From: Len Bowen, Chisholm, ACT 
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert


After a stint at RAF Luqa, Malta, as Passenger Officer, I was posted back to UK to the Joint Air Transport Establishment at RAF Abingdon in January 1973.  The JATE Squadron to which I was posted was responsible for the loading and lashing trials of all new vehicles and equipment entering service with the British Armed Forces.  Most of these trials were pretty routine, but every now and again something unusual came up.  In late August 1974, we were tasked to trial a special container which would be used to carry a solid fuel Stonechat rocket motor to Woomera in Australia by RAF Hercules for a launch trial. 

The container was 36 ft long, about 8 ft square and was bolted firmly onto the Herc roller conveyor system.  After some adjustments all round, the loading trial was a success and 24th September 1974 saw me flying from Tengah to Darwin as Project Officer for the task en-route to deliver the beast to Woomera. The load was so big that once aboard it was impossible to reach the rear of the aircraft from the front past the container, so my JATE team and I had pre-positioned at Singapore by VC10 on the 18th, but the Herc needed an engine change on arrival at Tengah, and it was not until the 24th that we got away heading for ‘The Land Down Under’.

The stay at Tengah had caused some problems, as did I mention that Stonechat had an NEQ (Net Explosive Quantity) of 9,250 lb of solid rocket fuel?
*   No? Well it had, and this caused some considerable consternation with the Republic of Singapore Air Force as to where to safely park the Herc while the engine change was effected. 

The huge NEQ also caused similar consternation at Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, because when we landed there supposedly only to over-night before continuing on to Woomera, the spinner on No 2 engine detached from the aircraft.  It had been improperly refitted at Tengah after the engine change, and had come loose in flight somewhere over the Timor Sea.  The skipper, Flt Lt Roger Payne, who was actually an Australian serving with the RAF, shut down the engine and we landed at Darwin with a declared emergency. When the spinner finally fell off on landing it nearly decapitated the RAAF fireman standing up behind the foam gun on the fire tender chasing us down the runway.  After some kerfuffle, we got the bird parked way, way, way off at the far end of the Darwin Base, where it stayed until we could ‘borrow’ a new spinner from the RAAF at Richmond.  I think that they were only too keen to lend us the part to see the back of us and our 9,000+ lb NEQ load.
The fun wasn't over when we finally landed at Woomera.  The only vehicle they had to unload the 36 ft long container was a 38 ft semi-trailer with a roller bed.  Initially, a rather loud-mouthed civilian who I assumed to be some sort of motor transport foreman, attempted to marshal the semi back up to the Herc ramp, but after about a dozen attempts, several of which would have resulted in the truck hitting the aircraft ramp had not a couple of my JEPS boys been handy with wheel chocks, I called a halt. 

Much to the disgust of the Aussie marshaller and the relief of the Aussi semi driver I took over and marshaled the vehicle back myself  ("Youze can't do that, mate.  It's a bleedin' Aorstralian truck!"  "Yes I can, sir.  It's a British aircraft. and, until I hand over the paperwork to you, it's a British rocket, so please move back out of the way.").  Probably more by his now unflustered driving skill than my marshalling ability, the driver then hit the exact spot on just his second attempt and all 36 ft of container - and its 9,250 lb of explosive content - slid neatly out onto the trailer rollers.  As my boys secured the load onto the truck bed, the Australian driver came up to me. "Thanks, mate.  That @#$%& (name withheld in the interests of International Relations) has been giving us the s**ts all week trying to tell us how to do our jobs, even though we've been out here for months and he's only just arrived.  Good on yer', boss".  As I found out years later an unusual compliment from a True Blue Australian to a Pommy Bastard!  We all then retired to the Eldo Hotel, the Woomera watering hole and our accommodation for the night.

That's not the last of the saga, however, as we were dragged out of our beds at 03:00 into the freezing desert night air to get a priority backload onto the Herc.  We hadn't planned for this, and perhaps I shouldn't go into too many details even now, but the load comprised several large containers prominently labeled with radio-active  stickers. 

As this was shortly after the British Government had been ordered to clear up much of the mess that we - the Brits - had left at the Maralinga atomic test site, we didn't ask too many questions. I was very glad, however, to bid the Herc farewell and bon voyage when we reached Tengah on the homeward stretch, and transferred to a VC10 for the rest of the return trip to UK. You see I foolishly hadn't packed my lead jockstrap for the trip.

*As the Stonechat container was bolted into the rollers, and was not then jettisonable, over a couple of beers in the hotel in Singapore while waiting for the engine change, the crew and I reckoned that if there was an in-flight emergency, we would just open the ramp .... and be the first C130 in obit, however briefly!

In the late 1980s I was a member of the movements & logistics team on the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Exercise Planning Staff (JEPS).  In July 1988 I was invited to go on an Army TEWT ('tactical exercise without troops') with the then-new Army Logistics Support Group (LSG). This involved a series of visits to a number of strategic locations across the Top End, looking at the local infrastructure and other support facilities available at each of these places.

We were moved about in a 36SQN C130H A97-002. As the only RAAF member on the LSG 'team', and a mere SQNLDR besides, I was just one of the minions down the back of the Herc when we left Kununurra on 27th June after an over-night, en-route to Broome.   Shortly after take-off I noticed that we were descending again, and then starting to maneuver rather violently.  I managed to get across to one of the windows, and all I could see were large chunks of Australia passing the wing tips at various angles and in rather close proximity. At the same time I noticed that several members of the 'Green Machine' also down the back of the Herc were living up to their name, and becoming rather green themselves. After several minutes of even more violent twists and turns, we leveled out and climbed over a large area of water, which I later found out was Lake Argyle.  Some time later we landed at Broome, and while the 36SQN crew smartly disappeared to their own hotel, and being the only 'blue job' left in sight, I was surrounded by a bunch of highly disgruntled Army officers, several holding rather full RAAF-issue sick bags. Rough translation(s): "What the f*** did that f***ing pilot think he was doing, showing off like that?"  "Bloody f***ing manic!" etc. etc.

We were then joined by the Commander LSG, a Colonel, who had been up front on the flight deck for the whole trip. "Sir", I asked "What did you ask the aircraft captain to do after we left Kununurra?" "Well, Len, I just asked him to fly us low level down the Ord River Gorge en-route to the Argyle Dam and Lake Argyle. After that it got a bit hairy, so I just shut up and held on". "Well, Sir", I replied, "There's your problem. 36SQN are tactical transport operators, and their stock-in-trade is low level tactical flying. You asked him to fly LOW LEVEL down the gorge and he did exactly what you requested. Down INSIDE the gorge, below the level of the rim, true tactical flying following the twists and turns of the Ord River. Basically you gave him carte blanch to fly as low and as hard as he liked - which is exactly what he did".

I then turned to the assembled lynch mob "Well, gentlemen, thanks to your COLONEL's request, which the 36SQN captain followed EXACTLY, you now have the added experience of the RAAF transport force's tactical flying capability to add to your LSG TEWT Report".

Nothing further was said, but I was drinking on my own in the motel that night, the aircrew wisely being in another, and I suspect, better, hotel elsewhere in Broome.
A 36SQN C130H on the (dust) pan, Bourke, NSW. 
(Exercise DROUGHTMASTER, October 1980)
MATU ALT2 working & living accommodation, and a pair of 36SQN C130H's on the (dust) pan, Bourke, NSW. 
(Exercise DROUGHTMASTER, October 1980)
LAC (later SGT Loadmaster) Macca McLaren on the MATU ALT 1 'Big Bertha' fork lift at RAAF Base Learmonth, northern WA. 
(Exercise WESTERN REWARD 80, September 1980)
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Subject: 8 MAMS Car
During my tenure at 435(T) Squadron, CFB Namao, (Edmonton), Alberta, I was posted to the Tactical Air Lift (TAL) School as an instructor.

We instructed both air and ground personnel in all techniques of aerial delivery from door bundles to LAPES.  Our course start dates were staggered, so as to have all finish the ground school portion at the same time.  We then started the flying phase together. We also supported Canadian Industry who had items of interest to the military related to airdrop.

