From: Eddie Hewitt, Dorset Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #073120
Many thanks for another cracking newsletter! I particularly enjoyed ‘The Misadventures of Jarvo’. It was engaging, informative and entertaining.
I was lucky/unlucky (delete as appropriate!) enough to work on UKMAMS the same time as Jarvo. It was also the same time as the regular publication of an ‘underground’ newsletter called ‘MAMS Behaving Badly’ (although, I’m not sure we can legally say the two are linked... yet).
Your serialisation of Jarvo’s memoirs had me glued to the page, fascinating stuff. I do hope there is a book to follow?
British A400M transport gets tasked with low-level patrols to track migrant boats from France
A Royal Air Force Airbus A400M transport aircraft, also known to the service as an Atlas C1, has been drafted in to help support the U.K. Border Force cope with a recent surge of migrants aboard small vessels heading across the English Channel towards British shores from France.
The aircraft was noted flying low over the sea this morning and imagery from commercially available flight-tracking software, Flight Radar 24 showed it flying a complex patrol pattern over the English Channel between Dover, and Calais, France.
The U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the use of the large transport aircraft had been sanctioned by the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to help assist the U.K. Home Office. The A400M flew a roughly eight-hour mission from its home base at RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, on Aug. 10, 2020, as more small vessels attempted to cross the English Channel heading for the Kent coast. The aircraft was joined by another unspecified civilian aircraft supporting Her Majesty’s Coastguard, which also provided surveillance to assist the UK Border Force.
From: Syd Avery, Guardamar del Segura, Alicante Subject: Freighters
Another great edition - the piece by Steve Tomlinson about converting pax to cargo configuration brought a memory clanking to the front of the old noddle.
During my time with Air Foyle/Antonov, we used to visit Wilmington, Ohio, to collect freight. Wilmington was one of the main bases for a courier company, Airborne Express, ABX. During the late evenings and early mornings, Wilmington became, as all courier bases like, Memphis, Liege, and East Midlands, controlled, manically labour intensive, run by the stopwatch. ABX had purchased a great number of secondhand DC9s to use on their small packages runs. They did not cut cargo doors in the fuselage, but instead designed and built containers that would fit through the passenger doors, and half the width of the interior fuselage. Vastly cheaper than having an airframe off-line for some considerable time. So the full containers were loaded on to dollies similar to extra, long bomb trolleys, in reverse order for loading, pushed onto a baggage conveyor, and Robert is your Mother’s brother. No vastly expensive ACHE. The containers were of a weight easily handled by one person. I was told the cost saving per one aeroplane, but that has gone with the wind, suffice to say it was enormous. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I believe they used the same system on DC8s and other larger aeroplanes.
The reason for visiting Wilmington.
As you probably know the Boeing 777 had two engine manufacturers options for the aeroplane. (N.B. aeroplane, not airplane) Rolls Royce and General Electric (GE). The Rolls engine was/is slightly smaller than the GE engine, the GE90. At the time, the only aeroplane capable of carrying the GE90 was the Antonov 124. Clearance from top of the engine to the roof of the 124 was about an inch/2.5cm.
At one stage, GE had problems with the manufacture of the GE90, (Cost of US$20,000,000 per unit), which were normally transported across the country to Seattle by rail. So Boeing ended up with 777 airframes sans donks. When GE90 production re-started, of course Boeing needed the engines ASAP, so they contracted to fly them Wilmington – Seattle.
I did 5 consecutive trips with anything between 2 and 5, max, engines. Refuelling at Seattle was through a 4 inch/10cm pipe and could take up anything up to six or seven hours. To save time, we uplifted round trip fuel Wilmington – Boeing Field – Wilmington. Lotta motion lotion, which of course had to be paid for. By American Express. Lotta Amex points, which we were allowed to keep. One round trip with engines, gave enough points for one return flight UK - US – UK.
Ah heady days.
Thanks for all your hard work and keep smilin’.
Based out of 436 Transport Squadron in Trenton, Ontario, Master Corporal David Deremo is a traffic technician and the loadmaster on a CC-130J Hercules. He recently finished a deployment on Operation IMPACT, the Canadian Armed Forces’ contribution to Canada’s whole-of-government strategy to enhance stability in the Middle East. As a traffic tech, MCpl Deremo facilitates the vital movement of troops and equipment to where they are needed in direct support of maintaining the operation.
MCpl Deremo and his crew are crucial to sustain the operation, and their responsibilities are crucial. First, they prepare the CC-130J Hercules itself. Next, they ensure that the flight manifests are accurate and officially documented. Then they inspect the freight and load it onto the aircraft. This process is decisive because the load needs to be accurately weighed and balanced for safe flying. At the arrival destination, the crew then liaise with local airfield personnel, offload the equipment and restart the process.
When asked what he likes most about the job, MCpl Deremo says that “his days are never the same”. He describes that “when the aircraft lands and the ramp door opens up, you see for the first time what is awaiting you on the ground”. By providing continuity of supplies and personnel, and ensuring that units within the joint operations area on Op IMPACT are sustained, MCpl Deremo and his team contributed to an essential aspect of the success of the operation.
Royal Canadian Air Force
A CC-130J Hercules lands in Jordan to pick up an armoured SUV to transfer it to Canada
Captain Paul Sparkes and Capt Patrick Mortimer park a CC-130J Hercules in Jordan to pick up an armoured SUV and bring it back to Kuwait in transit to Borden, Ontario
Aviator Danny Vandal ensures an armoured SUV is loaded on a CC-130J Hercules safely for a return trip back from Jordan to Kuwait
Corporal Melanie Fournier and Aviator Danny Vandal secure an armoured SUV in Jordan on to a CC-130J Hercules for its return to Canada
Master Corporal David Deremo, a loadmaster for Operation IMPACT ensures an armoured SUV located in Jordan is safely secured on a return flight back to Kuwait
Sergeant Christopher Dover, Aviator Danny Vandal, Master Corporal David Deremo, Corporal Melanie Fournier and Corporal Steven Hope, in Jordan on the back of a CC-130J Hercules after securing an armoured SUV for a flight to Kuwait
Captain Paul Sparkes flies a CC-130J Hercules from Jordan to Kuwait after picking up an armoured SUV to bring it back to Borden, Ontario
From: Bob Dixon, Royal Wootton Bassett, Wilts Subject: Battle of Britain Signatures
As this is the Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and as several friends have shared images and memories on social media, this is mine:
This Hurricane print was signed on the 40th Anniversary by about 120 pilots plus their special guest at their annual dinner.
Almost all the survivors of The Few are there from Crowley Milling to Bader to Townsend to Gleave to Stanford Tuck to Doe and Maxwell. So many special people. To keep the 40 year old signatures fresh, I keep it unmounted in a tube. So, every opening is a new adventure. Hope you can zoom in and find how many of these men you can recognise and also find the Special Guest!
Help from above for shattered Beirut
The ADF delivered crucial emergency stores to Beirut, Lebanon, after a devastating explosion caused thousands of casualties and significant structural damage across the city on August 4.
A RAAF C-130J Hercules and crew delivered the Australian aid stores, including pallets of emergency shelter tool kits, tarps, tents, fleece blankets and jerry cans on August 14, upon request from DFAT.
Australia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Rebekah Grindlay said Australia’s help was greatly appreciated. “An estimated 300,000 people lost their homes in the blast, including 80,000 children. This shelter today will give them somewhere to live,” Ms Grindlay said as the supplies arrived. “Thank you to the Australian community who have expressed their horror and love for Lebanon during this time. Also, to both the ADF personnel and DFAT; including my own staff, many of whom lost their own homes in the blast and several of whom are wounded. There are 200,000 or more people in Australia with links to Lebanon. We have stood by you for generations and we will stand by you through this.”
