weir, Leighton Buzzard
Sent: Thu, 19 Nov 2009 20:57:17 +0000
Subject: Bedfordshire Basketmaker

Hi Tony,

I thought the following may be of interest to some of the 'Movers' out there especially those who I know and have worked with over the years.

I have been a traditional English willow basket maker for some 15 years now. It started as a hobby about 7 years before I retired from the RAF and I have been doing it as a business with my wife Diane ever since.

We used to exhibit and demonstrate basket making at many craft shows such as Sandringham, Blenheim Palace, Broadlands and Woburn Abbey. But we have now stopped doing these shows as my business is now well established and getting enough work coming in. This change in the business primarily came about thanks to Diane doing all my research. As a result I have had many interested commissions from all over the country.

For example many commissions included heart shaped basket for dove releases at weddings and funerals, Roman shields for battle re-inactments, baskets for vintage cars for the London to Brighton Rally, butchers and bakers bikes, television props (including the Time Team on Channel 4) and willow coffins which are becoming very popular.

We also featured on Anglia television after making a 7ft high 'Wicker Man' designed for exhibitions throughout the UK and in Germany.

The main reason for this short article is regarding the most interesting commission I have had to date. I was commissioned by the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers in London to make a stand for the ships bell for the frigate HMS Richmond, which incidentally is affiliated to the Worshipful Company. Both Diane and myself were invited down to Portsmouth, along with the Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers, for a day out at sea around the Solent.

Whilst at sea there was a formal presentation of the stand to the ships captain, then we had lunch in the officer's mess and to complete the day we had a guided tour around the ship. When the ship docked back into Portsmouth both Di and myself had a complete surprise.

As a 'thank you' the Prime Warden invited both of us to the 439th Annual Banquet of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers at The Mansion House in London. It goes without saying it was a very memorable occasion which we will never forget. Then about 6 months later, as a mark of excellence, I was awarded the title of Yeoman to the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers. There are only 10 of us in the country.

I never heard or seen anything like this before and I was intrigued as to the origins of this stand. After some research I discovered that the stand was used for christenings on board ship especially back in the very early years of the Navy. When men were press ganged off the streets into the British Navy many of them were never christened and when a battle was imminent (i.e. Trafalgar) they approached the captain to be christened. By turning the ships bell upside down into the stand it was then used as a font.

I still live in the village of Stanbridge just east of Leighton Buzzard where I run my business from home. I am very thankful to have discovered a hobby which, with much hard work from both of us, has turned into a thriving little cottage industry.

If anyone out there would like to know more about us see:


If anyone happens to be in the vicinity you are more than welcome to pay us a visit.

Regards and take care

Paul & Di Weir

That's wonderful work Paul, you had a dream and followed it!

John Bigg's car for the London to Brighton race

Womens' hearts beat faster than mens'.

From: Malcolm Porter, Upton-upon-Severn
Sent: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 10:12:53 -0500
Subject: Where do old Movers go?

Where do old Movers go?

In my case, I was appointed an Ambassador for the Hampton Wick Royal Cricket Club to the good citizens of Urumiyah Iran. (HWRCC cap)

During my time with BAe, we used the AOC of British Air Ferries to support the Austrian MoD with daily flights in a BAe146-200 from Vienna.

The 146QC operated in the freight and pax roles on alternate days.


The Britannia XM496 (ex LYN) will be open to the public on Sunday 6th December from 12.30pm onwards.

Why not come to Kemble (Gloucester) and be welcomed on board. We are all ex-RAF, from Airframe & Engine wallahs to Loadmasters & Movers.

Step aboard 'Regulus' once more and recall the days of rear-facing pax seats.


Malcolm Porter


Staines to Savile Row

The ways in which people were inspired to seek careers in aviation decades ago were many and various.

It may have been the excitement of a bumpy joyflight, perhaps in one of the Rapides featured on this page recently, or simply the sight of the non-stop apron activity from a point high above the Queens Building.

Here's someone, however, who was on a different track, until fate intervened.

