RAF Completes Groundbreaking First Flight Using Sustainable Fuel
AirTanker plays leading role in world-first sustainable fuel flight. We, AirTanker, are proud to have played a leading role in achieving this world-first 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel flight on our Voyager A330 MRTT aircraft, working in collaboration with the UK MOD and industry partners: Airbus, Rolls-Royce and AirBP.
As an airline and aviation service provider, we are acutely aware of the impact aviation has on the environment. Therefore, we are keen to support innovation and continue to look at all opportunities in which we can make improvements to support a more sustainable future. We are committed to supporting the RAF’s mission of being NetZero by 2040, and this flight marks a significant step forward towards this important milestone.
Aircraft ZZ334 departed RAF Brize Norton on Wednesday 16 November 2022, powered completely by 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). This aircraft carried out a 90-minute flight replicating a typical Air Transport operation to demonstrate the potential operational use of sustainable fuel. This flight marks three world-first achievements; the first time 100% SAF has been used to operate a flight within the UK, the first 100% SAF flight for an Airbus A330, and the first 100% SAF flight on a military wide-bodied aircraft.
To achieve this capability, AirTanker led and coordinated a trial programme, hosting and bringing together the collaborative efforts of an expert trials team which included Airbus, Rolls-Royce and RAF test pilots and engineers from No. 206 Squadron. Our skilled team including our expert engineers carried out aircraft preparation, provided technical support throughout and conducted all pre-trial and post-trial maintenance on the aircraft.
The success of this trial is testament to the collaboration of AirTanker, the RAF, and all partners involved and we look forward to working on further sustainable opportunities in the future.
Sustainable aviation fuel is made from waste products, such as cooking oil or feedstocks and has the potential to reduce carbon emissions associated with flights by up to 80%. By reusing this energy, this can improve operational resilience through reducing the necessity for fuel resupplying.
From: Steve Harpum, Faringdon, Oxon Subject: Re: UKMAMS OBA OBB #103122
Another excellent newsletter. I read the dit about the sale of the C130J with interest - it seems like only yesterday that I was stationed at the then RAF Lyneham and we were getting all excited about the conversion from imperial to metric with the arrival of the J model.
Keep up the good work,
From: David Powell, Princes Risborough, Bucks Subject: Whitehall Remembrance Parade
Took a rain check on marching with the Vets this year so was able to watch the whole event on TV. The BBC1 did manage to include, and correctly identify, about 6 secs, couple of shots, of the RAF Movements Association's Group C20 swinging through. Looked pretty smart to me; although with the significant presence of beards, somewhat piratical. Subject beards, went to both of this year's annual RAF Loggies Dinner and the Movements Officers Reunion in London. Still can't get used to all these bearded serving officers!
To return to the Whitehall event, something I noticed was a new style of marching in some of the cadet sections: left foot forward, right arm raised to 45 degree above the horizontal (a sort of mobile phone photo in a crowd position), return arm to the vertical down, as left leg comes through, adopt the photo raised position with the left arm as right leg comes through and repeat etc. This produces a sort of frontal wind milling effect. Is this something introduced with COVID19 to avoid rearward arm action and possible contact between ranks? Looks very interesting when performed by a whole squad!
I did open the sherry for the virtual collective toast to absence friends and departed colleagues at 13.30. Not sure if this was being put out online from the Porcupine in any way but did not know which levers to pull in the laptop.
John Belcher (holding the wreath) did a wonderful job of organising the RAF Movers' Association presence at the annual Remembrance Day parade, marching down Whitehall in London - photo by Natalie Gelder
From: Richard Lloyd, Dunfermline, Fife Subject: Movers’ Reunion
You may get a different view from others, but as one of the older and bolder former movers attending the annual RAF Movements Officers' Reunion, I thought you might like a personal view. It was very well attended indeed, despite threats of rail strikes and plagues of locusts. I estimate 150-200 folk, of whom the majority were serving.