Mission Co-Pilot, FLGOFF DC, said it was rewarding being able to help. “On approach into Beirut, it was obvious to the crew looking out the window the immediate blast area was pretty devastated, including the surrounds up to 4-5km away,” FLGOFF DC said. Given the number of people who were displaced by the blast, the priority was getting blankets and a mixture of logistical supplies and construction supplies into the country, so they can start to rebuild. We were very glad for the opportunity to deliver the aid, for us that is a very fulfilling mission.”
A small team of ADF personnel were deployed to Beirut on August 5 to help the Australian embassy with communications and medical support.
Air Force News
Video - RAF Cosford marks 80th Anniversary of Battle of Britain with a fly-past
A small ceremony to mark the 80th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day was led by RAF Cosford’s Stn Cdr, Gp Capt Gareth Bryant earlier today, 18th September.
A flypast was conducted by Spitfire Mk.IIa P7350 of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (Official).
We Will never forget the sacrifice made 80 years ago to secure our freedom today.
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife Subject: Lockdown Special V - Cancelled Vacation
You’re doing a fine job editing this much-loved monthly Association publication, many thanks!
Like lots of others, I’m a ‘country collector’, with a current tally of 70. So when Sue suggested in November last year that Tbilisi sounded like a great place for a holiday, I was delighted because I’ve been to a few Caspian Region countries, but Georgia would be No 71. All was planned and booked for May, thankfully as a package holiday, which I rarely do. Money was paid and eventually returned. Maybe in 2021? I do hope so! Sad to say no replacement staycation took place.
My bucket list, for what it’s worth is as follows: Canada (I know!), Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, all of Central & South America, Iceland, the Balkan States and Greece.
From: Chas Clark, Sprucedale, ON Subject: Lockdown - My Most Expensive Game of Golf
We usually take our 5th wheel RV down to Gulf Shores State Park in Alabama in November and then home for winter so I can snowmobile. However, in December last year I had some health issues (all cleared up now) which prevented our trip and I could not get clearance from the insurance company until March this year. I have also had to give up snowmobiling and my involvement in the sport so I was free to travel. We avoid Gulf Shores in March due to the millions of students that descend there to party, and, after a good search on the Internet, we found a lovely site with a 9 hole golf course with a small RV site with full hookup (water, electricity and sewer). This was in Georgia just near the border with Florida so pretty far south.
We took off on March 3 and it took us 5 days to get there with 4 night stops and the dreaded Atlanta ring road which I knew from my frequent trips there when I was on the C130J team as the MOD Supply leader. We arrived and it was heaven. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the 80s and, better still, the first tee was only 20 yards from my RV site. They charged $20 per round and $10 for a cart but, because we were on site, we got the cart and golf for $10 each. My expectation was that the 9 holes would be pretty rough but it turned out that the course would not have disgraced an upmarket 18 hole golf club.
Next morning, we teed off and had a up and down game of golf as normal but it was bliss until we arrived back at our RV and listened to the news from Canada. All Canadians were urged to return to Canada as Trudeau and Trump were taking about closing the border. Jan and I had a long discussion and agreed that we would pack up the next day and then start our homeward journey after that. The RV park owner was really understanding and refunded our money for the 3 weeks we had booked. After 3 night stops and 3 days long hours driving we arrived at the border. It was eerie as we were the only vehicle there. After a cursory question be the border guard and advice that we should self quarantine, we arrived home.
Having totaled up the cost of gas and the stays at RV parks, I could only conclude that the one game of golf costing $20 for Jan and me was the most expensive game of golf I have ever played.
British Army Bell 212 Helicopter Heads To Brunei
Moving a Bell 212 helicopter to Brunei by Royal Air Force Boeing C17 requires a lot of planning. Key to this is making sure the helicopter, when it is loaded onto the giant aircraft, is securely tied down for the mammoth journey. Engineers and Logisticians at the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit based at RAF Brize Norton are tasked with this important job. Using the exact replica ‘mock up’ of the C17 in their hangar; the team first work out a tie down scheme for the safe transport of the 212 before it is loaded onto the real thing.
From the moment it arrived, a dedicated team of military and civil service personnel swarmed over the helicopter; manufacturing loading beams, calculating restraint requirements and generally ensuring the valuable cargo would arrive in Brunei and be ready to fly with no issues.
A team of military and commercial contractors will travel to Brunei to offload and assemble the helicopter where it will be used by the Army Air Corps at the British Army’s training base.
The primary role of Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) is to conduct operational trials and evaluation to develop the delivery by air of personnel, machines and materiel on behalf of sponsors. In addition it provides advice/recommendations to MOD sponsors, other government departments, civilian industry and foreign governments on all air transport matters.
The Bell 212 is used by the Army Air Corps in the jungle areas of Brunei. A winch on the side of the aircraft also enables medical evacuation in otherwise difficult terrain. Consequently the Bell 212 is currently employed in predominantly jungle areas where its performance is a great advantage.
From: Ian Berry, Swindon, Wilts Subject: Joint Helicopter Support Unit (Germany)
JHSU(G) - Joint Helicopter Support Unit (Germany)
Between December 1986 and June 1989 I served on the above unit in the post of Warrant Officer Operations; I was known as the WOOPS!
We were based at RAF Gütersloh, which was a very active airfield housing 3 & 4 Squadron operating Harrier GR3s and 18 Squadron Chinook HC1s and 230 Squadron Puma HC1s. The unit strength was 54, consisting of 40 Army personnel and 14 RAF. An Army Captain as OC, a Flying Officer as 2 i/c and myself as the Adult! Our role was primarily to support the two helicopter squadrons at Gütersloh plus any other rotary aircraft that appeared. All of this was in support of all units within BAOR (British Army on the Rhine). If they wanted helicopter training or involvement in their exercises I would assist them in producing a training scenario. Especially with Chinook involvement this had to be varied, challenging and rewarding otherwise the crews quickly lose interest! Although I am not a cabbage and prefer ‘blues’ to ‘camouflage’.
I really enjoyed the work as my hobby has always been AFVs (Armoured Fighting Vehicles) and weapons and equipment. My unit was also responsible for training HH (Helicopter Handlers) from all BAOR units in the art of selecting an HLS (Helicopter Landing Site). Being soldiers, they are sometimes mentally challenged and so their aide memoirs gave some good tips in site selection. For example, if the ground could take the weight of a Land Rover it would support a Gazelle or Lynx helicopter, a 4 ton Truck equated to a Puma and a 10 ton truck equated to a Chinook.
During my tour in Germany I took part in many varied tasks and exercises and some were definitely ‘one off’ and unique. In late November 1988 a Chinook of 18 Sqn was on a routine task when he turned into a valley some 30 miles from Gütersloh and was confronted with a row of pylons and high tension wires. He immediately tried to gain height but managed to get his rotor blades above the wires but the protruding arm of the pylon impacted the starboard side of the fuselage. He immediately put down in a field and declared an emergency. The damaged side. Apart from the aircraft, no one was hurt. An engineering party from 18 Sqn was despatched to inspect the damage and see if the aircraft could be repaired and flown back to Gütersloh. The damage was so severe that it was decided that the aircraft would have to be recovered by road. However, access to it across marshy ground was quite a challenge. Eventually assistance was requested from the Royal Engineers to lay a trackway from the closest road direct to the airframe so the preparatory work could be carried out.
