Soldiers Sue over Plane Plunge
Nine soldiers and a civil servant are reported to be suing the Ministry of Defence after their military transport aircraft plummeted 4,400ft when the pilot’s camera got stuck.

The passengers' lawyer told The Sunday Times that they have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after the incident which happened as they flew to Afghanistan from the UK in February 2014.

They were among 198 passengers on the RAF Voyager, which is the military version of an Airbus A330.

The plane was flying at 33,000ft over the Black Sea when the captain’s camera became wedged against the jet’s controls.  Some of the crew and passengers were bashed against the roof of the cabin as the aircraft plummeted at up to 15,800ft a minute. 
The jet was in a nose dive for about 27 seconds before the pilot got the aircraft under control with the help of the co-pilot who had been outside the cabin and experienced weightlessness during the dive.

The co-pilot allegedly had to plant his feet on the roof of the cabin as he and the pilot initially struggled to control the plane.  A major, a warrant officer, two staff sergeants, four corporals and one civilian employee are suing the MoD for putting them at risk.  Three of them were medically discharged from the military after the incident, which they feared was a result of being shot at.  Minor injuries were suffered by 33 passengers. 

Rhicha Kapila, from the law firm Bolt Burdon Kemp, is representing eight men and two women who are suing the MoD for ‘breaching its duty of care’.

Miss Kapila told the Sunday Times: "Some of them assumed the plane was being shot down over Afghanistan. Personal items were being propelled to the back of the plane, passengers were screaming, lots of them were crying, they could hear people saying, “Please don’t let me die."

The MoD said: "We cannot comment on individual cases but when compensation claims are submitted , we will carefully consider whether there is a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is, we will."

Sunday Times

A330 Tanker Pilot Headed for Court-Martial after Dangerous Dive
The unnamed RAF pilot will face court-martial charges in February of 2017 for negligently performing a duty, perjury, and making a false record, according to The Times.

In the February 2014 incident, the pilot had jammed his personal DSLR camera between his seat and the left-hand side-stick controller during a flight from the U.K to Afghanistan. When he moved his seat forward, the camera pushed the side-stick fully forward, sending the tanker into a steep dive that resulted in a 4,400-foot elevation decrease in 27 seconds. The aircraft was saved from a catastrophic crash by the flight envelop protection system, according to a U.K. Military Aviation Authority (MAA) report of the incident.

The captain's oral report of the event "alluded only to a possible fault with the autopilot," according to Aviation Week. The Voyager aircraft made an emergency landing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and was grounded for 12 days before returning to service.
Aviation Week
A British pilot for the Royal Air Force is to be court-martialed for an incident that sent the Airbus A330 Voyager tanker under his command into a dive that slammed more than two dozen people into the ceiling of the aircraft, according to Aviation Week.

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Subject: NSRAFA Cosford Branch
Hi Tony,

Our speaker today, Max Keen, gave us a talk on the Zulu wars and he was wearing the authentic dress of a colour sergeant in the South Staffs Regiment. 

He talked about the last stages of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879, culminating in the battles at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.

He was ably assisted by a colleague who wore the uniform and accoutrements of a private in the South Wales Borderers that they would have worn during the battles and showed us the weapons of both of the British armies.
Max explained the thinking behind the conflict; the tactics used by the Zulu warriors and compared the facts with the Hollywood versions in the films "Zulu Dawn" and "Zulu".

He showed us stills from the films and a video that he made on a visit to the sites and how the Zulu army surrounded the British at Isandlwana utilizing the 'Bulls Horn Strategy' of the horns coming in from the sides.

Only a handful of the British escaped and the ones that feigned death were quickly despatched as the Zulus checked every body and would split their bellies to allow the evil spirits to leave them.

All of the dead were buried where they fell and there are hundreds of small whites stones where they lie.
His talk lasted over an hour and he was given some well deserved applause.



From: David Powell, Princes Risborough
Subject: Spitfire Flight

Hi Tony,

I wonder how many of the Old Bods have ‘Fly a Spitfire’ in their bucket list/dream on sheets?  Well, I have just come back from a most enjoyable Spitfire sortie over the Solent which is doable (even if you have a slightly dicky ticker) and affordable!
The secret is the Spitfire Cockpit Simulator in the Maidenhead Heritage Centre, part of the museum’s homage to the delivery pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, a permanent exhibition ‘Grandma Flew Spitfires’. 

While a 30 minute trip in a real two-seat Spitfire will cost £2,750, my 30 minutes solo over Hampshire cost me nothing and cost Sue £15, plus a further £3 for 12 months access to the exhibition as my birthday present. The last time I had flown (but never solo) a single engine aircraft was in 1962; a Chipmunk off a grass runway as a Flight Cadet at Cranwell. 

For my Spitfire trip, I was started with the engine running and all lined up on the runway at Eastleigh.  So a straightforward take-off, then some general handling to get a feel for the controls as I flew down over Bournemouth. 
Then fly on down to Wareham before turning back eastwards, over the Solent at 4,000 ft. and pick up the Hamble river for a straight in approach to Eastleigh.  This time I did manage a reasonable approach and landing, but made a bit of a pigs taxying round at the far end of the runway ready for the next 'student' as that was my half hour over. 

Next time, I must ask to spend more time just doing some ground taxi practice as well as some basic circuits and at least an hour's slot. Also, the way the simulator has been constructed, the seat/leg room is comfortable even for big fellows like me.  As they say - suitable for 9 to 90 years.  They have also cheated (thank goodness!) on reducing the bulk of the engine so you have a horizon all the way in for the landing.  Although there is no physical motion simulation, it is still all very realistic.  I understand that some students have complained of air sickness.  Highly recommended.

David Powell
F Team UKMAMS 1967-69
There then came a straight-in approach into Hurn which went OK until just over the threshold when I over-corrected lining up with the runway centreline (very sensitive controls the Spit, which is why the female ATA delivery pilots where so good in them!) and I found myself heading for hangars at 20 ft!  So full power, gear up and back to altitude! 

Imperial War Museum Visit 03 Aug 2016
Cpl Tom Round, 1AMW Training
On 03 August 2016, personnel past and present from 1AMW, visited the Imperial War Museum (IWM), London. All personnel had been involved in the final drawdown of Op HERRICK as part of the Joint Movements Unit. The purpose of this visit was not only to explore and enjoy the museum its self but to deliver two metal signs that were recovered back to the UK from Camp Bastion after its closure in 2014. These signs will form part of an exhibition covering modern day Operations such as HERRICK and SHADER.
The first of the 2 signs was originally placed at the main gate to Camp Bastion. The second is a smaller ‘Welcome to Bastion’ sign that was situated in the Passenger Handling Facility.

