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Old 21st Oct 2017, 15:52   #11401 (permalink)
 
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Some Beverley blues

This is part one of some musings on that unique, loveable and occasionally exasperating monster the Beverley; part two, with some reflections on its operation, to follow shortly.


"Sure as Hell won't replace the airplane" one bemused Yank is said to have expostulated on first beholding a Beverley; well maybe not, but equally certain was that, in its time, no mere aeroplane could conceivably have taken its place. During a relatively short life it performed more useful work, in often arduous and highly demanding environments, than many other types achieve in life spans several times the length. This year has seen the sixty-first anniversary of its introduction to service, a good time to recall memories fond or otherwise.

With a glider ancestry dating back to WW2, the Beverley was a development of the General Aircraft Company's GAL 60 Universal Freighter. Before this aircraft could make a first flight its parent company was taken over by the Blackburn Aircraft Co, who conveyed the prototype in pieces to a new home at Brough; here it was duly assembled, and a successful first flight carried out in June 1950. By this time the Air Ministry spec to which it was built had been upgraded, and to meet this an improved version was produced and first flown in June 1953; with four Bristol Centaurus engines in place of the original Hercules, plus other changes such as rear clamshell doors and a tail boom offering passenger accommodation, this resulted in an initial RAF order for twenty aircraft that was later increased to a total of forty-seven.

The first unit to re-equip with the Beverley, no 47 Sqdn of RAF Abingdon, received its initial delivery in March 1956; the following year 53 Sqdn was similarly equipped, and for the next decade the noisy giant was a familiar UK sight as it bumbled its way around the Thames Valley and many other areas. In the same year the Beverley became established at Dishforth, where 242 OCU became responsible for crew training; here, 30 Sqdn also re-equipped with the aircraft but moved to Nairobi two years later. The first overseas unit to acquire them was 84 Sqdn at Aden in mid-1958, followed by 48 Sqdn (Singapore), where they were later transferred to a newly-formed 34 Sqdn. From these four bases the Beverleys not only carried out multifarious tasks within their respective theatres, they also ranged far & wide; distant places that witnessed unlikely arrivals of this strange creature included Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Despite its many virtuous qualities, even the Beverley's most fervent aficionados would hardly claim speed as one of them. However reports of trains overtaking it can possibly be discounted, although an encounter with to-day's TGV or equivalent would be a different story. Short hauls were no great hardship, but of necessity it had frequently to undertake long-range flights for one reason or another; that many of these derived from the RAF's absurd attempts to use it as a Hastings replacement, was of little consolation to those who suffered hours of mind-numbing boredom as a result.

For the pilots tedium was alleviated by the need for hand-flying, no autopilot being (initially) fitted; after all, was it not designed for short-range work? (pity no-one told Transport Command). The Navigation & Radio empires were adept at upholding the noses-to-grindstone principle, arguably with some less than essential tasks. Running up and down ladders with trays of refreshment kept the quartermasters fit & alert, the flight deck's thirst-provoking climate in particular seeing to that. Flight engineer? - for its first few years of operation there were none, but their omission was soon seen as a gross error and they gradually became established and valued crew members.

The Centaurus engine's voracious and legendary thirst for oil was a constant nuisance, so that during the longer "drags" it was necessary to hand-pump this commodity from the reserve tank to the engines - a task accomplished in a noisome hole in rear of the flight deck, where both temperature and decibel readings were normally off-scale. It was an exhausting chore, rendered worse by the impossibility of using oxygen in an oily environment. Visitors to the flight deck were encouraged, in the sly hope that they might then be conned into becoming oil pumpers; sometimes the ruse was successful, but unfortunately seldom worked a second time. Why an electric pump could not have been provided (with the hand pump as back-up) is another of those little Beverley mysteries - along with the lack of a galley, no autopilot etc etc.

Versatility was the Beverley's main attribute, and this applied not only to loads carried but also to its operational usage. Designed as it was for short range, short-field work, its slow cruising speed would hardly have suggested it as ideal for longer stages, yet here again it proved its worth where no other type could cope: helicopters to Aden, artillery pieces, cattle (!), bulk fuel and a radar scanner during the Suez affair, state coaches for a ceremony in Helsinki, large vehicles anywhere----even dismantled fighter aircraft (Hunter/Gnat), you name it the Bev took it. With today's B747 freighters, not to mention the Guppy variants, this is now commonplace stuff, but we are describing a time sixty years ago; even today's C130 might have a problem coping with those lumpy, bumpy, inadequate strips that the Beverley took in its stride.