The damaged side of the Chinook
I was involved at this stage as they had decided the best option was to recover the airframe using another Chinook using a ‘tandem strop lift’. The sappers then proceeded to lay a Class 30 Trackway to the aircraft using a truck mounted dispenser. Class 30 trackway being laid by royal engineers. As a Chinook had never lifted another Chinook before (RAF wise) advice was sought from JATE (Joint Air Transport Establishment) at Brize Norton to confirm the procedure. We discovered that the downed helicopter was still going to be too heavy for recovery unless the engines were removed.
In the meantime we also needed to obtain the two ‘Jesus Bolts’ which were held by JATE. These bolts are actually threaded shackles which are used to crane all helicopters and they screw into the rotor head. They are known as ‘Jesus’ as that would be the exclamation if the shackle failed! I also had to return to Odiham on a training matter and so I got the task of collecting the bolts/shackles from JATE and achieved my Christmas shopping too.
Sappers laying the Class 30 Trackway
So, all was ready for 3rd December and a Chinook was tasked to achieve the lift. The ‘Jesus Bolts’ were fitted to the rotor heads and I had a team tasked to do the ‘hooking’ in the field location and another team on the pans by 18 Sqn back at Gütersloh.
In anticipation of the arrival of the recovery Chinook my team in the field had already prepared two 50ft heavy duty strops for attachment to the fore and aft underslung hooks on the Chinook. This was achieved by linking together 5 x 10ft strops to make the required length.
Once the recovery Chinook arrived on-scene the 50ft strops were attached to the fore and aft underslung hooks and the aircraft then ascended to approx 70ft off the ground. A Chinook is rated at lifting a maximum of 26,000 lbs and to achieve this the helicopter needs to carry a light fuel load and then travel a reduced radius. An empty Chinook weighs approximately 33,000 lbs and that was why the engines and internal ancillary equipment as well as the normal removal of the rotor blades had taken place to meet the lifting weight criteria. Once the strops below the Chinook were above the lifting shackles on the u/s Chinook the JHSU ‘Hookers’ attached the strops to the shackles.
Once everyone was well clear, the slow lift took place. Even though the accurate weight of the u/s Chinook was not known, the pilot lifting the underslung load can deduce if the load will lift by watching the torque as well as the ‘hands on’ feeling.
As it was, the lift was achieved without incident and some 20 minutes later the aircraft was delivered back to 18 Sqn at Gütersloh. Eventually the helicopter was repaired and made airworthy again. For me, I was just glad I didn’t hear the word “Jesus!”
Arriving back at Gütersloh
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife Subject: Merging the 3 Services
I wonder if any of you have been involved in implementing a major change strategy? Like when a company acquires another business and tens of thousands of people are affected? Or the Board decides that a strategic change will take place, involving functional changes, location rationalisation, product refocus etc., will happen, again affecting tens of thousands of folk?
Planning to make major organisational changes at strategic level, is always complex, involves hard decisions, and most of these involve winning the hearts and minds of the people affected. This is the sort of work I was doing until I retired 2 years ago.
Today I am involved in voluntary work, much of which is in the Church of Scotland (350,000 members) and find myself again involved in major change, as we seek to respond to the needs of today’s world in Faith terms.
What could possibly be the connection here? The answer is in the Daily Express article where the esteemed Canadian Major General explains why the Canadian merger failed. Failure to achieve cultural change was at the heart of the problem. There’s a well-known often-quoted phrase in change circles. It’s ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’, and it is attributed (wrongly) to Peter Drucker. Nevertheless, it is so very true, and the reason why so many change initiatives fail to achieve their purpose in whole or in part.
How are our 3 services likely to respond to a proposal like this? The politicians will leap upon anything that apparently saves money, centralises power and gives unelected advisors the opportunity to give life to their current unicorn.
A cultural change initiative would be the last thing on their minds. The idea may not be so crazy, but the likelihood of addressing culture properly makes it a bad one.
From: Paul English, Sparcells, Swindon, Wilts Subject: Lockdown Special V - Forces to Merge?
I had already read the Express article regarding a unified force. We have had purple/jointery in the services for years. If it ain't broke, don't try and fix it.
I understand there are budgets to consider etc., however, I personally took part in the Strategic Defence Review (SDR) in Akrotiri. I challenged the team on the actual team makeup on procurement. There were neither SNCO's nor JNCO's included, but Squadron Leaders/Majors/Lieutenant Commanders and civillians of Equivalent Military Rank (EMR); all of which not one had hands-on experience of the kit we needed.
There have been highly paid civil servants who 'waste' defence money on expenses and buy rubbish because they are 'lining' their back pockets. For those that remember it, the Trepel Main Base Transfer Loader (MBTL - designed for TriStar operations) was a classic case of wasted money. Also, the E3D Sentry surveillance aircraft was another waste because of a rubbish contract.
From: Michael Hunter, Portland, ON Subject: Lockdown Special V - Forces to Merge?
As a Canadian soldier serving from the 60s to the 90s I went through the whole process. If the combat roles were kept unique and office type trades were unified it would work sort of.
However, with a continued lack of manpower it is unfeasible in this day and age. Factor in physical requirements for different parts of the same trade career management becomes extremely difficult to manage fairly. I managed and would do it again.
Click on above image to read article
From: Mick Hughes, Ipswich, QLD Subject: Lockdown Special V – Merging the Forces
Dangerous stupid idea, unless well thought out – don’t think Pollies are capable. And Marines don’t have a ‘Navy’
From: Stephen Tomlinson, Tenerife, QLD Subject: UK Forces Amalgamation
UK Forces Amalgamation
Firstly, I beg the forgiveness of all those who see this missive as the venting of an old man, albeit only recently qualified. Having officially joined the privileged ranks of the OAP fraternity, I am going to spoil myself and really enjoy the experience of whingeing without having to care, old age and medication are a wonderful combination!
I believe it is inevitable that the UK forces will merge, we are half-way there already! The final tragedy will not happen because of the efficiencies that it will purport to bring but because of the nature of the British politician! There has never been a time, in (relative) peace when a politician has not been driven to call for a saving on the Defence budget. “Peace-dividend” or greater efficiencies are usually the cry of these Whitehall warriors. Let’s start with a couple of definitions of the word Politician; “a member of a government or law-making organization” (Cambridge); “a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder of elected office” (Oxford English); how about a more modern interpretation; “a person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement within an organization” (Oxford English, US interpretation – Interesting eh?!).
Politicians tend to have a myopic, blinkered, view of the World, look around guys, the World is not that peaceful and it certainly needs the “good guys” to stand-up, more often than not these days. Don’t forget that it is the Political elite who commit the armed forces to these idyllic sojourns in foreign climes and take zero responsibility for their actions when things go awry. Power phrases such as, Strategic Goals, Economies of Scale, Unified Approach, Culture of Change, Smaller Agile Forces, Greater Efficiencies, Smart Procurement all mean only one thing “Less Money, Less People” usually associated with an increase in tasking. The creation of a single service is more an outcome from a continuing bad support from Government, rather than the fruit of a well-planned or well-led amalgamation to enhance capability.
If nothing else, we should heed the Canadian experience. Personal experience of such came early in my service life when on the Nimrod force in the 70’s. An old mate who had been a RCAF “engine-basher” on the CP-107 Argus, at CFB Greenwood, for over 15 years, wrote to me to say he had just been posted to a “Ship”, 150 km away, in Halifax, he’d had enough of the bullsh-1-t and was “pulling the pin”! The “purple-push” might work for the UK politician but, in my mind, would be a total disaster for Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and the Nation they serve. Each arm of HM Armed Forces is a highly specialized, technologically sophisticated, professional outfit, each having their own intrinsic and unique specializations. One can always argue that there are areas of crossover, logistics & supply being the one that is often touted for “Purpling” (DLO + DPA = DE&S), but there are subtle differences in the different systems that I suspect the DE&S have only now discovered to their dismay.
