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.
During a long, very cold, night shift on IX Sqn at Waddington being given a glass of rum by the boss & a big thank you too.
Target towing with Puddy Catt in Lady Clementine at Brawdy
Taking a glider with EP from a standard 800ft winch launch at Easterton & calling Kinloss 40 minutes later to tell them we were in their overhead passing 21,000ft (I stopped the climb just short of 25k because the oxygen was running low) - the view was to die for!
First of all, many thanks to Orca for starting this wonderful thread.
Personally, I must have enjoyed my service too much as I can't think of a particular high point, but the 1st of many high points was passing out of Boy Entrant's service and arriving at my 1st flying unit.
It was BCBS RAF Lindholme where the noise of Merlin and Hercules engines was the daily soundtrack.
At a different level, watching the sunrise and sunset at Gan, from below the horizon to overhead and the reverse. Each event took just 20 minutes.
So many memories... Flying the Harvard on a warm sunny day with the canopy wound back. First dual trip in Meteor 7. The smell of AVTUR across the dispersal. Winter survival course of two weeks in the Tyrol. Guest of the Ghurkas in Borneo when weather forced overnight stay. Night medivac from a strip in Malaya with police landrover illuminating threshold. Electric storm over the Indian Ocean with St. Elmo's fire flickering purple flames around each window of the Belfast flightdeck. Stroking the noses of porpoises from the bow of the rescue launch on the lagoon at Gan. Dinner with the Thai airforce at Prachuap Kiri Khan. Table at Officer's Club at waters edge and eating silver sword fish with wild pigeon eggs on lemon grass with a necklace of islands providing the backdrop. Happy hour with US pilots at Hickam whilst on several months detachment. Seeing the firmament of the night sky, almost for the first time, from a bedroll in the Empty Quarter of Arabia.
was on a shack playing cards with the junior Nav when I spotted the fire warning on number two enginebefore anyone else!!Was a faulty fire detector but we found that most of the graviner fire bottles had not gone of!!Two hours out from Eastliegh!
Also on a shack, as ground crew, returning to K'sar from Majunga and also number two but the fire was real. Eventually landed at Embakasi after four hours with number two windmilling all the way. The special memory bit was the relaxing alchohol intake in the airport bar after landing. Thank you Nick for getting us there and buying the first round
Sitting outside Capt Locos on San Pedro, cool night air, feet in the sand, the sound of reggae music, the lapping of the sea on the beach, thinking I'm geting paid (extra) for this. Probably the most peaceful moment in my life.
Crowbar, Afghan. Just being part of something that mattered, controlling Harriers & sending them into TICs knowing that they were about to save lives. Clearing the route for the MERT guys just to try and give them a straight line back during the busy times. It felt good helping those that were really making a difference out there.
Chilling out on the back of HMS Invincible with Jack London, heading through the Red Sea at sunset with dolphins jumping through the wake.
Sitting in the back of a Red Arrow, cloud surfing with AR letting do pretty much whatever I wanted for an hour. Epic.
The one true constant about being in the RAF... Working with some amazing people.
As SEngO on the RAF's first Jaguar squadron, not long after the end of he Cold War, driving the 'T-bird' with the boss in the front. Three other jets in loose formation heading home after an airshow east of Prague. The boss raises his hands above his head to subtly show who's steering. The other three squeeze in tight (would have thought they'd do the opposite!). "Start a left turn". I gingerly do as I'm told noticing two of the other jets staying firmly (ish) in the same place in the mirrors.....couldn't believe what was happening....."now look down". There below, the centre of Prague...who would have believed.....?
Landing at Cambrai in our rebuilt ex French Army (ALAT) Piper Super Cub (L-21B). We had helped rebuild it and the French had allowed us to repaint it in the original Algerian service markings. We were then invited to display it at the Air Show at Cambrai. The look on the French ground crews face when two RAF Officers got out of a 'French Army' aircraft was priceless. The appearance on the radar of Easter Island after our long night flog from March AFB in the Herc in the build up to the Falklands War. No GPS just a dodgy doppler and INS (Irish Navigator Star) who 'shot' the stars to get us there after a long trek for a Herc with just normal fuel. That night he earned every penny the RAF would ever pay him. Oh and the first beer when we landed !
First night solo in the JP from Cranwell, doing Slow Rolls over the middle of Nottingham at 1000ft and singing my head off.
Firing HE 30 mil from an FGA9 on the convoy target at Jebajib range, Dubai.
Leading a four to bounce an 8-ship over the Abu Dhabi desert, diving out of the high blue and joining an almighty punch-up at Low Level with Hunters all over the place at max G.
Flying Low Level in the Gulf of Gdansk in a four-ship of F104s, just off the Soviet coastline.
In the vast and lonely South Atlantic, heading back to the carrier at high level in the fading twilight, low on fuel and one of the formation leaking from battle damage. The audible sigh of relief all round on that first contact with the ‘ D’, when you know you’re going to make it home for a few horse’s necks and a hot shower.
ATF through the Lake District with stratus on the hills and a bright moon above. Each pull-up for a hill taking you into the brilliant moonlight, a soft white quilt of cloud all round, followed by the rollercoaster plunge back down into the white stuff. And all on autopilot!