The current Head of Profession, AVM Richard Hill, addressed us, but age-related memory loss prevents me from recalling the main (and sub) themes of his talk. We remembered the loss of the great and the good; Jock Drysdale, Peter Hilton and Bob Dixon. You may wish to give these worthies marks out of 10 for greatness and goodness, but I’ll refrain from doing so.
Beer and food were excellent as was the company and I attach some pictures. Your task is to name as many of these people as you can. They were all able to name themselves, which is a blessing I’d say.
Update on RNZAF C130 Hercules Fleet
From: Barry Tappenden, Shortstown, Beds Subject: Remembrance Day
Good evening Tony,
Remembrance Day 2022 - I have covered Armistice Day and the Remembrance services here in Bedford for the past 5 years (even through the pandemic) on Hospital Radio Bedford to ensure that the patients and staff can be a part of the Remembrance Services.
Each year I have been accompanied by our Chair Person, Laura Taylor, and we have had a very successful Outside Broadcast with the Royal British Legion, broadcasting live and portraying the mood and atmosphere of the event.
Albeit I would prefer to be with my fellow veterans on parade, the response from some of the ex-servicemen in hospital and many who are unable to attend is very grativing.
From: Allan Mitchley, Rhyl, Denbighshire Subject: Remembrance Day
This was a memorable day, after having laid a wreath at the Rhyl Garden of Remembrance for the last few years, we were delighted to have the attendance of our Life President of the Rhyl and Abergele RAFA and RAF Veteran, Phil Hawkins, aged 97. This was Phil's first official outing since COVID began and he assisted in the wreath laying ceremony.
We thank all those who served to keep our country safe.
From: Keri Eynon, Thatcham, Berks Subject: Remembrance Day
In 2004, I was invited to be the chaplain for the Newbury Royal British Legion and have been conducting the Remembrance Day services in the Market Place in Newbury every year since.
I feel very privileged and humbled at being able to conduct the annual service to a large gathering of people, those on parade and the general public, who attend each year. Normally, we have around 200-300 people attending but on Remembrance Sunday 2018, the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, we had over 6,000!
As I read out various names each year and offer prayers for those we remember, not just for the 1914-18 and 1939-45 conflicts, but other conflicts, including those still happening. I give my own silent thanks that I can be part of such a public service and to continue the traditions so that we always will remember the sacrifices made. It also brings to mind thoughts of those I personally served with whilst in the RAF who sadly are no longer with us.
Best wishes to all,
Keri (Taff) Eynon
RAF A400M flies HIMARS to Romania
Britain’s RAF has flown a US HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System) from the UK to Romania by A400M during Exercise ATREUS 2022.
Romanian soldiers have been getting familiar with the US HIMARS. The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, was flown into Romania as part of an exercise to demonstrate how rapidly it can be deployed.
The UK’s Royal Air Force flew the HIMARS from the UK to Mihail Kogălniceanu International Airport in Constanța, on the south-eastern coast of Romania. The US-led exercise, called ATREUS, helped familiarise Romanian soldiers with the rocket launcher system, which gives NATO the ability to conduct powerful long-range precision strikes. ATREUS has also been taking place in Poland and Norway. In Romania, no live-firing was conducted. ATREUS ran from 7 to 11 November 2022.
From: Bryan Morgan, Abingdon, Oxon Subject: Breaking the Rules
I remember a semi-rollocking I received during my secondment back to Strike Command, which had been my previous posting, during the Falklands War. At the end of one 12-hour night shift in the War Room, I was called in by my boss, a GD Wing Commander, whose knowledge of matters logistical I could only rate as below zero and given words of displeasure on something that he thought had gone wrong that night.
After my explanation he was fairly sympathetic, but finished the meeting with the recommendation that, in future, I should adhere to the gentle words that “life was a delicate balance between high visibility and low profile”. He suggested that I should adhere to the last two words for the next 48 hours! In later years he obviously adhered to the first two words of his recommendation, retiring as an Air Chief Marshall.