But the Bev did not have to land to discharge its load. Much liked by parachutists, especially for an easy exit provided by the tail boom hatchway, vast tonnages of freight were also delivered by 'chute. This was achieved by removal of the rear clamshell doors, thus providing a 10ft x 10ft exit from the similarly dimensioned 40ft long cargo hold, from which palletised loads were extracted by drag 'chutes. The aircraft's capabilities in this direction were of particular use during the Indonesian crisis, where Borneo's jungle-covered terrain necessitated much re-supply by airdrop. Loads delivered were of infinite variety, ranging from a single item of more than 40,000lb to a consignment of cats required to combat rat infestation. During early trials on Salisbury Plain, a Saracen armoured car thus delivered contrived to emerge without deployment of parachutes; perhaps it is there yet, a buried artefact for the delectation of future archaeologists?

It's perhaps pertinent to mention here that the clamshell doors were an Achilles heel of the basic design; for, as compared with the C130's bottom-hinged rear door that could be operated in flight and also served as a loading ramp on the ground, the Beverley's doors had to be removed before flight and substituted (for aerodynamic reasons) with a pair of fixed deflector plates. All of this took time, with the resultant drag degrading the already indifferent performance even further, while there remained the problem of vehicular access; this taken care of by a pair of narrow portable ramps that had to be carried on board and then manually fitted as required.
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Old 21st Oct 2017, 16:54   #11402 (permalink)
 
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As this thread has been evolving over quite a few years now I wondered if Roving's mention of 613 Sqdn R.Aux.A.F. might trigger some stories of the weekend warriors who graced our skies until 1957.

As an ATC cadet I used to spend many Saturdays unofficially helping to refuel the Vampires and Meteor T7 of 614 Sqdn at RAF Llandow. They also had one Meteor 8 but it was a bit of a hangar queen as, I was told, most of the pilots were scared of the ejector seat. As a naive schoolboy it seemed to me a wonderful way to spend one's life, being a normal civilian during the week and then hurtling around the skies at the weekends. Even in my casual role I was aware of some fascinating events and would have loved to hear the full stories. e.g. the Vampire which landed short and dragged the perimeter fence halfway across the airfield. Although there was no obvious damage to the aircraft, after that the JPT consistently rose above limits and no-one could understand why.

Any weekend warriors out there? Let's hear your stories.
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Old 21st Oct 2017, 17:57   #11403 (permalink)
 
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Nice dit, HarryM ... looking forward to more about the strange beast of my memories.

As a baby plt off, at an Air Show at Koksyde, I was given the job of showing visitors around one in return for my free weekend abroad (as a Varsity pax ex-Strubby).

The subsequent events with a French lass on the beach at De Panne are not fit for public consumption.
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Old 21st Oct 2017, 18:24   #11404 (permalink)
 
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Berlin Airlift Mk.II ?

harrym (#11401),

I have often wondered if it would have been possible, with a Beverley, to get a CPN-4 airfield radar truck into Gatow during the 1961 summer "panic", when the Berlin Wall sprouted, and it was thought that another Airlift might be on the cards.

Its rotary converter truck would not be needed as the US forces in Berlin had their own 110v supply. I do not know the dimensions of a CPN-4 (MPN11 ?) but if you took the wheels off ? ......

All that was there was the old MPN-1 which had been barely adequate in 1948 and hardly any crews in RAF(G) who remembered how to work it. Luckily push did not turn to shove !

Danny.
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Old 21st Oct 2017, 18:30   #11405 (permalink)
 
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Beverley capacity

'Fraid I can't answer your query Danny, my Bev experience on route ops was fairly limited as most of my time was on training or examining duties. The freight hold measured 10x10x40 feet, if that's any help!

Harry
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Old 21st Oct 2017, 19:28   #11406 (permalink)
 
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harrym (#11405),

Googled: "dimensions of cpn-4 airfield radar truck" Selected:

"radars
<radars> : (gives "width approx 10 feet, height unknown")

Besides wheels, you would of course have to take off the two aerials on the roof. As I recall, it was of roughly square cross section. Nowhere near 40 ft long. Might go in. Was it ever tried ?