As a kid in Coningsby early 70s during summer hols. Mornings we'd have access to the gym where the PTIs were more than happy to run games & sports for us and coach athletics out on the running track. PTIs also taught us to canoe on the gravel pits at Tattershall. In the afternoon we'd cycle en masse to Woodhall Spa to go swimming. Coningsby to Woodhall Spa, if memory serves, is about four miles, along country roads, and we thought nothing of cycling it. About the only traffic we'd encounter was a hulking great truck with a Rolls Royce Spey on board being transported from Coningsby to the engine bay at Woodhall. Even at the height of summer the water'd be b****y freezing! On Sundays there'd be a bus to take us to Cranwell for an afternoon swimming.
If we got bored with all that there was always the crash gates for some serious spotting. Whenever I smell jet exhaust I'm transported back to those days. The gates near Haynes pig farm were so close to the taxi way that a couple of seconds after an F4 passed a great waft of warm exhaust washed over us. To those of you flying these days never under estimate (as if you would) the pleasure a bunch of snotty kids get when they receive a nice friendly wave from the crew as they pass. As life goes on I now realise crews probably have much more to concentrate on then waving to the crowds, which makes the memories all the more special. Downside? The couple of occasions when a crew didn't make it back, and a couple of kids left the class in Coningsby Junior School soon after.
Probably doesn't compete with most of the memories already posted on this thread, but mine nonetheless. As I look back I see that life for a kid in the air force in those days was actually rather idyllic, and bumps the thread back to top!
Believe or not I can’t forget what a great time I had at Cranditz. I was there for 5 years:
first year spent learning how to get my hair cut and how to stand in a straight line – not much fun – except for the amazing friends I made – the guy whose uncle Harry was a famous rose grower (as if!), the chopped engineer who went GD(P) and had a long and successful career as a pilot, the big Scottish rugby player and the smart man about town who went onto Jags.
Even the chopped Nav who went into intelligence and did all sorts of fantastic jobs. Lots and lots of great characters. I remember the USAF major who taught us war studies – we called him the old grey fox.
During that year the whole entry was loaded onto a Britannia at Waddo and flown across the pond to Dulles airport where we were issued with in-flight rations – in tins!! Then we flew (hungrily) to the USAF Academy at Colorado Springs where we stayed with the student body for a couple of weeks; went to lectures, went skiing in Arapahoe Basin, went gliding over the Rockies, borrowed my cadet mentor’s Corvette Stingray to go on a blind date with a Mexican nurse in Denver!!
Then it was 3 years grind doing an engineering degree, but half way through we graduated, got commissioned as POs and moved down to the Student Officers Mess.
There we lived cheek by jowl with the various foreign Air Force studes and I remember when Idi Amin stopped paying the Ugandan studes. After that they used to hang around the door into the bar just in case anyone would buy them a pint. Gawd knows what happened to their tuition fees, but I suspect the RAF let them finish their courses.
Then it was the 12 month Applied Course where you learnt how to fill in an MT request form and a few other forms and once again I met some great characters, some of whom I’m still in touch with to this day. I could go on but this is already too long for this thread.
Last edited by SOSL; 30th Dec 2012 at 13:46.
Reason: The passage of time
So many fond memories but some specific ones that leap to mind are:
Any time I got to call 'downwind for the strip/vigo wood/Charlie South GRASS' at Wittering or hover/fly backwards!
4-ship Op launch from a particularly 'pitchy' Lusty, somewhere off the west coast of Scotland, into the fray of a 50 aircraft CQWI mission then recovering to where you 'think' mother is...ah, bugger..!
Giving a pair of Iraqi T-62s the good news with 2 x AGM-65 Mavericks!
Beating a Rafale at 1v1 ACT - in all fairness he must have had one eye, one leg, no radar and a serious whisky habit but hey, a kill's a kill
Smashing around the Fjords of Norway - simply beautiful beyond words
Just a few but there are many more now you have me thinking Orca! BTW - hope you and the family enjoyed Xmas over there!
......sitting in the nose guns seat in a Mk2 Shack headed to Vaerloese in Denmark in Jan 1966. We'd flown 10 hours from Bodo without any heaters. We were all wearing our parkas with the hoods up, gauntlets left hand and right hand with the wooly mitts under and god knows how many layers of underclothes. As we approached the west coast of Denmark we broke out into brilliant moonlight looking over a snow blanketed countryside about 50 miles ahead. In that moment I realised that the view from a Lancaster as in the film "Enemy Coast Ahead" must have been the same, but that WE were going to a warm welcome. Felt a little bit of history came alive for me.
So many from my years on Albert, from realising the transit from Nellis to McCarran (2.5mins) was over midnight and meant it was day 6 so thank you for the unscheduled 33 hrs off! Watching the turtles at Long Beach laying, respecting the silence until the lumbering ladies had finished then hearing all along the beach the popping of " cans" as we compared egg numbers we had watched being deposited. Highlight has to be the day we upset the contractors at MPA by landing on their fresh paint. Glad it was there though , loads more memories though .
Training on the Gnat Flying the Hunter Mk 6/9 First AAR convex. Watching a summer dawn at Lossie on cockpit readiness. Surprising a Canadian frigate somewhere about 62 north just as the sun was coming up! Landings at Gib! NVG MOS trials at West Freugh. Coming back to the Bucc after a 10 year break. Tri-service Staff College dinner in the Painted Hall at Greenwich - best dining-in in 35 years! Freefall from 12000 ft out of a C130J - and a standup landing! The people!