This tale concerns the valiant members of 8 MAMS, then based in Namao. The team was led by the renowned Captain Don Fish. All reported in over the weekend to start the course Monday

Captain Fish, demonstrated his leadership qualities when, over the weekend (considering as they were a team and that a team needed wheels) he supervised 8 MAMS members all kicking in toward a car purchase.  I forget the smaller details, but in general, the thing was large and ran well. 

After a party held that night to celebrate the above vehicle purchase, the team headed back to quarters. Unfortunately when leaving the premises, they had all forgotten what the car looked like and couldn’t find it in the crowded lot. Eventually it was sorted out, but to prevent risk of reoccurrence, “8 MAMS” was painted in huge white letters on both sides of the vehicle. This oddity was seen outside some of the seediest dives in the area, perhaps drawing unwanted attention.  In any event, the team reported to the TAL school in the vehicle Monday morning, red eyed and bushy tailed.

MAMS training at that time consisted of bulk and vehicle airdrop load buildup, loading and rigging the loads in the C130 and recovering the loads from the Drop Zone.  The loads were built and rigged in the aircraft in accordance with time-honored military tech manuals.

During the initial phase of the course, the team built many types of loads, all in accordance with the manuals. For the final test, they were given a load and told to rig it without consulting a manual using the basics they had learned on course. The rigged load was then compared to the manual and the team was docked points for any deviation from good practice.
8 MAMS Car *
*To the best of my recollection with some names changed to protect the guilty.
An old buddy answered the phone. “ATOC, Capt. Wisdom here,”

“Hi, Bill, it’s Frank, ya know we have a TAL course wrapping up here today?

“Hi Frank, yes, what about it?”

“Well, it’s like this, we’re gonna drop a non-standard load, The 8 MAMS vehicle.”

Alarmed, Bill said, “Frank, you do that, the General’s gonna have your head!”

“Go ahead? Thanks Bill, we will.” <Click!>
The leadership thing reared its head again.  As test time drew near, Capt Marvel approached me and said, “Look, any idiot can rig another load just as we have been doing here.  We know we can rig any load to meet the manual. We want to do something different. For our final test, we want to rig our 8 MAMS vehicle for airdrop and load it into the C130.  The student Loadmasters can use their checklists to see if we met the criteria. They also benefit from doing something different.”  He had made a convincing argument.

I took his request to the boss, Major Frank Fay, the finest pilot to ever do up a many zippered flight suit, as was his faithful companion, Ted Parnwell. We discussed the idea and agreed that, seeing the whole thing was about teaching to rig a range of loads, what better gauge of instructional effectiveness could we have?  However, the MAMSmobile fell under the regulations as a “Non-Standard” load, thus requiring ATCHQ/ATOC (Air Transport Command Head Quarters/Air Transport Ops Center) authorization to drop it. What to do?

(During the drop phase of the course, we flew three ship formations. Most of them were low level navigational routes of an hour duration culminating in a three ship airdrop. The final graduation airdrop was three a/c doing a triple platform extraction.)

I got the Loadies and MAMS together and sorted out the strategy. We were to use standard procedures and go along as if there were nothing out of the ordinary, except one particular load.  That meant there would be eight other platforms in the air simultaneously, diverting attention from the non-standard load. Everything was tickety-boo.

Now, the last drop of the course was always done on Friday so the crews could bog off home over the weekend and was usually done in the morning. This time was different; the drop was put off until later in the day to take advantage of the time difference between Namao and Trenton.  The three Hercs were loaded, rigged with crews aboard and ready to start.  At our quitting time our boss picked up the phone and called ATOC.
The boss slammed down the phone and ran out to the aircraft giving the “Flash ‘em up” signal. At the same time the APUs screamed to life, he shouted over his shoulder to our secretary, “Shirley! Shut ‘er down for the weekend! Go home! Don’t answer any phones!” She told us later that the phones started to ring as she was walking to the door.

The a/c cranked up and taxied out in formation.  They took off and flew a shortened route and came across the DZ in a fine formation.  The drops were perfect, nine platforms in the air with a myriad of ‘chutes suspending them, all backlit by the sun. Spectacular!

The platform carrying the MAMSmobile was in picture-perfect position ringed with other loads as it alit gently onto the bosom of Father Earth.

As the now empty C130s taxied in, the radio on the lead a/c crackled into life. Apparently it was someone of great authority calling from ATOC to suspend TAL Course XXXX drop phase immediately, but to no avail. The course had been over since the Loadie in the last aircraft to drop declared, “Load clear!”

That the position of the MAMSmoblie platform in the air was “picture- perfect” was a boon to the newspaper guys from the Edmonton Journal. 

To capture this magic moment for posterity, someone (Captain Fish? Naah!), had contacted the paper the day before and put them on alert regarding something of great importance going down (or more literally, coming down).  The cameraman was parked on private property, with a telephoto lens.

Above the fold on the big Saturday’s paper, was a very large and perfect-picture of the, now (in)famous “8 MAMSmobile.” It was a beautiful sight, backlit by the sun, suspended under two 100 foot parachutes. The phones started ringing.

Note: The TAL school’s unofficial motto soon, for the above and a few other non-standard things, became: “Facillimus Impetro Venia Quam Permis!” Or, “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission!”


From: Chris Goss, Marlow, Bucks 
Subject: Memories of the VC10


Work got in the way with my memories of the VC10, an aircraft of which I have fond memories; not just because I met the BAE VC10 Rep's daughter  at the Officers’ Mess Summer Ball in 1983 - we were married in 1986 and are still together some 33 years later.

Fond memories of the VC10:
The  waterfall by the freight door arm when we were descending.  Why MAMS teams always sat there and had nav bags/towels ready.  I remember a very senior officer complaining like hell when he and his wife got soaked on the way back from Dulles.
Sitting on the top of the VC10 aircraft steps in Saskatoon watching Roger Gough trying to catch ground squirrels.
Having to flex the wing tip to get the freight door lights to go out (much to the consternation of the passengers).
Getting the new boy to open the ventral door after a long flight and watching him get soaked.
Almost slipping out of the freight door on a dreadfully stormy night only to be grabbed by MALM Nick Nicholas.
Spinning CBU pallets and watching a Cpl getting his foot trapped between the rollers and being asked to put the top of his toe back on (before the days of safety boots!).
Meeting a VC10 by myself at Patrick AFB and as soon as the steps were in, the Air and Ground Engineers stormed off.  The aircraft was sick and the Captain had to get home for a party despite them telling him how risky going on was.
Flying back to UK tourex from ASI and because of weather, crew filed flight plan for St Mawgan and 'diverted' to Brize.  After 6 months away from home I was most grateful for this!
Telling the ALM on 1st April that Group had uprated the aircraft for 180 seats; he fell for it!
Need I go on?

From: John Belcher, Chippenham, Wilts
Subject: RE: UKMAMS OBA OBB #022819

Hi Tony,

I read the latest Old Bods Briefs and saw the e-mail from Phil Smith about his last VC10 flight [in-flight mishap and subsequent emergency landing].

I was also on that task. As I remember, the crew had been called out as the Hercules had gone u/s.  VC10 XV109 arrived in Gardermoen with an unhappy crew as it was the 10 Sqn Christmas party that night and they were in danger of missing it. The Norwegian VASS had stopped the VC10 from taxying as they said main wheel needed replacing. The same thing happened at Leuchars where half the pax were offloaded.

The exploding tyre had taken out the fuel pipes to two of the four engines, the hydraulic system and the autopilot. On approach to Brize, I have never seen so many blue lights. The VC10 stopped on the runway near the Movements School. The Loadmistress gave the standard brief: “Please remain seated with seat belts on until given deplaning instructions.” The captain then came on the PA system to back-up what the Loadie had said. Meanwhile, looking outside, the firemen were running around with hoses. Finally the EVACUATE call was given and the emergency chutes were deployed. The one at the rear door failed to inflate so everyone went down the mid-door chute.
A few years ago when VC10 XV109 was being scrapped, a thread was started on the Professional Pilots Rumour Network about the plane and this incident was discussed.

