Lack of situational awareness blamed for RAF C-130J write-off
From: John Guy, Northampton
On 21st June 1974, Bravo Team of NEAF MAMS was tasked to pick a passing Belfast on its arrival at Akrotiri, and accompany it to offload the aircraft in Ethiopia. This entailed a pick-up in the very early hours of a Sunday morning.
Having been to our pre-flight breakfast, we made our way to await the arrival of the aircraft on the pan which was void of other aircraft and personnel at this unearthly hour of the morning. As dawn was breaking it felt, to me anyway, that it was a lovely place to be with it being so peaceful and then... one became aware that the Officers' Mess Summer Ball was still very much in progress when the next song over the air waves played it was the Hollies singing "The Air That I Breathe”. The Belfast duly arrived a few minutes later, which we boarded to eventually offload at Addis Ababa what were 2 x 3 ton vehicles.
To conclude, that record has just been played on our local radio, and it always is a lovely reminder of that particular task.
From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
To: John Guy, Northampton
Subject: RE: Memorable
Many thanks John – I can relate to your story.
Back in 1969, Foxtrot team was tasked in a PCF Britannia to support the Toronto Air Show, but when we arrived and did our thing, there was nowhere for us to park (it was so very crowded). We became a “training” flight down to San Francisco for the August Bank Holiday weekend. It was at the height of Flower Power and it did not disappoint. We stayed at the San Franciscan Hotel (all the coins had been washed before being given out as change in the various establishments in the hotel – which gives you an idea of the opulence). We took in everything we could including cable car rides and a trip to Fisherman’s Wharf – plus a few questionable establishments! To top it all off, there was a float parade on Market Street, below our hotel windows, on the Monday morning.
Whenever I hear Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco” I think of that wonderful weekend.
From: Andrew Finlayson, Adelaide, SA
Subject: Many Thanks!
I have to thank you Tony for reuniting me with my dear friend, Paul Fitzpatrick, whom I had lost touch with. He had found me a year or so back through seeing my picture in the Newsletter. However, communication had stopped since he has now moved back from France to the UK. Because you were looking for him and because you asked me to help I was able to find him again and we are again in regular communication. We can once again revisit our youth and recall our misdemeanours (mainly mine, he was, and still is, a much more upstanding chap). So thank you again for allowing two old codgers to reminisce and hopefully to catch up when I’m next over there.
From: Glen Falardeau, Devon, AB
Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #042619
Among all the other most interesting stuff in the last newsletter (including your story about Fat Albert in Addis Ababa), there is one that takes it all and must be mentioned. It is from Len Bowen and is entitled "Bowen and the Beverley - a Saga across Several Continents". Wow! What a piece of work!
This chap has got to be commended for his write up! What a story teller; very well written with loads of typical British humour, riveting and informative. Was he a writer in his spare time, was it an extract from a book or his memoirs ?
Again lots of good stuff for a wide audience in here and thank you again for putting it all together for us: the Movers' community and others I know from other trade occupations and elements (Army and Navy) at home and abroad.
I can't wait for the next one!
From: David Forsyth, 85270 St Hilaire de Riez
Subject: Regarding Richard Bond
Having enjoyed the story about Dick's pistol bluff in the last newsletter, I thought readers who knew Dick might enjoy another story of bluff - albeit a bluff with rather more success.
Dick Bond - Fortune Teller - Bluff or Capability?
Dick, by then Richard, was my senior Wing Commander and my Deputy at Quedgeley in the early 90s. As with most RAF Establishments, to help promote good will locally and to earn a few shillings for Charity, we mounted each year an Open Day with lots of money-spinning stalls.
Dick (I prefer to call him Dick from our Cranwell days), set up a small tent and erected a sign for Fortune Telling for 50p by Gypsy Rose Lee, or something like that. The Gypsy welcomed punters dressed in a fancy blouse, skirt, headscarf and so on. The giant ear-rings and rouged cheeks did little to divert attention from the Bond moustache but apparently just enough.
She/he went down a storm with people queuing to have their fortunes read and he made a significant amount for charity. Best of all, in Year 2 he even had repeat business from Year 1 with some ladies so impressed by his accurate forecasting the previous year that they came back for more.
Bluff or a professional quality? We never knew! But, somehow, it was Dick to a T (leaves that is).
Best to you
From: Chas Clark, Sprucedale, ON
Subject: My latest trip and a Beverley Memory
Just got back from 3 months in Arizona and Texas. Yes, even saw the pink Jaguar from Boscombe Down there at the Pima Aircraft and Space Museum. Sadly, the aircraft graveyard tour at Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is no longer available, unless you are an American with a passport and apply 10 weeks in advance. Fortunately, I managed to get round it some 3 years ago and was drooling over 300 Hercules just sitting there mothballed.
