From: Harriet Thompson, Northolt


The Annual Movements Officers Reunion


Sirs, Ma’ams, All


The Annual Movements Officers’ Reunion is being held on Friday 1 November at the RAF Club, London. Please find attached your invitation and further details of the event.


Inevitably, despite best efforts to keep the database accurate, some people will not receive their copy of this letter.


Therefore, please spread the word amongst fellow Movements Officers and feel free to contact me with personnel who have not received this invite. There are also a number of personnel on the database who have no contact details or have moved on from the Service and have not provided a personal email address – therefore can I please request that you send your returns on enclosure 1 with up-to-date contact details or inform me that you no longer wish to be contacted.


Please may I ask that you confirm your attendance by NLT 1 Oct 19.


Feel free to contact myself or Flt Lt Stu Masters for any further information or queries.


Kind regards




Fg Off Hatty Thompson | DAMO A Shift| Air Movements Sqn | RAF Northolt | West End Road | Ruislip | Middlesex | HA4 6NG | Tel: 0208 833 8940 | Mil: 95233 8940 | Email:


From: Mick Cocker, Swindon, Wilts

Subject: My upcoming book


I'm just about to start writing my book... does anyone want to "opt out" ? I have been collating it for a number of years, but now find myself with the time to commit pen to paper... I'll be changing names to protect the guilty: Gary Brooksby, Stuart Walker, Chris James, Jayne King-nee Bairstow, David Sapsford, David Holley, the twins in Hong Kong whose names escape me.


(Editor's note:  If anyone has an interesting story about Mick, please don't hesitate to e-mail him (click on the flags, above.))


Mick's love of donkeys was apparent from a very early age!

From: Mick Hughes, Ipswich, QLD

Subject: No Tanks


I came across this article which is most worthy of sharing:



British Army to Phase out Fossil Fuels to Attract Eco-Friendly Recruits


The British Army is considering phasing out fossil-fuel-powered tanks, APCs and lorries in order to save the planet and to attract more recruits who are worried about global warming.


No, really.


These are the words of Britain’s senior army officer, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, speaking at a defence and security event in London yesterday.


The Telegraph reports:


Calling on British industry to lead the way on developing new sources of energy for the military, he added: “The challenge, and genuine commercial opportunity, is to aim high and lead the world in the development of military equipment which is not only battle-winning but also environmentally sustainable.


That gives the British Army considerable operational benefits, such as reducing our logistical drag, and also puts the Army … on the right side of the environmental argument, especially in the eyes of that next generation of recruits that increasingly make career decisions based on a prospective employer’s environmental credentials.”

RAF Airmen Face Beard Inspection


The inspection was held at a base in Oman where 3 (Fighter) Squadron is currently deployed

From: Frank Johnston, Navarre, FL

Subject: Thanks from Frank


I want to thank everyone for my 80th Birthday emails, cards & videos.. they made my milestone birthday celebration even more special.


Janet had planned a stay at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, followed by a Caribbean cruise.


While there, we got a message that oncoming Hurricane Dorian had delayed our planned cruise departure for 3 days. Even worse, the hurricane was strengthening and was scheduled to pass through the Orlando area as a Cat 4 and exit into the Gulf and then head north toward our home. 


We sadly made the decision to cut our stay at Disney by one day, cancel the cruise & head home.


It was a bit disappointing for Janet, as she had planned this birthday celebration vacation  for months—but we did have a wonderful 2 nights at the Lodge and I enjoyed my birthday dinner celebration & fireworks.  Just making it to 80 years was special enough; but spending it in a beautiful place with all your birthday wishes made it extra special!


Janet is already planning for my 85th, looking at places that don’t have hurricanes!


Warmest Regards to Everyone!



Caroline and Richard Allen during a black tie event on board Ventura on route to Stavanger

Graham Cotton enjoying a boot of beer in Rhodes Old Town

Sue and Mick Bedford enjoying a holiday in Las Vegas

Chris Pomeroy, Pontypridd 

British Wildlife Photography Awards 2019


My entry has been highly commended and I'm delighted to have my photo featured in the UK-wide exhibition and featured in the annual book.


Royal Australian Air Force celebrates 20 years of C-130J Hercules transport aircraft


In September 1999, the first of 12 C-130J Hercules flown by No. 37 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond was delivered to Australia; the fleet has since flown 137,000 flying hours.  The anniversary flypast headed to Barrenjoey Heads and then RAAF Base Glenbrook, before returning to Richmond. There was also a reunion of past members.


Group Captain Nicholas Hogan, Officer Commanding No. 84 Wing at RAAF Base Richmond, said the C-130J workforce had supported Defence on missions away from Sydney for much of the past two decades.  "The nature of C-130J work is short-notice, dynamic, and requires the aircrew to be flexible and responsive to complex problems as they complete the mission," Group Captain Hogan said. "The C-130J has been continuously deployed to the Middle East region since June 2008.  Closer to home it has been an essential part of Defence responses to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, as well as to search and rescue support. Australia has a legacy of flying different Hercules models since December 1958, and the C-130J generation has more than earned its place in history."