The Leuchars Visiting Aircraft Servicing Squadron (VASS) Sgt wrote:

The aircraft came into Leuchars and was seen in by myself (the VASS line supervisor at the time) and two others. We did a walk-round and noticed a large "scallop" out of one of the tyres. Looked like if you had carved a slice out of it with a knife. I advised the FE of what we had seen and advised that as far as we were concerned it was u/s. We proceeded to the mess for supper only to be told by radio that the aircraft was leaving. We rushed back and sure enough the G/E was on the headset directing the start-up. I spoke to him and also advised him that IMO the tyre was u/s and had to be changed. He said no it is ok. They subsequently left.

I returned to the VASS office and wrote what I had seen/advised etc., in the diary and said to the other two to sign. We also had a Movements team (four people) from Leuchars who I had said to go and look at the tyre. We did not hear anything about what happened until sometime later, approx three weeks. IIRC [If I recall correctly] this was conveyed to me from the board of enquiry that had been set up and who were to travel to Leuchars to interview me. The Captain said that he was unaware of my misgivings but this was refuted by myself and my team because when I advised the FE they were both together and the Captain then instructed the FE to check it out. I also had my two lads as witnesses to the event. I was also advised that this was very close to losing the aircraft and only caused by your crew, obviously I am very happy it turned out ok but I can tell you myself and two lads were extremely annoyed (putting it mildly) by the way your crew tried to implicate the three of us in this, however, there were just too many witnesses to corroborate what really went on.

The Co-pilot wrote:

I was the co-pilot up front on that. It was an interesting half hour or so!

We didn't lose the autopilot, if memory serves me right, but we did lose the LH hydraulics (requiring manual gear lowering) and perhaps more seriously we lost all 15,000lbs of fuel from the port wing, leaving us a bit tight for fuel on approach at BZN.

For those who are speculating upon the decision making process that led to the aeroplane getting airborne with a faulty tyre, allow me to explain:

The tyre problem was spotted during the turnaround and the GE wanted to change it as we had a spare in the boot.

The Flt Lt Captain and MEng FE weren't keen on the delay that this would incur. Myself and the Nav both thought that we should change it and said so.

Capt and FE went down to have a look at it and came back up to the flight deck to say that the GE now agreed that it was fit for one flight home and that he had signed the tech log (F700) to this extent. The Nav and I accepted this as the truth on the basis that if all three of them were in agreement then we were happy to go with their decision.
At the subsequent BoI [Board of Inquiry] it transpired that the captain and FE had bullied the GE into signing it off and had then lied to myself and the Nav about it, saying that the GE was happy when he in fact was not.

I gave the BoI a 100% correct statement of my understanding of the events and I believe that the Nav and GE did the same. I made it clear that the GE had had his doubts but that we'd been told by the captain and FE that he was in agreement that it was OK to go. I'm not sure what the captain and FE told the board as I was not there when they gave evidence and they did not want to talk to me afterwards because they felt that I had failed to "back them up" - and that suggests to me that they were feeling uncomfortable with their actions and possibly with what they'd told the BoI. For my part, I felt that it was important to be honest with the board as the fact needed to come out, and if that upset the captain and FE then so be it.

The board came to the conclusion that the captain and FE had put unfair pressure upon the GE, had lied to myself and the Nav and had been unprofessional. They were both punished for their actions. The Nav, the GE and I were all reminded that it was our responsibility to be more assertive in the face of such pressure and to stand our ground - other than that there was no sanction against myself and the Nav but I can't recall what happened with the GE.

I was annoyed with myself for not being more assertive but as a relatively junior co-pilot I was less confident than I should have been with regard to my knowledge of what was and was not right. The Nav was also relatively new to type and we both made the "mistake" of trusting more experienced crew members who were, in fact, telling us lies. When not in possession of the full facts it's hard to make the right decision. I do not now, and never have, place any blame upon the GE - only the captain and FE for telling lies to us and myself and the Nav for not being assertive enough.

I have never taken anyone's word at face value since then - I always check!

Regards, John
From: Phil Smith, Exmouth, Devon

Hi Tony and John,

Thank you for the further information.  The incident was published in a local Transport Aircraft Flight Safety pamphlet very soon after- wards. I raised the point to Flight Safety at Lyneham that the events in the report did not match reality.  As a consequence of my action I was invited over to 10 Sqn at Brize Norton to discuss further. The message came across loud and clear that I had been mistaken with my recollections and it was best if I forgot about the whole incident. 

After reading the Co-Pilot's report it all seems to make sense. Very glad I never boarded another VC10.


From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks
Subject: VC 10 Memories - And Another Thing

Dear Tony,

Memories of the Queen of the Skies

Thank you for another excellent newsletter.  And a big ‘thank you’ for the correspondents whose tales tickled the old gray memory bank, especially the contributions from Clive Price and Paddy Hirst.
First, Clive’s tale about the QTRs in Schleswig-Holstein, at GAF Base Hohn, home (and still is – just) of Lufttransportgeschwader 63, operating Transall C-160s.   This was part of a major NATO reinforcement exercise in February 1968.  UKMAMS had deployed en-mass to the Royal Danish Air Force Skrydstrup air base in southern Jutland for about (4?) weeks.  After a couple of weeks, F Team peeled off (by road?) and were redeployed to the German Air Force Base Hohn for about a week to handle a flow of VC 10s dedicated to UK Army reinforcements, with one (starboard engines running) off load every 7 hours. 

With no on-loads, the aim was to achieve 30 minutes between landings and take offs, which meant an actual door open – doors close of, at the most, 15 minutes, for 135 battle ready pax plus, in the belly holds, their Bergen backpacks and bundled personal weapons.

With such a continuous flow, with setting-up and then tidying up after departure, this meant only about 3 to 4 hours stand-down for some sleep and/or a meal before turning out to prepare for the next turn-round. 
Although my biggest concern, as the team leader, was the time and effort that Bob Turner was investing in trying to work out how to relieve the resident Air Transport Wing 63 (The Busy Bees) of its enormous wrought iron Bee-emblem Badge which was mounted some 50 feet up on the wall of the mess hall.  It was also the deployment which involved a MAMS pack-up, medicinal brandy, missing radios and a severe rep as recounted in some detail in an OBA newsletter some 3 years ago!

Next, I had forgotten the Gulf MAMF Hong Kong task which Paddy reminded us about, although the VC 10 trip was really just part of the recovery.  The actual task was a first, and probably the last, relocation of a working telephone exchange.  In this case from RAF Sharjah to RAF Kai Tak.  As this coincided with the Gulf closure, the ever increasing pile of redundant airmen’s block mattresses was utilized to keep the relay racks intact.  Having made a large hole in the wall of the telephone exchange, a standard cargo pallet was deposited outside the hole for us to build and net a sandwich of relay racks and mattresses; repeat recipe until job done, and then load a passing Hercules.  Now, with such an unusual high-tech load, and with no published off load or pallet handling documentation, it was only right that a team of experts from Gulf MAMF had to accompany the telephone exchange for the load and transfer to the recipient exchange!  Then it was just a case of waiting for a passing west bound flight(s) to recover to Sharjah.

While waiting, one distraction was spending a day with the Gurkha Regiment manning our side of the Bamboo Curtain along the then normally ‘no go’  area in the New Territories as it was then called.  This had been fixed up by our squadron leader tasker at HQ Gulf, who just happened to have a Lt Col brother commanding said Regiment.  Our instructions were to be collected in our flying suits but to remove all clues as to our unit and rank badges.  The day included a Landrover ride right along the border; at one point ‘under the border’ where a bit of China jutted out over our border road.  Presumably, the presence of members of this mysterious ghost unit would keep the watching Chinese intelligence community occupied for many hours trying to work out who and what we were!

My next significant VC10 connection memory, was from a couple of years earlier.  In 1968 I was detached from UK MAMS to reinforce the US East Coast Movements Detachment (Flt Lt Peter Banister), then based at JFK over the period when trooping was being switched from sea (normally the original Cunard RMS Queen Elizabeth) to a regular twice weekly VC10 flow.  This included accompanying Peter to go on board the QE when it docked at Pier 90 with the US Immigration and Customs team for when our ‘guests’ were being processed prior to disembarkation. One JFK memory was a line up of RAF and BOAC VC10s and a Russian VC10ski outside the International Air Terminal!
After Gulf MAMS, I was assigned to HQ38 Group at RAF Odiham (which then moved promptly to RAF Benson) as a logs planner.  Then it was called Admin Plans.  After another couple of months my desk and the 38 Group Hercules tactical air transport fleet was reassigned to the new HQ46 Group at Upavon.  Actually this was quite a gentle transfer with, at one time, a me having a slot at both units.  As an aside, this led to the hilarious situation of arriving back at Benson, having been part of an exercise recce at Tromso, Norway, and popping into the office to check the mail.  To be challenged by the P (people stuff) staff next door – “What are you doing here?  We posted you to Upavon last Tuesday!”