To make my point, I recently stumbled across “The Nimrod Review”, a report written by Charles Haddon-Cave, QC, and submitted to the Secretary of State for Defence (Bob Ainsworth) in October 2009. This report covered the broader issues surrounding the loss of Nimrod MR2 XV230 in Afghanistan in 2006. Having a personal interest in Nimrod, and having worked on XV230 as an MR1 aircraft, I did read the whole report, it is very, very, long! However, there are jewels of wisdom strewn everywhere within, and the “plot”, for the lack of another word, was worthy of “Yes, Minister” for those of you who remember the almost lifelike political plot lines, beloved of Maggie T.
"The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) principle set in train a huge process of stock reduction. The SDR set a target of 20% or £2.2 Billion reduction in the book value of inventory over the next 3 years. In order to implement this directive, the DLO set an overall 5% target for ‘stock reductions’ in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003 and “more stretching targets” in some individual areas, including the Air Domain, which had a target of 10% stock reduction in 2001-2002. This involved the disposal of stock deemed to be ‘surplus’. It is not clear whether sufficient thought was given, however, to the implications of some of the stock disposals, in particular getting rid of items which, whilst not in demand at the time, would be required further downstream. Analysis by the RAF’s Logistics Analysis & Research Organization indicated that while some 50% of stock items might be ‘inactive’ at any one time (due to a lag in the manufacturing/purchasing process), somewhat less than 10% of stock items were inactive in the long term. It appears, however, that a somewhat draconian approach to disposals may have resulted in valuable and necessary spares held in stores being thrown away, only to have been subsequently re-purchased at a later date."
I experienced a similar situation whilst OC TSF at Wittering in the 80’s when the “computer” was directing us to “throw away” low value Harrier GR5 stock, inactive on the shelf for over 12 months. The reason such spares were inactive was that the (new) aircraft type had not yet arrived at Wittering! However, the situation was picked-up almost immediately through routine procedures (the good old daily physical stocktakes) and was instantly rectified!
To cut a long story short, I see the distinct formations of Navy, Army and Air Force as a strength, not a weakness. Each has its own ethos, specializations and although there is a strong rivalry between services (it will always be there), I see that as yet another strength, not weakness, proven time after time when they are required to operate together, they always do so with the utmost professionalism.
One last quote from the Nimrod Review which seems quite apt, this time attributed to Gaius Petronius Arbiter, a Roman courtier and author during the reign of Nero, in the first century AD;
“We trained hard, but it seemed that every time we were beginning to form up into teams, we would be reorganized. I was to learn later in life that we tend to meet any new situation by r eorganizing; and a wonderful method it can be for creating the illusion of progress while producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralization.”
Things never change, even when they do change! Keep safe, keep well and keep smiling!
I would highly commend you read Chapter 13, titled Cuts, Change, Dilution and Distraction (1998-2006), which charts the demise of, among many things, the RAF Flight Safety Inspectorate as well as the “Pick a Number, any number, 20% (Cuts) then Steam Ahead, Regardless” attitude of the then Chief of Defence Logistics (CDL) (Army) to be replaced by the new CDL (RAF) whose appointment and eventual acceptance of the post was almost comical. Coming back to the Logistics example, and I quote directly from the Report (Chapter 13:58):
Canada receives its first new fixed wing search and rescue CC-295 aircraft
Today, September 25, 2020, Comox, B.C., the RCAF marked the arrival of the first aircraft of its future fixed-wing search and rescue fleet. The new fleet will be called Kingfisher. Within the First Nations of the Northwest, the kingfisher has long been recognized for its speed and agility, as well as its keen searching and hunting skills. Found all across Canada, the kingfisher well represents the abilities of our own search and rescue crews to accomplish their lifesaving role.
Specifically designed to perform search and rescue missions across Canada, the aircraft is equipped with integrated sensors that will allow crews to locate persons or objects from more than 40 kilometers away, even in low-light conditions. Its communications systems will increase interoperability with other search and rescue assets, such as the CH-149 Cormorant. The fleet of 16 aircraft will be replacing the CC-115 Buffalo and CC-130H Hercules fleets in their search and rescue role at four locations across Canada, and represents a value of $2.4 billion.
The aircraft received earlier this month will remain at 19 Wing Comox while the RCAF completes aircrew training, followed by operational testing. During the transition period and while the CC-295 Kingfisher is being operationalized, fixed-wing search and rescue services will continue through existing fleets, along with the CH-149 Cormorant and CH-146 Griffon helicopters.
The delivery of this aircraft marks an exciting new chapter in Canada’s long and proud search and rescue history, and this project has created hundreds of new jobs for Canadians. The CC-295 contractor, Airbus Defence and Space, continues to make investments into the Canadian aerospace and defence industry through the Industrial and Technological Benefits Policy. Strategic work packages directly related to the aircraft are providing Canadian companies the opportunity to participate in global supply chains and creating high-value jobs.
Canadian Armed Forces
Fort Paull auction: Museum sale raises 'six-figure sum'
A military museum's entire collection - including RAF aircraft, deactivated weapons and a royal waxwork - has been sold at auction. Fort Paull, a gun battery and fort on the north bank of the Humber Estuary, was a museum before closing in January this year. Auctioneers would not disclose the total sum raised by the 1,048 lots, but said it was a "six-figure amount".
The last surviving Blackburn Beverley Transporter Aircraft earned the biggest sum, selling for £21,000. The Blackburn Beverley, which was one of 49 built in the 1950s in Brough, near Hull, was bought by a local buyer who has access to a private airfield. When it entered service, it was the largest aircraft in the RAF and could carry more than 100 troops and a range of military vehicles.
Military Police Arrest RAF Voyager Captain for 'Drink-Flying'
The captain of an RAF Voyager was arrested on suspicion of drink-flying moments before his jet was due to take off. Military police stopped the refuelling tanker as it was taxiing down the runway at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. The pilot and one crew member were arrested after allegedly failing a breathalyser test and taken to a military detention centre.
An insider said it came after station commanders became aware of a ‘riotous’ party at the base the night before in which fire extinguishers were set off as a prank. The source said: "An officer, who was rudely awoken by the party, decided to get his revenge on the Voyager crew by tipping off top brass at the air base."
They had really infuriated people the night before with their behaviour so somebody was always going to get their own back. "When people found out the drunken crew were due to fly the next day they had to brief the chain of command because at that stage there was a serious safety issue."
Voyagers – known as the petrol stations of the skies – support sorties by RAF Lightning and Typhoon strike aircraft used for precision bombing of Islamic State strongholds in Iraq.
A spokesman said last night: "We are aware of an incident at RAF Akrotiri and it would be inappropriate to comment while an investigation is ongoing."
In-Cyprus (via Tim Pyne)
RCAF jet was broadcasting British identifier code during flights
Since 2018 a Canadian Armed Forces passenger jet has repeatedly broadcast a transponder identification code that could mislead flight trackers into thinking it was a British aircraft.
All aircraft use transponder codes to identify them in flight, both to each other and to air traffic control. The International Civil Aviation Organization or ICAO assigns ranges of code numbers to each country.
Flight data records indicate that during at least 80 flights since 2018, the identifier for one particular CC-144 Challenger jet with the Royal Canadian Air Force has switched, while flying, to a numerical range reserved for aircraft originating in Britain. The Challengers are used to transport government official and foreign dignitaries and support military operations.
