After nearly 2 years of anticipation, the United States Marine's shiny new C-130J "Fat Albert" finally took to the skies today, 20th July 2020, on her first flight test. This is an ex-RAF Hercules which the USN's Blue Angels purchased; she was known in RAF service as ZH885.
We see her departing Cambridge Airport in the hands of the "Blue Angels" own crew for the very first time since conversion. We are thrilled to have had her at Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group for conversion from the RAF to the USMC who operate her on behalf of the Blue Angels!
Totally different on the West Coast, Western Australia has everything open! But then again, it's almost another country over there anyway! So easily people (and politicians) forget there is still no known cure to this nasty lurgi!
Stumbled across the attached video where necessity was driving airlines to convert their PAX aircraft to Cargo Aircraft (especially for the bulky/fluffy loads such as surgical masks, PPE, etc from the Far East into Europe).
Apparently, Airbus is marketing cargo conversion kits for its A330/A350 aircraft? Is this Airbus trying to teach a new dog old tricks?! Can't remember Lockheed/Vickers issuing "conversion kits" for the C130 or VC10?! Role changes were the usual order of the day with MAMS, especially in PSY when it happened daily, unless ASI forgot to load the roller/side-guidance to the ramp of the southbound PAX flight!
With regards to loading freight/bags through the passenger door of a widebody, I remember well the first RAF Tristar visit to HKG in the late 80's, with Ian Russell on board. To offload anything from the main passenger door, the belt was at such a steep angle the bags & freight offloaded themselves, without the assistance of the moving conveyor!
Keep safe & well and regards to all the movements fraternity from Downunder.
I do hope to be able to catch up with you at the next movements reunion, but in the interim we are working on a history museum in our HQ at RAF Brize Norton. If you are interested in offering photos or objects for the museum, or you wish to take part in the accompanying oral history project, please get in touch through Tony Gale. As always, keep safe!
1 AMW Coast-to-Coast Wall Run 2020: we’re running 90-miles in 3 days along Hadrian’s Wall in aid of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Kajiado Children’s Home, and Cirencester Opportunities Group. If you want to support us, please see our JustGiving site at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/stephen-jones146
1AMW and RAF Brize Norton support to Op BROADSHARE 2020
By Flt Lt Anne Scott 1AMW
At the beginning of 2020, way before lock-down (if we can all remember what life was like back then), RAF Brize Norton was tasked to support Operation BROADSHARE; a task to repatriate British Nationals from Wuhan Province, China at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
It was a task that not only pulled on resources throughout Brize Norton including 1AMW, RAF Police, Station Ops and Air Traffic Control, but an effort that spanned several governmental agencies to assist the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Brize Norton’s task was to plan and facilitate an airfield to allow the repatriation at a time when other airports were cautious to receive such an aircraft, with the unknown virus gripping world media. As the perimeter fence was surrounded by numerous news agencies, behind the gates of Brize the station pulled together to assist and facilitate the arrival of the first WAMOS Airlines Boeing 747 aircraft.
The repatriation was given the green light in late January and the evacuation of Brits from Wuhan Province started when the World Health Organisation [WHO] declared an international public health emergency.
The first B-747 arrived on the 31st January carrying more than 80 British Nationals. As the FCO, Public Health England (PHE), Police and Ambulance services from surrounding areas anxiously awaited the inbound flight to land, 1 AMW’s Air Movements Squadron were ensuring the correct aircraft handling equipment was in place and prepared themselves to get ‘hands on’. Before the Duty Air Movements Officer (DAMO) could authorise the opening of the aircraft doors, the PHE representatives had to assess the on-board situation to ensure that passengers were showing no signs and symptoms of Covid-19. Once the clearance was given, the DAMO signalled for the crew to open the aircraft doors to finally allow for the offload of all passengers to the pre-positioned coaches which would take the passengers to the isolation facility on the Wirral.