Anyway, back to VC10 adventures.  As well as planning and supporting Hercules-linked exercises and operations, the job included a certain amount of ‘what if/we might’ contingency planning.

One Friday I was packing up to slip off early at about 16.30 for a weekend in London, when I was summoned back to the ops room.  “How long for you to pack?”

“Twenty minutes to pick up the go bag in the mess”.

“In civvies, helicopter leaves at 17.00 to take you and boss Williams (the lead ops contingency planner) to Heathrow for the BOAC 18.15 flight to the Seychelles.”

Needless to say some ‘what if’ planning had just moved up to ‘we might’ and there were some key gaps in our detail knowledge of facilities at Seychelles International.  Furthermore, this was typical limited access, need to know what and why, sort of planning, which meant we couldn’t just ring up the airport and ask.

Anyway, off the two of us go for a very civilized trip in what appeared to be a couple of the last few seats left at the back of the BOAC VC10. 
Shortly before arrival, we realized that we had just one tiny problem: why were we there in terms of cover story?  I did know the airport manager; he had been at Sharjah during my Gulf MAMS tour.  He solved the problem when we met him on arrival: “You’ve come about the Royal Visit?”

Fortunately, unbeknownst to us, HRH Princess Margret would be coming in three weeks’ time.  With cover established, off we set looking, asking and noting what HQ46 Group needed to know, suitably dressed up with lots of irrelevant questions about Royal Loos etc.

Now the punch line, and back to Tony’s challenge.  Our instructions were to get back ASAP by any means possible, as very important people were being briefed in London on the Wednesday.  And, it’s the truth, the only way home was First Class BOAC VC 10 back to UK!  Plus, an added bonus of the Wg Cdr having the cockpit jump seat for the first leg and I had one of the best views in the world for the take-off from Rome and the landing at Heathrow.  Thankfully, perhaps, this particular planning never went past ‘what if’.  However, the feedback on the Royal Loos at Seychelles International was that they had set a net world benchmark!

My final VC10 epic trip memory was from Staff College in 1982.  This included a visit to RAF Brize Norton and an Air-to-Air Refueling sortie down the back of VC10 Tanker conversion.  This included a grandstand view nibbling beautifully prepared chicken legs and similar cold delights while watching in amazement a procession of RAF and USAF jets queuing to gas and go from the trailing wing drogues.

Thanks again Tony for rekindling some more happy memories.

Stay safe, best wishes

David Powell
F Team UKMAMS RAF Abingdon 1967-69
Gulf MAMF 1971
Tac Ops Logs HQ46 Gp 1972-1973
From: John Guy, Northampton 
Subject: Memories of the VC10 Shiny Fleet

Morning Tony,

Whilst I was on a movements posting at Brize Norton, my wife, a civilian, worked at 242 OCU VC10 Flight, a building containing a VC10 Simulator.

Came the time to leave on account of my being posted elsewhere, Gisela was offered the opportunity to experience flying the VC10 simulator! Having flown as a VC10 pax at various times this particular experience has never been forgotten.

On the staff at the time was an SAC who was an excellent cartoonist, and the attached caricature of me  hangs on my wall at home; still bringing a smile to my face. He also produced another for Gisela depicting her daily duties as a “Hoover Driver”.

Kind Regards,

From: Chris Smith, Writer & Journalist
To: Ian Berry, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: RAF Hercules book and UKMAMS members inquiry

Dear Ian,

I am writing to ask if you and your members might be able to help with a project of mine about the RAF Hercules.

I have been commissioned by John Davies of Grub Street Publishing - which I am sure you may know - to write a first-hand history of the RAF Hercules from the beginning to the present day.  Hercules Boys is scheduled for release in September this year. It will be a celebration of the people who carried out the many missions and worked on the Hercules over the decades.  It’s not a technical book and I won’t be delving beyond what is already in the public domain. I would be delighted to hear from former ground crew who have been a big part of its life.  So far pilots, navigators and loadmasters have shared their stories but it’s the ground crew who are missing. Marshall ADG of Cambridge are also supporting the book.

The book will divide into the early years starting with training in the USA, humanitarian missions in the 1970s and 1980s, its record-breaking role in the Falklands, training and logistics work and the Iraq/Afghanistan period. I am also interested in less-well known missions such as Operation Khana Cascade.  I have already had several pilots pay tribute to your members who “worked tirelessly” and “were absolute heroes”. So often the support crews get left out and I am determined for this not to happen here. It’s a fascinating project and I am very excited about it. Therefore, do please share my contact details. Could you please share my contact details with anyone who would like to get involved?

I am happy to be contacted at and 07808 254 263

Best wishes

Chris Smith, Writer & Journalist 07808 254 263
Hercules Boys

True Stories by the Air and Ground Crews of the RAF's lynchpin since 1967
Hercules Boys contains a fascinating collection of first-hand and highly entertaining accounts by the ground and air crews themselves who adapted to everything that the elements, enemy and ‘airships' in Whitehall threw at them. A must for any military aviation devotee. [Click on the image at left to pre-order the book]


The Lockheed Hercules C-130 with its unflattering nicknames such as ‘Fat Albert’ and ‘Roman Nose’ has proven to be one of the most remarkable aircraft in the RAF. Intended as a direct replacement for the likes of the Handley Page Hastings, Vickers Valetta and Armstrong Whitworth Argosy, its maiden service flight took place in October 1966 with little fanfare before it entered service the following year. During the Cold War, the aircraft’s would-be role was as a tactical transporter to get troops and equipment into any sphere of operations. Yet it would do far more. The later versions of the Hercules C-130J have gone on to be used for famine relief missions and been adapted for a role in air-to-air refuelling, though not with the RAF. It has served in conflicts and training exercises in every climate from frozen Norway to Afghanistan via Africa and the Far East. Thanks to the durability of its design, including an ability to take off from short or makeshift runways, it has been critical to missions such as fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. The Hercules was also vital to the success of the Falklands war, setting endurance records along the way.
To be published later this year
Despite plans for its retirement, the Ministry of Defence announced an overhaul that will see the Hercules continue in front-line operations until 2035, making it the longest-serving aircraft in the RAF’s history. Hercules Boys contains a fascinating collection of first-hand and highly entertaining accounts by the ground and air crews themselves who adapted to everything that the elements, enemy and ‘airships’ in Whitehall threw at them. A must for any military aviation devotee.
From: Ian Berry, West Swindon, Wilts
To: Chris Smith, Writer and Journalist
Subject: Re: RAF Hercules book and UKMAMS members inquiry

Hello Chris,

I have copied your request to the webmasters and editors of both of our websites to "spread the word."

Khana Cascade, sadly one of the team has died but Gerry Keyworth, Colin Hughes, Jim Marchant & Alan Pratt may react.

There was also another similar mission in the Sahel region of Africa called Operation Sahel Cascade.

I also have in my own log book Operation Delivery Boy from 1972 with C130s from Kinloss to the Shetlands and the Orkneys delivering all kinds of goods for a week during a National Dock strike.

Of course in the 1980s there was Operation Bushel in Ethiopia. The Sqn OC at the time was Bob Dixon who I have copied to as well.

There were other airlifts too but not all utilising C130s or in the period you are researching.  I wish you good luck in your quest.

Kindest regards,

Ian Berry
Royal Air Force Hercules Squadrons
24 Squadron - also known as XXIV Squadron, had been operating Hastings at Colerne until January 1968 when it received the first of the American built Lockheed Hercules C Mk 1s. A month later the squadron moved to Lyneham.

The squadron re-equipped with the new generation Hercules C.4 and C.5 (RAF designation for the C-130J-30 and C-130J respectively) in 2002. It celebrated 40 years of Hercules operation in 2008 and remained at Lyneham until 2011 when the squadron relocated to RAF Brize Norton.