Danny.
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Old 21st Oct 2017, 19:34   #11407 (permalink)
 
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This video was filmed in the Far East and over the jungle some 2 years after my parents I had left, that is in 1961, and by which time much if not all jungle supply operations had moved from Kl to Changi and Seletar.

This video includes the Beverley.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HS_IXAdvh0w

Last edited by roving; 21st Oct 2017 at 19:42. Reason: edit location
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 07:16   #11408 (permalink)
 
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[QUOTE=pulse1;9932258
As an ATC cadet I used to spend many Saturdays unofficially helping to refuel the Vampires and Meteor T7 of 614 Sqdn at RAF Llandow. .[/QUOTE]

This may be of interest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2hvGjZRFmQ
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 08:38   #11409 (permalink)
 
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Three really excellent film productions made about the Royal Air Force covering the period from 1912 to 1980 are tucked away in a quiet corner of youtube.

I have posted the link for the last one covering the period from 1946 to 1980.

This production includes brilliant footage -- on a personal note -- it even includes film of a Single Engine Pioneer flying in Malaya in the 1950's. Footage, that until I found the link, I had never seen before.

This (third and last in the series of three) production provides not only rare contemporaneous footage of the evolvement of the Service during the period 1946 - 1980, but a commentary which attempts to rationalise the changes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgtEIJQxAHw

Last edited by roving; 22nd Oct 2017 at 10:00. Reason: edit date
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 10:24   #11410 (permalink)
 
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Excellent links ... thanks, roving
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 12:00   #11411 (permalink)
 
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harrym,
the Beverley's cargo compartment was higher than that of the C130K at 10 feet. The C130's was just over nine feet with lots of kit in the 'hog trough' being a limiting factor. Plus the Beverley had the boom which could carry pax and paras leaving downstairs available for pax and or cargo.
The clamshell doors were a limitation which was an inferior solution to the C130 ramp and door. The C130 cargo compartment dimensions were based on the standard US railway box car.
I think the achilles heel of the Beverley was the Bristol Centaurus engine which as harrym has implied were thrashed to death doing a task for which they were not intended. The Allison T56 turboprop in the C130 was in many ways the making of the a/c as it could not have achieved the same level of performance with piston engines.
On the subject of carrying portable radar I once took one to Biggin Hill for one of their air days. A long time ago but I remember it was a tight fit !
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 12:15   #11412 (permalink)
 
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MPN11 ... Mobile Pulse Navigation
CPN4 ... Cargo Pulse Navigation

I always assumed it meant the MPN11 had wheels, and CPN4 didn't.
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 13:24   #11413 (permalink)
 
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roving (#11408) - quoting pulse1,

Thank you for the link (one small cavil at the film: "RAAF" is Royal Australian Air Force; Royal Auxiliary Air Force is "R.Aux.A.F").

That said, how nice to see the lads and lasses of the Auxiliary Fighter Control Units get a bit of the limelight. As the Adj of No.3608 F.C.U. at Thornaby from 1951 - 1554, I had "a foot in both camps", as it were: for 608 flew from the same place, and as I had come off 20 Sqn, flying Vampires III and V, so they let me (indeed were obliged to let me) keep my hand in, flying with them.

So, on my "ground tour", I was able to do the admin for the unit, whose main task was to recruit local girls as Fighter Plotters and Radar Operators (we had 70 - 35 "pairs") under training, and also a handful of ex-wartime aircrew officers who learned the Fighter Control Officer job by "sitting next to Nellie" down the "hole" (Seaton Snook). On weekends, I could leave my two Auxiliary Adjutants to "mind the office" and went flying.

Happy Days ! (and I got me a wife as well, but not from the unit - you are not allowed to "fish off the Company Pier" !).

Danny.
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 15:44   #11414 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny42C View Post


And then 608 went for their Annual Camp.

Then a tragedy. At the very end of their time at El Adem, they lost a Vampire and a pilot. 608 were always cagey about it and I don't remember any details of the accident.

Danny42C


You can't win 'em all.
Is this the Officer?
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 16:40   #11415 (permalink)
 
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613 Squadron lost a pilot in 1950 when flying a Spitfire in Lincolnshire.