WO Baldock (1AMW Plans) with permission from OC 1AMW, initiated proceedings when he noticed on the MOD home page that the IWM was looking for donations and artefacts that may be of interest to them. With the signs being sat in storage here at 1AMW, it was arranged that we would visit the museum and hand over the signs on 03 Aug to be put to better use.
(L/R - IWM Staff, Wg Cdr Walker, Sgt Savory, WO Baldock, Sgt Howarth,
Cpl Round, Cpl Dyson, Sgt Gascoigne, Oliver Carter-Wakefield IWM Staff)
We met with members of staff from the museum who were keen to see the new exhibits in the flesh. The signs will initially have to go into quarantine for a period of 12 months before being displayed to the general public so we don’t expect to see them on display until this time next year. This is usual proceedure for items that have been brought into the UK from overseas locations such as Afghanistan.

After the handover, we were given a very informative introduction to the museum by one of the Visits Team. We were then able to spend some time exploring the museum and the vast collection of artefacts that are displayed there. I strongly encourage anyone to visit the museum as we all found it informative and interesting.

This was an extremely worthwhile and satisfying visit to handover some Op HERRICK history for the general public to enjoy in the future as they too visit the museum.

From: Kevan Lawrence, Doncaaster, Yorkshire
Subject: Old buddy - Where are they now?

Hi Tony

Just on the off chance, did you ever work with, or know the whereabouts of a Scots guy called Sammy Letham? Of course he could have passed on by now, so many of them have.

Hope you are well


High-flying RAF officer tried to send topless selfie to her
boyfriend but accidentally shared it with thousands of soldiers!
A TOP RAF officer tried to send a topless selfie to her boyfriend - and accidentally posted it to thousands of soldiers.

Squadron Leader Helen King, 42, put the pic, in which she kneels on a rug in just her panties, on Facebook during a military academy visit in Holland.

Helen, former deputy chief of staff at RAF Cranwell, the air force’s Sandhurst, inadvertently tagged the Koninklijke Militaire Academie in the city of Breda.

That made it available to be seen by thousands of Dutch soldiers, as well as her fellow officers and RAF pals.

She took the snap down within minutes but it had already been widely circulated and the pic is still shared among new RAF recruits.

Pal Karl Tearney spotted the picture and wrote: “Hmmm did you really mean to upload this one Helen, best take it down quick - nice rug by the way.”

The Sun

Click here to see the picture from Facebook

From: Keri Eynon, Thatcham, Berks
Subject: First Flight

Hi Tony,

Before I start about my first flight, just a quick thank you for producing the OBA newsletter and keeping us informed of all manner of things referring to members, in particular the very sad announcements of the passing away of many old comrades.

Like you, my first flight was also in a Chipmunk while I was in the ATC. In my case it took place at RAF St Athan. I too remember being strapped into a parachute and waddling across to the aircraft, climbing aboard - remembering to step only on the strip marked on the wing.

My most vivid memory, apart from some aerobatics and also taking control for a few minutes, was the briefing from the pilot of what to do in an emergency which went as follows, "If we have a problem which would mean abandoning the aircraft, I will slide back the canopy, I will then tell you to unstrap and to hold the handle of the rip cord in preparation for leaving the aircraft, for this I will turn the aircraft upside down and when you fall out count to three then pull the rip cord handle and parachute to earth."

Fortunately on this and subsequent Chipmunk flights I never had to put that advice into practice. However, it was a good talking point with other cadets on the way home after the flight.

Regards Keri 

Several de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunks, including one performing an impressive aerobatic routine, are shown here during their display at the Classic Fighters 2005 airshow held at Omaka Aerodrome, Blenheim, New Zealand.

From: John Tudor, Stevenston, Ayrshire
Subject: First Flight

My first flight was also in a Chipmunk and I was informed by the pilot that if we got into difficulties he would shout 1, 2, 3 and if I was still in my seat I was on my own. Thankfully all went well as I couldn't get out of my seat when we landed!



From: Howard Firth, Cranwell Village, Sleaford
Subject: First Flight

Hi Tony,

My first flight was in a Chipmunk also.  What ATC Sqn were you with?  Here at Cranwell it is the 75th Anniversary of the ATC.  Good to see that it still attracts huge numbers of young people.



(I was living in Caldicot, a small village in South Wales, and attended 2272 Squadron,  which was headquartered at the local drill hall in Chepstow.  It was at this hall that I went to a dance when Tom Jones and the Squires were playing!)

From: John Bell, Desborough, Northants
Subject: First Flight


My first flight, like so many other guys' first flights I imagine, was very similar to yours. ATC cadet aged 13 in a Chipmunk. We flew over Beverley and the pilot, a Group Captain wearing a Fg Off uniform (he was retired and in the Volunteer Reserve (Training), told me about the aircraft named after the town.

Little did I know then of the close contact I would have with this beast for so much of my early service career, including a tour with Beverleys at RAF Eastleigh (Nairobi) and a couple more tours at Abingdon.

I also remember wearing a very large parachute pack!


Former RAF Loadmaster Celebrates 80th with a Wingwalk!
EX-RAF man John Brown is already planning his next stunt after wingwalking to celebrate his 80th birthday.  The former air loadmaster’s feet had hardly touched the ground when he declared: “I’m thinking about a bungee jump for my 85th, but that might be a bit optimistic.”

Family and former colleagues from around the country were at Rendcomb on Wednesday to see Mr Brown, from Upper Stratton, soar and swoop over the airfield strapped to the wing of a vintage Boeing Stearman.

Son Peter said: “I think it’s great. I wasn’t surprised at all. The flying is in the blood.”

His friend and former colleague Martyn Webster drove down from Yorkshire to see the flight. “He’s done a lot of flying but it was inside the aircraft, although as an air loadmaster you used to work by the open door,” he said.

Mr Brown, who was in the RAF for 33 years and served at Lyneham, showed no sign of nerves as he climbed onto the top wing. Minutes later the aircraft was taking off into the blue sky and roaring over the spectators’ heads.
Even as the plane dived and turned he gave them a cheery wave and when it finally came into land he said: “It was fantastic. Exhilarating, just as I thought it would be. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”  He told the Advertiser: “I’ve got 10,000 hours in the air on transport aircraft, but that’s nothing like this.”

Mr Brown chose the challenge because his disabled wife, who he looked after for 14 years, used to enjoy seeing the air ambulance land while she was in hospital. But he admitted she would have hated the idea of him wingwalking.

When the Adveriser revealed his plan, forces organisations and TV companies all got in contact. As a result of the publicity donations rocketed from £100 to around £1,500 and ex-military colleagues from all over the world got in touch.

Among his local sponsors were his walking football team, Westlecote Bowls Club, Terry James Motors in Cricklade, the Crown Hotel at Stratton and the Merchiston surgery.