In recent years, the C-130J fleet has been upgraded with satellite communications systems, aircraft self-protection systems, and improved battlespace awareness.


HAWKESBURY locals lined the roads around RAAF Base Richmond on Friday to watch a formation of six Hercules aircraft departing from the base as part of a 20-year celebration.  The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) celebrated 20 years of operating the C-130J model of the Hercules transport aircraft, with a flypast departing RAAF Base Richmond.


"The capability of the C-130J fleet has grown significantly, with future upgrades to include high-bandwidth satellite communications being installed on six aircraft," Group Captain Hogan said. "We've worked hard to evolve this airframe over the last 20 years, and it will continue to support Defence operations in the future."


Hawkesbury Gazette


From: Mark Attrill, Tallinn

Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #083019




First and foremost, another great newsletter keeping us all informed about past and present.


Unfortunately, I have to steal Mike Stepney's 'Thunder' with regards to the story concerning UKMAMS and the Red Arrows. My own experience with the Reds, which bears an uncanny resemblance, pre-dates his own by about three years!  If I recall correctly, it occurred in March or early April of 1984, at RAF Scampton with the Reds deploying to RAF Akrotiri for their annual pre-season workup. (I was posted shortly afterwards to be OC MSF at RAF Coltishall - unconnected before anyone asks!)


I do remember that Tony Saw and Paddy Power were with me and, like Mike's experience, the trouble started as soon as we hit the ground. It's not necessary to repeat the whole story since, as I have already said, much of it mirrors Mike's own experiences but I do remember a rather obnoxious MT Corporal (perhaps it was in the Job Specification for this post) 'advising' both Tony and myself that he was "fully qualified to push load items up the ramp" with the aid of a Landover only (complete with wooden beam strapped to the bumper) and no other guidance requirements.



At that time (1984), the Reds had a bespoke, rather top heavy, mobile tool cabinet that was about 6-7 feet high mounted on a contraption with a wheelbase of about 18 inches! The ensuing heated exchange over the presentation of this particular piece of Heath-Robinson Mk.1 GSE to the ramp almost resulted in Tony marching the said Cpl off to the Guardroom for insubordination (I kid you not!).


The Reds SENGO made threats to me about "career changing decisions" at which point the AC Captain (egged on by the Co-Pilot who had gone through Initial Officer Training with me) stepped in and started making inquiries with me (in front of the SENGO) about the legitimacy of some of the load being presented (bicycles and windsurfers) and whether it 'would fit'. After that, the SENGO got the message and allowed us to load safely and unhindered by his 'expert' team.


Needless to say, both the AC Captain and I filed Route Stage Reports upon our return to Lyneham and I do remember Graham Howard's comments (as MAMS Ops Officer) on the bottom of our own report, to this day. In fact, I have a copy of the report somewhere in storage back in the UK.



On the plus side it was a real team effort between the aircraft crew and ourselves that day to remind those that operate in the rarified atmosphere of our premier aerobatic display team that flight and aircraft safety applies equally to them. If I recall correctly, Colin Waite or Mark Vincenti had similar issues with the Reds in the same year. It was, therefore, somewhat puzzling to me when Mike's report from 1987 came across my desk (as Air Movements 1 at HQ 1 Group) to be staffed by the late, great, Wg Cdr Vic King since I thought we had, collectively, sorted out the Red Arrows support issues some years earlier - clearly not.


Keep up the good work


Mark Attrill 



From: Ian Berry, West Swindon, Wilts

To: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Spain

Subject: Re: Trianco Transfer Loader


Hi Syd,


As per your request, here are some pictures of the Trianco Transfer Loader.  One was taken somewhere down route [KSR or AKR?], then there was one tucked between the ConDec and the BFLP in the MAMS hangar at Abingdon.  Finally, the one with the cage I suspect was at Abingdon pre-1967 where a load trial was being conducted by ATDU (JATE forerunner).






Red Arrows: Behind the Tour


It has been over a decade since the Royal Air Force Red Arrows crossed the pond to visit North America – a fact that has undoubtedly contributed to the massive buzz surrounding the team’s current tour, that’s running Aug. 7 through until Oct. 8.


The Red Arrows flew with the Snowbirds during the Canadian International Air Show in Toronto.

(Sgt Ashley Keates Photo)

At the beginning of August, the squad made the long journey across the Atlantic – making stops in Scotland, Iceland and Greenland – before touching down in Halifax to kick off their North American Tour. Since the moment they arrived, aviation enthusiasts and publications have riddled social media with a flurry of Red Arrows pictures and videos. Even the mainstream media has been caught up in the frenzy, with several members of the team invited onto talk shows and newscasts throughout both Canada and the United States.