Aged 28,

Supermarine Spitfire F.Mk 22 PK346 Accident, 21 Jul 1950
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 17:19   #11416 (permalink)
 
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roving (#11414),

I was with (but not "on") 608 1951-54, and there was only one fatality AFAIK on the Squadron during that period, so it must be him. As I remember, a RAF Dakota brought the coffin back to Thornaby. The occasion was marred (I was told, must've been away somewhere - my own "Summer Camp", perhaps ?) by two mishaps.

The sad reception party repaired to the Mess for coffee and bikkies: the desolate young widow thanked the Dakota captain for bringing her dead husband home. Unthinkingly: "It was a pleasure", he replied - and then silently prayed that the earth would open and swallow him up.

Then Thornaby sent the coffin to a hospital in Stockton (North of the Tees and so in Co.Durham, in the baileywick of the Stockton Coroner), without reference to the Thornaby (North Riding of York) Coroner, on whose patch the aircraft had actually landed. This provoked a legal "demarcation dispute", with RAF Thornaby as "pig in the middle" between the two Coroners, don't know how they sorted that one out.

Remember "Boss" Martin well, grand chap and excellent Boss - even if he did give me one of the most sizzling "rockets" of my (Non)-Career, for the trifling offence of attempting, one murky-misty Sunday afternoon, to land a Vampire at MSG in mistake for Thornaby, and so causing Alarm and Despondency among the Glider community there at the time (and terrifying an old boy on a bike in the middle of the runway). Which did not save me from the wrath of the Station Commander Monday morning: "Three extra (Auxiliary - ie Mon & Tue) weekend SDOs !"

But they were happy days .........Danny.
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 18:04   #11417 (permalink)
 
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Beverley

Sounds rather a tight fit Danny (your #11406), but have no idea if it was tried or not.

AncientAviator (#11411), the Centaurus was certainly not the Bev's most reliable piece of kit and arguably not suited to some of the work it was called on to perform; on the other hand am I not right in saying that it was originally produced for the Hawker Tempest/Fury, where it might be expect to be subjected to some pretty harsh useage i.e in combat situations?

Having said that, I don't recall in my fairly limited type experience ever having an out of course engine shut-down. True, there was a somewhat alarming episode involving contaminated fuel, but that was hardly the engine's fault; don't think I have previously posted this one up, but can do so unless someone can say they have already seen it here!
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 18:49   #11418 (permalink)
 
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harrym, you may have seen the post of mine some days ago when I said I travelled in the back of a Beverly from KL to Changi, which as you know was the RAF transit centre in FEAF Command.

I clearly recall looking out through the open doors at the back and the families waving us off.

It would have been not unsurprising if the Beverley had come to collect us, given my father's three years as a QFI and later Flt Cmdr, with FEAF transport command, where I think he was a bit of a legend for getting his flight in and out of the jungle without one serious injury or fatality and for which he was Gazetted.

But I did wonder whether my memory was playing tricks on me, because I recalled we sat on the left hand side.

Then this weekend I saw a photograph of the inside of that Beverly and sure enough there were 5 dickie seats on the left hand side.

The other thing I recall about it was the noise from the engines. It was deafening.

The only thing I recall about Changi is that, as one would expect from a very precocious nearly 10 old boy who had treated RAF KL as his playground, I went for a walk about.

On my walk about this S/L, whom I id not recognise, saw me and asked

'What are you doing down here Roving?"

I explained with a sigh that we were going back to the UK.

"Is your father going back to the UK?",

he asked in a way which made me wonder if he thought that my father was an immoveable fixture in FEAF.

The journey back on the Hermes I have posted about before and will not repeat it. Apart from the stop overs the real thing I recall was when we were travelling over the Alps, I saw my father nod to the stewardess and the next thing that happened is that I was taken up to the cockpit to be entertained by the aircrew and a better view of the Alps.

Next time I will post about being sent to the "Tower" at RAF KL in April 1958 and a trip on the air sea rescue launch stationed at RAF Glugor,
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Old 22nd Oct 2017, 18:52   #11419 (permalink)
 
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Danny, your walkabout to MSG was so well told in your very inimitable style that I hope you can forgive me for dredging it up from the PPRuNe archives. There will be many here that did not see it first time round.
Danny (P16) :-
Quote:
"If you have tears, prepare to shed them now" (Shakespeare: Julius Caesar)

Danny42C
4th May 2013, 02:47
It was a Sunday afternoon in late '52. I was strolling back from lunch to my office when the howling of Goblins indicated that 608's first detail of interceptions was getting into the air. "Sooner 'em than me", I thought.