I was ever grateful to be recalled to Strike Command as it got me out of SCC Hendon, my least enjoyable posting in 29 years service, for two months. Working 12-hour shifts on a four days on four days off system it also allowed me to bring my rather dilapidated house, at the time of purchase, here in Abingdon up to some sort of standard. Still in residence today!
From: Stephen Davey, Tadcaster, North Yorks Subject: Breaking the Rules
A shift traffic, Brize Norton circa 1970's, we were tasked with a particularly awkward load on a Britannia (whose destination I cannot remember). There was one particular item that required all our ingenuity to lash down securely and when completed we stood back to admire our handiwork.
The shift DAMO appeared (no name - no pack drill) and expressed his opinion that it was not secured enough to meet his expectations. We grudgingly agreed to rectify it and then waited for him to vacate the aircraft... and we did precisely nothing!
When the Loadmaster arrived prior to the aircraft's departure, we sounded him out as to the integrity of the load restraints and he was more than satisfied with it. As it turned out, the DAMO didn't actually come back on the aircraft before it's departure from Brize; job was a good one!
From: Steve Harpum, Faringdon, Oxon Subject: Re: Breaking the Rules
No specific story, but you remind me of an old adage which has stood me in good stead on a number of occasions, both during and after my service career: "It's easier to obtain forgiveness than permission".
Keep up the good work!
RCAF delivers crucial supplies to Ukrainians
Canadian soldiers have taken to the sky to deliver crucial military supplies for Ukrainians, making good on Ottawa's promises in the fight against Russia. Crystal Goomansingh is on board the plane with the Royal Canadian Air Force for the operation.
U.S. signs off on $6.35B sale of Lockheed C-130s to Australia
November 4, 2022 - The U.S. State Department this week approved a potential $6.35 billion sale of 24 C-130J-30 aircraft to the Australian government. If finalized, the deal would be a boon for Lockheed Martin's Marietta plant where the planes are built. A Lockheed spokesman confirmed to the MDJ the planes would be new orders from the plant, rather than existing stock.
The Royal Australian Air Force currently has a dozen C-130s in use, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports, doubling the size of its fleet with the purchase. Australia has used the planes since 1958.
"Defence seeks a low risk, certified in all roles, proven, mature and affordable replacement aircraft that meets Australia's air mobility needs," the Australian Department of Defence said. "...Defence has identified that the new C-130J aircraft represents the only option that meets all of Australia's capability requirements and assures Defence's medium air mobility capability without introducing substantial cost, schedule and capability risk."
The final price tag would include the planes themselves along with support services, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA). "This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security objectives of the United States. Australia is one of our most important allies in the Western Pacific," the DSCA said.
The deal remains subject to approval by the Australian government, according to media outlet Breaking Defense.
Lockheed Martin's C-130J production facility in Marietta, Georgia.
Remembering Cyclone Martin: ‘Many took that flight and never came back’
A Royal New Zealand Air Force Hercules evacuated two-thirds of Manihiki to Rarotonga after Cyclone Martin
It was a cyclone like no other, and its impact is still felt by those who lived through it. Rebecca Hosking-Ellis talks to Cook Islands News senior journalist Matthew Littlewood about her memories of Cyclone Martin and the toll it took on the Manihiki community.
Cyclone Martin ripped through Manihiki on November 1, 1997. In the days leading up to it, there was some indication that it would be a big one, but Hosking-Ellis says no one had any idea of how big it was.
The former police officer for Manihiki was one of the two dozen or so who attended the 25th anniversary memorial service at the Manihiki hostel in Rarotonga earlier this week, and her memories of Cyclone Martin have not faded in time. She spoke to Cook Islands News on Friday.
“You could see the ocean. You could see the waves coming up. I was having a phone conversation with the inspector, who told me ‘It’s okay Rebecca, the track of the cyclone looks like it’s going to miss Manihiki’. I told him ‘No, it’s going to be bad’.