Rebecca de la Bedoyere, Senior Fundraising Manager at Wiltshire Air Ambulance, said: “We’re delighted that John completed his wing walk and enjoyed it.  People often challenge themselves to raise money for Wiltshire Air Ambulance, such as running a half marathon or climbing a mountain, but wing walking is certainly one of the more unusual methods!  We’d like to thank John for raising funds for Wiltshire Air Ambulance and the amount he has raised will help to keep our helicopter and crew flying and saving lives all over the county.  As a charity, we rely almost entirely on public donations and have to raise £3.25 million a year. ”

Swindon Advertiser

From: Damian Smyth, Dublin
Subject: Guest book entry

Hi Old Bods Briefs,

Let me introduce myself, my name is Damian Smyth, I’m currently working on a history of RAF Leconfield from 1936-2015 with a view to publishing very soon.

I had a look at your wonderful web pages, some amazing information on the site, well done! I was wondering if you can help. In the section ‘Old Bods Briefs page 071808' under the heading ‘Mystery Photograph’ Member Ian Berry was talking about the moving of a Westland Whirlwind by a C-130 from Leconfield to Akrotiri in December 1979 and there had been a photograph of the event. As this was the last fixed wing movement at Leconfield, I was wondering do you have a copy of the photograph as I would like to include in the book.

Kind Regards

Damian Smyth

From: Tony Gale, Gatineau, QC
Subject: Leconfield's last fixed wing movement

Hi Damian,

Thank you for your enquiry in the UKMAMS OBA guestbook.

I was able to locate the photograph that Ian Berry made reference to and have attached it for you.  Although there was no photograph of the exterior of the C-130 (they all basically look the same), the attached depicts the Westland Whirlwind helicopter inside of the C-130 - a lot more interesting and loading it was our bread and butter!  The helicopter was transported from Leconfield to Akrotiri in December of 1979.  Sgt Ian Berry, who was at that time based at Akrotiri Air Movements, is kneeling on the ramp.

It was no trouble at all. Please send me the Amazon link when the book is published and I’ll be sure to include the information in an upcoming monthly newsletter.

Best regards,

Tony Gale

From: Damian Smyth, Dublin
Subject: Re: Leconfield's last fixed wing movement
Hi Tony,

Wow! Thank you so much for your very prompt reply, wonderful stuff, very kind of you. Had quick look at the image
[the original I sent was much larger] looks like the Whirlwind had been re-spared into 84 Squadron colours for its new operating role with the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus, losing its old ASR yellow markings.

Once again brilliant stuff Sir!  Will keep you posted on the book

For now

Damian Smyth

From: Mick Hughes, Ipswich, QLD
Subject: Yes, there should be more of this...
RAF Honours Fallen Comrade with Traditional Piano Burning
The Puma crash pilots who passed away in Afghanistan were remembered with treasured tradition at RAF Benson in November, 2015.  A familiar send-off for those in the Royal Air Force, the long-standing custom of piano burning is surrounded in myth and story-telling, but traces its roots to the period between the First and Second World Wars. Originally, pianos were set alight by pilots to avoid taking lessons aimed at improving finesse and civility.

Flight Lieutenants Alan Scott (pictured) and Geraint 'Roly' Roberts were killed following a helicopter crash in Kabul.

But why were piano lessons enforced in the first place?

This story starts, according to former member of the RAF Kevin Emmerson, who first shared news of Flt Lt Alan Scott's ceremony and was a colleague of his at Benson, "Because so many pilots died during World War I, the RAF was forced to select its pilots from the general population, instead of the preferred upper class." He continued,  "The RAF believed that piano lessons would not only increase the pilots' level of culture, but also improve their dexterity."
The tradition is said to have originated at RAF Leuchars, where the only piano at the base burned down in a terrible accident. The RAF could not afford a replacement piano and lessons were ultimately cancelled. Local pilots inspired by their animosity towards piano lessons and keen to avoid any more, spread the word like wildfire. Soon the tradition caught on and more RAF bases began burning pianos to avoid lessons. Even after the lessons ceased, the tradition remained. This act became a sign of triumph, defiance and celebration.

Kevin went on to explain that "A beer for each dead colleague was placed on the top of the upright piano. The piano was then burned, along with the issued contents of the officer's clothing locker. His fellow officers then drank on the bar bill of their fallen colleague and the bill was subsequently written-off by the mess. It is still followed by today's Royal Air Force and has been adopted by other Air Forces around the World.

From: Andrew Kay, Colorado Springs, CO
Subject: C130 accident at Kingsfield, Dhekelia

Hi Tony,

I came across this item while I was following up on a video on YouTube. Clicking on various links took me to a story of a C130 accident at a small strip (Kingsfield) near Dhekelia in Cyprus. It was apparently in 1972, so a year or two before I was in Akrotiri, but here's the full story:
Crew in need of Ice Cream Prang Herc
During September 1972 there was a bizarre incident at Kingsfield. One engine was kept running during unloading of the aircraft.

The loadmaster was left in the cockpit, while the rest of the crew joined the queue to get ice-creams. Apparently some mistakes were made and the brake pressure fell dramatically.

As everyone in the queue watched, spellbound, the aircraft neatly taxied itself straight into the hangar door. A very considerable amount of damage was done to the nose of the aircraft. It was, in fact, touch and go as to whether the aircraft was scrap or not.

The investigation determined that after the marshaller had stopped the Hercules, he asked the pilot if he wanted the aircraft chocked and the pilot said no.

The crew got out and the pilot was buying the ice creams for everyone. He left the “loady”, the Air Load Master, on the brakes. However, the pilot had made a mistake of only leaving the number 3 engine running.
Number 3 engine is the only one without a hydraulic pump and the parking brake automatically releases after 5 minutes. After the brakes released themselves, there was no hydraulic pressure left in the hydraulic accumulator to apply them.

The pilot was leaning against the side of the nose, eating his ice cream, when the aircraft began to move. Thinking the loadmaster was playing with the controls, he shouted up to the loady to stop messing about. The loady began to panic and because the number 3 engine (inboard right wing) was the only one running, it started to roll with a right turn. It had gathered quite a lot of speed by the time it hit the hangar/workshop with its nose and the left wing tip. 

It took about 9 months to repair the Hercules.

From: Murdo Macleod, Newport-on-Tay
Subject: First Flight
My first military flight very nearly became my last. I was on the Air Movements course at Abingdon, and part of that course involved a trip to Wildenrath, Germany, in a Beverley. 

The outward leg went smoothly, and we overnighted at Wildenrath. The following day we loaded up for the trip back to Abingdon, but unknown to most of us, we were not aware of the bigger picture, apparently we overloaded said Beverley by a few thousand pounds of freight, and the trim was only just barely in the box and we also had more fuel than we needed. 
After reversing back onto the runway, we trundled back to the other end to start again, but this time the pilot reversed all the way back to the other boundary fence, the load masters came up into the boom, and explained to us what was happening, explaining about the extra weight and fuel and why we were up against the fence, saying that we needed a bit of extra length for take-off, sometimes ignorance can be a blessing, as we really had no idea what was happening.