“This tour, more than any before, has such a high-profile online presence,” said Doug Smith, Red Arrows’ squadron leader and team manager. “We have a sizable PR Team to take photos of the flying activity and ground engagement and deliver what is expected of us on media channels, especially social media.”


The purpose of the tour is to promote the U.K.’s business interests, enhance the relationship between the US/Canada and the UK, foster interest in STEM activities with young people and entertain spectators at airshows and flypasts with visually appealing displays Smith told Skies.


With four scheduled Canadian stops, along with 17 American destinations, the Arrows have had a full plate of both public engagements and business summits. “It’s very much a government-led initiative and I would suggest it’s probably been in the planning for three or four years, but the actual fine-tuning of the engagement started about eight months ago,” he explained.


That fine-tuning involved Smith and two others from the Red Arrows – Andy Morton, the team’s public relations manager, and logistics expert Paul Llewellin – making trips to potential tour stops and scouting which locations would be ideal for completing the tour’s mission. This included finding hotels, contacting local fixed-base operators (FBOs) and securing prospective ground appearances for the team. The potential for business engagement was a crucial factor when it came to selecting tour stops and the team was guided by local UK Consulate staff throughout the North American continent.


“One of the most important things for us is delivery of STEM-related topics — science, technology engineering and math — and it’s trying to get the youngsters of the U.S. and Canada to have that spark of inspiration about the possibility of entering into careers within [STEM],” said Smith. “We’ve completed many STEM engagements thus far and indeed have many more planned within the tour.”


Along with public engagement, Smith and his crew also had to investigate the potential for business relationships that could involve the Red Arrows brand.


With such a large number of stops, not every city scheduled on the tour will get to witness the team's full display due to the logistics of the trip - but each one will glimpse the Arrows' gleaming red Hawk T1s overhead. “A good example of that would be in St. Louis, we had a roundtable event with business leaders to discuss leadership and business opportunities” said Smith. “We also had a business breakfast where the local consulate office invited key contacts from the local area, using the presence of the team as facilitators through developing discussions.”


With four scheduled Canadian stops, along with 17 American destinations, the Arrows have had a full plate of both public engagements and business summits – but those are secondary to the true reason the Red Arrows’ tour has generated so much noise on social media.  That distinction goes to the team’s famed flying displays. The team’s tight formation flying, daring manoeuvres and distinct red, white and blue smoke trails have captured the interest of a continent that hasn’t seen the Arrows since 2008.


Though there are a large number of stops, not every city scheduled on the tour will get to witness the team’s full display due to the logistics of the trip – but each one will glimpse the Arrows’ gleaming red Hawk T1s overhead.


“There’s a mixture of different aerial activity that we’re conducting out here. We have the full display at airshows like Toronto — the Canadian International Air Show — where the public will get to see the full range of aerobatic manoeuvres,” said Smith. “[The tour] is quite spectacular, however, for some of the business engagements, we perform an enhanced flypast; that is a series of four or five, separate flypasts in different formations. It’s not just a single flypast, they get a little bit more – it’s similar to the first half of a display. Then, thirdly, we perform a standard flypast that will be a single pass . . .  at the Washington Nationals’ MLB stadium, we performed a single flypast at the beginning of the game and it  looked fantastic and was warmly received by the spectators.”



“To move so many personnel around North America – we have 26 different stops in 10-and-a-half weeks – is quite a logistical feat” Smith emphasized. “We are fortunate to be supported by the Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft which has ferried the team around the route thus far and has done an absolutely sterling job in supporting us. It moves packets of engineering freight forward and then returns to collect the rear team to move them into the next location, so it’s effectively completing shuttle runs across the U.S. and Canada.”


All of this extensive work that went into making the tour a reality has resulted in a heightened sense of excitement throughout North American aviation circles. The appreciation for the team and their aircraft can be seen across social media, where hundreds of pictures have been posted by fans that are either seeing the squad for the first time or enjoying a display they haven’t had a chance to watch in over a decade. According to Smith, the feeling is mutual.


“For the team – that’s the pilots, the engineers, and all the support staff – we are really excited to be here and to showcase our expertise in front of the U.S. and Canadian audiences,” he said. “Everywhere we’ve been so far, the audiences have been wonderful, very hospitable and have given us such a warm welcome.”


Skies Mag


Team members are transported on an Airbus A400M Atlas.

All of this extensive work that went into making the tour a reality has resulted in a heightened sense of excitement throughout North American aviation circles.


Due to such an extensive tour and busy flight schedule, Smith told Skies that pre-arranging logistical necessities was a crucial step for Morton, Llewellin and himself on their scouting trip.


“We covered 12 locations within a five-week period,” he said. “It’s arriving at airfields, it’s seeing who the fixed-base operator is on the airfields for the handling agents to discuss what our needs are in terms of engineering — the jets’ fuel, diesel for the smoke delivery system, oxygen, nitrogen — all the standard things that the jets require.”


