06 December 2002


New members joining us recently are:

Colin "Biggles" Bignall from Runcorn, UK

Chris Jones from Lyneham, UK

Don Stewart from Lincoln, UK

Jimmie Durkin from Stafford, UK

Jack Dunlop from Aberdeen, UK

Welcome to the OBA!


From:     Charles Collier, Marlborough, UK
Date:      22 Nov 2002 06:06
Subject:  Another story where I found trouble!

Hello Tony,

Yet another story as a corporal at No 60 MU. We were tasked to RAF Little Rissington (In the 71 MU Bicester area - but they were overtasked!).

In the evening we journeyed into Cheltenham to taste the local beer. This we did this ending up at the Aztec coffee bar. This was on the first floor of a building in the town, and what we did not perceive, was that on arrival at the coffee bar there were two opposing gangs (Mods and Rockers - it was 1963!) at two sides of the bar.

We collected our coffee and sat at the table in the centre of the bar, There were four of us and we were blissfully unaware of the impending action that was about to take effect!

One of the groups (Mods or Rockers) came over to our table and smashed a bottle on the table beside me. He then threatened the other group to attack them!

Whereupon, we realised what was happening and quietly departed past the bar owner who was frantically dialling 999!

No matter how much you drink you must always be aware of your circumstances and take the appropriate action when necessary



[Ed:  Thanks as always Charles!]


From:     Colin Bignall, Runcorn, UK
Date:      24 Nov 2002 18:06
Subject:  Application text

I’m still alive, living in Sunny Civie street sharing my life with my wife Shaz (mad Drama Teacher) and a manic dog called Cleo. I’m in my final year at university, might even get a job one day!

[Ed:  Welcome Colin!]


Andy Rooney is an old curmudgeon on CBS television in North America.  John Bell over there in Oz was kind enough to forward some interesting quotes:

Andy Rooney Logic

1. Andy Rooney on Vegetarians:
Vegetarian - that's an old Indian word meaning “lousy hunter."

2. Andy Rooney On :
Did you know that it costs forty-thousand dollars a year to house each prisoner? Jeez, for forty-thousand bucks apiece, I'll take a few prisoners into my house. I live in Los Angeles. I already have bars on the windows. I don't think we should give free room and board to criminals.  I think they should have to run twelve hours a day on a treadmill and generate electricity. And if they don't want to run, they can rest in the chair that's hooked up to the generator.

3. Andy Rooney On Fabric Softener:
My wife uses fabric softener. I never knew what that stuff was for. Then I noticed women coming up to me, sniffing, then saying under their breath, Married!" and walking away. Fabric Softeners are how our wives mark their territory. We can take off the ring, but it's hard to get that April fresh scent out of your clothes.

4. Andy Rooney On Morning Differences :
Men and women are different in the morning. We men wake up aroused in the morning. We can't help it. We just wake up and we want you. And the women are thinking, 'How can he want me the way I look in the morning?' It's because we can't see you. We have no blood anywhere near our optic nerve.

5. Andy Rooney On Phone-In-Polls:
You know those shows where people call in and vote on different issues? Did you ever notice there's always like 18% that say "I don't know." It costs 90 cents to call up and vote and they're voting "I don't know." Honey, I feel very strongly about this. Give me the phone. (Says into phone) "I DON'T KNOW!" (Hangs up looking proud.) Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe you're not sure about." This guy probably calls up phone sex girls for $2.95 to say, "I'm not in the mood."

6. Andy Rooney On Cripes:
My wife's from the Midwest. Very nice people there. Very wholesome. They use words like 'Cripes'. 'For Cripe's sake.' Who would that be - Jesus Cripes?  The son of 'Gosh' of the church of 'Holy Moly'? I'm not making fun of it. You think I wanna burn in 'Heck'?

7. Andy Rooney On Grandma:
My grandmother has a bumper sticker on her car that says, 'Sexy Senior Citizen.' You don't want to think of your grandmother that way, do you? Out entering wet shawl contests. Makes you wonder where she got that dollar she gave you for your birthday.

8. Andy Rooney On Answering Machines:
Did you ever hear one of these corny, positive messages on someone's answering machine? "Hi , it's a great day and I'm out enjoying it right now.  I hope you are too. The thought for the day is: "Share the love." Beeeep. "Uh, yeah...this is the VD clinic calling....Speaking of being positive, your test results are back. Stop sharing the love."