Missed the latest Beverley issue. My story was we took off in a 47 Sqn Bev from RAF Abingdon and flew to Salisbury Plain to pick up a Bessonneau Hangar that had been used as part of a firepower display at Round O.
We had a bunch of squaddies to help us and by the time we had loaded it on, the bandstand was blocked as was the ladder to the tail. We had no option but to sit on the sill, the clamshell doors had been left at base, so we roped ourselves in and sat with our feet dangling over the sill. It was bloody cold and we were flying to Catterick to offload the hangar and, as we were passing RAF Finingley, we noticed the traffic on the A1 North was overtaking the Bev. Apparently, a very strong headwind was affecting us and we diverted into Finingley to spend the night. Before taking off next day, we managed to shift a sufficient gap in the load to be able to crawl to the bandstand and sit inside for the final leg. You always learn something new, always sit on the inside, it's warmer!
Components of the Bessonneau hangar - designed in 1908, it was widely used during World War I
From: Gordon Gray, Allestree, Derby
Subject: 36 Squadron is missing again!
A friend gave me a print of what you see here, which is framed and hangs on a wall among several proper limited edition aircraft prints.
When I read Ian Berry’s point about the missing 36 Squadron entry in your RAF squadrons listings for the Hercules, I checked my print and saw that their squadron crest was missing!
Having spoken with the producers of it, ‘SP 50’, they had no idea of why it was omitted. But suffice to say it was probably those who commissioned the job years ago; very strange!
Malta Airport Movements by John Visanich
Part One of Two
From: Daniel Fraser, Liverpool
Subject: The Pains of Working with ACHE
Flew into Jordan to help recover the SF lads after they had done their bit in 2003. A few of us flew forward from Akrotiri to help the lads on the ground, this was my first real taste of deploying to a conflict area so I was buzzing.
We land at the airfield and we are right at it. “This frame needs to be turned round ASAP!” I’m thinking I love this, fast tempo, smashing jobs all over the place, amazing experience.
The Herc was a MK3 and only had twin track roller fitted so it could be as versatile as possible on its routes. Well, we offloaded it in minutes and went to move the ATLAS; one small issue, the rear stop won’t come up and the pallets could have easily gone off the back. I think we had this problem last week in AKT and I know how to fix it....
I go over, grab the rear stop and it doesn’t budge. I try again with a big 2-6 and nothing. I tell the operator to keep flicking the switch, all of a sudden it moves just as I’d put my hand under it to lift, it never went up it, it came down and crunched my pointy finger...
OMG! The pain was ridiculous. I managed to get my hand out sharply enough so not to cause any more damage, a very close call which the medic thought was hilarious when he asked how long ago it happened. I say 25 minutes ago. OK, says he, how long have you been in theatre. Umm, about 35 minutes - ha ha ha!
We did laugh about it over the next few weeks and I’m still good friends with the ATLAS driver.
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks
Subject: The Pains of Working with ACHE
Actually, during my all too short periods with F Team and Gulf MAMF, I don’t have any immediate memories of problems with ACHE. On F Team we had Bob Turner. If anything we came across couldn’t be ‘fixed’ in some way by Bob – it didn’t exist! And, on the Gulf MAMF, ACHE tended to be a luxury.
However, it was not uncommon to be at the forward-end of a deployment and faced with some real challenges when the dispatching UK airfield appeared oblivious to our total lack of ACHE when it came to the offload, often requiring some interesting improvisation. This could also inspire the occasional interesting backload.
ACHE and its cousins, in particular Ground Power Units such as the 25kVA "Houchin" Ground Power Units could provide such exercise recovery entertainment. There was one recovery when a Houchin (quite a big piece of wheeled kit to younger readers) was chained down by a nest of chains under the GPU. The Beast was then ‘tied down’ externally by yards of lashing tape mimicking the usual fore, aft and sidewards restraint. Sadly, we were not at the receiving anonymous Britannia base to see the initial expressions of shock horror and disbelief of the duty movements shift at the sight of 2 or 3,000 lbs. of GSE apparently just restrained by tape! Anybody on shift that night, and how heavy was the Houchin?
There was also the time when UKMAMS were deployed with the tactical mobile rough terrain fork lifts or RFTLs (a posh description of a small farm tractor with forks). One particular squadron exercise deployment recovery include a lot of fly away pack boxes, a couple of dozen main wheels, and a flat floor. As a ‘get your own back’ the wheels were loaded first using the nimble Dinky toy which could be driven into the Hercules with no problem to produce two side-by side ‘towers’ of stacked main wheels (probably Phantom or Hunter). I regret that I cannot for the life of me remember which team it might have been! However, knowing that the receiving airfield didn’t have anything like our baby forks, but only the normal big forks, the team then loose loaded the FAP boxes so that, if extracted with a bit of thought, they could then be used to provide a sloping ramp within the aircraft to manhandle the off-load of the wheels. That was the mistake. Apparently, the off-loading crew just heaved off the FAP boxes as quickly as possible, before coming upon the two towering stacks of wheels! Oh dear!