Anyway the pilot held the Bev on the brakes while he maxed the power, then released the brakes and off we went across the bondu, onto the runway on down the runway and ever so slowly lifted off, gaining height very slowly. We went past the end of the runway, just over the boundary fence, with our wheels brushing through the tree tops, and just for good measure the port side under-cart snatched a large bit of pine tree in passing, which was left just dangling there. We told the load master about it, but all he said was that it would probably fall off by itself; I don't think we were all that convinced.

The tree eventually fell off over the North Sea, which makes you wonder if someone on a fishing boat might have seen a tree falling out of the sky and what they might have thought about it. Half way across the pilot announced that he was having trouble with one of the engines and was shutting it down but there was nothing to worry about. Between London and Abingdon he had to shut down another one, only this time we weren't so happy about it.

It was dark when we started our descent into Abingdon, and up to that point everything was fine, we touched down and through some sort of mix-up in the tower an Andover touched down on another runway at the same time.  Our pilots put on full power and somehow we leapfrogged over the Andover, bounced onto the runway and back into the air, the noise our engines were making did not sound good. We went around for another landing and this time the pilot asked us to assume crash positions, as we were going to land on one engine as a the third had given up the ghost, and we didn't have any brakes.

We came in quite low over the boundary fence and the pilot reversed thrust on our one remaining engine, and we dropped onto the runway, with an almighty crash and boy did that Bev bounce, we came to a stop eventually off the runway, turned and made our way to the terminal and the remaining engine was making an awful racket.

We had survived,  but the next morning as we went to the school, we went past the Bev, having all four engines removed, we found out later that two of them had been life-expired and were useless, and the other two went back to the manufacturers for repairs, not an auspicious way to start a career in Air Movements.

From that day to this I am terrified of flying and I've had quite a few flights and near misses over the years in the RAF, whoever said that life in the mob was great is a bloody liar, it was fraught with danger at every turn, and if you survived it you did well. It did of course have its good times as well, and quite a lot fun sometimes.  Stories still to tell, the things we did for a duty-free run, we must have all been certifiable.

Fondest Regards to one and all

Murdo Macleod
We all boarded and the aircraft, taxied out onto the runway and we started our take off run which was very abruptly aborted when we ran out of runway and stopped just short of the boundary fence.

End of Empire - Aden
An insight into Britain's presence in South Arabia and ultimate withdrawal. 
This documentary is 52 minutes in length.

New members who have joined us recently are:
Alan Hart, Cholsey, Oxon, United Kingdom
Mark Atrill, Tallinn, Estonia
Welcome to the OBA!

From: Brian Gibson, Paralimni
Subject: First Flight

Hi Tony,

Have just been reading about your first flight from Filton and never realised before that we come from the same part of the world. I too had my first flight in a Chipmunk from Filton as an Air Cadet (ex 1860 East Bristol Sqn.). I was lucky to have flown under the suspension cable of the new Severn Bridge while it was under construction and subsequently had many flights out of Filton.

My first flight in a glider, which was at Weston Super Mare Airport, ended in a crash. It was the start of my gliding course and the ground was white with frost, it being in January.

My air experience flight with my instructor was the second of the day and it was a winch launch then a full circuit while I was being shown the basic rudiments of flying the Kirby glider. We lined up for the final approach and as we descended, at around 100 feet, the aircraft literally dropped like a stone and we hit the ground with quite a large bump and there was a loud crack above and behind me. When we finally stopped the tail section of the glider was sitting to my right and the wings were drooped either side as the main spar had snapped.
The cause of the crash was due to an inch of ice that had formed on the wing and as we slowed on the descent the weight was just too much to maintain flight. Later that day, after the winter sun had warmed everything up, I had another flight and continued my course.

I enjoyed gliding so much that I joined 625 Gliding School at South Cerney as a staff cadet taking cadets and air scouts up for air experience flights and operating the winch that was used to launch the aircraft.

Best wishes


From: Paul English, Swindon, Wilts
Subject: First Flight

My first flight was in a Kirby Cadet Mk3 glider whilst in the Air Training Corps. We had to travel from Plymouth to RAF Chivenor (now a Royal Marines base).

I can remember looking at the instruments and when the command "all out" was given (command for launch) my instructor burst into song,
We're off to see the wizard

That first flight got me hooked on flying/gliding, however it took a few more years for me to go solo in gliders. I was helped along the way by a fellow Mover, Al Stacey, cheers Al!

Nowadays my flying is on Microsoft's Flight Simulator X and I'm either in the Boeing 757 or Airbus A320. For me it's as near to the real thing as possible, but a whole lot cheaper and even more realistic when flying online with other pilots from around the world.


aka ASCOT 2054 (when flying RAF online)

From: Keith Parker, Bowerhill, Wilts
Subject: My Best Flight Ever


I know that your topic is "My First Flight" but after reading your description mine was very much the same, so here goes with something slightly different.

As a young lad I grew up in the Salisbury area of Wiltshire, a county reknown for airfields, right back to the Royal Flying Corps days.

My nearest and favourite airfield was and still is Old Sarum, a very historic grass strip airfield.  As my sister was doing some flying there (she was a member of The Women's Junior Air Corp or "WHY JACKS" as they were called), my mum and I had a mooch around whilst waiting for my sisters return.

We chanced upon a beautiful Tiger Moth aircraft Reg No.G-ALND, (It must be the spotter in me), belonging to "The Bustard Flying Club" which was Boscombe Downs Flying Club, where pilots who flew everything from fast jets to transport aircraft in this area could relax at weekends and in their words, " some real flying". 

Anyway we must have stood there some 30 minutes, with lots of "Switches on," "Contact", whilst the propellor was cranked, then "switches off" before it was repeated over and over again.  I knew then that this was the aircraft to propel me up and away even if it never went anywhere on that occasion.
Fast forward fifty years and after years of flying in both American and British military aircraft I went to Duxford as part of  my 60th birthday celebrations for a flight in a beautiful, yellow with RAF markings, Tiger Moth. After being adorned with my helmet, goggles and regulation sheepskin jacket, I could have given Biggles a run for his money.

I was seated in the front cockpit and after a few minutes of "In the unlikely event..."  I didn't hear anything else, I was just so over-the-moon to take anything else in. 
Very soon we were airborne and flying alongside a WWII Tiger Cat, an American aircraft which was on an air test.

I had a very enjoyable 30 minutes flight during which I had a go at the controls which were remarkably light and easy. All too soon we were back on the ground after having flown over fields and trees and even a cricket match which made it all seem very 1940 ish.

It may not have been my first flight as that was in a boring old Anson, but it was by far the most memorable and exciting flight ever.

Best regards


Wings & Wheels return for VC10
Visitors to the Wings & Wheels event at Dunsfold Aerodrome on 27-28 August will have a chance to see one of  the RAF’s last two VC10s, if not on the wing again, at least wheeling down the runway at speed.

ZA150 was the last of 54 of the quadjets built at Vickers at nearby Brooklands, and it is now owned by the Brooklands Museum. The aircraft was bought by the RAF in 1978 and converted to a tanker, having previously been owned by East African Airlines.