9. Andy Rooney on Research:
Because over the past few years, more money has been spent on breast implants and Viagra than is spent on Alzheimer's Disease research, it is believed that by the year 2030 there will be a large number of people wandering around with huge breasts and erections...who can't remember what to do with them.


From:     Chris Jones, Lyneham, UK
Date:      29 Nov 2002 16:21
Subject:  Application text

1989 - LMU
1990 - Belize 6 Month Det
1990 - Lyneham D Shift
1992 - Ascension Island 6 Month Det
1993 - Back to Lyneham D shift
1995 - Transfer to Mobile November Team
1997 - RAF Unit Goose Bay
2000 - Lyneham C shift
2002 - Currently on 4 month Det Al Kharj.

[Ed:  Keep your head down Chris - nice you have you on board!]


From:     David Webb, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date:      03 Dec 2002 07:15
Subject:  RAF?

Good Afternoon Tony,


So you think that the Royal Air Force (RAF) has always been the RAF ever since its inauguration…..Wrong!!!  

Since a youngster I have been a very keen stamp collector and two of the countries that I now specialized in are The Philippines, and Labuan.  Several years ago I was lucky enough to purchase a “First Flight” stamp cover which combined the Philippines and Labuan, as well as our beloved…RAF???  (It cost me an arm and a leg).

The cover commemorates the first flight between Manila and Labuan on June 29th, 1935, and has Philippine stamps, post marked in Manila.  It also bears a rubber stamp which reads ‘VIA FLYING BOAT OF THE BRITISH ROYAL AIR CORPS, JUNE 29TH 1935’.  So as you can see the RAF was the RAC for a brief few hours on June 29th, 1935!

As we have some knowledgeable historians within OBA, can anyone add further information…Aircraft type, Tail No., Squadron, Air Crew details, where stationed, and what the ‘ell it was doing in that remote neck of the woods?

I must point out that our Chairman, Sqn. Ldr. Jack Riley (Rtd.), was not the receiving DAMO at Labuan at the time, his tour of duty there came a little later!!!  (No offence Jack).

Another RAF stamp cover story:

Whilst stationed at RAF Brize Norton in 1969 I had to fly out to New York on a VC10 in order to do a report on the PANAM Air Cargo Handling of RAF freight (mainly personal effects of those lucky enough to be posted out there).  My secondary duty on the return flight was to carry a bagful of First Flight stamp covers commemorating Alcock and Brown’s first flight across the Atlantic in a Vickers Vimy, some of which I had signed by the flight crew during the flight, and ALL of which I handed in after landing back at Brize!!!

I attach a picture of the Manila/Labuan cover so that you can peruse a little known piece of RAF, nay RAC, history.

Best Wishes,

Dave Webb

[Ed:  That's an interesting story Dave - does anyone know anything about the Labuan aircraft?]


From:     Phil Clarke, Vienna, Austria
Date:      04 Dec 2002 04:38
Subject:  C Flt. 50th. Entry Pre-Reunion 1/03 Belfast again

In Dublin's fair city, were the girls are so pretty, that's where they're sending Nobby again.
The Austrians are sick of him, and want to get rid of him, so it's off to Dublin and sweet Molly Malone.
He'll wheel his wheelbarrow, through runways broad and narrow, singing airplanes from Boeing alive alive oh.
So watch it Mulligan, we're going to get full again, of beer and whiskey, and other goodies galore.

Depart Vienna Sunday 5th Jan till the 21st at least, possibly staying till the 2nd Feb, possibly longer - four Boeing 767 C Checks back to back.

Anyone else available.

Cheers Nobby

PS  On 1st January I transfer to Austrian Airlines, along with everyone from Lauda Technical Department, e mail and possibly phone numbers will change. Mobile remains the same and works in Dublin.

PPS  Tony, just had a reply from Bobby Atcheson - he'll be there.

[Ed:  Geez Phil - you'll be too hung over when the real reunion comes about!]


Rumour corner…. You didn’t hear it from me, but…
Gordon Brown has told the armed forces that any new equipment or upgrades needed for any war with Iraq must come from within the defence budget, defence sources said yesterday.

The Treasury's ruling comes as a Telegraph investigation uncovered a series of failings, caused by ill-considered cost cuts, among key pieces of equipment that would be used in any ground war.