Though the Red Arrows work with many FBOs and airport staff during the tour, the personnel needed to keep operations running smoothly is extensive. “The team required to deliver the tour is 107 strong,” said Smith. “That includes quite a sizable engineering footprint – [including] logistics and Air Movements personnel.”


From: Chris Goss, Marlow, Bucks
Subject: Now it can be told


When I was SAMO NHT 1992-1994, I remember checking in one of the VIP lounges as the pax were a mystery.  Lo and behold there was Lady Thatcher with... Salman Rushdie. 

We handled quite a number of interesting people - Ayrton Senna, Meatloaf, Whitney Houston (a liney was charged over her when he chased her car wanting an autograph). 

Then there was Joan Collins whose lipstick smeared glass had pride of place in the Movers bar.  There are quite a number of other stories but the risk of litigation...


From: Christopher Briggs, Coventry, West Midlands
Subject: Now it can be told

It all started with an SAS raid on the Iranian Embassy.  [The Iranian Embassy siege took place from 30 April to 5 May 1980, after a group of six armed men stormed the embassy on Prince's Gate in South Kensington, London.] 


I had just got to the NAAFI at Northolt for a pint when I was summond to get the Sherpa and go into to work by the boss (I can't remember her name).


I arrived at the terminal to be met by the boss and the Wg Cdr Ops and was briefed that we would be expecting 2 Pumas. After about 10 minutes the helicopters arrived and the crew came into the Movements building and informed us that they were off to Kensington Barracks to collect the SAS after the ending of the embassy siege.


30 minutes later they departed, only to return after about 10 minutes.  They could not land at Kensington Barracks at night because of the proximity of overhead wires.



So, it all went to Plan B; the helicopters would go to Hyde Park to pick them up and off they went again only to return shortly afterwards.  Apparently the gates to the park were locked and the SAS, with all their gear, could not get in(!).


About 5 minutes later two ambulances arrived at the Movements building and out got two guys in pyjama's with drips in their arms and made their way into the crew room (of course we made them a cuppa). These were the first members of the SAS to gain entry into the embassy and were both suffering from a slight concussion.  Two Scout helicopters arrived to transport them back to their home base at Hereford.


After about 10 minutes, a white Army coach arrived with the rest of the SAS team and some 10 females, climbed into the waiting Pumas and took off for Hereford.


One the injured was John McAleese MM who had led the SAS raid on the embassy - he died in 2011. RIP



From: Liam Devlin, Port Talbot, Glamorgan 
Subject: Now it can be told

Hi Tony,

I was F.Sgt on detachment to Washington’s Dulles Airport where there are lots of VIP flights.  I hadn’t been there very long and one day there were two VIP Movements. The first one taxied off the chocks and the OC Detachment went off to get ready for the next aircraft. I had to remain alongside the steps, just in case the VC10 didn’t take off and returned to the stand.

I was standing there with a chap in civvies who had delivered the VIP and was also waiting for the aircraft to depart. He spoke to me asking if I was the new F.Sgt, I said I was and introduced myself. As he was in civvies I asked him if he was one of the drivers from the embassy?  He burst out laughing and replied, no, I’m the Air Attaché.  I was mortified and apologised profusely!  He said not to worry as he would ‘Dine Out‘ on this. I asked him not to mention my name which he readily agreed to as he could see how embarrassed I was.

I had to tell OC Detachment so as he would need to be aware of my mistake, he nearly had a heart attack, but eventually saw the funny side of it too.

So that is my ‘Now it can be told story ‘



From: Pat Rowney, East Tytherton, Wilts
Subject: Now it can be told

During my time on UKMAMS in the mid 1970s, I found myself designated as relief for SAMO Aldergrove [Belfast], which meant that I deputised for a week or two at a time for him when he went on leave. 

One of the responsibilities that this brought was to escort the Minister of State for Northern Ireland in the morning between his inbound HS125 and the awaiting Wessex helicopter, then back in the evening.  This involved making small talk for a couple of minutes as we transited between the pans where the aircraft were parked. 

The Minister at that time was Don Concannon who was a bluff labour MP with a reputation for being outspoken.  This came home to me on one occasion when he was heading homeward bound after a long and difficult day in Stormont trying to reconcile the differences between the main parties.  On exiting the Wessex, as we walked towards the HS125, he said, "You know Pat, we ought to take the boundaries of RAF Aldergrove and expand them to encompass the whole province".

Rather taken aback by this novel idea, I enquired why he thought this might be a good idea.  His answer was, "Because it’s the only place on this f’ing island where everything goes smoothly!"

On reflection I could see what he meant, as the only thing he could guarantee once he arrived in Ireland was the daily routine transit between fixed wing and rotary and back again in the evening.



From: Barry Tappenden, Bedford 
Subject: Now it can be told

Bario, Borneo, March 1967.  I was detailed to look after CSE entertainer Harry Secombe who was being ferried by helicopter to meet some of the lads up country.