In 2013, 24 Sqn started its transition from a front line C130J Hercules squadron to become the Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit. This transition brigaded the majority of flying and engineer training within the Air Mobility Force under one specialist training unit. 24 Sqn is currently responsible for the provision of training to aircrews flying the C130J Hercules and A400M Atlas aircraft; in addition 24 Sqn's Maintenance Training School is responsible for training engineers to maintain the C130J Hercules, A400M Atlas and C17 Globemaster aircraft.
30 Squadron - the temporarily disbanded squadron reformed at RAF Fairford in June 1968 equipped with turbine-propeller powered Lockheed Hercules transports, maintaining the units transport role. The squadron moved to RAF Lyneham in September 1971.

On 1 July 2011, together with the rest of the Hercules fleet, the squadron moved to a new base at RAF Brize Norton. 

The squadron flew its last Hercules sortie on 8 December 2016 and its remaining crews were transferred to No 47 Squadron,
47 Squadron - the temporarily disbanded squadron was re-formed at RAF Fairford on 25 February 1968 to operate the Lockheed Hercules, moving to Lyneham in September 1971.  During the Falklands War, the squadron airlifted supplies to Ascension Island and, later, air dropped men and supplies to ships of the British task force in the South Atlantic. To make the trip from Ascension to the Falklands, several Hercules were given additional fuel tanks and fitted with refuelling probes. 47 Squadron also prepared to fly elements of the Special Air Service (SAS) to Argentina for the aborted Operation Mikado.

The squadron's Special Forces Flight were involved in the 1991 Gulf War, as well as regular airlift missions, the Hercules also flew missions behind Iraqi lines, landing on ad hoc desert air strips to resupply SAS fighting columns.  The squadron has supported UN and NATO operations in the Balkans in the 1990s, delivering aid to several besieged cities. It also support coalition forces in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Following the 2012 closure of RAF Lyneham, Wiltshire, the squadron has been operating from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
70 Squadron - In November 1967 the squadron received Argosies while in Cyprus. In November 1970, Hercules began to arrive, although it was 1973 before the final Argosy left. With the rundown of Britain's overseas bases, in January 1975 it was decided to bring No 70 back to Lyneham in the UK, the first time it had served here in 55 years.

After 35 years of operating the Hercules C1/C3 from Lyneham, the squadron disbanded in September 2010.

(The squadron reformed on 1 October 2014 and was officially "stood up" on 24 July 2015 by presentation with a new standard by Princess Anne becoming the Royal Air Force's first frontline A400M squadron.)
48 Squadron - On 1st October 1967, the disbanded Far East transport squadron was reformed at Singapore with Hercules aircraft, and it operated here until its return to Lyneham in September 1971. It was finally disbanded on the 7th January 1976.
A special mention - let's not forget "Snoopy"
Lockheed C-130 W2 was delivered to the Royal Air Force as XV208 on 26th September 1967 and designated as a C-130K Mk1 (s/n 4233 66-8558) and was operated by No. 48 Squadron in Singapore.

The aircraft returned to the UK in 1973 with a damaged main spar. The aircraft was repaired and modified to a specialist weather aircraft designated W2 by Marshalls of Cambridge. The aircraft was delivered to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough in 1974, later moving to Boscombe Down and operated by DERA.

The aircraft was named "Snoopy" due to its elongated nose probe. The aircraft was taken out of service in April 2001 and stored. The aircraft was taken out of storage on 27th April 2005 and converted to become a A400M engine test bed. The aircraft was scrapped on 14th April 2015 with the nose section kept for future development work.
From: John Leek, 79380 La Ronde 
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert

As a Supply Sergeant, I was posted to the Red Arrows at Kemble in Aug 1977.

It didn’t take long to realise that the only reason there was a Supply SNCO there was to arrange prepositioning of Avtur, Diesel fuel in 45 gallon drums and Lox for off-base sites supporting displays. This meant using monthly data to raise signal requests and monitor replies.

So, earlyin 1978, one bored ex-mover suggested that, if the Reds had to divert en route, the only person to arrange alternatives was sitting in his quarter - without a phone!  Much better to have an “expert” on site at any diversion.

I must point out that my current definition of an expert is - some one who is past it plus a drip under pressure!    However, in the late 70’s, I was qualified movs, fuel, lox etc., and had just left a tour on TSW [Tactical Supply Wing].  I also pointed out that, as a qualified mover, I could manage the standard supporting  Herc load with few problems!

So, invited to get kitted out with flying suits dyed black and the standard blazer and grey trousers, I spent the whole of the 78 season and early 79 season loading and unloading a Herc up to 5 times a day, having arranged catering and specialised in-flight equipment.

My team was, in addition to myself, two MT drivers and a photographer! The photographer always disappeared to video displays so we remaining three coped with any problems - such as lashing 2 Pelouste starters that were usually still running as we positioned them on the ramp with asbestos blankets round the hot exhausts whilst the Herc engines were running in order to meet a departure slot.
Even though I was a mere Supplier/Mover, I had a breast label stating “Red Arrows Technician” and on that basis, I went over to Lyneham to get checked out on powering up the aircraft with Houchin or starting the GTC plus opening/closing rear doors and ramps - also how to operate the ovens to get hot food and drinks ready for both us and the aircrew.

All good things come to an end and in May 1979, we were posted to Sek Kong in Hong Kong for a couple of years

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that I am the only Supplier to become a member of the Red Arrows traveling team - now called “The Blues”.
Hercules Fleet Given New Lease of Life
The C-130J fleet based at RAF Brize Norton is having a major upgrade to extend it's service into 2030

The first C-130J Hercules to undergo a major upgrade to extend the life of the fleet has been delivered to Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group in Cambridge.

ZH867 was flown from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire by Officer Commanding No. 47 Squadron Wing Commander Andy Johnson on 1st March. It marks the start of the centerwing upgrade programme, which will see all 14 aircraft in the fleet receive the upgrade over several years at Marshalls.

Matt Siggins, Aircraft Project Manager for Marshalls told us:
“It’s a 212 day programme per aircraft to replace the center wing so it’s a big job. It’s been fantastic to meet the crews who fly the Hercules from RAF Brize Norton and for them to get a chance to see what we do on this end.”
The Hercules fleet first came into service with the RAF back in 1967 as the C.Mk 1, later known as the ‘K’ model, and has been the backbone of UK operations ever since.  Marshall have been an instrumental cog in the Hercules machine right from the off, having performed all fleet conversion work throughout the aircraft’s history and today supporting the C-130J in this latest upgrade programme.

Wing Commander Andy Johnson told Forces Radio BFBS: “It is the aircraft that’s always called on for a great number of tasks by defence and constantly delivers. These aircraft have lasted 20 years and giving them this new lease of life is superb.”

The C-130K models were retired from service  in 2013 after almost 5 decades of service, accumulating many more flying hours than predicted during Operations Telic and Herrick alongside the newer C-130J models.

The C-130J was due for retirement in 2022, however the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review saw a need for the life of the fleet to be extended and this programme will ensure Hercules continue to deliver on operations for the UK up until 2030. (Images: Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group)
From: Patrick Hirst, East Grinstead West Sussex 
Subject: Fat Alberts

Hi Tony,

In 1968 I was posted from the Supply Squadron at RAF Fairford to RAF Abingdon to train as an Air Mover on No.50 JAMC from September to December and returned to Fairford to await a new posting.  As luck would have it, my posting was just across the road to Air Movements Squadron at Fairford - brilliant!

It wasn't very long before I discovered how to apply for supernumerary crew flights. You all know the way it worked; find out from 38 Group what was going where and then stick in a general application with a plausible reason why you should travel on said flight.  The great thing about it was if you were in 38 Group (which we were)  you got first choice before even Command, and then came all the rest.  We were very lucky to have two Squadrons of C-130's resident at Fairford, Nos. 30 and 47.

I cannot remember in strict order what flights I took to where, but there were some interesting destinations. October 1969 there were two exercise recovery flights to Akrotiri on two successive weekends, dropping off the brown jobs in Norfolk.

December 1969, Nav training flight across the Atlantic with night stops at Goose Bay in Canada and Thule in Greenland. Great breakfasts with as much as you could eat. Very long legs; UK - Goose Bay - Thule - UK sitting all the while in para sidewall seating which was very uncomfortable.