For it was "a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year" (E.A. Poe : The Fall of the House of Usher" ). This was one of them. Weathermen call it "Anticyclonic Gloom". A huge high-pressure system was anchored over the UK. There was little or no wind; over all Teeside lay a thick blanket of haze from ICI, the blast furnaces and coke ovens, together with the chimney smoke from hundreds of thousands of coal fires. In those days the Environment hadn't been invented, and nobody would have cared a jot for it if it had.

Slant visibility was very poor, but it is a feature of this smog that you can see straight down through it fairly well. And it usually goes up only 1500-2500 feet into an "inversion", which effectively traps it into a layer above which all is (more or less) clear and blue.

I'd settled back into the regular routine of the day; everything was running smoothly in the Unit, and my afternoon tea and biscuit had just arrived at my desk. The phone rang. It was John Newboult over on the squadron. "Look", he said "we've got a Vampire just in off routine inspection. The Boss wants it on the line ASAP, but it needs an airtest. I'm up to my eyes in it here, and Mike's in the air with the Auxiliaries. Could you possibly...?"

You do not look gift horses in the mouth. Stifling a suggestion that his Boss might get off his rump and do the airtest himself, I agreed (well, you've got to help a mate, haven't you), collected my kit, hopped on the bike, and went over to Flights. It was now mid-afternoon and the light was starting to fade.

I went straight up through this stuff into the clear air above. The Vampire seemed sound in wind and limb, my last check was to take it up to 35,000 to make sure that the "Minimum Burner Pressure" light didn't flicker at max continuous - (I never heard of a Goblin flaming-out, did anyone else ?)

Now I was up high with not much else to do. I did a few rolls to keep my hand in, which entailed a bit of mental arithmetic at the end. A Vampire has a group of five fuel gauges: you have to tot-up the five readings to get the total. That isn't too hard if the fuel stayed in its own tank, but if the aircraft is thrown about a bit, it all goes walkabout. A tank which previously showed full is now half empty, another which showed empty is now half full. One which was three-quarter is down to a quarter. You have to do the sum all over again.

Then I thought, I'll do a nice big loop. Going down was fine, gentle pull up with full throttle fine, over the top with just enough "G" to keep me comfortably in my seat, throttle closed and start on down. We hadn't got all that far when the old "snatching" and "thumping" started, and I realised that I was well on my way to my first (and last !) supersonic Vampire. Idiot ! I slammed the dive brakes out, hoping that the structure would hold together (yes, I know that the book says you can put them out at any speed, but............) This brought us up "all standing", but the wings were, thankfully, still in position when I looked out. I started to breathe again and we reached equilibrium once more.

Now it has always been my practice that, once you have tried the patience of Providence and got away with it, not to do anything silly again on the same flight. It would be S&L and gentle turns from now on. I'll do a Controlled Descent. It'll give the Auxiliary Controller a bit of practice, and save me having to scratch about in this murk trying to find the field. If it works OK, and I have fuel, might do another one.

As the squadron was still out on exercise, I was the only customer and the QGH should be "straight out of the book". I was soon overhead. All the QGHs I'd done there before had been done on a NE >SW Safety Lane. This brings you in over Tees mouth, and there are plenty of landmarks from then on, culminating in Thornaby cemetery (the many white military headstones show up a treat) acting as a sort of Inner Marker for the 22 threshold.

But today he sent me out SW>NE. I didn't even know they had a second safety lane, but you learn something every day. I thought he was a bit slow letting me down outbound, but no matter - it would give me more time to settle down inbound. Check Height 2,500, and I'm skimming over a sea of mushroom soup. "Descend to Visual - call field in sight". Down into the clag I go, at 1,500 I can see a circle of ground perhaps half a mile wide below me, but nothing further out. But not to worry, the steers are 040-045-040, I'm right "in the groove", the field must appear any moment.

But things are not always what they seem...


It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.