This set the tone for further flights, with the second aircraft landing into Brize Norton late on Sunday the 2nd of February, this time carrying 11 passengers. Again, representatives from several organisations came together to assist the flight upon arrival. Due to a passenger developing suspected symptoms in flight, this required a slightly different handling approach. Personnel were ordered to use the PPE that was provided and once the DAMO had given the ok for the doors to be opened the AMS team then arranged and assisted in the offload of baggage from the hold. The final B-747 arrived at Brize on the morning of Sunday 9th February, this time carrying more than 200 people. With the arrival falling within the midst of Storm Ciara, the task presented a number of additional challenges for Movements team, not least the ability to safely use the passenger steps, operating on the very edge of their limits. Slightly different from the previous tasks, this flight had repatriated not just British Nationals, but also passengers from a host of other European nations. Whilst the UK passengers were all transferred to Milton Keynes, the other passengers boarded European military aircraft to take them on to their final destination, adding to the complexity of the morning’s already busy flying programme.
Thanks to the hard work of Brize Norton personnel and those from other governmental agencies, over 300 personnel were repatriated within a period of 8 days. This being only the start of the military’s support to the governments fight against COVID-19.
The bus journey into town, that’s if you're lucky you get a seat in the restricted seating arrangements that have been put in place. If not, you must wait another half hour for the next bus. Whilst putting on one’s mask, it's amazing to see those that care not for this restriction and flout the necessity to keep their distance and wear a mask.
Then there are the hospital appointments, for one it’s two bus journeys the other is where I have to buy the car park on exit, this one there is a small bus/train to get you to the distant internal appointment centres.
The biggest bugbear for me is not being able to give my daughters and grandkids the much needed, by me, hugs and kisses. Time, no doubt, will pass.
1AMW’s activation of Dakar, Senegal, as an interim technical stop for the South Atlantic Airbridge
On 11th March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a pandemic, which within week’s was accelerating at an unprecedented pace. As countries began closing their borders and announcing international travel restrictions, Cape Verde was no different. Unfortunately for UK Defence however, degradation of the Ascension Islands runway in 2017 resulted in Cape Verde being used as an interim technical stop for South Atlantic Airbridge (SAA) flights and a hub for Tactical Air Transport into Ascension Islands until the runway repairs could be completed.
With Cape Verde’s borders and hotels closing, this posed a very real operational risk to SAA operations and the 2-person, Individual Augmentee (IA) movements detachment established in Cape Verde to support it.
SAC Howlett, Senegalese Handlers & Flt Lt Pete Maughan
When SAA operations through Cape Verde ceased, the IA detachment were recovered back to the UK on 22nd March to be administered by 1AMW and held at readiness to redeploy to Cape Verde or with suitable preparation and agreement, any future SAA technical stop location.
In order to maintain critical air lines of communication between the UK and the BFSAI Joint Operating Area (Falkland Islands and Ascension Islands), an alternate mid-route technical stop needed to be established. Dakar in Senegal was selected and on 26th March 1 AMW were activated to deploy to Dakar to re-establish the SAA until such a time that it either reverted back to Cape Verde or could be taken over by IA’s. A team of 5 UKMAMS personnel (1 x Flt Lt, 1 x Cpl and 3 x SAC) armed with copious amounts of mosquito repellent departed RAF Brize Norton bound for Dakar. Their mission was to establish a new interim technical stop to enable the essential continuation of the SAA.
Led by Flt Lt Pete Maughan, over the course of the next 48 hours the team experienced several challenges including the prospect of a previously unknown requirement to go into 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Dakar.
Fortunately, OC 1AMW, Wg Cdr Tom Walker, was able to do some swift, late night negotiating with the Defence Attaché to secure the freedom of movement which the team would require in order to successfully do their job. After a comprehensive brief by the Defence Attaché and Deputy Defence Attaché on the local climate and regulations in force (including a very strict, daily curfew between 2000-0600L), the team were dropped off at their hotel. Due to COVID-19 restrictions the lived hotel experience was very different to normal expectations with the team restricted to one single floor (including during meal times), which was enforced by the full-time presence of Embassy security staff. Nevertheless, the hotel staff and quality of catering was excellent throughout.
The next day, the Deputy Defence Attaché escorted the team to the airport. Whilst there, the team despatched the Voyager which they initially arrived on back to RAF Brize Norton, and then received/despatched a second Voyager, which was on its way to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands Islands. The ground handlers were exceptional throughout and the team were aided by the fact that the airport had no other commercial aircraft to support. Content with the service received from the ground handlers and the assessment of operations in Dakar, 3 of the UKMAMS team returned on the first aircraft, leaving Flt Lt Maughan and SAC Howlett in situ.