Harry, being a very keen photographer, was constantly trying for the best shot. We asked him to wear the safety harness but it was either too small or too uncomfortable.  One lurch from the Whirlwind made Harry very close to falling out but I and another grabbed him and pulled him back to some safety.

That laugh of his still rings in my ears, I'm sure that was the start of the grey hairs!

Great man sadly missed.

From: Len Bowen, Chisholm, ACT
Subject: Now it can be told

Royal visit to RAAF Base Richmond.  Beautiful young Princess with her new Prince husband. Beautiful sunny morning. All the families on base turned out to cheer and wave as the pair disembark from the 34SQN VIP BAC 111, and both husband and wife did the rounds of hand shaking and ‘meet & greet’ before leaving for an informal engagement at the North Richmond Polo Club.

Couple due to depart in the same BAC111 at 18:00, by which time the weather had turned really nasty; cold & wet, but that didn’t deter most of the families who wanted to see off the Royals.

Time went on, and no Royals.  Weather got worse, and SMOVO (me), Base Commander (BCDR), and other duty staff sheltered under the Air Movements building, joined by the 34SQN crew and a rather soggy RAAFPOL dog and handler.

Time passed again, and about an hour and a bit over scheduled ‘doors closed’ time we got a phone call that the Royal entourage had just arrived at the front gate.  By this time the waiting crowd of families had thinned, but there were still 30 - 40 RAAF wives and kids waiting in the rain. BCDR, SMOVO and security detail form up at the aircraft.

Royal vehicles pull up, and the male Royal makes a bee-line for the aircraft, however beautiful young Princess heads off the other way to again meet with the waiting families.

Prince: “Come along D…., we’re running late and we don’t have time for this.”

Princess, obviously really not happy even this early in their relationship: “We’re only f***ing late because you were drinking for hours with your f***ing polo-playing friends.  These people here have been waiting hours in this s***tty weather for us. Now get your f***ing royal a**se over there and do the right thing for your future subjects!” 

BCDR & I exchange glances, but remain at the aircraft steps with the 34SQN crew while the Royals and their minder in tow again meet and greet the waiting families. RAAFPOL handler and dog follow briefly, but then shelter under the tail of the BAC111, though still well within hearing distance (the crew hadn’t fired up the APU at this stage).

Duty done, the Royals board the aircraft, saluted by the Base Commander and yours truly, and once the bird had departed, so did the BCDR.  At this point the CPL dog handler – who I knew well as he was a member of my Base Pistol Team – approached me.  “Sir, did I just hear what I think I heard?”  Self:  “Corporal, you heard absolutely nothing, and so nothing can possibly be repeated to anyone on the Base, right? However, if your highly intelligent dog were to repeat what he just overheard, I, for one would not be in any position to contradict him.  Good night Corporal”

Needless to say, the whole incident was common knowledge by the time that the loud-mouthed dog was back in his kennel and the Corporal was having a well-deserved drink in the Airmen’s Club.

Over my time as a MOVO I’ve saluted several Royals on and off VIP aircraft, and even been spoken to by a couple informally as they boarded, but that was the one beautiful young lady that most earned my respect, and I mourned her passing some years later.

If re-telling this gets me a place in the Tower of London with our future monarch, so be it, but only the CPL Dog Handler, his dog and I can vouch for the voracity of the tale, as the Base Commander has since regrettably passed on, but it is worth it to record how on that one occassion on a cold wet and miserable evening  at RAAF Base Richmond, a young Princess knew where her duty lay, and wasn't afraid to say so.


Len b

From: Jim Nadin, Lincoln   
Subject: Now it can be told

Hi Tony,

This 1983 incident pre-dates the submission in the last newsletter from Mike Stepney regarding fun and movements frolics with the Red Arrows by about 10 or even more years.

It took place shortly after the Reds had moved from Kemble to Scampton as we were preparing for a 3-week tour of the USA. It was decided that a spare smoke pod (that which sits underneath the Hawk belly and contains a mix of diesel and dye which produces the coloured smoke) had to be positioned at Dulles as they were not without engineering problems and a fault would result in an incomplete display when smoke was required.

The engineers prepared the pod for transit by air and completed the F731 with as much detail as possible. I checked the F731 thoroughly before raising the F1380 to ensure that the pod had been vented which it had and had been signed off by the trade manager.


The adjutant signed the F1380 and off the palletised load went by road to Brize Norton for a VC10 flight the following day. This, we learned later, was a mixed freight/pax for Dulles and our consignment had been loaded at the front end.


As the aircraft climbed out of Brize Norton, an unpleasant smell was noticeable followed by a stream of red noxious liquid running down the centre aisle. The Loadmaster quite rightly raised the alarm and the captain elected to return to Brize Norton but had to jettison a significant amount of Avtur into the Bristol Channel before the aircraft could land.