“There was so much damage, a lot of people lost their homes, we lost our home,” recalls Hosking-Ellis, who was the police officer for Manihiki at the time. We had one of those old colonial houses. The walls were thick, they went down really quickly. It was awful, we had to live in a tent for nearly eight months, but thankfully the New Zealand Government assisted in building cyclone-protected shelters on the island.”
In the day after the cyclone hit, Hosking-Ellis and others dialed Australia via satellite phone. “There was a family who rang their family in Australia, and the family rang Rarotonga police headquarters. My instruction was to help with clearing the airport on Manihiki. This was on a Sunday, and in Manihiki, Sunday was a day of rest. So, I had to explain to the people on the island that we needed to clear the airport and that help was on its way. We had to fill in the holes (on the runway) that was caused by the waves, and we achieved that, and the first Air Rarotonga flight was able to arrive. There were doctors and nurses on that flight.”
In the days following, assistance from Rarotonga and New Zealand arrived. “When we had the Hercules flight arrive on the Monday, I had to put women and children on the flights to Rarotonga,” she says. “We had to concentrate on getting the work done. A lot of the search and rescue operations were done by police who arrived in Manihiki on one of the flights, there were also some locals who assisted us.”
The search and rescue phase took two to three weeks, Hosking-Ellis says. “A lot of people were stuck and couldn’t be reached. Some of them remain missing to this day,” she says.
The official death toll from Cyclone Martin on Manihiki is 19 people; at the Coroner’s Inquest in 2004, 10 missing persons were declared dead.
Hosking-Ellis says the psychological toll was significant. “We had one counselor come to Manihiki in the days after the cyclone hit. He did his very best, but he was so busy, and people were so traumatised. I felt very sorry for him,” she says. “Everyone was having to make do with very little.”
Hosking-Ellis was one of the people who helped assist with the makeshift relief centres on Manihiki in the aftermath. “It was a big challenge because we had to ration everything,” she says. “It was tough telling people that there was only so much to go around, and you had to make it last. People were tired, scared and even angry. But we had to make it last, we didn’t know when the next shipment would arrive.”
Hosking-Ellis still remembers the strain the event put on her family. Her son was seven and her daughter was three. “They were very afraid. The living conditions were dire. But as a police officer, I was prepared. We had things like clothes, and supplies. But they still remember it to this day,” she says. “My children had nightmares. It really affected them; they would hear the wind and rain and worry about it hitting them. It affected a lot of people.”
More than 380 people, nearly two-thirds of Manihiki’s population, were evacuated to Rarotonga in the days following Cyclone Martin. Nonetheless, it was a struggle putting some people on the plane, Hosking-Ellis recalls. “There were so many men who did not want to go, they wanted to stay. It wasn’t just that they wanted to help, but they didn’t know anywhere else,” she says. “For me, I felt I had to stay because I was a police officer and I knew the people.”
According to latest census results, the population of Manihiki is about 250 people, in the year before Cyclone Martin, the population was about 670. Hosking-Ellis left Manihiki in 2003. “A lot people took that flight to Rarotonga and never came back,” Hosking-Ellis says. “They were too afraid to go back. I last visited Manihiki in 2020. You can see the decline there. “Every November 1, you relive the event. That’s why I get emotional, because you can’t block it out. We’re only human. We sometimes try to act tough, but it’s still with us.” One day I’m going to write a book about it. I still think about it a lot.
Since Cyclone Martin, Cook Islands people have taken cyclone warnings “very seriously”, Hosking-Ellis says. “If there’s a positive that has come out of it, it’s that people have learned to listen and follow instructions. They don’t want to see something so traumatic again.”
From: Brian Lay, Paraparaumu Beach, Kapiti Coast Subject: A rare visitor to Wellington
A Rare Visitor to Wellington
Yeah, a very rare visitor alright, it was only the second visit by the A400M, the first being the factory demonstrator aircraft. This one was on a UK embassy freight run, 2 hours on the ground and then off to Canberra.