Steffan Watkins, an Ottawa-based research consultant who tracks aircraft and ships worldwide and noticed this transponder behaviour, likened it to “changing licence plates midtrip.” Following an investigation, the military acknowledged something was amiss. But it said this was because of an electrical glitch rather than deliberate obfuscation, and it blamed faulty connections on one of the two transponders on this Challenger aircraft...
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY Subject: Black Boxes
I'm wondering if the jet was on an exercise with the Brits and had to "Borrow" a black box?
I'm reminded that, once upon a time when the earth was green, we were returning to Canada from a NATO exercise in Europe and had to stop in The Azores for fuel. We had an airplane full of spares and a crew of servicing types on board.
After refuelling and a quick lunch we went to Ops to file, only to find an Australian crew that was stranded because one of their must-have Black Boxes wasn't working and it would take a few days to have one delivered. No worries.
Our aircraft commander talked to the servicing crew boss and determined we had such a black box among our spares that we could trade. It was dug out and the exchange and installation was quickly made by our guys. All was well and we all departed happily. We were very, very happy as the Aussies gave us a case of duty-free booze to demonstrate their gratitude.
All was well until both us and our up-side-down friends returned all the spares to supply when, lo and behold, the serial numbers on both the black boxes did not match the ones taken out of our respected supply systems. "What happened here?" was the question of the hour.
Explanations and memos flew back and forth between countries and supply sections and in a few short months the situ was sorted. Warnings against doing such a thing again were issued.
But, with a wink and a nod it was tacitly agreed that it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.
Kepler Aerospace aims to get former RAF VC10 flying again
VC10 ZA150 taxi run (Image: Brooklands Museum)
Kepler Aerospace has purchased former RAF VC-10, ZA150, from the Brooklands Museum Trust with a view to returning it to flight as refuelling aicraft. ZA150 has been kept in a taxiable condition at Dunsfold Aerodrome by the Brooklands Trust but the decision was taken some time ago to dispose of the airframe and there was a danger that the aircraft would end up being scrapped.
Ownership of aircraft has now been transferred to GJD Services Ltd which acquired the airframe and two simulators on behalf of Keplar Aerospace and will carry out the work required to get the aircraft flight ready.
GJD is no stranger to former RAF aircraft having been involved with a deal to transfer former RAF Tristars to the US (although the deal ultimately fell through).
Midland, Texas-based Keplar Aerospace upgrades and re-engineers proven advanced aviation technologies in order to create highly efficient and economically viable satellite delivery systems.
Sources close to the deal say that two further VC10’s, ZD241 and ZD147, stored at Bruntingthorpe, are also to be acquired by Keplar Aerospace.
UK Aviation News
Video - A message from RAF Brize Norton Station Commander Group Captain Emily Flynn
Schuhe* *To the best of my recollection, with some names changed to protect the guilty
Typically, we would depart Trenton, with a crew of 10, at about 2000 hrs and arrive in the morning of the next day. Upon deplaning, we would strike the package store a glancing blow and then repair to the hotel where we would carry out a lengthy de-briefing over the contents of the goodies from the aforementioned store. Early (or later) in the afternoon saw us hitting the rack with promises all ‘round to meet in the gausthause around the corner from the hotel for a few pints before dinner. The crew usually dined together and then split up at about 2100 to find personal fulfillment, some by going back to the hotel, others for a baser form of outlet (all the while keeping in mind that pickup was at 1100 for a 1400 departure). Some of the 2100hr decisions led to many merry tales, some worth repeating, and others best forgotten! This particular tale is a repeatable one.
Our hotel, the Duisbereger Hof, was a classic old-world edifice built, I believe, before Unpleasantries I & II. Inside it was dark and mausoleum-like, with a huge lobby, marble floors with echo-muting carpets and hallways walls hung with dark oil paintings of bygone Bhurgers staring down at us, wars lost and won, bloody hunting scenes and various disturbing depictures of the German angst. In fact, the Duisbereger Hof was the epitome of German efficiency and formality, heavy on the latter. It had four stories, with our squadron having the fourth to ourselves. It also embraced an old-world custom of leaving one’s shoes (schuhe, the subject at hand) on a paper mat outside one’s door at night. This is where our story starts.
It seems that having made a mistake in judgment at 2100hrs (that is, failing to return to the Duisbereger Hof with much of the rest of the crew), our errant Loadmaster carried on by himself until the wee hours, spreading good-will and bonhomie in a series of bars around town.
Upon returning to the Duisbereger Hof and approaching the elevator on the ground floor he noticed, sitting at attention, two rows of schuhe, one row on each side of the hallway.
His imagination took over...
During my tenure as a loadmaster at 437 (T) Squadron, RCAF Station, Trenton, Ontario, one of our scheduled flights was from Trenton to Düsseldorf, Germany, in support of the NATO Army on the Rhine.
From: Tony Street, Buffalo, NY Subject: Schuhe
No one is quite sure what happened next. But it is said that the night porter, clad in the traditional long, black leather apron was making his very early morning rounds and, turning a corner, was met by our oncoming Loadmaster, head down, and back bent under a load of schuhe wrapped in a sheet! This load, slung over his shoulder, a la Santa, was accompanied by a hummed French-Canadian folk song. He was coming down the stairs from the second floor to ground level. A quick inspection by the porter revealed that there no schuhe at all on the ground floor. This led him to another disturbing conclusion…the ground floor schuhe were either on the second floor or the third floor! Another quick check revealed both these floors appeared to have their full complements of schuhe, but were they the correct ones? The porter questioned the loadie at length, but to no avail. The Loadie, whose first language was French-Canadian, spoke no German, and at that stage, not much English.
An hour or two later, the early risers found themselves shoeless and sock-footed. Upon calling the desk to inquire about their schuhe, they were asked politely (and, with a touch of embarrassment) to come to the lobby to identify their footwear. This they did. Their schuhe were found among many others, lined up in three ranks, as if on parade. There was great agitation behind the reception desk where the night porter, now on overtime, had been kept on as he had all the “corporate knowledge,” so to speak, of the situation. Dark looks abounded.
As the morning wore on, the milling crowd in the lobby increased in size and agitation. As things peaked, the first members of the departing crew began to trickle into the lobby for an 1100hrs pickup- fully shod (since no schuhe event had occurred on the 4th floor), thereby adding insult to injury. They were very amused at the goings on, demonstrating their enjoyment by laughing and pointing. They changed their tune pretty quickly, however, when the Aircraft Commander appeared. The A/C was immediately collared by the hotel manager, who brought him up to date on the latest tribulation visited upon the Duisbereger Hof by one of ours. As you probably discerned, the now fully conscious, terrified and somewhat repentant Loadie appeared and was set upon by all…some in anger, others in admiration. The best was yet to come. At precisely (What else?) 1100hrs, the bus with the incoming crew, arrived. This crew was commanded by the squadron C/O (a Wing Commander who was noted for his singular lack of humour) I was the Loadie. The bus was met by the Day Manager attired in his morning tux, sweating profusely with waving clipboard in hand. He barred the just-opened bus door and announced, “No more Canadians shall stay in my hotel!”
The WingCo, keenly sensing something amiss, told everyone to remain on board the bus. Taking the agitated manager by the elbow, the Wingco steered him towards the lobby where he found the milling unshod, a sheepish looking crew and the guilty Loadie sitting by himself, in self-imposed purgatory. “What now?” The Wingco sighed aloud, and was immediately enlightened. To the CO’s credit, he mollified the hotel Manager and, it seemed, had the situation in hand. The manager recanted his “no-more-Canadian” edict. It was just then that the last schuhe-less riser appeared on the scene. Unfortunately, the new arrival was in the personage of the Vice-President of the hotel chain, at Duisbereger Hof on an inspection tour. His schuhe were unaccounted for.