All holy hell broke loose and Station Commander Brize Norton was not a happy man. The pod it appeared, on investigation by a team of Brize Norton engineers, had not been vented or blank capped and it certainly was not fit to fly. When something like this happens it really is interesting to watch the blame game get underway and the engineers were determined this was the fault of the Adjutant for signing off the F1380.


A Unit Inquiry was convened at Scampton at which I made very clear that the fault and responsibility rested solely with the Trade Manager and his team who had failed in every respect and had provided an invalid F731. That went down well amongst the engineers and I left Scampton a few days later for a 3-week detachment at Dulles Airport where I worked alongside Flight Lieutenants Peter King and Trevor Patch. When I returned to Scampton the Trade Manager and a couple of his team had been suddenly posted elsewhere! Interesting times for all concerned.




Jim Nadin




A RAAF C-130J Hercules flies over the Statue of Liberty, New York, 2000


9/11: Royal Australian Air Force remembers the help it gave to US


Throughout its history, Air Force’s No. 37 Squadron has often been first on the scene during times of crisis.  Few might be aware that, following the Al Qaeda attacks on September 11, 2001, a No. 37 Squadron C-130J Hercules and its crew were amongst the first to land in New York City. 


Squadron Leader Kevin Bruce, currently a reservist instructor with No. 37 Squadron, recounted the events that led to a mission from Atlanta to New York City following the attacks.  “We were in the United States in September 2001 completing the testing of the Block 5.3 upgrade to the C-130J,” Squadron Leader Bruce said.  “The Hercules used for the trials – A97-442 – was operated from Dobbins Air Base in Atlanta, Georgia, adjacent to the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules manufacturing plant.”


The crew included pilot Flight Lieutenant (now Group Captain) Paul Long, and Flight Lieutenants Jayson Livingstone and Michael Crooks as the co-pilots. They were supported by loadmasters Warrant Officers Mick Smith and Graeme Clark



“9/11 happened towards the end of our final phase – the following day, we went to Lockheed Martin, but no aircraft were allowed to fly,” Squadron Leader Bruce said. “All airborne aircraft during 9/11 were landed at the nearest airfield once air traffic control worked out what was happening.”


A change of plans


Dobbins Air Base – located just 50 kilometres from Atlanta - was filled with commercial airliners in the days following 9/11. Atlanta also happened to be the home of the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Group Captain Steve Bucholtz, the RAAF Assistant Air Attachè in Washington DC, received a request to ferry CDC personnel and equipment to New York.  “To some extent, this was because the United States Air Force command chain was focused on recovery from the attack on the Pentagon, as well as responding in other areas,” Squadron Leader Bruce said.


The CDC team would investigate the ground zero site and determine whether any biological agents had been used in the attacks.  The mission on September 14 was a joint task between Lockheed Martin and the RAAF, taking a Lockheed Martin Test Pilot, Flight Lieutenant (now Squadron Leader) Michael Crooks, and Squadron Leader Bruce.  Squadron Leader Crooks recalled that the crew and the CDC team posed for a photo together at the aircraft, before embarking on the mission.


“The CDC team and the intermediaries were truly grateful for the assistance the RAAF was providing during an unprecedented moment in their nation’s history,” Squadron Leader Crooks said.


A surreal flight to New York


The Hercules carried 31 passengers for the two-and-a-half hour flight to New York, with the only other air traffic being fighter aircraft on combat air patrol missions, and refuelling tankers.


“The flight up was eerie – airspace that for decades before and the decades since were and are a continual buzz of activity was literally silent,” Squadron Leader Crooks said.  “We were handed from one air traffic controller to another with little more than a welcome, then silence. This was on airwaves that are typically a continual stream of control instructions and replies.


“We were often thanked with sincerity and transferred to the next controller where the scene was repeated. I doubt and hope that this experience will ever be repeated again.”


Both the weather and air traffic around New York on September 14 contrasted heavily with that of September 11.


“The arrival into La Guardia Airport was truly surreal; The airfield had been closed since September 11 and the weather was poor with low cloud and showers about,” Squadron Leader Crooks said. “If this had been the weather 72 hours earlier, [I wonder] how would the events of September 11, and the geostrategic events that followed, would have played out?  “We approached the airfield from the south roughly paralleling Manhattan Island, through breaks in the cloud I can still recall seeing the gap in the skyline where the towers had stood three days before.”


The C-130J was the first aircraft to land at La Guardia Airport since all airline traffic had been grounded.  With the CDC team unloaded, the Hercules departed back to Atlanta a few hours later; a week later the Block Upgrade test programme was resumed.