Ageing anti-tank missiles that would be crucial in any ground battle with the Republican Guards' T72 tanks, could be prone to explode on launch. Altogether there are more than a dozen key failings that could endanger the lives of British soldiers.

The MoD, unable to spend any money on preparations for war without government approval, has not prepared tanks for the desert or bought the filters needed to protect British troops from any Iraqi chemical or biological attack.
The revelations come as the Government is expected to face a rigorous examination in the Commons today when MPs debate Britain's support for America's attempt to force Saddam Hussein to give up his weapons of mass destruction.

Opposition MPs will question Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, on last week's public clash with Adml Sir Michael Boyce, Chief of Defence Staff. The admiral said he was "extremely concerned" over the effect of the firemen's strike on the forces' capabilities.

Mr Hoon, who was clearly rattled by the incident, promised to explain the Government's thinking on any US-led war against Iraq during today's debate.

But officials warned that he was unlikely to give any specific details of what action the Government was prepared to take and said ministers would stress the need to give weapons inspectors a chance to do their job.

The Government will be hoping to mollify a group of rebel Labour backbenchers who are demanding that it must obtain the "explicit authority" of the Commons before committing British troops to any war.

As the UN inspectors prepared to begin work, Iraq complained to the UN that the small print of the Security Council resolution authorising their work contained hidden "pretexts" for war. The resolution, adopted unanimously on Nov 7, demands that the Iraqis give up any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons, or face "serious consequences".

Naji Sabri, Iraq's Foreign Minister, complained in a letter to Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, that "there is premeditation to target Iraq, whatever the pretext".

Senior defence sources indicated that if Britain did go to war against Iraq, Mr Blair would want to make a "substantial" contribution. That could be expected to include a "light" armoured division based in Kuwait, British paratroopers and commandos, a Royal Navy carrier task force, and substantial numbers of RAF aircraft.

RAF fighters have been protecting US Navy aircraft flying off the carrier Abraham Lincoln in the Gulf as they openly practised bombing runs on potential targets in southern Iraq.





1.    Media coverage of the RAF during October centred on speculation about possible military action against Iraq and impending fire strike.  The announcement of the F-35 (Joint Strike Fighter) down select and the design announcement for the future aircraft carrier flooded the TV and newspapers at the beginning of the month.


Neutral Coverage

2.    Most of the OP FRESCO coverage (misleadingly) focused on the Army drawing on archive footage, and the RAF received very little mention in the media, largely due to the embargo on Armed Forces’ media facilities during October.  Most of the media criticism was levelled at the Green Goddesses’ lack of capability rather than Forces personnel who have retained public support.  The Sunday Mirror (27 October) ran an article about a man who had lost his mother and 3 brothers during the last fire-strike, and who was quoted as saying “The (RAF men) were very brave and I’m sure they did their best.  They risked their lives in a bid to save my family and deserve credit for that.”  The Observer found an interesting angle (27 October) when it discovered that a flt lt, presently engaged in the emergency training of military fire crews, and a civilian fire-fighter, both played alongside each other for Rotherham rugby club.

3.    Speculation continued about the likelihood of military action against Iraq, fuelled by the arrival of US stealth fighter planes to RAF Lakenheath for an exercise.  The issue of US and RAF jets bombing Iraqi air defence sites in the Southern ‘no-fly’ zone was taken up by the Daily Telegraph and The Herald (24 October) but in a factual and non-negative way.  The Observer (27 October) published an article about Armed Forces medics being called up as ‘Britain goes on a war footing’.  The Mirror and The Press & Journal (7 October) quoted film star Ewan McGregor talking about his Tornado pilot brother: “we are worried about the prospect of Colin being sent to the Middle East but …we are terribly proud of what he does.”

4.    On 4 October, all the national TV news and newspapers ran the story of how Tornado F3s were scrambled to shadow a British Airways aircraft flying into Heathrow after two passengers were heard by an air steward apparently discussing a hijack - it turned out to be a false alarm.

5.    There was coverage in The Independent on Sunday (6 October) and News of the World (13 October) about ‘Biggles Airlines’, the media’s nickname for the FSTA PFI.  The Business (13 October) gave a more balanced overview of ‘The Mother of all PFIs’.  None of the articles were negative about the RAF but expressed curiosity about whether the scheme to allow spare capacity to be used for commercial purposes would work in practice.  The Independent on Sunday quoted John Edmonds of the GMB Union: “If this contract means hundreds of new jobs, obviously that is something we welcome.  But how is it going to look when Tony Blair has to tell President Bush that the RAF can’t bomb Baghdad because it’s stuck on a Club 18-30 mission to Benidorm?”