The aircraft, affectionately known as the Funbus, was retired in 2013 after completing 43,300 flying hours.

Punters will also be able to tour the interior of the tanker, which is kept in serviceable condition at the Surrey aerodrome by Brooklands volunteers.

Flight International

From: John Holloway, Shrewsbury
Subject: First Flights

Hi Tony,

Like you my first flights were in the cadet force.  I started at the Priory Grammar School here in Shrewsbury in 1947 and a lot of the new masters were coming out of the forces - two of them, one ex Fleet Air Arm and the other ex Army, created the School CCF; one the Air Section and the other the Army section.

I joined the Air Section (I looked better in blue) and usually about once a month we use to go to RAF Shawbury which in those days was the Navigation School for the day. In the mornings we would do desk work or go on the firing range then after lunch we would go for a flight.

The main aircraft in use then was the Avro Anson dual control. About half a dozen of us in the aircraft and we would take it in turn to sit in the co-pilots seat and take control of it; getting instructions from the pilot like "keep the nose up" or "keep the wings level" whilst the rest in the cabin were honking up!
One day we were taken up in a Vickers Varsity; these had twelve navigators desks in them and when sat in them would be told to slide the covers over the windows and after take off we would be given directions  and we had to plot where we we were heading.

After about an hour we were asked where we thought we were and the answers would all be different!

We were then told to slide the window covers back and nobody got it right we were over the sea off the Welsh Coast.
We were always issued with parachutes and one day walking out to the Anson one of the lads dropped his and as he grabbed for it he pulled the rip cord and it billowed out and with the usual high airfield wind dragged him away whilst the rest of us chased after him. We had been warned in the packing shed that if one had to be repacked it would cost 2/6d!

Happy days!


From: Gerry Davis, Bedminster
Subject: My First Flight

In 1954, at the tender age of 13, I joined 103 Squadron Air Training Corps at the recently closed RAF Doncaster Airfield.  Our Headquarters was situated in the abandoned Air Traffic Control building  just across the main road from the Doncaster racecourse.

The opportunity arose to join the other lads in spending the day at RAF Lindholme.  I vividly remember that the day included much marching around to various sections, watching films, having lectures and culminating in my first flight then a meal in the airmen’s mess.

A Varsity T1 general purpose aircrew trainer was allocated for cadet flights and there seemed to be hundreds of us young lads from within the cadets' wing eagerly awaiting this thrilling new experience. On take-off it soon became my chance to lie down in the bomb aimer's training position (the under-belly attachment with a widow at the front). I had to be pulled out as I was thrilled to bits and had already spent longer than some of the other cadets who it seemed were busy filling up the issued paper bags!


From: Thomas Geoghegan, Folkestone
Subject: First Flight

Hello Tony,

My first flight was in an Avro Anson, "Faithful Annie".  In a friendly discussion with a great old flight sergeant, without thinking, opened my big mouth and related that I had never flown. "Oh, we will have to see about that!" he said.  The next evening I was reporting to a hangar down the road and, along with two others went airborne in an Anson aircraft with lots of meteorological gear installed.

Unfavourable weather was selected and within minutes I greatly regretted my situation. In addition I got hit on the head by a rotating telescope thing.  It may have been some type of test flight as the duration was very short, thank goodness.

When we disembarked, I found it difficult to stroll back to the maintenance unit at dear old Colerne, although thinking back it was a privilege to fly in such an historic old lady, but it still scared me to death.
My very next flight was in a civilian Viscount and for the first half hour I was unsettled until the passenger in the next seat bought me a whiskey (I never drank before) and it took all my concentration to handle a glass of burning spirits!

Best Regards  


Pitch Black sheds light on capabilities to local community
Royal Australian Air Force Base Darwin, Australia opened its gates to the community for the Exercise Pitch Black 2016 Open Day, Aug. 13, 2016.

The Open day showcased local and international military aircraft, participating in Pitch Black, to the community.

Exercise Pitch Black 2016 is a biennial, three week, multinational, large-force training exercise hosted by RAAF Tindal. Australia maintains a strong relationship between the participating nations and identifies the importance of regional security among the allied nations. This open house demonstrated the mutual support shaped through the exercise and fostered relationships with the local public.

“The open day has been part of Pitch Black since 2012 and this year has surpassed all previous events,” said Squadron Leader Lindsay Paterson, officer in charge of community engagements with the Royal Australian Air Force. “Over 18,000 people attended the show and all enjoyed the displays and great family atmosphere while also learning about the nature and importance of the exercise.”
Located throughout the event were numerous international military aircraft static displays for guests to take photographs with and tour. Among the allied nations participating were the U.S., Canada, France, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

“The U.S. Marines along with the U.S. Air Force provided a great boost to the open day lineup of F-16 and F/A-18C jets,” said Paterson. “The pilots, maintainers and support staff provided a friendly and professional face to the public, displaying the true international flavor of the exercise. Their contribution greatly enhanced the overall success of the day.”

Sitting proudly next to the Royal Canadian Air Force C-130HT and Australian Air Force C-17A were the Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 KC-130 Hercules and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 F/A-18C Hornets. The Hercules opened its hatches to onlookers, while the pilot and aircrew posed for pictures with children and explained aspects of the aircraft to curious spectators.

“Bringing the KC-130J to Darwin allows us to be the smiling faces who get to show the public a pilot’s view, but also to highlight the cooperation that is so central to the exercise, ” said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. John Skillman, a KC-130J pilot with VMGR-152. “Greeting and chatting with the men and women surrounding Pitch Black not only fosters relations with the Australians, it shows them how tight the bond is between the many nations participating in the exercise.”

Skillman also said being able to experience the lines of excited people exploring the aircraft and learning about the plane was tremendous fun for the crew; and if smiles are anything to go off of, it was for the visitors as well.

There was something for all ages in attendance, from static aircraft displays, military working dog demonstrations, to rides and food vendors, but the main attractions were the aircraft. An open day offers the local community an inside look at the air base operations while helping the public gain an understanding of the importance of the exercise.

“Being able to get so close to the planes and experience the massive machines is amazing,” said Helen Oakley, an event attendee. “This is my first time attending the open day. It’s fantastic that all the countries can come together to train, and then are willing to share their experiences and knowledge with us. It makes me very proud to see the cooperation and be a part of such a great nation.”
From: Charles Collier, Ewhurst, Surrey
Subject: First Flight

Well, Tony you surprise me being accepted at age 11 to join the Air training Corps as I had difficulty entering at age 13!  My first RAF flight was on 3 August 1958 in RAF Anson WB929 doing a circuit of the British Isles from RAF Colerne.