The day’s work was far from over however. Flt Lt Maughan and SAC Howlett began meeting with airport authorities, Embassy staff and ground handlers, liaising closing with DSCOM to establish time scales, agree flight schedules within curfew times and confirm all services required to support Voyager aircraft. There was one hurdle which the team couldn’t overcome however.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was no authority for passengers to disembark the aircraft under any circumstances, so as well as keeping all passengers on board while it was being refuelled, the team were also heavily involved in the creation of contingency plans for several different scenario’s including aircraft unserviceability which would require all passengers to remain on board overnight until a rescue flight could be generated.
Thanks to all this work and the superb support received from the Defence Attaché and his Embassy staff, and the Senegalese government, on 29th March, UK Defence once again had a safe and effective Airbridge through Dakar, capable of supporting 2 scheduled aircraft per week and additional frame swap aircraft. By the third rotation, the SAA was adding even more value and on 2nd April, on behalf of the Senegalese Government it provided the first of several repatriation flights back to the UK for FCO staff, British Nationals and vulnerable persons.
Unfortunately, the plan to backfill IA’s into Dakar on 6th April did not work out. UKMAMS therefore continued to support the detachment until 1st May, when 1AMW Operational Support Sqn (OSS) RAFLO’s (Flt Lt Chris Jacobs and Fg Off Rachael Brook) took over from UKMAMS, freeing up their capacity for other contingent tasking. Albeit later than originally planned, on 12th May IA’s were deployed to take over the detachment from 1 AMW and the OSS RAFLO’s returned to the UK.
Establishing Dakar as an interim technical stop as successfully and swiftly as 1 AMW did prevented what would have otherwise been a crippling effect on BFSAI operations. It is a great example of 1AMW’s role in supporting wider UK Defence.
Flt Lt Maughan and SAC Howlett presenting the Ground Handling Manager with a token of 1AMW’s appreciation for their support
1AMW Brize Norton
Colin Sammy Allen
a MAMS legend
UKMAMS Task 482 - Turkey PPE Recovery - April 2020
At the start of 2020, COVID-19 began to sweep across the globe becoming a major pandemic that ground society as we knew it to a halt. Lock downs, social distancing and the furlough of workers became common place as the disease reached its peak infection rate in the UK, and the NHS became overstretched with the shortage of life saving PPE becoming headline news.
In response to the crisis, NHS suppliers began searching for new PPE manufacturers in order to quickly plug the gap but were in direct competition with other Nations increasing the need to quickly secure potential suppliers. At short notice, UKMAMS were mobilised to deploy to Istanbul in Turkey, where Foreign Office and NHS staff had secured a contract for an initial batch of 400,000 items from a new supplier.
Because of the scale of the load and the tight timescales involved, 20 UKMAMS personnel were deployed on the initial A400M with the order to plan, accept, paperwork, build and load the entire consignment to a further 2 x C17’s and 2 x A400M’s.
They say no plan survives first contact, well this resonated perfectly with this task! On arrival at the airport it was clear that the expected delivery from the Turkish supplier was not going to be met and that the initial plan had to be torn up and started again from scratch. To make matters worse, strict COVID-19 restrictions in Turkey and the sudden arrival of National Turkish media made this task far more complex that the usual UKMAMS task.
After the first day the decision was made to send whatever PPE we had on hand back to the UK on the initial A400M with the UKMAMS team remaining in Turkey on the understanding more PPE was being secured by the NHS team at DE&S and more aircraft would follow as soon as we had a confirmed plan.
As the days passed the PPE orders started to slowly be received and we ended up with enough to fill to capacity a C17 and an A400M. On the fourth day of negotiating with all stakeholders, which included breaking through a severe language barrier (Google translate has become a team favourite) and eating rations in hotels rooms cooked in kettles, we were finally in a position to recover back to the UK with the task achieved.
By the end of the task the team recovered 24 aircraft pallets worth of essential PPE. As soon as the shipments arrived at RAF Brize Norton, Air Movements Squadron and an RLC team were on standby to quickly rebuild the loads for ground transport directly to the NHS PPE distribution depot. In summary, this was a fascinating task that provided the team with a series of unique challenges that were made even more complex due to the political fallout in the UK and local language barriers. Overall though the team operated in the usual MAMS manner, acting professionally throughout, and making the very best of a bad situation.