From: Jon Morris, Newcastle Subject: Remembering my time as a New Mover
[Originally published on Facebook]
Today, November 11th, has me thinking back to my time in the RAF and my first posting after leaving the Movements School.
Ratty, Blue Hughes and I were posted to RAF Lyneham and on arrival at 1700 we had to report in and spend the night in the Guardroom. During our stay, in walks the Duty Sgt and asked what trade we were and if we knew where we would be working. “Movers” we said, “Oh F*** no, not more of you!” was the reply. “Which shifts? (I think Ratty and Blue were “B” shift and I was “D”.)
“D shift… are you serious? Who did you p*** off to get that?” He then proceeded to let me know that D shift were the Penal Colony... the shift where they dumped everyone that no other shift wanted; all the fighters, drug dealers and general rogues… The biggest of them was their Co-Ord, a right B****** called Flt/Sgt Henry Downes. I was informed that he was a nightmare and was quick tempered and quite liable to give you a slap for anything. When I told the Duty Sgt I had to report at 1800 the following night for my first shift, he couldn’t stop laughing, "D Shift and your first shift on nights? You must have really p***** someone off for that!"
Roll on the next night and a newly minted LAC Morris rocks up to the Hangar and gets shown to the office door. “Wait here and the Flt/Sgt will send for you when he has some time to spare." So, there I stood nervously waiting to meet my future boss and from all accounts he was a right mean and nasty git.
“New LAC! Get into my office!" this voice bellowed and in I marched, stood ramrod straight and fixed my eyes straight ahead. My new boss was sat with his back to me. "What the f*** have I done to get another no nothing sprog on my shift?"
“No idea Flight Sergeant” I replied, then the chair spun around, and there, with a massive grin on his face, sat the Duty Sgt from the previous night. I have no idea what my face was like, but it made him laugh even harder, “Grab me a tea and come back in, let’s get to know you a little better … what name do you go by?"
“Mouth,” I replied.
“I take it we will find out why in due course” he said, “Welcome to D Shift."
Rogues, fighters and misfits they may have been (and you will know who you are), but some of my best memories were made there; Hangar Football, Riff and his bangers and rubber spider, getting banned from the Brunel Rooms after an Xmas Party, getting banned from the Trotting Horse after another Xmas Party and Goldiggers in Chippenham and getting sent to RAF Greenham Common for a month just so Henry could give himself and the shift “Some peace and f****** quiet!"
We all have stories of our time in and thanks for indulging me in one of mine. You were and forever will be some of the finest people I have ever had the honour to have worked with.
I have been called many things in my life but Poet isn't one of them (and you will see why). Every now and then I jot down a few words that relate to something I remember and then see what sticks. After writing about my first day at Lyneham, it got me thinking about shift life as a 17 year-old idiot doing his first real job (if you ask my partner, she will say that the 17 year-old idiot is still here, but disguised as a 54 year-old grumpy man!).
Anyway, I jotted this down yesterday at work during a slow hour, and read it to my partner when I saw her later last night. She pretty much said I had to post it on here [Facebook], and for the sake of a quiet weekend, here it is. She also asked, what possessed grown men to run around a hangar in the winter, only wearing parts of their uniform, just to run into each other... all I could say was, "It was a slow shift." She looked at me and said, "Now I can see that 17 year-old idiot again!"
In this new world, I guess this wouldn't happen, but it was the 80s, we were still an all-male trade, and it used to make us laugh... Looking back, I think having a laugh with the guys you worked with, ate with and drank with was enough.