Happy days, stay safe.
F Team UKMAMS 1967-69
From: Pauline Andrews, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: The Pains of Working with ACHE
With a MAMS team in Pristina, in 1999. We had several IL-76s in, loaded flat floor with equipment on NATO pallets, which we offloaded easily by driving onto the aircraft in a rough-terrain forklift (RTFL).
One day, a loadie said "You can't use that on this aircraft if it weighs over 6000lbs". No worries we said, we're sure it doesn't, and continued to offload.
The following day the engine of the RTFL caught fire outside the pax terminal, which was successfully extinguished with bottled water. We weighed it to send it back home for repair, and discovered it was actually 15,000lbs.
Haven't driven one onto an aircraft to offload it since!
From: Stephen Bird, Chester
Subject: The Pains of Working with ACHE
Where do I start? I think my topic should cover the lack of ACHE, especially in the early 80's at Brize Norton during the Falklands War.
There are two incidents which come to mind immediately with me; firstly, the introduction of the Tristar 500's and the lack of handling aids to load the lower holds, in particular the rear holds. The way we got around it was to use an adapted slave pallet which had rollers bolted on it and guidance rails (for a want better description) shaped in an L. We then positioned the dollies alongside the slave pallet where good old 2-6 brute force came into play. One tin at a time and up and down until it was all loaded.
The other would be coming onto shift to find a B747 freighter on Bay 50 waiting to be loaded with a number of dismantled Hunter aircraft destined for Chile, to be loaded through the nose with only a Condec to complete the task. The Condec did not have the height to reach the hold so therefore it was adapted by attaching 3 x sections of Anthony Allen docking to the Condec bed, after the safety rails were removed the docking was tied down with 10k chains and tensioners.
We loaded the double/treble pallets onto the docking and they in turn were secured. But this presented the next problem. When the Condec complete with the AA was at full height, there was no means of unlashing the pallets from the AA. So, two willing volunteers(!) were asked to attach themselves to the offside of the Condec with P-Strops and go up with the load. It was again then a case of the good old 2-6 until the automated rollers grabbed the pallets. To round it all off we had to stop loading several times due to a high crosswind, causing the Condec to sway with said Movers attached to the side!
I would be very surprised if the present Corp of Movers would get away with this nowadays!
University of Chester
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante
Subject: The Pains of Working with ACHE
So long ago, 1974 I think, a review at Abingdon. UKMAMS took part in this and at one end of B Hangar there was a display of the ACHE that we used; a veritable crowd puller(?).
People say that the Britannia Freight Lift Platform (BFLP) was difficult to build and operate, nah, that was a pussy cat compared to the Anthony Allen Transfer Loader, an archaic conglomeration of lumps of metal that ever there was. It was extremely heavy and unwieldy, liable to squash unwary bits of body and punch holes in the fuselage of an Albert if not kept an eye on. One Corporal Sydney, on his stint as a fount of all knowledge on this... thing... A gentleman approaches, takes an extreme interest in the monstrosity. (The AATL not the Cpl!). Gentleman asks all sorts of piercing, technical questions, answered to his great satisfaction. Then the killer question from said Gentleman, "And what do you think of it then?"
"Well, I've only been involved in using it once and..." There followed a discourse on the parentage of the machine and the difficulties in operating it and showing where unwary appendages could be trapped/sliced/hurt.
"Oh dear," from said Gentleman, "We never thought of that when we designed it!"
I respond, "Luvverly machine, Sir, bonzer design, Sir, well before it's time, Sir, don't know what we would have done without it, Sir."
Then there was the occasion when I pulled the side off an empty Condec as I was charging across the pan in said machine at El Adem, a loose chain wrapped itself around a rear wheel. That earned me a visit to the Station Commander's office where tea and biccies were not offered!.
Best rgds, Syd.
RAF Abingdon back in the day (I believe it was a Wednesday). Ben Johnson and Roy Brocklebank are figuring out a tie-down scheme for the Anthony Allen Transfer Loader to make it air portable ("dog's dinner" would have been a kind description).
On Board with Fast Broadband
HIGH-SPEED internet on six of Air Force’s C-130J Hercules will provide Defence with increased flexibility when deploying on operations. In 2017, one Hercules was fitted with a Honeywell Ka-Band satellite communications (SATCOM) system antenna, which permits broadband connectivity on board. Beginning late this year, the first of an additional five aircraft will be fitted with this system during scheduled heavy maintenance at RAAF Base Richmond.