6.    On 7 October, The Mirror carried a story of an ex-military bomb hoaxer who caused an emergency at RAF Brize Norton and was consequently jailed for 20 months, while the Daily Mail and the Telegraph published the story (26 October) about the European Court of Human Rights ordering the MOD to pay a gay ex-flt ft £115,000 in compensation (the largest payout from the total of £350 000 awarded to 5 gay ex-servicemen).

7.    RAF Leuchars featured several times in the Scottish press regarding the award of a big design-and-build contract to Morrison Construction for the expansion of the station with a spokesman being quoted in the Press & Journal: “There will be a great spin-off for the local area in terms of income and...the RAF is confident that this project will set the standard for future accommodation upgrades and new build projects throughout the UK.”  The Scotland on Sunday ran the story (13 October) on “the RAF sending thousands of brochures to luxury holiday companies and 5-star hotels to persuade their clientele to use the Tornado fighter base (RAF Leuchars) as a convenient landing strip, with easy access to St Andrews golf course”.  The News of the World also carried the story the same day.

8.    The Press & Journal published a feature on 9 October about a doctor who had formerly worked with the Red Arrows, and who had used that experience to devise a series of courses to assist companies in reducing the huge costs of stress-related problems in the workplace.  Pilots were listed as having one of the world’s most stressful occupations.

9.    A number of obituaries featured during the month.  Notable among them were those of Flt Lt Edward Johnson, a Lancaster Bomb aimer who flew in the Dambusters raid and later survived a crash over the heavily defended Dortmund Ems canal whilst the Daily Express (28 October) ran a tribute to Royal Flying Corps Ace, Sqn Ldr Hubert Williams, who died on 13 September aged 106 and was thought to be Wales’ oldest man.

Negative Coverage

10.    The BBC, Sky and ITN plus all the newspapers covered the Ministerial announcement on the new order for F35s (STOVL version) and the RN’s two new aircraft carriers.  Several newspapers made the point that there would be a 6-year capability gap between the retirement of the Harrier FA2 and the JSF entering service.  The Times carried a letter on 8 October posing the question “Will the RAF continue to be a viable and separate service?”  

11.    The Herald ran a story on 23 October about a US proposal for 8 long range HC-3 Chinooks to be returned to US as a ‘swap’ for more advanced MH-47G helicopters which could be supplied by the US to the RAF at a later date.  “The disadvantages of losing highly capable aircraft in the short term had to be balanced against the acquisition of even more versatile machines down the line” reported an MoD spokesman.

12.    There was continued speculation as to whether the RAF would receive all 232 Typhoon aircraft with headlines such as the Sunday Mirror’s ‘RAF’s Euro Jet in Peril’, stating that contracts had only been signed for 55 aircraft so far.  This is likely to be an ongoing issue, with possible links to other procurement programme delays.

13.    The Scottish press featured the draw down of RAF Buchan, with the Press & Journal focusing on the sale of service housing.  The decision to run the base remotely from RAF Neatishead ‘will cost the local economy an estimated £7.5 million a year in lost income’ it was reported.  It was also noted that RAF Buchan’s buildings had been upgraded less than 10 years ago.  Meanwhile, the Star and the Daily Express carried a story about RAF Fylingdale’s radar signals jamming local car alarms and immobilisers. ‘Spy Base Spooks our Motors’ headlined the Star on 23 October, 11 days after the same story had appeared in The Express.

14.    The Sunday Mail reported on 6 October that ‘vital evidence which could save a Scots RAF officer from jail is being kept secret’.  The article was referring to the fact that USAF investigators into the F15 crash on Cairngorm have refused to release details of their investigation until after the pending courts martial of an air traffic controller.  A further disciplinary issue was highlighted the Daily Express’ article “Rocket for one man and his jet” referring to the RAF Tornado pilot who was facing disciplinary action for ‘buzzing’ the world sheepdog trials. The Mirror and the Daily Record also carried the story, the latter saying that ‘RAF top brass have launched an enquiry into the actions of the pilot who ignored the no-fly zone’.