[OBA Member] Dennis Martin began his working life as a goods clerk in the former Staines West station 60 or so years ago, when little steam tank locomotives operated a push-and-pull service about eight times a day to and from West Drayton.

Called up for National Service, he opted for the RAF and was posted to Lyneham to learn 'air movements'. Dennis recalls: "I learned all about aircraft loading, weight and balance, customs and immigration and the like. I had dealings with emergencies and disasters as well as the day-to-day workings of a 24-hour operational station."

Leaving the RAF in 1955, Dennis decided not to return to the railways, but chose to put his new-found skills to use with fast-growing independent operator, Hunting-Clan Air Transport.

It operated Vickers Vikings and was having particular success with a low-fare Safari Coach Class service from London to Africa, operated jointly with Airwork.

He states: "Hunting-Clan were increasing their activities at London Airport following their move from Bovingdon, and offered me a job in their ground operations department."

Dennis worked at the south side operations office and also in the traffic department at Northside.
He says: "We were a small, friendly staff and we had to do long hours to cover the early morning departures and the return evening flights."

After a probationary period of six months he was sent to be measured for a uniform - no expense spared, it was a top class tailor in Savile Row!

Dennis adds: "HuntingClan's check-in area at London Airport North was a counter about 12ft long with a set of scales shared with KLM."

Dennis was one of many airport workers who witnessed the fatal crash of an RAF Avro Vulcan at the end of a round-the-world goodwill tour, on October 1, 1956.

He stayed with Hunting until 1959 when the airline was one of several that merged to form British United.

He went on to work at BEA for 18 months and then British Eagle, where he remained until the airline's demise in 1968.

See timetable and ticket prices for Hunting Clan

Hounslow Chronicle

22% of people leave the glob of toothpaste in the sink.

All-female RAF Merlin crew ready for Afghanistan

Four female combat helicopter aircrew are on their way to Afghanistan to fly the RAF's Merlin aircraft into action against the Taliban. The four female aircrew will form part of a pool of Merlin pilots and loadmasters and will be assigned to aircraft as individuals.

Sgt Stephanie Cole, Flt Lt Michelle Goodman
Flt Lt Joanna Watkinson, Sgt Wendy Donald

The four - two pilots and two loadmasters - include Flight Lieutenant Michelle Goodman, the first woman ever to be awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. The women, aged from 24 to 32, have been training hard in California to cope with the 'high, hot and dusty' conditions of southern Afghanistan.

The team will be expected to pick up casualties and fly resupply missions into the teeth of hostile fire in Helmand province. The four women have been focusing on night-time dust landings and gunnery and expect to come under enemy fire frequently.

The two loadmasters, Sergeants Stephanie Cole, 24, and Wendy Donald, 32, have been honing their weapons skills on the helicopter's three 7.62mm general purpose machine guns in order to be able to defend their aircraft in Afghanistan.

Flight Lieutenants Goodman and Joanna Watkinson, 28, have been practising evasive flying manoeuvres to minimise their exposure to enemy fire. All the women are aware that they might be shot down or forced to ditch their aircraft in hostile territory and have prepared for the possibility.

Flt Lt Goodman said: "Although we obviously don't want the worst to happen, we are always prepared for it. We have personal safety and protection equipment on us at all times and grab bags are securely stored within easy reach in the aircraft for all the crew. If we thought about the threat continually we would never be able to do our jobs. Obviously we always bear it in mind in terms of our actions but when you're in the middle of a dangerous sortie you just get on with your job. It's not until you get back and you're relaxing that you realise what the situation was really like as you were so focused on the task in hand. There is always concern from family members when you're deploying to an operational theatre, especially one that gets a lot of media coverage, but they're incredibly supportive and very proud of us."

Flt Lt Goodman was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 2008 for her courage under fire in Iraq. She is a Merlin pilot with 78 Squadron at RAF Benson, has been in the RAF since 2000, and is a veteran of four tours in Iraq but none in Afghanistan so far.