(Interestingly our first call was over the Isle of Man where a month or so ago Elaine and I attended the late Norrie Radcliffe's funeral where the only two RAF air movers, Gerry Keyworth and I, attended. We arrived in time, which was fortunate, for the Catholic Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea at Ramsey quickly filled to capacity; They even put extra chairs to accommodate all of Norrie's friends and relations. The service was organised by Norrie's family, there was some beautiful singing and a very touching and amusing eulogy given by Jane (Norrie's daughter) It was wonderful to see Marie too, as gracious as always.)

We completed our round robin trip at Colerne and returned home. I had just 2 more months before I enlisted into the RAF as an aircraft apprentice in the 90th Entry.

(Thanks for observing my age Chas - I was wondering if anyone would notice!  I joined the ATC in 1958 when I was 11 years old, and at that time the qualifications for membership would have been between 12 and 19 years old, although if someone was at the top end of the age range and wanted to continue they would be asked to become a civilian instructor - perhaps those with a keen interest but unable to join the regular armed forces through a disability or other reasons.

Anyway, back to my circs (as Bertie Wooster would have said), as my three elder brothers were already in attendance at the local squadron, I believed that the O.C., Flt Lt Derek Wolsley, took a shine to me and let me in before my 12th birthday. He was such a fabulous chap, ex Lancaster Navigator, and he had a farm just outside town where we would regularly engage in escape and evasion exercises…  Happy, carefree days.)

From: Ronald Meredith, Spalding, Lincs
Subject: First Flight

My first flight was in a Lancaster from RAF Lindholme in June 1951. I was in the ATC and 7 of us were boarded, complete with parachute harness, and sick bags. The chutes were piled up aft of the main beam; we had not been briefed on how to use the parachute, but as my father was based at Lindholme, I had a personal briefing the day before our flight.
We were allocated a seating position around the aircraft, most on the floor, but I was lucky enough to sit on a bench seat, engineers I think, behind the pilots. Once airborne and at about 3000 ft, the signaller,  who seemed to function in the role of Loadie, arranged for us to move around so we covered all the turrets and bomb aimer's position in turn, before we eventually returned to base after a 45 minute flight around the local area.  

Quite a thrill for a young lad and much more interesting than my second flight, 14 boring hours in a York from Stanstead via Luqa to Fayid in Egypt which was where my father had been posted.

Ron Meredith

From: Fred Martin, Godalming, Surrey
Subject: My First Flight

Hi Tony,

I did my basic movements training at Kidbrooke before receiving the dreaded posting to Aden.  I had never flown before and the furthest I had ever been was the Channel Islands.

The flight took off at 8pm and it was spectacular to see the lights of London at dusk. We flew on over France before landing at Idris in Libya. It was then that the reality of what I had signed up for began to sink in. The heat hit  like a stone wall as we alighted the aircraft which was surrounded by Libyan security staff toting guns and Libya was sort of a friendly country back then!
All military personnel on the flight were travelling in civilian clothes and our passports read, "Occupation: Government Official."  We were fortunately soon on our way and about 5 hours later were landing at Khormaksar. The heat there as we disembarked made the Libyan heat seem like an ice box. We were wearing suits and by the time the bottom of the aircraft steps were reached, everyone could virtually wring out their clothes. The smells of the place weren't too clever either.

I thought, "Oh Gawd, I've got to spend two years here!"  Anyway, I did, and lived to tell the tale :o)
24th August 1961, I boarded a British United Airways trooping flight from Stansted to Aden. I was 18 years old and had joined the RAF less than 6 months previously.

I had done my square bashing at Bridgnorth where our DI was the infamous Cpl. Sam Nimmock. He was court martialled for ill treating recruits on the intake directly after mine.

From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY
Subject: My First Airplane Ride

In 1954, I was stationed at RCAF Station Claresholm in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, situated about 105 Km South of Calgary.

I was a bin-rat working in supply section in the aircraft maintenance hangar issuing parts and O-rings (Don't know why O-rings come to mind), to those who repaired the venerable Harvard.

After certain types of repairs were made, the aircraft had to be test flown and here was the opportunity for an 18 year old kid to "Slip the surly bonds," by merely going over to the front office and entering  his name on the list for a flight.
Time for the pilot to go to work. Chatting over the intercom he explained what manoeuvres he would be doing and I was just to hang on. This, I did. The next 15 or so minutes seemed to last a lifetime as we rolled looped and did things that made me dizzy. After the test flight card was completed it was, "Time to go home," and we headed back to base which was about a 20 minute trip. Suddenly, came the surprise of my short (then) life.

"Ever fly one of these?" the pilot asked. Never having flown one of anything, I was forced to reply "No, Sir." I was told to, "Grab the yoke, and put your feet on the pedals," which I did. He then lifted his arm clear and announced, "You have control."

The next 15 minutes were amazing as he talked me through climbing, turning, descending, rocking side to side and other stuff that a kid's dreams are made of. Under instruction, I even lined it up with the runway for a VFR landing just before he took control again. I was now officially an Airman! Second class, but still...
When my name came up I was issued a 'chute and belted into the back seat and instructed, "Don't touch anything and hold onto the barf bag." After a noisy taxi and takeoff we were airborne. The barf bag was quickly forgotten as we climbed to about 6000 ft and headed over the foothills. The view of the mountains in the crisp morning air was breathtaking.

From: Neil Middleton, Ipswich, Suffolk
Subject: First Flight

Hi Tony,
My first flight was during my Air Movements Course (No 28) in Nov/Dec 1966 (yes, they did have multi-seater planes back then!). Anyway it was supposed to be in a Beverley to fly over to Germany, turn round and come back, but at the last moment it changed. It was now going to be an HS780 Andover.

We all got on board, sat down and strapped in. The engines were started and we taxied to the end of the runway. Nobody told us anything about the flight, i.e. where we were going, what was going to happen or the duration.
We took off and reached level flight. It was a beautiful day, you could see for miles and I was really enjoying the experience.  After about 20 minutes, I had just started to relax when all of a sudden, without warning, the starboard engine shut down and the aircraft veered to the right.

What the ----? Tightened the seat belt even more and grabbed the seat handles. Nothing was said, and we carried on flying for about 20 minutes when the starboard engine started up and everything was back to normal for about 5 minutes, then the port engine shut down. 20 minutes later that engine was restarted, my next thought was, were they are now going to shut both engines down? My thoughts seemed to be somewhat right as the next thing to happen the power was reduced, but it was because we were now on approach to Abingdon. We landed, power went back on and for the next hour we were doing circuits and bumps.

Looking back it was a fantastic introduction to flying, and about 1500 hours later I still enjoy flying!



The world’s largest aircraft has finally taken off - to the surprise of many onlookers.  The gigantic Airlander 10 Flying Bum is an engineering mash-up of an airship, helicopter and aircraft.

Built at Cardington, Bedford, the home of British airships for a century, the Flying Bum carries on the tradition started by the Short Brothers in 1915 to construct airships for the Royal Air Force.

Everything about the Airlander 10 is superlative.  The airship is 302 feet long and 85 feet tall - 27 feet longer the next largest air transport, the Antonov An-225 Mriya designed to airlift space craft and their components.  The Airlander weighs in at 20 tons and can carry a payload of 10 tons.