1AMW Brize Norton
Have you ever wondered what same-day delivery looks like in the Canadian Arctic? Members of 436 Squadron conducted a trial air drop at Canadian Forces Station Alert on June 22, 2020. The Arctic station is a significant strategic location in Canadas North, and the successful air drop adds another tool for resupplying the station.
Canadian Armed Forces
The weather has taken a downturn lately here in darkest Cambridgeshire but hopefully we will still be able to go on holiday in August to Cumbria. I have been in contact with Gerry Pengelly (of the Movers' Pengelly Cup), who lives not far from me and we have said we'll meet up for a beer after this pandemic has been declared safe.
All the best, Kev
I enrolled in a health and weight-loss programme, setting myself the target of losing 10Kgs. Well, I exceeded that target and this morning I weighed in at 105.7 Kgs. I have now re-baselined my goal to lose another 10 Kgs.
That said, #Lockdown has seen me take up baking as a hobby. I have been making cakes, biscuits and bread. I give these to families and friends as well as using them to reward myself.
One of my best efforts was a Raspberry and Blueberry Drizzle Cake (recipe is available from Tony if peeps want to try it).
Stay safe everyone and let’s all raise a glass to those who are no longer with us.
Take care, Stephen
After the bad news, there is good news to be shared. Margot, my working Cocker Spaniel bitch, is due to whelp any day now and so by the time the newsletter goes out we should have a litter of puppies crawling around the house.
Lockdown – where can I start... Prior to Lockdown commencing, I recognised that I would be working from home a whole lot more than I used to with the then imminent onset of Lockdown. Approximately 100% to be precise.
Back then, I was the proverbial fat basta** weighing in at 116.6 Kgs with food, crisps, chocolate, and other goodies being my downfall.
A father and son team from Calne in Wiltshire are working alongside each other on the Joint Movements Squadron at RAF Akrotiri in support of operations.
Flight Sergeant John Spanton, (54) and his son Harry (21) a Senior Aircraftsman, are both Movers, responsible for handling freight and loading and unloading the aircraft arriving at the base daily as a part of wider operations in the Middle East. The pair are working alongside each other for four months while Harry is on detachment from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
For John, who heads up a team of 17 personnel, watching his son brings back memories of when he first joined the RAF. “It’s been a great experience to watch my son do the job that I have been doing for years,” he explains. “I am very proud to see how he is developing into a movements tradesman.”
Both joined the RAF because of the opportunities it has offered them. “The best part of the job,” says Harry, “are the ever-changing working scenarios.” As a mover on 1 Air Mobility Wing he gets the opportunity to support operations world wide at short notice. “I also enjoy the social aspect and the opportunities for adventure training and sport.”
“I joined up at 22,” says John, I felt I was going nowhere with limited qualifications. The RAF gave me the chance to learn a trade. I never expected to stay in for more than nine years, but I loved the opportunities I was offered. In my career I have worked on a range of projects in areas such as IT and careers.”
For Squadron Warrant Officer Kev Skinner, having the father and son team on the squadron has certainly had its benefits. “Having John and Harry working together on the Joint Movements Squadron has been tremendous,” he explains. “I have personally known John for over 30 years, and it is great to see Harry now continuing the family connection with the Royal Air Force and Movements trade as his career takes off. Throughout Harry’s deployment to Cyprus the Squadron has overcome many challenges in order to continue handling transport aircraft in the face of Coronavirus pandemic, the Spantons can be justifiably proud of their combined contributions to the team effort.”
Royal Air Force
Editor: Flt Lt Meg Robins. Photographs: SAC Laura Bullas
Quick COVID-19 update from me. I am a Health & Safety Leader for a lawnmower manufacturing company (Ariens Co), and we make Countax and Westwood garden tractors, and Ariens Zero Turns (Google them). When things kicked off with COVID-19 I recommended to the senior management that we take a break from manufacturing for a variety of reasons - lack of stock and frightened workforce being the main ones.