Nightshift Boredom. Its 3am and what’s that sight, 2 teams of men bathed in sodium light, It's dark and cold and there’s snow out there, So why are some stood in their underwear? Whilst others, overalls covered in smudges, Glare at each other, all harbouring grudges, Pent up emotion, unchecked aggression, It's time for another Gladiatorial session, It doesn’t really matter who loses or wins, Movements shift “Murder Ball” is about to begin. Some pad their Arctic thermals with old bits of paper, To try to prevent bruises that will definitely come later. Some wear forklift helmets to protect the old cranium, Against tensioner attacks designed just to brain ’em (sorry... poetic licence?) With biting and scratching and slaps to the faces, And steel toe-capped boots kicked into sensitive places. Feet flying, throwing punches, determined to win, Then a voice from the office, “There’s a Herc coming in!" Its ended in seconds, aggression is over, People dressed in seconds and then into the Rover. Back to the baggage stacks, back to the crates, Back to being a Mover with all of your mates. Jon "Mouth" Morrison November, 2022
British C-17s supplying Brimstone 2 missiles to Ukraine
Government reassures veterans ID card rollout is accelerating (despite claims of possible 125-year wait)
The Government has reassured veterans that the rollout of their ID cards is "accelerating" amid concerns it could take more than 100 years at the current rate. It follows new analysis by Labour of rollout figures that show only 3% of veterans have received the cards in the last four years. In 2019, ministers pledged to give every veteran an ID card to enable them quicker access to health, housing, and charity services.
Data from the Office for National Statistics confirms that only 56,000 ID cards have been handed out since 2018, despite there being more than 1.8 million veterans in England and Wales. That could, Labour says, mean all of those entitled to a card would, in theory, be waiting 125 years to receive it. It comes after Minister for Veterans' Affairs Johnny Mercer told The Telegraph newspaper that the scheme would be delivered by summer 2023.
Shadow Veterans Minister Rachel Hopkins said: "These figures are further evidence that while the Veterans' Minister likes to talk, he has actually changed very little for our veterans. "The veterans' ID card is supposed to help our society keep its promise with those who serve by ensuring quick access to services like healthcare. But the Conservatives have delivered just a fraction of the cards needed. Our veterans don't need empty promises, they need action. For their sake, I hope the minister can keep his promise but, based on his party's record of delivery, I don't like his chances."
However, a Government spokesperson reassured veterans of a new digital feature to help them. and explained: "The rollout of veteran ID cards is accelerating. From next year, veterans will be able to access our new digital service which will enable them to quickly and easily verify their status online, playing a vital role in making sure those who need targeted support get fast access to a range of government services, from health to housing, as well as charity services. We have invested more than £1m into the service and look forward to delivering real change to the lives of our veterans."
Until plans for the Veterans ID card were made, there was no way for veterans to easily prove the fact that they had served. Previously, personnel were required to hand back their ID card (MOD 90) when they were discharged.
From: Nick Price, Cheltenham, Glos Subject: John Gilbert's Death
Can you honour this fellow who David Bell and I worked alongside at Gutersloh - Colin Hughes ex-UKMAMS also worked with him.
I am saddened to announce the death of John (Taff ) Gilbert. John was a Corporal in the RCT (Royal Corps of Transport) and worked alongside the RAF in the Air Movements Unit in the middle to late sixties.
John had to leave the service after the loss of his sight following an operation to remove a tumour from his brain at RAF Hospital Wegberg
The photograph at left was taken during an Air Movements Christmas party in the passenger lounge at Gutersloh.
John was a key member of the RAF Gutersloh marching team, this photo depicts us all displaying our medals after just completing a march in Holland, we later went onto complete the famous Nijmegen March in 1966.
Incidentally, after leaving the Army and fully recovered after his operation, John went on to completing another Nijmegen March assisted by a guide. He also went on to get married and worked for Barclays Bank as a touch typist; he certainly was one of a kind, so determined to get on with life albeit the odds were always against him.
God bless you John and may you now be at rest.
And so, another year is coming to a close and thoughts are gravitating towards Christmas and family gatherings.
But let's not forget all the friends we have made over the years, especially in the Movements world. Here's your opportunity to send greetings to a great number of them at one fell swoop!
The Christmas and New Year edition of the OBA newsletter is scheduled to be published on Friday 30th December, with a cut-off for submissions on Wednesday 28th.