Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
I recently went to the 70th Anniversary of the opening the RAF Llandwrog runways. I met a charming man who told me about some of his experiences flying the F-104 whilst an RAF pilot on attachment to the GAF at Jever. I think I recall Don Kingaby saying that he was for a time the Chief PAI of the GAF at Oldenburg and Johannes Steinhoff being on a course there. Does anyone have further information on this fascinating era?
FYI>>>> AVM Jim Flemming: Jim is the only Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pilot to fly the F104 C & D. He did this as a Squadron Leader when he was on exchange duty with the USAF at George AFB in 1958-1960. Jim was Operations officer of the 476th Tac Ftr Sqn of the 479th Tac Ftr Wing being the first unit in USAF to get the F104C. Jim has over 600 hours in the Starfighter. He also was the designer of the famous shooting star insignia for the 479th Wing Starfighters. (in blue for 476th, red for 434th, green for 435th and yellow for 436th TFS)
Chapter 19 of Roland White's Phoenix Squadron describes a six-week period when 16 F-104s of MFG-2, a German Marineflieger squadron, were based at RNAS Lossiemouth while their own airfield at Eggebek was being resurfaced. The Germans and their Buccaneer hosts of 809 Naval Air Squadron competed in a fair few low-flying and drinking games, fortunately without loss of life or limb.
My dad blagged a twin stick 104 ride while he was on a Sqn exchange. The GAF pilot gave him control at the start of the take off roll. Dad rotated when told and they bored upwards at an impressive rate and told him to level off at a certain altitude. Dad missed that level by an considerable margin and the Luftwaffe ace took over with a comment to the effect the 104 must be a lot more sensitive to handle than the Buccaneer.
Had a very similar experience when a RAF Phantom pilot and nav QWI team bowled up at Cold Lake for a seminar week.
On day 1 they were briefed for a 2-ship SAP sortie. The briefing also covered all the essential knowledge for flying in the front-seat of the 104. The RAF guys were in shirt-sleeve uniform and went to get changed into their growbags straight after the briefing. When they got back to the auth desk, the Canadian that was flying the nav said "Hell, you a navigator? Well, never mind, get in the front anyway". Said RAF nav proceeded to impress the heck out of the Canadian pilot. This nav had spent a fair bit of time in the 2-stick Phantom and had a reasonable amount of poling time.
For interest, we frequently put pilots of other types in the front seat, as the only thing you couldn't do from the back seat was to operate the switch that turned the nav kit from "align" to "nav".
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
"I wouldn't know" dad replied. "I'm a navigator!"
A similar tale from our 7ft tall blonde Luftwaffe mate on 56F in the early 1980s. Before arriving at RAF Wattisham, he'd been sent to RAF Brawdy to do a UK Orientation Course and was soon plonked into the front seat of one of HM's Hawks. "Intense course these Brits run", he mused. Off they went, with the gallant Hauptmann at the helm...
After an hour of poling around Pembrokeshire, back they came to land. At this stage the QFI decided that he was a bit concerned about the skill level our heroic Hauptmann was displaying, so decided to take control and landed.
Come the debrief he was quite diplomatic about the somewhat agricultural flying skills he'd witnessed, but concluded "Well, mate, a couple more trips and we'll send you off on your own!".