We decided to put the operations side onto a two-week paid leave over Easter while we formulated a plan for further operation. This was then extended to three weeks furlough for the guys. The majority of the office workers were advised to work from home, and all took the opportunity. With a bit of planning and cajoling our suppliers we managed to become fully operational after just three weeks and have been at it since.
Needless to say, I'm playing a key part within the company by keeping people safe. We've had a few tested for COVID-19 but all have come back negative, and I hope that continues.
Since leaving the RAF in December 2012 I have had several Safety roles and am now settling into this one. I am also the company DGSA as we ship lithium batteries. That was a nice surprise on my first day to be voluntold that they needed me to be a DGSA - someone must've read my CV!
Anyway, that's enough of my rambling. Hope that everyone is keeping well, and my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones recently.
Kind regards, Stretch
So, on the 11th of June this year I watched, sometimes with horror, sometimes with dread and with the almost certain knowledge that I was about to witness the dropping from height and the ultimate destruction into thousands of tiny pieces a little bit of history and somehow it would probably be my fault because I claimed to know how to move stuff.
The piece of the Wall located in Lunenburg, one of six in Canada, had been standing at the old Lunenburg foundry since the late 1990s. The Honourable J. James Kinley - lieutenant governor of Nova Scotia from 1994 to 2000 and former long-time engineering executive who worked at the Lunenburg Industrial Foundry & Engineering Limited – was the force behind bringing this section of the Wall to his hometown. Kinley was also a veteran as he had served in Canada's Merchant Navy during the Second World War and continued onward with the Naval Reserve until his retirement in 1958. He was also a former Branch President of the Lunenburg Legion and the Nova Scotia Command.
After the town of Lunenburg received a UNESCO World Heritage designation in 1995, Kinley convinced a German businessman to donate this piece of the Wall to continue its deep-rooted ties with Germany as 1,400 German immigrants established the community of Lunenburg in 1753.
When the Legion found out that the wall had to be relocated from the Foundry, given the Legion background of Kinley and the obvious link for the veteran members to the cold war, positioning it in pride of place outside the Branch seemed the most logical solution. It would also be in a more favourable location for the hundreds of thousands of tourist who visit the town every year.
As you can see from the pictures, it was an experience that required calm nerves and spare underwear nearby. It was done by volunteers and achieved almost seamlessly but please don’t look too closely. I was fetching the teas when it was actually lifted, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I have to say it does look good outside the Legion and we are having a plaque made to explain why it is there. So, if you are ever in beautiful Lunenburg stop by the Legion and take a look.
Canadian Armed Forces
I soon discovered that there were a considerable variety of spices and seasonings out there on the supermarket shelves, and all appeared to come with exciting recipes printed on the product packaging. I also found however, that even creating a meal from scratch, many of the recipes were missing something, and therefore I started to experiment with different additives, settling eventually on a few basic additions that really did make a difference to the taste of the dish.
I won’t go in to any depth here but will include a favourite dish of mine at the moment, which is the 4 ‘Cs’... Creamy Caribbean Curried Chicken. It includes honey and cream cheese! Don’t mock until you try it! Contact Tony if you want the recipe
Air Mobility Group doing what they do, giving our Australian Army mates from 1st Armoured Regiment - Australian Army - a lift from RAAF Base Edinburgh to Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as part of the ongoing support to Op COVID-19 Assist.
Welcome to the OBA!
Jerry Edwards, Cwmbran
David Bernard, Bicester, Oxon
Paul Thornton, Blyth, Northumberland
The annual Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford
Here’s a little something to keep you engaged for 8 hours. The annual Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at Fairford went virtual this year. Be sure to make some airshow hot dogs! You can view it on YouTube (watch any time):
Saturday 18th July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8gg1BTE_DQ
Sunday 19th July: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL1G4aL6ngc
More Relevant Stuff
This newsletter is dedicated
to the memories of:
Jon Ward (RAF)
Tam McDonald (RAF)
Colin Sammy Allen (RAF)
Warren "Buffa" Tindall (RNZAF)
If you wish to show your appreciation and help support the OBA:
In Canada, via bank e-mail transfer to
Overseas (including the UK), you may send a Cheque or Money Order to:
602-60 Rue Cormier,
Gatineau, Quebec, J9H 6B4