The winning mix, according to the designers Hybrid Air Vehicles, is that the Airlander can stay aloft unmanned for up to two weeks with a maximum ceiling of 16,000 feet.  Manned flights allow the Airlander to remain in the sky for five or six days.  Airspeed is up to 90 mph.
Flying Bum takes off on maiden flight
Update - August 24 - Airlander crashed - crushed the cockpit
“The first idea was for the Airlander to provide a steady platform for telephone and satellite communications in remote areas and then to move large quantities of goods to regions with poor roads,” said a spokesman for the company.  “The innovation is achieving these objectives without the need to invest in expensive airport infrastructure.”

The Airlander 10 prototype was wheeled out of the hangar some weeks ago to await the right weather conditions for a test flight.  This has now taken place, with the aircraft reaching 500 feet and around 40mph.  The pilots put the Airlander through low level and low speed paces negotiating a six-mile circuit around the airfield that incorporated several turns.

Hybrid Air Vehicles explained the engineering design of the Airlander gains lift from helium while controlling thrust with rotatable engines.

The company aims to build on the predicted success of the Airlander 10 with the even larger Airlander 50.  The design principles and concept for the two air vehicles are almost the same - except the Airlander 50 is much bigger and will carry a payload of up to 44.5 tons.

“The maiden flight was a great success, meeting all test objectives,” said a spokesman. “Although the flight only lasted 19 minutes, the pilots were ecstatic about the handling.”

Pars Herald

From: Pete Kettell, Chudleigh, Devon 
Subject: Finally, my [Falklands] South Atlantic Medal!

Hi Tony,

Just to let you know the MoD Medal Office put me through continued hell arguing that there was no entry regarding on my service record to prove eligibility whilst I argued there wouldn't have been as I wasn't posted or detached there, just told to get on a plane by Chris Swaithes and then told later to get back on a plane and come back to the squadron!

However, I can now report that they have accepted the inevitable and awarded me my medal; hurray, only 34 years and 6 days!  I thought it might be useful if you put a short notice in the next newsletter to notify any of the initial Falklands detachment who served there and had been refused a medal through lack of evidence to contact me directly via email and I will get them their medal.  I’m worried in case there’s anyone out there who has been refused and thought well that’s that. Well we’re MAMS and that is never that :-)

Take care

Pete Kettell

From: Ron Turley, Davao, Mindanao
Subject: First Flight
My first flight was almost exactly 65 years ago!

My father was a sergeant pilot in the RAF and had been posted to 45 Squadron at Tengah leaving his wife and a newly born me in digs somewhere in Yorkshire. In due course my mother received joining instructions and she and her 6 month old son (that would be me) were off down to Heathrow.

The aircraft we flew out on was a BOAC Argonaut, a Canadian conversion of the DC4/C54 design where they chucked away the radial engines and installed four Rolls Royce Merlins which overcame the drag and resulted in an immense increase in cruise speed.

I was only 6 months old but some research has revealed that the flight took 3 to 4 days and routed: Rome, Pakistan, Rangoon then Singapore. To think that last year we flew Heathrow to Manila non-stop in about 13 hrs!
We returned to the UK some 3 years later in a brand new, shiny, Royal Air Force Transport Command Handley Page Hastings. However, that was not to be my last flight in the Argonaut. In the early 60s my father was stationed in Aden flying Shackletons out of Khormaksar. A standard R&R vacation for families in Aden was a week or two in Silver Sands Beach Resort, Kenya. We had signed up for this and flew there and back in the, by then, venerable Argonaut!

From: Gordon Gray, Allestree, Derby
Subject: First Flight!

Hi Tony,

Aged 16, I was fortunate, but more especially, thrilled, to have flown in a Meteor during my summer leave from RAF Locking, where I started RAF life as an Aircraft Apprentice training at No 1 Radio School.  This flight was from 33 MU (an Aircraft Storage Unit) at RAF Lyneham. The hangars there were full of Meteors with a couple of bi-planes and Spitfires all awaiting disposal.
Air tests were carried out by at least two attached Test Pilots evaluating the various Mk’s of aircraft, one of whom was a New Zealander (whose name escapes me) This pilot got me kitted out with the old style grey/blue flying suit, parachute and finally a bone dome. I distinctly remember having to be fully dressed in my Best Blue underneath the flying suit (presumably for warmth)

Having been briefed I climbed up into the rear seat of the a/c, strapped in, listened to all instructions given me during start up, canopy then closed down and taxiing out to the end of the runway.  This was my first closer glimpse of the Transport aircraft parked around on the far side from the MU; Britannias’, Comet 2s’ and a couple of visiting Hastings.  

The weather was perfect, it always seemed to be in those summer days! Well, the thrust of that jet, to me, was phenomenal at the time and just soaring up into the blue, looking back now was just how it must have been for those fighter aces less than 20 years previously albeit a bit slower! Trouble was, with me in the back seat and on air test there were no loops or rolls, just some tight turns!

We were on our way down to RAF Tangmere, Chichester, a very old and famous Battle of Britain fighter aerodrome. I cannot remember the reason for the journey but the enduring memories of the Ops room in the Control Tower where  the Meteor parked up will always be with me. On one wall in the room full of navigation charts and flight schedules for the day, were certificates and the plaques of all the Fighter Squadrons based there during ‘39 to ‘45 and after. Memorabilia was much in evidence of characters including Douglas Bader, Neville Duke and others. Later  in my Service life I learned that SOE operated from there with Lysanders’.

How did I get the trip? My father after retiring from the RAF after 35 yrs secured the role of Senior Technical Officer i/c Storage and Maintenance at 33 MU and we as Apprentices at Locking were always encouraged to get air experience if available; for me that was just up the road from Calne where my parents were at the time!

The RNZAF Test Pilot was probably old enough to have been with the RAF during the War, but I, as a mere 16 year old was too excited to find out about that at the time; too late now!

(Just a footnote about the MU: Does anyone remember the Lightning taking off inadvertently, piloted by the CO of the MU one Wg Cdr Holden? It was a story relayed to me by my father in 1966.
[Click here to listen to a BBC interview with Wg Cdr "Taffy" Holden about the incident.]

From: David Stevens, Bangor
Subject: First Flight
My father was serving at RAF Wahn in Germany in the mid 1950s. My parents decided to take me out of the BFES (British Forces Education Schools) Windsor Hamm boarding school in Germany and send me back to a boarding school in the UK. This was the summer of 1955. I was 13 years old.

Part of that journey was my first ever flight. It was on an 'Elizabethan', four prop engines, chartered flight (might have been BEA) from RAF Wahn to London; I cannot remember which airport in London, but I think it was Gatwick.
The inside of the plane seemed luxurious to me and it was not especially noisy. It was a great adventure and I was not the least bit nervous.  Because I was 13, I was treated as an unaccompanied minor and had one of those huge labels hanging round my neck!  Who met me in London, and how I got to my new school in Wem, Shropshire I have no idea!