Commander Air Mobility Group AIRCDRE William Kourelakos said the system would provide increased flexibility and awareness for crew and passengers. “This will help bring the Hercules well and truly into the 21st century and allow it to better work within a fifth-generation Air Force,” AIRCDRE Kourelakos said. “Even after 60 years, a RAAF Hercules is often one of the first aircraft on the scene during a crisis and up-to-date information is critical for our people when they step off the ramp.
”RAAF became the first air force to fit the Ka-Band SATCOM system to the C-130J Hercules when it began trialling its applications in 2017. This Hercules – called the “Jericho Demonstrator” – has explored its applications during local mission rehearsal exercises and humanitarian airdropactivities in the Pacific.
“Crews and passengers can undertake complex mission planning en-route to their destination, stream video of their mission back to a headquarters or receive it from another node,” AIRCDRE Kourelakos said. “There’s significant potential for the Hercules to serve as a tactical command and control platform, combining its range and loiter with its ability to airdrop or operate from austere airstrips.”
Ground Liaison Officer with No.37 Squadron, Army CAPT Ian Carter, said SATCOM connectivity would be equivalent to having broadband internet for embarked forces. “Having half the Hercules fleet fitted with this system provides greater assuredness of capability-boosting technology being available for embarked Defence units. RAAF is interested in understanding the interoperability implications this system could have for forces and special operations command units, whether it be used for deploying forces or sustaining them on operations.”
Air Force’s entire fleet of 12 C-130J Hercules was fitted with a slower speed L-Band SATCOM system beginning in 2015. This provided Hercules crews with global voice and data communications, greatly increasing their situational awareness and flexibility when on tasks.
Air Force News [RAAF]
Malta Airport Movements by John Visanich
Part Two of Two
First CC-295 rolls off assembly line
On March 8, 2019 [I know - I'm late with this one], the first of our 16 new CC-295 fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft rolled off the assembly line in Spain, bringing us one step closer to first delivery.
This aircraft is the first of 16 to be built following a contract award in December 2016 to Airbus Defence and Space. The CC-295, as it has been designated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), will replace the Buffalo and H-model Hercules fleets in the fixed-wing search and rescue role.
The RCAF will operate the new fleet from 19 Wing Comox, 17 Wing Winnipeg, 8 Wing Trenton, and 14 Wing Greenwood. A training centre for CC-295 aircrew and maintainers is also being built at 19 Wing Comox.
The first aircraft is on track to be accepted by Canada in Spain in late 2019, and to be flying in Canadian skies in the spring of 2020.
Government of Canada
From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts
Subject: Brize Norton Visits
(A Message to Members of the RAF Movements and MAMS Association)
I would like to send out my appreciation to all who have helped me with my efforts as Deputy Chairman (and gash shag) when organizing our trips to Brize. I'm sorry to say to all those on my standby list that I am standing down in that role after a few close scrapes I have decided to stop driving any distance on my own and this of course includes Brize Norton. I am still around and hope to be for some time, after all I do still have my beloved allotment.
Thanks again to all those that helped me in the past, if someone would like to take over the Brize visits then I will be only to pleased to help, with the knowledge I have gained.
Cheers for now
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Subject: Forks, Tuning
Early in my career, in the late ‘50s, I was a "Bin-Rat," (Supply Tech) at RCAF Station, Claresholm, Alberta. A loathsome job.
I was working in Tech Stores and one of my duties was issuing and returning tool kits. I remember one crusty old Flight Sergeant, an aircraft rigger by trade. (Sgt Shatterproof comes to mind), who was retiring after 35 years service and was turning in his tool kit. He had all of it, in good condition and had no trouble parting with any of it, 'till we got to, as I checked it off his inventory, "Forks, Tuning, Set of 8, c/w Mallet".
He handed me a small leather box that had a deep patina gained from years of use. I opened it to see, set in velvet, a set of tuning forks and a small hammer. He looked at me, a pimply faced Aircraftsman 1st Class, and asked, "Son, is there any way you could see it clear to let me keep these? I was issued them on day one and have tuned the rigging on many types of aircraft all over the world and over many years."
It didn’t take much thought to tell him he could keep them as I didn’t see a need for any tuning forks in the future of the RCAF. After all this was the 1950s.
That Friday at Beer Call in the Wets, I went to the bar and ordered a 50¢ beer. On putting my money down, I was told that I had $5 worth of credit, compliments of the old Flight Sergeant!
A welcome surprise, and a supplement to my $75 monthly pay package (plus all I could eat!).
More Relevant Stuff
This Newsletter is Dedicated
To The Memories of:
Alan Clegg (RAF)
Floyd Fynn (RCAF)
Jim Wallace (RCAF)
Carl Skinner (RCAF)
Brian Gowrie (RAF)
Christian Long (RAF)
Doug Dearing (RCAF)
Oscar Henaut (RCAF)
Eric McPherson (RCAF)
If you wish to donate to the OBA, drop me an e-mail