January 1970, en-route to Berlin, flying over the fence [Iron Curtain] that separated East from West Germany, Soviet air base close to border, the MiG fighters on the ground were a little unnerving, on to RAF Gatow in West Berlin.  There was a  problem exchanging money on arrival as the Pay Accounts office was closed. I used all my ready cash on buying 200 ciggies and seckt duty free, which left me with no money for the night stop. An RAF Policeman, who I knew from when he was stationed at Fairford, spotted me in the NAAFI and took me, along with some of his mates, off-camp and treated me to drinks all evening.  Had a bit of a hangover the next day for the flight to RAF Wildenrath and then back to the UK.
Early January 1971 and I was posted to Gulf MAMF.  There were a a number of Herc's detached to RAF Muharraq for some months and Gulf MAMF were tasked to operate with them. 

One task was to Nizwa to hand over supplies to the Sultan's Armed Forces, probably weapons. [Nizwa is the largest city in the Ad Dakhiliyah Region in Oman and was the capital of Oman proper. It is about 140 km from Muscat]

The old fort at Nizwa had been attacked by insurgents from Yemen and they left a bloody great hole in the wall.  The fort was circular; an odd design by Western standards.  While we were on the ground an Arab on small grey pony came galloping over to us complete with Martini-Henry rifle over his shoulder.  I asked to see his rifle, he then wanted see our Browning 9mm pistols.  It was quite a bizarre meeting comparing each others weapons.  We were only on the ground about an hour and a half and then flew back to Muharraq.

[Nowadays, Nizwa Fort is the largest tourist attraction in Oman]
Other tasks were allocated to Gulf MAMF during this period.  My team flew to Nairobi to offload stores there and when we were completed I happened to notice that there was liquid coming out of one of the wing tanks. The Air Engineer said it was fuel, nothing for it but get spare part from UK. This gave us about an extra four days in Nairobi to enjoy the New Stanley Hotel and various restaurants.  They had superb beef and we pigged out on wonderful steaks.

The aircraft was eventually repaired and we flew down to Mombasa to do an exercise recovery.  At that time RAF loads were measured in imperial weights while the loads at civil airports were measured in metric weights.  We were totally unaware of this little anamoly.  Our team leader made an attempt to do a conversion which we did not have any faith in, so the aircraft captain told us to load it all and weigh it when back to base.  You can now see the conundrum; a/c lined up for take-off which seemed to take forever to unstick from the runway. Back at Muharraq in the Air Movements bar, the Loadie was having a discussion with the a/c Captain.  The re-weighing of our load resulted in an estimated 1,300 lbs over the aircraft maximum take-off weight,  but the good old C130 did the job.  Always remember, brown jobs never tell you what their loads weigh, as if they would know!
Photos by Tony Hawes
The last C130 job I did was from Sharjah to Hong Kong, delivering a large telephone exchange for an Army signals unit. 

It was a very scary approach to Kai Tak airport, watching from the bench seat at the back of the flight deck, as the plane was lined up with the checker board to make its turn to land on the runway.

Four days in Hong Kong sampling its delights and being taken up to the border areas by the Gurkhas, it was quite something looking down on the CCA barracks from the border of the New Territories.


Paddy Hirst
From: Nigel Townsend,  Sutton in Ashfield, Notts 
Subject: RE: A Request

Good morning Tony,
RAF Hercules Transport Aircraft Demonstration Unit
We were commissioned by the Royal Air Force to build this representation of a Hercules C130 to serve as an exhibition unit to give the RAF a base for recruitment at shows. It featured a hydraulic slide out pod to one side which contained a representation of an AWACS early warning aircraft layout with the desks and screens fitted and linked to computers.

At the front of the aircraft trailer was a mock up of the cockpit of the C130J with screens and fly by wire controls. There was an audio system throughout with several different areas of sound and at the rear was a large projected image of skydivers falling out of the ramp. On the nearside inside was a row of authentic parachute webbing seats.
I don’t know where the Hercules exhibit is now or who owns it as the RAF sold it a few years ago, but you are welcome to do an article on it. We don’t have any higher resolution photographs of it, however, as they are the only ones we have left, but you are welcome to use them. If you need any more info let me know and we will try and help.

Best Regards,

Nigel Townsend,
Managing Director,
Neat Vehicles Ltd
Tel 00 44 (0) 1623 441114
Email –
Web –
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks
Subject: Fat Albert Memories

Hi Tony – Good Choice!  But where to start?  And, these recollections are based on just a couple of years on MAMS.  I can see this one having to run for several issues, especially as stories often trigger more memories!

My first F-Team encounter with a C130 was not with an RAF Hercules but USAF C130E, Serial 7845 of the 37th Tactical Communication Squadron. This was a series of four short hops between RAF Colerne and the runway at what had been RAF Keevil in support of a Jigsaw Exercise on the 14th and 15th November 1967.

The introduction of the RAF’s new giant tactical transport aircraft required the staff at the Joint Air Transport Establishment (JATE) at RAF Abingdon to churn out reams of new military equipment tie-down schemes tailored for the C-130.  One such bit of kit was a piece of artillery currently then under development/consideration (the eventual L118?) which, in the absence of an approved RAF tie-down scheme, F Team were tasked with testing in an American aircraft.  Or, it may have been that the MoD was considering a US Army off-the-shelf equivalent?
Anyway, provisioning politics aside, the towed gun was duly loaded and secured as per the scheme we had been given; doors closed and off we set at low level with Colonel Reeves at the helm.  This was to turn out to be one of my most memorable, if relatively short, C-130 adventures.  The gun’s ‘suspension’ could be best described a somewhat ‘squishy’. 

At low level we were soon all bouncing around, as was the gun!  So much for a well secured load, especially in terms of vertical G restraint.  At the summit of each bounce, there appeared to be just room for a cigarette paper between the tip of the gun barrel and the aircraft roof, with all its exposed cables and pipes etc.  I swear there was clear air between the gun's main tyres and the aircraft floor! 
It was a case of ‘all hands on deck’ and the team grabbing spare straps, strops and restrainers etc., to attempt to tame the bucking bronco.  Mission achieved, we landed at Keevil.  What happened next?  I am not sure, but my log book shows a second return run the following day, and I can only conclude that we tidied up the improvised tie down from day one, and proved the revised scheme on day two in C-130E Serial 7793 with Major Livingstone in control.  Meanwhile, the memory of that bouncing gun is one that is still frighteningly fresh 50 years later!

Our next Hercules assignment was the following month, 19th of December, with Serial 181 (36 Sqn, P1 Flt Lt Thomas).  This should have been a forgettable routine shuttle of 18 Sqn kit from Gutersloh to UK for an exercise.  Wrong – still memorable!  For some reason, the flight was routed into the UK through Newcastle Airport.  Was this because an HM customs presence couldn’t be provided down the road at RAF Acklington, our destination for the remaining two shuttles?  Anyway, we landed at Newcastle, the doors opened and we prepared to offload the fly-away-packs/helicopter support kit.  Proceedings then came to a grinding halt with the arrival of an HM Customs officer and his supporting rummage crew, with crowbars, straight from the docks were they had been searching for contraband on (to plagiarize the poet John Masefield)
"...dirty British coasters with a salt-caked smoke stack; with a cargo of Tyne coal, road-rails, pig-lead and cheap tin trays!"
I wasn’t too worried about the searching bit, as the cargo hold of the Herc is quite exposed and lacking in lockers and hidey-holes.  It was those crowbars which did it!  I am not sure what I actually did or said.

It was probably on the lines of “Leave your rummage kit on grass, and you can look but don’t touch!”  Furthermore, it may have involved a sheet of paper endorsed “One very new scratch-free fully serviceable Transport aircraft value £10 million pounds, property HM Queen, sign here customs person responsible for all and any damage, scratches, repairs etc!”  They had a quick look and left.