Cheers,  David

From: Ian Berry, West Swindon
Subject: First Flight

Hello Tony,

Sounds like you had a very similar experience to me... I joined 1338 Squadron (Seaham) Air training Corps at the tender age of 13.

That same year I had my first flight in a DH Chipmunk of Durham UAS which were based at RAF Ouston in Northumberland. More amazingly I can remember the date! Saturday 5th May 1962. I too had to waddle out to the aircraft as I was already strapped to a parachute. What a fantastic experience and then I was hooked for life.  That's me - top right in the photo.
Just checking my log book and since then I have added 61 types of fixed wing and 11 Helicopters and that does not include the Slingsby and Sedburgh Gliders.

Cheers for now,


From: Andew Spinks, Dubai
Subject: First Flight

Hi Tony,

I expect a lot of us shared the first military flight experience in a Chipmunk. I think I was a tad older than you when I joined the CCF at school but I remember my first flight well and, like you, thought it would be exciting to do some aeros. How the pilot must have thought "here comes another sucker". And the flight unfortunately only proved that my stomach or inner ear was not well suited to high G or bad turbulence. I have since sadly had quite a few flights, mainly in fast jets, when my stomach has decided to part with its contents. I was lucky that I never threw up (on an aircraft at least) during my UKMAMS tour as I am sure the team would not have let me forget it. But I still managed a few occasions when airsickness got to me on Fat Albert, a few as a cadet doing circuits and bumps and one as OC TSW many years later when I was waiting to jump on a very hot day (causing very turbulent circuits) during my Basic Parachute Course - I was thankful to actually be able to jump out.

So my first flight in the Chipmunk tends to be remembered for all the wrong reasons but I still got the flying bug and my one big disappointment is that the RAF medics 'grounded' me from pilot training for a medical issue which is no longer a bar on pilots. Ah well, I still enjoyed every movements tour and only a couple of years (both on supply duties by the way) in 34 productive years of service were ones which I would willingly have missed.
My first flight, in a BEA Viscount as an 11-year old, was actually the flight that made me decide I only wanted to fly when I grew up... UK MAMS further whetted my appetite 12 years later but I never progressed beyond a PPL. I absolutely take my hat off to those who left and found the money to take themselves through commercial flying training....with hindsight and even though I had a great time in the Service, I regret not taking the same plunge myself.

Regards to all,


From: Steve Tomlinson, Tenerife, QLD
Subject: First Flight - Et Alia

Hi Tony

I believe my first flight was with the Air Cadets, back around 1969. I was a member of No 633, Newport High School, Squadron and it took place at RAF St Athan, South Wales. The aircraft in question was a Sedbergh glider, with it’s  side-by-side seating arrangement.

I seem to remember the instructor saying that, if we got enough height off the winch launch, we’d try some aerobatics! Obviously we did, because moments later he went into a spin, I looked up (open cockpit), and saw St Athan spinning towards me at a high rate of knots!  Having had the cr*p scared out of  me by my first glider flight, I still managed to complete my solo gliding qualification, whilst in the Cadets, at RAF Spitalgate a few years later. That was another surreal experience, a naïve, pubescent, young man posted to a Station where the young women out-numbered the men 25 - 1!
Also, like yourself, being close to Filton, just across the Severn Estuary from Newport, we often frequented the  Air Experience Flight to partake in some Chipmunk flying. As an aside, in 1977, I returned to Horfield Common TAVR Centre, next door to Filton, as a member of the RAF Fire Fighting contingent whilst the civil Fire Service were on Strike, happy days!

After years of “Flogging around the Oggin” as an Air Radar specialist with the Nimrod fleet, I was lured into applying for aircrew duties by Flt Lt Adrian Ray, my Boss in the Avionics Bay, RAF St Mawgan. He met a tragic end with his wife and 2 young children when they all succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning whilst on a caravanning holiday in the Alps. His parents set-up the Adrian Ray  Memorial Award, in their remembrance, and I note that a Mover, not the usual engineer, won the award in 2009!

Subsequent to my commissioning into the General Duties (Pilot) branch, in 1980, I revisited my association with both the Chipmunk and RAF Swinderby, where I did my initial “square-bashing” in 1973, to complete the recently introduced flying selection course. However, at this time being a ripe old age of 25, I didn’t manage to graduate and slowly wound my way, through 6 months of Navigator training at Finningley, re-attestation at Biggin Hill, back to a Supply Officers course at Cranwell where our course instructor was Dick Leonard and amongst my fellow classmates, the likes of Dave Blore, Steve Harpum, Dave Tisdale & Maria Djumic.
There was one little, silver lined, cloud between graduation from Cranwell and my exit from pilot training at Swinderby, when I managed to acquaint myself with another side-by-side seated aircraft!

Having to kill 3 months before my flying selection course, I was attached to Lightning Training Flight at Binbrook and was privileged to complete a few sorties, as a passenger, in the right hand seat of my dream aircraft the Lightning T5! Nothing will ever top my flying experiences at LTF. A few years ago I found a photo with all the flying instructors that were there at the time (attached), what a job!

Kindest regards

From: Richard Lloyd, Dalgety Bay, Fife
Subject: My First (military) Flight

In 1965 while at OCTU at RAF Feltwell, we were initiated into flying in the RAF by getting a flight out of RAF Bassingbourn in a Vickers Varsity. I recall almost nothing about this, other than its having happened, and so this will be for me, a very short contribution indeed!

After that I can claim to have flown in 20 military types and 49 civilian types - but is liable to be bested by many of your readers, I fancy!

Richard (Dick) Lloyd

(Regret - Ian Berry can lay claim to 72 types, not including gliders)

A400M carries out sand strip landing tests
Airbus Defence & Space has carried out flight testing of its A400M transport on a specially prepared sand runway during certification demonstrations [at the former RAF Woodbridge, Suffolk].

The surface is the last of three unprepared landing strips that the company is certifying the aircraft to operate from, and involved aircraft MSN2 performing three weeks of testing in August.


From: Dave Abrams, Weymouth, Dorset
Subject: First Flight

My first flight was in 1957 when I was 12 years old, on a RAF Hastings flying from RAF Negombo (Ceylon) to Changi (Singapore) to connect with a civil flight home to Stanstead. This was on a Hermes, the civil version of the Hastings, after my father’s 3 year tour and went a different route back to the UK than the RAF; 3 days to get there.

During my time at Negombo I saw the making of the film “Bridge on the River Kwai.”

I've attached the leaflet that was handed out by the Movers
[seems like this one is specifically designed for medevac patients]. In those days from the text it seems that the baggage allowance has not changed much.

Best regards

This newsletter is dedicated
to the memories of
Babs Sugg (RAF)
- and -
Banzai Bob Henstock (RAF)
Tony Gale