She said she was expecting 'banter' from the infantry about female aircrew picking them up, but nothing more. When I first got to the squadron there were only a couple of girls but now we've got six or seven over the Merlin Force which is really good and it certainly makes coming away on detachments much better. "I've flown with one of the girls once before, having two girls in the front. Because you've gone through training the whole time, I haven't really noticed any difference. You always get banter but that's what you expect. If I didn't get banter I would think there was something wrong! I think it's not that widely known that women can come into the military, that they potentially can go out to places like Iraq and Afghanistan."

Flt Lt Joanna Watkinson is also based at RAF Benson and has been in the RAF for six years. She said: "We often operate under fire but the Merlin is a highly protected aircraft and we are taught tactics to help us reduce the risk to the aircraft, the crews and the passengers as much as possible. We obviously can't say too much about the defensive aid suite as it could compromise operational security, but it is very comprehensive and will give us a high level of protection from various threat types.

"Obviously we're nervous about what we may face in Afghanistan as it is a different theatre of operations but we're happy that our training and tactics will help mitigate the threats against us as much as possible. We're all looking forward to doing our best in Afghanistan to support the ground troops."

Asked what she thought of increasing numbers of female aircrew in the RAF, she said: "You start your officer training and there are two or three girls on your flight. "You just go through training and get used to the fact that you're one of very few girls around the place.The boys are the boys, they always will be, and I get on with them really well, but it is quite nice when you're flying with some other girls that you can be close friends with. The Merlin is the first aircraft I've ever flown; I love the fact that it is a new aircraft, still developing. It's got all the computer wizardry inside so it's a very technological aircraft and I really like flying it. I find that it's a very natural aircraft to fly. I first did my dust landing training in Iraq. We had a training area we could use but when you're going out on operations it's a little bit more stressful. The training in California was a brilliant opportunity to do the dust landings in a completely safe environment."

Sgt Stephanie Cole has been in the RAF for three years and is the youngest of the four. She said: "I've just literally come out of training in September. I spent about three weeks on the squadron, had a bit of leave, then I came straight out here so I'm a baby crewman."

The Sergeant's job is to keep the pilots informed of obstacles around the aircraft and to defend it if necessary. Sgt Cole explained: "The Merlin can be fitted with three general purpose machine guns - on the ramp and in the two doors. The weapons are used in defence, as an additional level of protection for the aircraft if required. If we are required to man the weapons it is to provide covering fire in a high threat situation to allow the aircraft to safely evacuate. We are trained in this role and have been undertaking further training in El Centro, California, on the ranges. In certain situations we will also be accompanied by an Apache or Lynx who will undertake the air assault role if required.

Asked what she thought the infantry would make of the female crew, she said: "I don't think an all-female crew would make a difference to anyone. "We're all professionals capable of doing our jobs in the most demanding conditions and I don't think being female changes that in any way.

"There's always banter between the crews, and between the different services, but it's all light-hearted and it is one of our coping mechanisms for the conditions that we face. I don't believe the guys on the ground would have any problem being picked up by females; the most important thing to them is that we are there to help them when they need it."

One of her toughest jobs is helping to guide the aircraft during dust landings. She said: "It's a lot easier by day than by night. But it's been good. This is the great thing about the detachment [to California] before Afghanistan. Practice is the time to make mistakes. The Merlin is a great bit of kit, it's been great to fly. Because we've got the onboard comms you can actually get involved with the pilot more than the other aircraft; we can help offload some of their workload."

Sgt Wendy Donald is also a loadmaster and has been in the RAF for 11 years. She is now based at RAF Benson. Sgt Donald explained her role came into its own when picking up underslung loads of up to four tonnes: "As a crewman it's my job to talk the pilot to overhead the load and we work together. I'm hanging through the hatch on the floor so either myself or the other crewman is looking through the hatch working together. It is a hard job. I don't like to say it's too tough, it's different. It's hard but you just get on with it. Flying is what I've always wanted to do so that is definitely the best part for me."

The four are due to deploy to Afghanistan in the New Year. It is possible they will fly together during the tour at some stage and there is certainly no bar to this happening, but they are unlikely to operate the same aircraft in the early stages of the deployment.

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That's it for this issue

Have a great weekend!


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