The out-going crew was sent off to the airfield with great dispatch, heads down, along with warnings of what dire stuff, and in what quantity, to expect down the pike. Our in-coming crew was told to sit in the lobby, until the CO returned from a shopping trip, where he had to buy the Vice President new schuhe. When he got back, we learned that the Vice President had reversed the Day Manager’s reversal of his original edict and we found ourselves in three cabs looking for room at an inn. Any inn.
The Misadventures of Jarvo
Enugu, Nigeria, Sunday 3rd Sept 2006
Tel and I finally set off from Addis on a cold wet Tuesday morning fully prepared mentally and almost physically for the first nightmare journey of many. However, to our surprise, the passage through the myriad of airport security checks was blissfully simple, you can actually smoke in the terminal and you can get a rather nice cup of tea, always important for an Englishman. The aircraft was apparently jammed full and we appeared to have got the last two seats despite having checked in a good three hours early.
Tel was feeling a tad rough after our leaving party at a Korean restaurant and he made frequent journeys to the men’s room grimacing and clutching his stomach. I liked the Korean food; it was like a spicy Chinese meal, although the restaurant itself smelt horrendously of wet dog which worried me a little… was that really beef I ate? I had not had a stomach problem so far; touch wood and I was even courageously drinking the tap water much to Tel’s disgust. I figured he would soon come over to the dark side with me!
The crowd of three hundred or so passengers at the departure gate was an ethnic profiling nightmare. Tel and I were the only white faces which proved immensely useful as it allowed Lt Col Azinta to spot us quite easily in the crowd. We exchanged greetings and seat numbers with him only to be gutted to find out that he was in first class, thanks a bundle NATO. When boarding actually started it was complete pandemonium, everyone was trying to get on first. We decided to hang back until most of them had vanished inside and eventually managed to get ourselves on board.
It was literally heaving full on the aircraft, no one had taken their seat and it smelled horrendously bad. I went straight to my seat, tucked my elbows in and waited for things to calm down but every time someone attempted to wedge another goat in the overhead locker above me, I nearly passed out with the waft of underarm decay. Tel was over on the other side of the aircraft and appeared outwardly calm as he always did, being a friendly sort of chap from Peach Bottom, Pennsylvania or somewhere like that. The way he described his home town I was surprised that there weren’t more horrific road accidents. It seemed you have to wave at everybody, sounded almost like an episode of The Waltons or a kid’s fairy tale.
Twenty minutes into the flight and a burly serious looking gent in a crumpled suit and one of the stewardesses approached me and politely asked me if I would like to accompany them. I must admit I was a little worried. Was it possible that I appeared to be a terrorist and had maybe frightened the other passengers? I extricated myself from my seat prepared for the worst and followed them nervously to the front of the aircraft where to my surprise I found I was being upgraded to first class, what a result. Ensconced in a large comfy seat and with legs stretched out in front of me I enjoyed a very edible sautéed beef and a cheeky little Chateau Neuf Du Pape and grabbed everything free I could get my sweaty little hands on.
Episode 2: Jarvo gets ethnically profiled
I revelled in the fresh air and the vast acres up front for a while, before bumbling back to cattle class to make sure Terry had noticed. He had indeed but I couldn’t quite make out what he was mouthing at me over the excitable chattering going on around us, he was obviously delighted at my good fortune. He also appeared to have a broken seat back on his chair which caused him to collapse comically backwards into the poor lady behind him on a regular basis. Chuckling almost uncontrollably to myself, I made my way back to the sanctuary of first class deftly hurdling the chickens foraging in the aisles.
I was completely fat dumb and happy in First Class and it was only later that evening after the trauma had passed a little that Terry mentioned his discomfort during the in-flight movie. Richard E Grants film Wah Wah, detailing his childhood in Swaziland was not a good choice with its often-disturbing images of the indigenous population being beaten and generally poorly treated by the oppressive colonial white bastards. Terry felt that ‘Roots’ would have been better. He also maintained that in cattle class you had to catch, kill and cook your own food. That explained the chickens at least.
Lagos was like Naples on amphetamines. In the unexplained absence of his planned family pick-up, Lt Col Azinta was forced to secure alternative transport with some effort and a lot of threats and we emerged blinking into the terrifying Lagos traffic to attempt to find somewhere to stay for the night in a vehicle largely held together with sticky tape. Because of the delays and a tiny bit of laziness (my fault), we had stupidly failed to make a reservation at the Lagos Sheraton Hotel who not so politely turned us away (thankfully as it turns out... my God that place is expensive, nice but... ). So, we were wedged back into the death taxi for another hell ride to another hotel, The Continental. On arrival, The Continental hotel, although blessed with something of a majestic name looked a little rough but turned out to be rather cosy with lovely friendly staff and of course it was a third of the price.
Terry and I decided to start as we meant to go on and having thrown our bags in the slightly damp and gloomy basement rooms, adjourned to the bar to sample the local beer. We drank perhaps a little too freely and certainly much too quickly and then tucked into peppered goat soup followed by Ugali (maize meal), spicy fish stew, spinach and cassava leaves all eaten with the hands… messy but lovely, although a large part of it inexplicably ended up in my remaining hair. Much to my relief, Terry obviously wasn’t too picky about what he ate and was soon face down in the food and hoovered the lot. Back in the bar for a nightcap we were hassled all evening on my mobile by Lt Col Azinta and his cronies who were obviously enjoying a get together somewhere and had decided that we needed constant supervision.
We were picked up the next morning by a Nigerian Air Force Group Captain with a totally incomprehensible name who took us on a white-knuckle ride to the domestic airport. I was amazed when we paused briefly in the traffic jams at the variety of goods being hawked on the roadside and between the rows of cars. There was everything, phone cards, mirrors, fruit and vegetables, tools etc. I pondered that if the gap between cars was bigger, they could expand to major electrical goods like fridges and freezers. Is this how IKEA started on the bustling streets of Stockholm? I recalled that Nairobi was very similar; I had a regular guy who would sell me the International Express newspaper once a week on the highway through the town centre on my way to work at the airport. Sometimes he would have to pursue my car for some distance until he caught up with me at traffic lights. It was possible, if I had received a shopping demand before leaving home that morning, that I could give him a list and pick it up when I returned later and gain valuable points at home. Without fail he was there with the bag at whatever time I pitched up.
At the domestic terminal it seemed that most of the population of Lagos was waiting to carry our bags, savaging each other to grab the suitcase handles as the car boot opened. Terry and I were without local currency at this point so the Group Captain had to pay for our tickets from a huge wad of cash he pulled from his back pocket and then sat us in a corner of the departure lounge with instructions not to talk to anyone or touch anything. Still without any cash, we were unable to even afford a dodgy pie and a cuppa, we weren’t even sure what our flight number was and were immensely relieved when our host returned and dragged us out to the aircraft. Nigerian regional airlines had a poor safety record at the time and we boarded with some trepidation, especially when the other passengers and more worryingly the crew, started praying.
We landed safely in Enugu, haggled for a taxi and made for the only hotel with an internet connection, knuckles still white, mouth still dry. The Nigerian entourage were suspiciously staying at a different place but the Group Captain ensured he got all the bonuses, freebies and whatever attached to our booking as we checked-in before he left.