Then in January 1968, the log book records Operation Mop Up.  The night of 14 January 1968 saw a hurricane rip through the central belt of Scotland.  Glasgow and the Strathclyde area were hit by winds of over 100 miles an hour.  Twenty Scots died during the storm, including 9 in Glasgow.  Homes, shops, and churches were devastated by the strong winds.  As normality returned, an emerging problem was a critical shortage of tarpaulins to contain damage to torn off roofing.  F Team was dispatched to Lyneham to join Serial 168 and Flg Off Dyson’s crew to fly to RAF Wyton to load up with pallets of tarpaulins and head for Glasgow International, then called Abbotsinch Airport.  In addition to the offload, the task was set up an airhead for what was expected to be a significant relief air operation bringing in many more of the much needed tarpaulins, including setting up liaison with the airport authorities.

Over the next couple of days, some further tarpaulins were airlifted in, but it was soon established that there were more than enough stocks available locally.  The operation fizzled out.  As did the planned date with the attractive red-head who operated the airport’s split flap Solari electro-mechanical departure board.  This was in furtherance of the task objective of liaising with the airport authorities!  So it was goodbye to our temporary accommodation at Prestwick, off to Glasgow Central Railway Station and back to base.  However, this task does raise an interesting question.  Was this the first ever RAF C-130 Humanitarian Relief Operation?  In which case, once again UKMAMS were first in last out!
You will appreciate that I still cannot reveal details of why we were there, or where  we were going and what with, but one C-130 trip saw F team at Yumdum airport in The Gambia, now better known as Banjul International.  In (redacted) it was just an ex World War II runway surrounded by long grass and a simple tin shed as the airport passenger facilities.  It was dark when we got to our night-stop accommodation for the team and aircrew in a hotel in Bathurst.  In the morning we drifted into breakfast before our 8.30 transport back up to the airport for a 10.30 departure.  It was now also very apparent that this was a beach-side hotel.  With most of us stoking-up on calories for the day, the young keep-fit Co-Pilot entered in a sort of self-induced burbling trance.  After some remedial first aid with the coffee and cornflakes, we managed to get him semi-coherent sufficiently to report that while taking his morning jog he had discovered that: a, there was a cruise ship in; b, it was from Sweden and c, it appeared to be mainly stocked with Scandinavian bombshells now sunbathing topless or even less on the beach!
No discussion, no dithering, the decision was unanimous: we were going U/S, and we all headed back to the airport to give that airframe the closest inspection a C-130 had ever been subjected to.  The findings?  Not a dribble of hydraulic oil, not a flicker of an instrument needle, every chain and tensioner fully serviceable!  Never in the history of air transport has an aircraft been found to be so serviceable, and never has a crew and its MAMS team been so disappointed to have to depart on time!
Finally (for now?) a question and a story confirmation request.  First, how and when did the ‘Alberts’ nickname creep in and why?  I don’t recall it being current in either 1967-69 (UKMAMS) or 1971 (Gulf MAMF).
[Editor: I'm glad you asked David. "Fat Albert" was a cartoon character created by the (now defrocked) comedian Bill Cosby.  The Saturday morning TV cartoon series ran in the USA from 1972 to 1985.

The US Marine Corps adopted the name "Fat Albert" for their C-130 Blue Angels support  aircraft which became very popular in its own right for putting on a thrilling performance at air shows, including the exciting Jet Assisted Take Off (JATO).  I gather the RAF adopted the name "Fat Albert" for their C130 's much in the same manner as UKMAMS adopted the name "Muppets"]
Now the story.  It concerns the famous Hercules retractable loo which was unfolded from half away up the rear port wall of the cargo bay.  The operator could then proceed with his or her intentions behind a smart slide away curtain.  The story I was told at Abingdon is that one day, soon after the introduction, a C-130 was on a (training, en-route flight?) and the passengers included a young (Ops, Air Traffic?) WRAF officer (as they were then so segregated).  The story is that the young lady had an urgent need to ‘use the facilities’.  She went to the appropriate location, drew the curtain and disappeared from public view.

Next, to the astonishment of the other occupants of the sidewall para seats, through the curtain exploded the young lady in the final stages of a perfect summersault, with her knickers round her ankles.  It appeared that in the excitement of the preflight briefing (assuming there had been one) she had forgotten the instruction to unhinge and lower the Hercules loo before use.  The intelligent bog had realized the error and quickly assumed the correct position, in the process ejecting the user, with unfortunate and embarrassing results.  As a consequence the RAF C-130 fleet was then re-designated a male-passenger only carrier.  True, exaggerated or wishful thinking?  The fact remains the C-130 fleet was then only cleared for male crew and passengers!

Stay safe, David Powell, UKMAMS 1967-69
Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules Squadrons
413 Squadron - The disbanded squadron was reactivated at CFB Summerside on July 8, 1968, in its current role of a Transportation and Rescue Squadron. With the closure of Summerside, the squadron relocated to CFB Greenwood on June 10, 1991.

The squadron, currently operating both C130 Hercules and CH-149 Cormorant helicopters, conducts search and rescue and airlift throughout an 1,800,000 square mile area in eastern Canada. The unit is made up of approximately 200 personnel including aircrew, an Aircraft maintenance section and administrative support.

As the primary air search and rescue unit on Canada's East Coast, 413 Squadron crews cover an area extending from the south of Nova Scotia, north to Iqaluit on Baffin Island as far west as Quebec City and east out to the middle of the Atlantic.
424 Squadron - Having been deactivated in 1964, on 8 July 1968, with unification of the Canadian Forces, the squadron was reactivated as 424 Communications and Transport Squadron, operating from Hangar 9 at CFB Trenton.

The squadron operates Lockheed CC-130H Hercules and Bell CH-146 Griffon helicopters.
426 Squadron - The squadron was disbanded on 1 September 1962 and reformed again as 426 Transport Training Squadron on May 3, 1971, at Uplands.

The squadron moved to Trenton in August 1971 where it remains today, conducting training on the CC-130 Hercules.
435 Squadron - The squadron was at RCAF Station Namao flying the Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar. The unit was then re-equipped with the C-130B Hercules in 1960 and upgraded to the C-130E in 1966.

Due to the Chretien government's budget cuts and the resultant closure of the airfield at CFB Edmonton, the squadron was moved to 17 Wing Winnipeg in 1994, operating from Hangar 16.
436 Squadron - Moved from Uplands (Ottawa) to CFB Trenton on 11 August 1971.  They were initially flying the C-130E which were subsequently replaced by 17 C-130J Super Hercules.

The squadron provides tactical and strategic airlift capabilities for the Canadian Forces.
RAF Delivers Vital Aid to Cyclone Idai Survivors
The RAF has taken 20 tonnes of life-saving aid to survivors of the devastating Cyclone Idai which has torn through three southern African countries.  An RAF A400M Atlas battled through challenging flying conditions to deliver the vital cargo to Beira International Airport in Mozambique on Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Defence said.  The 20 tonnes of equipment from the Department for International Development (DFID) included 500 water filters, 1,000 solar lanterns, 3,520 blankets and 600 shelter kits that will be distributed by UN agencies.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: "The UK stands united with those affected by the devastation of Cyclone Idai at this incredibly difficult time.  The RAF have successfully navigated challenging flying conditions and helped deliver vital aid to assist with the relief effort."

Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi earlier this month and the death toll has risen above 750, with Mozambique's government declaring a national emergency. The UK aid will help provide essential support for the 37,500 people in need of urgent shelter, it added.

International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said the UK Government was doing all it can to provide life-saving help to the hundreds of thousands of people left homeless or without food by the devastating cyclone.  She added: "The UK aid on board this RAF plane contained essential supplies, which will make a real and immediate difference to the survivors.  This is undoubtedly one of the biggest natural disasters to hit the region, and our thoughts remain firmly with the victims."

Jersey Evening Post
From: Clive Price, Brecon
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert

I remember going with F team to Fairford to be shown over the new Hercules and learn how to open and close the the rear doors manually; they even gave us a stamped certificate to say we had passed the course.

Never touched them again, left that stuff to the loadmaster, though I did unhook the rear toilets and lower them down for my own comfort a few times. There was a tale circulating of a lady officer who tried to climb up onto one, much to the glee of the watchers.

Four hours was as much you wanted in one flyingwise (pre ear defenders days).  I had a nightmare ten hours direct to Belize with seventy soldiers on board and the only way to get to the toilets was by climbing up onto the centre seat rail and walking over the heads of everyone. Never again - I was scrambled.