15.    Finally, Ethel, a stuffed seagull pub mascot from Cornwall mysteriously disappeared from her normal perch and ended up at an RAF base, reported the Daily Express (12 October).  Photos and holiday postcards were sent to the pub from ‘Ethel’ before she was finally returned to her rightful owner.  The bird apologised for its poor taste in airmen!

Positive Coverage

16.    Several SAR successes were reported with Scottish press covering the awards for bravery of RAF Lossiemouth’s Sea King crews on two separate rescue missions over the North Sea.  Other missions reported included the fruitless search for a capsized sailor in Argyll Loch, the rescue of a stranded student who had fallen over cliffs at Cruden Bay, the successful search and rescue of two missing teenagers in Kinloch Rannoch and the joint RAF/RN rescue of a critically ill Spanish fisherman off the Scilly Isles.  The latter story featured in the Daily Telegraph on 28 October.

17.    The Sun reported the story (25 October) of Wg Cdr Al Monkman who received two US medals, one being the American DFC. for bravery after flying with the USAF on an exchange tour during the Kosovo conflict. “It is rare for foreigners to get US medals and Al said ‘I’m honoured”.  Conversely, The Times (22 October) published the story of an Argentinean Exchange Officer who was awarded parachute wings at RAF Brize Norton after completing a training course at PTS.

18.    Other positive features appeared in the national newspapers.  The Times (10 October) featured a piece about marathon running, referring in detail to ex-RAF Cpl Steve Jones, who broke the World Marathon record whilst a serving airman in the early 1980s.  “It was in the RAF that Jones’ gift was nurtured” says the article and continues, “He was allowed extended lunch breaks to train, he was grateful to be given the flexibility and remained loyal to his job”.  The Times (14 October) also featured a piece entitled ‘Lad’s Army’ about QPR football team who accepted (and benefited from) team training sessions with the RAF at Halton.  The Scotsman ran a feature (25 October) on attracting ‘gifted graduates’ to the Scottish Job Scene Recruiting Fair in early November at which the RAF will be a key exhibitor.

19.    The first documentary marking the 60th anniversary of the Dams Raids was screened on C5 on 29 October.  Produced by award-winning documentary-makers Windfall Films, it used archive film, reconstructions and computer graphics to tell the story of Barnes Wallis's experiments to produce the bouncing bomb, culminating in the now-famous daring raids on the Mohne, Sorpe and Eder Dams on the night of 16/17 May 1943. The producer's aim was to capture the imagination of a generation of youngsters who have little knowledge of or interest in WW2.  Both Windfall and C5 were delighted with the viewing figures, which started at 1.9 million, rising to 2.2 million and beating C4.  According to Windfall, C5 said it was the best they'd yet commissioned.  Windfall were grateful for the assistance the RAF provided at a reduced cost; given the small budget allocated by C5.


New on the site recently?  There has been a flourish of activity behind the scenes.  I’ve added two new articles, the first is “Operation Jacana” by Flight Sergeant Neil Baldock, and the second is “Mike Slade” a eulogy by Group Captain Bob Dixon.

In addition to the articles, I have been devoting all of my spare time to revamping the Images pages prior to transfer to the new server.  You are all welcome to have a “Sneak Preview” but please bear in mind that it is still a “Work in Progress” so if you don’t see your favourite pictures up there just yet don’t panic – I’ll get around to them.  The format I’ve adopted for the new pages will allow you download  the pictures more quickly, which will save you money on your connection times.  Naturally it is advantageous to me also as I will not have to bear the out of pocket expences associated with large file sizes.  Constructive criticism and suggestions are always welcomed.

Point your browsers towards: [no longer valid]

The new Image pages are not connected to the rest of the site yet…..  give me a little time.

I don’t have to remind you all that Christmas is fast approaching and of course I would welcome your special messages to be shared with the rest of the OBA. The deadline for greetings to be published in the Christmas edition will be 2359 hrs GMT on 19 December inst.


There were 11 people hanging onto a rope that came down from a helicopter.

 Ten were men and one a woman. The rope was starting to fray so they all agreed that one person should let go because if they didn't the rope would  break and everyone would die. No one could decide who should go so finally the woman gave a real touching speech saying how she would give up her life to save theirs because women were used to giving up things for their husbands and children, giving in to men, and that after all men were the superior sex and must be saved. When she finished speaking, all the men clapped.

 Never underestimate the power of a woman.


Well, that's it for this week

Have a great weekend!

Best regards