It was only the next morning that I realised that they hadn’t made any arrangements concerning the forthcoming troop movements. It started with Tel and I eventually being picked up from the hotel and taken to the Battalion HQ where the big cheese, the General Officer Commanding was briefing his men. Introductions were made and we joined the six hundred or so troops under a big flapping tent while Lt Col Azinta ran them through the insurance form they had to complete, as it was extremely likely they would not all be coming back from Darfur. Dumb questions were flowing like the brown liquid from the hotel taps and then I was alarmingly invited to address the troops… thanks, I like some preparation time guys.
I gave a rousing and uplifting speech, wished them all well and sat down to rapturous applause…I liked these guys. We were then saluted to death and made for the local airport where the manager was somewhat gob smacked to find that a battalion of troops would be moving through his airport starting at two o clock the next morning. Unbelievably, he agreed (well there were some guns in the room… subtle) and tasked his staff to work for the next twenty-four hours to make it all happen.
We then made our way to the local Nigerian Air Force (NAF) training school where the Air Commodore in charge supplied us with some tea and biscuits, agreed to lend us a mini bus and decided that to avoid any form of diplomatic incident; we should have an armed escort while we were in the area. The erstwhile commander of the security detail was dragged in and introduced; he didn’t get tea and biscuits. His name was Sully and he was a Flight Lieutenant of uncertain years, he probably had the same attitude problem as me. Despite being in smart NAF Blues when given the assignment, he decided to turn up the next morning with his men wearing a bare steel helmet and wellington boots; in fact, they all seemed to be attired in different outfits obviously blissfully unaware of the concept of uniform.
Perhaps they used the same procurement system that the British government did. In other words, we haven’t got any; you have to buy your own if you want it. That’s why you get military discount at Millets I suppose. As much as I would have liked to, I couldn’t have got away with the wellies, even as an RAF officer, in the army however, it would have been expected of me. I can remember in Iraq having to pool body armour and ammunition. As I had been issued with old A1 rifle, I wasn’t allowed to be seen by journalists so had to take someone else’s precious and spanking new A2 weapon if I was likely to be venturing out in public.
I was full of admiration for this man Sully, especially as he was great fun to be around. I really liked these guys. Sully had an interesting pair of scars under his eyes which he wouldn’t elaborate on beyond saying they were a tribal thing. I explained that we had a similar deal in England where male youths would get themselves tattooed with the same naff Celtic band around their arms and young girls would attempt to detract attention from their fat guts by piercing their belly buttons and pushing a pram around
The arrangements were finally in place for the troop movement early the next morning so Terry and I were at last able to explore the hotel fully. It was actually quite nice. The restaurant was decent, there was a pool so Tel was happy and it was in a fairly secluded out of town location. As there had been a few problems with inter-religion rioting and fighting in the surrounding area this meant we were a little safer. Feeling more relaxed, Terry and I decided to have a beer or two, discuss Premier League football with the Barman, grab a few hours’ kip and then we were up early and into the work.
The Nigerian troops were certainly disciplined and made perfect passengers even when the aircraft captain refused to take any of their baggage and then one of the engines failed to start. They sat on the aircraft for three hours, I won’t describe the atmosphere inside the aircraft, I’m sure you can taste it. Eventually a spare part arrived from Lagos and we were good to go seven hours late, what a great start. I figured that this would inevitably knock the whole aircraft flow plan back but no, at two o clock the next morning a somewhat bleary-eyed crew were ready to go again.
I knew from previous experience that Africans like nothing better than a discussion on world affairs and particularly Premier League football. They are alarmingly well informed, certainly more than the average American who rarely knows what is happening outside of the range of their local TV network. In fact, I can recall an American soldier in Kuwait prior to the invasion of Iraq asking me to point out on a map where he was. That could have been a major faux-pas especially as I pointed out the wrong place.
Africans can generally be seen every morning walking to work with a radio glued to their ears listening to the news or gathered around a newspaper stand catching up on events. As some form of preparation for Terry and to ensure he was never embarrassed for conversation, I had briefed him on the capabilities of the big four teams in the Premier league. Chelsea, money team, good individuals but not really playing as a team as yet, Arsenal great skills and passing ability but no stomach for a fight, Liverpool... crap and of course Manchester United, the most supported team in Africa... never say a bad word about them. He constantly f*cked it up of course but at least he had a start. Terry was also chuffed to find out that the Chelsea Captain was John Terry, so he decided to pledge his allegiance to them. This was great at Christmas when I bought him an England shirt with ‘TERRY” on the back.
The next batch of soldiers had obviously learned from the baggage fiasco the previous day and looked to me to be wearing nearly all their kit; some even appeared to have their underpants on their heads. At the aircraft steps, Lt Col Azinta and I checked all the insurance forms for a photo (hilarious), a signature and a correct allocation of their assets i.e. a breakdown adding up to 100%. This was not as easy as it sounds. I appeared to have the only torch in Nigeria, luckily a head torch, but it made me seem like an evil white Cyclops. The troops at the back of the line saw a white head shaking its evil eye and the offending soldier being kicked and slapped to the back of the line to correct his form and were understandably nervous as they approached me. This aircraft left on time thankfully.
I was fascinated by the Nigerian style of leadership, very authoritarian, two goosesteps to the right of Genghis Khan. Not sure it would inspire much loyalty though. We had a completely different method in the RAF where certainly during my time; the very senior management could only be aircrew who had virtually no experience of man management because of their previous jobs and were normally crap at it.
Staff Officers are a different breed; some are great at it, respected by all nations and all ranks. The rest of them, well what can I say. It sometimes seems like NATO is actually only run by personnel from a few select nations, what the rest of them did all day was completely beyond me but there were a lot of coffee bars at that HQ.
In the UK, when you reach the lofty rank of Major/Squadron Leader you can stay in the armed forces until the age of fifty-five. If you decide to stay you basically have two options. You can either be a career driven go-getter or be like the majority who attempt to stay in the same place for the last twenty years of their careers and keep their kids in heavily subsidised private education. These types gradually do less and less worthwhile work and die a little inside every day. Their wives are happy though. A couple of years after retiring from the RAF I went to the annual Movements Officers reunion at the RAF club in London, twenty quid for a glass of crap fizz and a canapé, what a rip-off. There were those at the reunion who were genuinely pleased to see me and those who were only pleased to see me after they had established, I was retired and no longer a threat. As I always said, “It’s hard to be seen to shine like a star when you are surrounded by gloomy clouds”.
I had worked under many bosses with distinctly different styles. Normally the ones I liked and respected, got absolutely nowhere and tended to leave the military early which tells you something. I always felt that leadership was not thinking that you knew it all and just telling people what to do but more about being able to listen and to use the skills and experience of those working for you. If you get it right they will never let you down and will present enough options for you to be able to make an informed decision. Sometimes however, they tend to forget that it is you who is ultimately responsible. I had a fantastic team of RAF and Army personnel working for me in Iraq, loyal, hardworking and understanding. I will never forget them.
I learnt the most about Air Movements and indeed, many life skills from Seniors NCO’s whilst serving on the United Kingdom Mobile Air Movements Squadron (UKMAMS) in the mid to late nineties. On most of my UKMAMS tasks, which largely consisted of flying around the world in a C130 Hercules transport aircraft at the speed of lunch, I had Charlotte (Charlie) Rance and Lee Martin with me. They were both extremely loyal and hard working and never let me down... well just once.