Today, missions to airfields in Afghanistan are relatively frequent for RAAF C-130J crews, but few might be aware of their aircraft’s role in the immediate wake of the September 11 attacks.  “The more time that passes, the more I realise that this was a moment in time that was unique in every aspect,” Squadron Leader Crooks said.  “It is a significant, but little known part of the RAAF’s C-130J’s story.” (By Eamon Hamilton, 12 September 2019)



RAF puts BAe 146s up for sale

Four VIP and light transport aircraft used by the United Kingdom's command support squadron have been put up for sale by UK's Defence Equipment Sales Authority (DESA).  Details of the aircraft were included in a DESA brochure distributed at the 2019 DSEI event in London.  The brochure stated that both variants of BAe 146 - two CC.2 VIP variants and two CC.3 quick change cargo variants - are up for sale.


The aircraft are currently used by 32 (The Royal) Squadron based at UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Northolt in West London to fly members of the Royal Family, government leaders, and senior military officers around the world.


The two BAe 146 CC.2s were purchased in the 1980s and the two CC.3s were acquired second hand in 2012.



A Ministry of Defence (MoD) source close to the project told Jane's it was "too early in the process to be discussing out-of-service dates and replacements [of the BAe 146s]". He said putting BAe 146 in the brochure was about "testing the market's appetite for a potential sale in the future".





From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY

Subject: Out of Egypt


Out Of Egypt*

*(To the best of my recollection, with some names changed to protect the guilty)


In May of 1967, Nasser ordered the UN Peacekeepers out of Egypt.  At the time, I was serving as a Corporal Loadmaster on 437(T)Sqn at CFB Trenton, Ontario.


It was about 0800 on a Sunday morning that the phone rang and I was told the entire squadron was called out and was mounting an airlift to bring the Canadian Army peacekeepers home. "Report to Base Ops ASAP, and pack for a couple of weeks."


Upon arrival at Ops, there were about 100 troops including aircrew, servicing, Ops bods and a couple of accounts pukes, one of which was a newly minted Flt Lt. We entered our names on the crew list, boarded the a/c and headed for Shannon forthwith. (From call-out to take-off was about five hours...amazing!).


On the way the Ops guys developed the airlift plan, while the Squadron Ops guys came up with crews.  As it happened, I was the only Loadmaster to end up without a crew, so the CO made a decision to have me serve as an assistant to the Detachment Commander in Shannon, who he appointed to be was the aforementioned Flt Lt. A decision based on rank.


The airlift plan was to position crews in Shannon, Pisa and El Arish. The Yukon would board the troops in Egypt, stop for food, rations etc in Pisa, the same in Shannon and then home to Trenton. The turnaround time in Pisa and Shannon was planned for two hours with the troops remaining on board for the entire journey.  The Yukons were scheduled every four or five hours, 24 hours a day until all the troops were all brought home and then the C130s would bring equipment home using the same airlift plan. The Op was expected to take 14 days.


The Ops guys had called ahead to Shannon and explained our plight to Aer Lingus Operations who set up meeting with all concerned upon our arrival.  The Shannon detachment were expected to get off the a/c and start setting thing up. After refuelling, the rest of the guys headed off to Pisa to do the same thing.


Things started off on the wrong foot almost immediately. I liaised with the WO1 i/c servicing and we set up a schedule to meet the 24-hour Ops pace. We also met with a fellow, Gaye Silke the manager of a Canadian style motel in Limerick.  I advised all that we would need all of his 52 rooms for the duration. At this point, the Accounts Flt Lt stepped in and said that, to save money, we would no need all these room as the incoming aircrews could take over the rooms from the outgoing crew, "Hot bedding," as it was known. This also applied to the servicing guys.


Also, at the meeting was the Aer Lingus catering fellow. I told him that we would need 125 pax and 10 crew meals per a/c with a two-meal service, depending on the time of day, IE: one breakfast and one lunch.


Again, the Flt Lt butted in and opted for sandwich service and fruit trays as an economic step, yada, yada. The catering chappie pointed out that the meal cost was a fixed price no matter what was ordered.


Also, the owner of the local taxi company was briefed on the operation. To ensure a quick turnaround it was suggested that we have two cabs available. Upon getting an ETA on a flight, one cab would pickup the outgoing crew and the other report to the airport to take the incoming crew to the hotel. This way the outgoing crew would be at the airport early so as to work the flight plan, check the weather, determine fuel loads and be off as quickly as possible. Again, the Flt Lt intervened, he would have them pick up the incoming crew at the airport, take them to the hotel and take the outgoing crew to the airport.


Meanwhile the WO1 servicing guy approached me with his concerns about the way things were developing. We both had experience with this sort of thing and had worked together in the past. We knew that the plan the Accounts Flt Lt had arrived at was not workable and would eventually fall apart. We came up with our plan...we'd carry out his plan to the letter.


Within 18 hours the first chalk from Pisa was in range. As luck was on our side, the skipper was the Sqn Commander, a GP CAPT., and a hell of an aviator. He was a WWII bomber pilot and Pathfinder and knew his stuff.  Upon his arrival he was to find himself waiting for the cab to the hotel, having to make his bed after the outgoing crew was still milling around before vacated the hotel. "Why aren't you guys at the airport? He was annoyed.