No, Fat Albert was not my first choice of aeroplane, so my new hearing aids tell me!

Taff Price
Australian and New Zealand Air Forces Hercules Squadrons
37 Squadron RAAF -  In response to Australia's increasing air transport needs during the Vietnam War, the disbanded squadron was re-formed at Richmond in February 1966, and equipped with the C-130E Hercules.

It converted to the C-130J model in 1999, and between 2006 and 2012 also operated C-130Hs formerly of No. 36 Squadron. No. 37 Squadron came under the control of a reformed No. 86 Wing from 1987 until 2010, when it was transferred to No. 84 Wing.
36 Squadron RAAF - The Douglas C-47 Dakota squadron began re-equipping with Lockheed C-130 Hercules at Richmond in 1958, becoming the first non-US operator of the type.

Over the next half-century it flew two models of Hercules, the C-130A and C-130H. The squadron transferred to Amberley in 2006, when it took delivery of its first Globemaster.
40 Squadron RNZAF - The disbanded squadron reformed on 8 December 1954 with four Handley Page Hastings, one of which had competed in the October 1953 London-Christchurch air race. The Squadron was supplemented with three Douglas DC-6 acquired from the defunct Australian airline, British Commonwealth Pacific Airlines by 1961.

Three  Lockheed C-130H Hercules were purchased in 1965 and two more in 1968.  The squadron also operates two Boeing 757's all located at RNZAF Base Whenuapai .
Mass evacuation underway as northern Australia braces for Cyclone Trevor
The Australian Defence Force is assisting the Northern Territory government to evacuate remote communities in the path of Tropical Cyclone Trevor.  Defence support was requested  by the Northern Territory government through Emergency Management Australia and close coordination between the agencies continues.

A Joint Task Force of around 200 personnel has been established out of the Australian Army’s 1st Brigade in Darwin to coordinate Defence’s response in supporting the emergency evacuations.  Minister for Defence Christopher Pyne said three Royal Australian Air Force C-130J Hercules transport aircraft today evacuated residents from the cyclone path in East Arnhem Land including Groote Eylandt and McArthur River Mine airfield near Borroloola.

The entire coastline from Numbulwar to the NT/QLD border has been evacuated, as communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria brace for Cyclone Trevor's impact.  2100 people from East Arnhem Land have registered at evacuation, with 1200 sleeping at cyclone shelters across the Territory and the remainder choosing to stay with family, friends or in accommodation.

A fourth aircraft – a C-17A Globemaster – is on standby to provide support from RAAF Base Tindal if required.

Courtesy of Mick Hughes
From: Mick Hughes, Ipswich, QLD
Subject: C130J
C130J’s landing at Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan in support of Australian element part of ISAF
From: Gordon Gray, Allestree, Derby
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert

Hi Tony,

I wish I could make a bigger contribution for this month's 'Fat Albert' but the trouble is there would be too many to commit to keyboard.  But just for you, two spring to mind:

One of a Base Movements Task from Lyneham in 1977 on a trip to Nairobi via Bandar Abbas, Iran (it was Persia in those days), due to uplift SBS at Bandar, then diverted to Port Sudan. That should have been 4 days and lasted 3+ weeks with a U/S airframe in Nairobi. We did have time to explore the game parks and all that, but Capt. P..... was hauled over the coals on return.

The other, one night during a Lyneham Taceval in '83 when the poor lad I was marshalling, backing a 10k Henly fork lift truck over the ramp, just over the hinge of the A/C on bay 41 or 42 and the A/C tipped. I'll never forget the lad's expression. After the dust settled I found out that Bay 41/42 was notorious for such loading with it's slope.

Kind regards

From: David Moss, Sorbie, Dumfries and Galloway 
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert

Hello Tony,

I did so many trips with Albert that I have had a problem picking one out.  Probably the most "alarming" one for me, involved a trip to Kathmandu during a Gurkha rotation.  We had flown from Kai Tak on a Britannia and delivered our collection of troops and their families to Tribhuvan International airport and stayed overnight to await the arrival next afternoon of a C130 with the rest of their kit. We were to fly out on the Herc after the crew had their rest stop following our second night.

(I would like to ramble a bit here for reasons that will become obvious.  I took that opportunity to have a really good look around the town and do some shopping for Christmas presents.  Having seen all those really old buildings it was so sad to see the devastation that resulted from the 2015 earthquake. The old Temple in the square was a fascinating place and it was so upsetting to see it as just a pile of rubble.)

Back to the story... Time for departure arrived and we boarded the Herc and duly found our seats.  The Loadie, I found out later, had stuck his head down from the flight deck and indicated to strap in well as the captain had decided to do a tactical take-off.  The only problem here was that I was taking a few photographs during taxying as I had not had chance when we landed and didn't get the message.  I was just about to finish fastening my seat belt when the engines roared and we were hurtling down the runway, and as the aircraft took off, because my strap was not really tight enough, much to the amusement of the rest of the team, I found myself hanging over the end of the last para seat on the port side with my feet in the air, and there I had to stay until we leveled off.  (I still have the photographs of Kathmandu airport somewhere, but I don't need them to be reminded of that event!)

The captain made the rather naughty decision that we would climb to the giddy heights and have a look down on the top of mount Everest which we circled twice before making a speedy departure.

It was a lovely place to have visited and if had the chance I would love to go back.

Best wishes

From: Andrew Spinks, Aylsham, Norfolk
Subject: Memories of Fat Albert

Hi Tony,

I was on my way to a 4-month detachment with HQ British Forces Falkland Islands (HQ BFFI), before Mount Pleasant was even a twinkle in anyone’s eyes. But nearly everyone sent to FI in the days just after the war was sent by ship from Ascension Island, indeed I was initially allocated a place on RMS St Helena. I was actually quite looking forward to 2 weeks at sea but, later experiencing the South Atlantic swell on a LSL sailing to and from South Georgia, I now accept my eagerness to sail the South Atlantic was significantly misplaced. Anyway, HQ BFFI wanted me down asap and allocated me a seat on the C130 airbridge to Port Stanley. I attach some photos of the most exciting part of the long flight, when we took on fuel to get us all the way. Fortunately, this flight made it in one go, although several C130 airbridges had to turn back because of poor weather at Port Stanley.

The detachment was memorable for several other reasons. In those early days even HQ BFFI was in temporary accommodation (we worked from the School, which understandably had been vacated during the war) and we all had to live out, either on a ship called Rangatira or, in the case of some of us, with families in Port Stanley.
I shared a room in a small family house with a C130 nav (the AT staff officer at HQ BFFI) and the family took us in and treated us as if we were family. It was a pretty nice way to live on an operational detachment and unsurprisingly my subsequent operational deployments (Balkans and Gulf War 2) were considerably less comfortable.


RAF Lyneham in the 1960's (when we had an Air Force to be proud of)
From: Linda Baxter, Perthshire
Subject: Terry Boothby

My dad, Terry Boothby, was a loady ending up as a MALM then he helped set up and worked at 4624 Sqn reserves at Brize. Unfortunately, he passed away four years ago, but I would like to keep his memory alive, so if anyone here worked with or knew him, I would love to hear the stories


Linda Baxter
One Liners
From: Phil Smith, Exmouth, Devon

Heard at RAF Lyneham Main Gate after erk does not salute a 2nd Lieutenant Army Officer after requesting his ID card:

"Don`t you salute British Army Officers in the RAF?" 

“No," came the reply, "we haven`t got any!"


Heard during a NATO exercise in Norway:

Sqn Ldr to UKMAMS Sgt: "Are you with the Buccaneers?"

"No, I`m with the Woolwich!"
From: Jerry Dove, Thetford, Norfolk

I've just had a conversation about my life as a Movements Controller and I remembered a bad day on the trim desk.

One of my SNCO's said to me: "You're a Controller, you should be able to sort out that problem!"

To which I replied, "Yes, I'm a Controller, but I've NEVER said I was a good one!"
More Relevant Stuff
This Newsletter is Dedicated
to the Memories of:
Richard Bond (RAF)
Keith Peddle (RCAF)
Terry Boothby (RAF)
If you wish to send a donation to the OBA
drop me an e-mail and I'll tell you how to do it.

Tony Gale