We were flogging ourselves to death on a deployment of troops going on exercise in Kenya, working horrendous hours loading and unloading aircraft when we suddenly gained a much-needed afternoon off. We went off to the fake Hard Rock Cafe in Nairobi where I proceeded to fall asleep in my pizza. Charlie, Lee and JR Hartley asked Ray Beastall if, as it was the last chance they would get, they could take the vehicle and have a quick trip around the Nairobi Game Park. Ray cleared it with me on the proviso that they were bright and breezy for getting back to work at three o clock the next morning. They assured Ray and I that they would.
I waited with Ray in the hotel foyer the next morning at three and there was no sign of them. I flipped out, got in a taxi as they still had the car keys, and told Ray to bloody sort them out. When they duly arrived at the airport Ray lined them up in front of me “Tell the Officer what happened” he said. What followed was a truly tragic tale. As dusk fell over the Game Park, they were making their way hurriedly to the exit when the vehicle ran out of fuel. Surrounded by African wildlife they made a collective and very wise decision to stick with the vehicle and wait for someone to come along to assist. As it got progressively darker and no help was forthcoming, they decided to push the vehicle to the exit which was some distance away. For their own safety, Charlie sat in the driver’s seat flashing the lights and sounding the horn while the other two idiots pushed. As a consequence, they were late back to the hotel and completely knackered. I left Ray to deal with the disciplinary aspect as he always did.
Charlie could be a quite blunt Yorkshire lass. I invited my team and a few others to my house to meet my wife one night where they proceeded to empty the place of any trace of alcohol. Charlie was on her best behaviour in front of my wife as we all were, until it came time to leave. While my wife and I stood at the front door saying our goodbyes and admiring the pile of SNCO’s laid in the flower beds, Charlie said “Boss I’ve been really good, I haven’t f*cking sworn all night”.
Back in Enugu and Terry and I had quickly established a routine where we returned to the hotel after seeing the aircraft off and he trained, sunbathed, read etc whilst I spent four hours trying to vainly email a one-page report to Addis. We then drank heavily for a couple of hours and then attempted to grab some sleep while the hotel staff tried to deliver laundry, clean and generally look after us having been severely threatened to do so by the military guys. I continued to build on my relationship with Karen, despite the fact that this time I could only receive text messages from her and not send any, so she thought I was ignoring her. I was finding that I needed to chat at least on MSN to her more every day and was thinking about her constantly.
On the 3rd Sept the first C130 Hercules aircraft was introduced which we hoped would clear the baggage backlog. After the loading was completed, I took a peek on board and realised that safety was indeed a dirty word, so is sphincter incidentally. Bags and freight were absolutely bloody everywhere seemingly restrained to the aircraft floor only by friction, god help them if there was an aircraft emergency. We watched with crossed fingers, clenched buttocks and ground down teeth as it thankfully lurched into the air.
When we arrived at the airport the following morning, we noticed that somehow the battalion had mistakenly turned up with one hundred and twenty-five men for a one hundred and seventeen seat aircraft. When the mistake was realised the unfortunate eight at the back of the crew were kicked and slapped back to the trucks to be called forward if required. Amongst the one hundred and seventeen ‘fortunate’ souls still in line, one poor bugger had got to the steps twice before the evil white guy, me, spotted he was trying to allocate 180% of his wealth and he got the treatment big time. Sadly it was raining heavily and we were trying unsuccessfully to work squeezed under the cover of the aircraft steps so he had to run the gauntlet of ten of his seniors before he could escape, his next attempt lowered the figure to 120% and although I tried to change the form for him he was ass kicked all the way off the pan. I hoped he would get away the next day. I sometimes wondered what drove these guys to join a military where they were treated like this, apart of course from escaping poverty, getting fed, clothed and travel, what have the Romans ever done for us etc.
I didn’t join the army straight from school; it was almost a year later. School was a miserable six years for me. I think my distress was triggered on my first day where I discovered to my horror that my Mum had sewn my blazer badge on upside down. After leaving school, I was working as a trainee accountant for East Midlands Gas in Leicester on the third floor overlooking Wyggeston Girls School.
One bright summer’s day I glanced out of the window at where some of the girls where sunbathing on the grass bank opposite, and it was just a glance, it was only later that I had to move desks to get a better view and started bringing binoculars to work. I casually asked my boss how long it would take doing day release at college, to qualify as an accountant. “Only seven years” he told me, seven f*cking years, no way, yes way. Bugger, I went for a walk into town to clear my head and passed the army recruiting offices with its enticing pictures of people enjoying themselves in exotic locations and thinking, there must be more to life than this, I went in. The rest is history; my dad thought I was a pr*ck and six months later as I attempted to extract my frozen appendage from a mess tin, so did I. I will explain more about that later. It all worked out in the end, the army taught me so much, especially being in the Royal Engineers I learned skills I still use today the best part of thirty years later. You only get one knock at life so make the most of it.
The same applied when I joined the Royal Air Force after seven years as a civilian in 1991. I had been working as an Analyst Programmer at Wiggin Teape Paper in Basingstoke after completing a two-year, day release computer studies course. I enjoyed the job and worked with some great people but the 20-mile commute to Basingstoke was really getting me down. It would get anybody down, at the time Basingstoke was a concrete jungle. I struggle with a nine to five routine at the best of times but doing it in Basingstoke was frankly not funny. I couldn’t bear the thought of doing the same thing for the best part of forty years even if I did change jobs regularly. I decided to join the RAF as an Officer. My wife was not impressed, especially by the 58% pay cut I would be taking but bless her she let me go for it. It worked out pretty well really, we got to see a few different places and I was able to change job every two years but stay in the same career.
Up to this point I had been well impressed, the Nigerian military seemed to be a well-oiled machine and they were certainly the easiest passengers I had ever had to handle. We were safe, being well looked after and things always seemed to appear on time. I found myself wishing to God that it continued to be so. We were due to leave on Friday to make our way to Rwanda via Nairobi and Lagos... what could possibly go wrong?
Next month - Episode 3 - "It's not because you're white, young Jarvo."
See photographs in the following frame à
Self and Terry with a photobombing Silverback!
Silverbacks are to be treated with respect - lots of respect!
Self, Lt Col Azinta and Terry
Lt Col Azinta, Gp Capt Unpronounceable and self
Self with the security boys - check out Sully's helmet and wellies!
Dining in a restaurant that smells of wet dog - Cheers!
Video - Exercise Ready Spartan Prove
The C-27J Spartan got a workout this month, being put through its paces on Exercise Ready Spartan Prove. Able to land on short runways, the C-27J Spartan is well known for its humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.
Royal Australian Air Force
New members who have joined us recently:
Welcome to the OBA!
Ian Howard, Manchester
Vic McIlwee, Brisbane, QLD
A beautiful picture - the Airbus A400M / Atlas C-1
Rob and Micky Davies celebrated their 50th anniversary earlier this month
Bob and Sarah Adam - lunch at The Jolly Sailor
Beverley and Stephen Bird exchanged vows 29 years ago
Pam and Chas Cormack spent their 50th on Rhodes
David & Karen Jarvis - 11 very happy years since they walked down the aisle
Ray Ralph: "It was 44 years ago this afternoon, September 4th, that this 21 year old walked this 19 year old down the aisle. Still love her to bits."
Think you're having a bad day? Someone's on the carpet for accidently setting off the fire suppression system in this helicopter hangar!
More Relevant Stuff
This newsletter is dedicated to the memories of:
Dick Goss (RAF) Tony Morris (RAF) Clare Hogan (RAF) Chas Gibson (RAF) Bob Husband (RAF) Louis Gingras (RCAF) Enid, wife of Dave King (RAF) Group Captain Ben Ball (RAF) Air Marshal Selwyn David Evans (RAAF) Barbara Poupart, widow of Gerry (RCAF)