After the outgoing a/c was serviced the WO1 and I returned to the hotel to find the GP CAPT sitting in the bar deep in conversation with the Accounts Flt Lt. He called us over and asked us what we thought went wrong with the arrangements, hot bedding, transport and no food available.


The WO1 stepped right into it and quickly explained that all our planning had been for naught as it was overridden by the Flt Lt. The CO mulled this over and went to bed.


The next morning, he called the three of us together and told us he was not a happy person. He told the Flt Lt to go to the airport immediately, award and sign contracts with all concerned, then get on the next Yukon to Canada. 


He then told the WO1 that he was the new detachment Commander and that I would report to him and we were to set things up properly.  The WO1 replied, "I'm a servicing guy sir, I have no interest or experience in running a detachment, I already have 20 folks to supervise."


The CO replied, "Then If I make him, pointing to me, the D/C, could you work with that?"  "Yessir!" was the reply. We were off!


We quickly set things in motion and they went extremely well. Gaye gave us the "Key to the motel," if you will. The motel and all its facilities were available to us.  The bar was open, and in use, 24 hours a day. The kitchen, likewise. Everything was on the honour system. You paid for your drinks and if you used the kitchen you were expected to clean up after yourself and leave a note as to what food you consumed so it could be replenished. We had made a couple of "arrangements" with Gaye, (who by now considered himself one of us), one of them being to include rations in the room rent due to our meagre per diem allowance.

Things settled into a routine. One of my tasks was to meet the a/c on arrival and liaise with the army Movements Officer to determine if there were any extra things required for their onward flight. Standing in the rear doorway, I felt sorry for the troops, cramped in the seats, who had not had any fresh air since leaving Egypt.  I had an idea.


Later, I went to the duty-free store bar and explained the situation.  Could they manage to be open during our turnarounds?  If so, they would be assured of a lot of business. When the next Yukon arrived, I met the Movements Officer as usual and explained, "Sir, if you can have the guys deplane in single file and quick march into the east door of the duty free and into the bar, there will be many open bottles of Harp and other Irish delights. They can have a couple of quick ones and exit, past the men's room, through the west door back onto the a/c, refreshed. They should have money readily at hand"


He grinned, grabbed the PA mike and announced, "Listen up guys, and not wasting any time, explained the plan...Follow me!"   A thirsty roar went up!


One evening I got a call from Mike, the cab company owner, who told me, "Ah, sor, me an' da wife has been goin' over da books and find us to be well extended cost wise. De ya tink we could have a chat?"


"Certainly, come over tomorrow and we'll have a pint."




When he showed up, we had to beat around the bush for a couple of beers before he came to the point.  He reached into his briefcase and pulled out a tattered exercise book and showed be the figures of how many trips to and fro and how many trips the guys had taken into town (Another "Arrangement"). "Oyn reckonin' that yer owin' me $$$$$$$$$$, Is dis about roit?, Sor?"


Little did he know that, Gaye was appointed to the position of Transportation Officer and had been doing yeoman service in reception coordinating taxis. He had kept accurate records, which I now showed to Mike.


"Mike," says I, "I think its more like $$$$, what do you reckon?"  He pulled a stub of a pencil from behind his ear, licked the lead, had a pull of his beer, and ran the pencil down a few pages of his log He muttered something under his breath and announced, "Har, Sor, I sees where me darlin' wife has made a mistake in her 'rithmatic!"


I told Mike to carry on and that he had an ironclad contract with the Canadian Government and thus, our Queen.


"It's da bloody Queen oym worried bout, Sor."


To keep Mike up to speed, I told him that this weekend, when the Yukon airlift ended, we had a 48 hour respite before the C130 Op started.  He asked how many of us would like a two day tour of southern Ireland. There was about eight of us.  The next day three cab arrived along with Mike. He told us that we were responsible for the driver's room and board, "But not thair bloody liquor, Sors!"

We hit all the famous sights, kissed the Blarney Stone and had a wonderful time in the small pubs and cafes in the tiny villages well known to our drivers.  In fact, in one village we all had lunch at one of the driver's aunts. A lot of fun washing up and drinking Harp.


A few days later, after the last Herc went through, I went around closing out the contracts, and saying goodbye to all the friends we had made there. We all had made a huge impact on the local scene, both financially and personally and I was able to meet some of the guys later in my career when we dropped our C130 in for fuel.


On my last day at the motel, I called ATCHQ, Trenton and said I was finished and ready to come home. The Ops guy said that tomorrow, he would divert a C130 from Düsseldorf into Shannon to pick me up.


I explained that in the interest of economy, to save time, landing fees and refueling costs, I could come home, free, through JFK as a crew member of an Aer Lingus 707. (Another "arrangement").


"Go for it!"


I did.





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