Danny42C
6th May 2013, 03:33
There it is ! "Field in sight"......"Over to local"...."Silversand 21 joining" ..The bored Local Controller puts down his Sunday paper: "21-04left-1019-circuitclear-calldownwind". I watch the runway as a cat watches a mouse, never taking my eyes off it. For I know, from bitter experience, that in these conditions you only need to look away for a couple of seconds and it's gone. Thrashing around trying to find it again is no good, you have to swallow your pride and go back to Approach for steers to bring you home again (this does no good at all to your image).

"21 Downwind".......Call finals-surfacewind-020tenknots". The local Controller hasn't seen me, but in any case he wouldn't expect to in this smog, and besides, I'm behind him as he sits in the Tower. And he's entitled to assume that a pilot is where he says he is...."21 finals, three greens".."21, land". I swing round and down to the runway.

Half way round, something strikes me as odd. Prewar, there had been a small road running close to that side of the boundary. The runway was extended during the war, a section of the road was closed off, and had been incorporated into the new taxiway. Post war, the road had been reinstated, some 200 ft of the runway had been cut off with an angle-iron and wire fence across. (The useless stub of runway and its verges were a popular picnic spot for the locals; there they could watch the flying as they scoffed their sandwiches).

Landing on 04, you came over this fence to the displaced threshold. But the fence had gone ! Someone had taken it away ! Nobody had told me ! I hadn't flown for ten days or so, had I missed something on the crewroom blackboard ? I was very low now, concentrating on the "piano keys" (did we have them then ?). For the first time, I had a quick glance to my left. There were one or two gliders far over on the grass. Thornaby didn't fly gliders ! Help ! - I'm having a nightmare ! - Where am I ?

Even then the penny didn't drop, but instinct (at last !) took over. "Get out of it !" I slammed the throttle open, but the Goblin spools-up only slowly. The Vampire settled and I felt the wheels rumbling on the tarmac. And then, at the far runway intersection, an old sit-up-and-beg cyclist appeared, making slow and stately progress across my bows from left to right.

Clearly, he hadn't heard me (must have been deaf as a post) - and there was no reason for him to expect aircraft on a Sunday. I'd to decide whether to swerve in front of him, or behind, or wet-hen over the top, for I knew instantly that we would arrive exactly at the middle of the intersection together. Time started to pass in milliseconds. At this point, some sixth sense warned the old chap that all was not well. I cannot swear to it, but I'm sure I saw a puff of smoke from the back tyre and the bike do a "wheelie". It shot out of my field of vision.

Back in the air again, over the far end of the runway, and all became clear. In an impossibly small field lay a crashed Meteor. A few days before an AFS student had stalled on finals to runway 22 at Middleton, and pancaked into this tiny spot. No one could imagine how he had done it; it hadn't done him any good, he was severely injured and the aircraft, seemingly undamaged, had a broken back. It was still there as the engineers couldn't work out how to shift it. The fame of this incident had spread round the North East, eveybody in the air with a few minutes to spare had gone to have a look, and MSG were getting quite stroppy about it.

This sad sight clinched it: now I knew where I was. A few seconds more, and I was over the railway viaduct at Yarm. No way of getting away with it -there had been too many witnesses. I sighed and called Local: "Ring Middleton and apologise for me - I've just done a roller there by mistake". Now 608 had come back on the frequency, so it was a public confession. Guffaws and catcalls filled the air (I'm afraid R/T discipline was rather poor in those days !).

I nipped back ahead of them into the circuit, round and down. There shoudn't be anyone in the Flight Office just now, I should be able to book-in and get out without anyone seeing me. Too late! - the snitch in ATC had phoned the Squadron as soon as he'd hung up on the SDO at MSG. Boss Martin was there, and he addressed me more in anger than in sorrow. What the devil was I thinking about, a pilot of my experience, to do a damned silly thing like that ? The Squadron would get the blame for this: it was one of his aircraft, they would be the laughing stock of the Command. And what about the gliders ? Supposing there had been a tow wire awaiting pickup on the runway ? How far would I get with that wound round a wheel. ?

I thought it unlikely that MSG would be doing aerotows in these conditions, winch-launched C&Bs at the best, but it didn't seem advisable to make the point just now, or to mention the little matter of the cyclist. Boss had got his Vampire back without a scratch, hadn't he ? I'd done his airtest for him, hadn't I ? What had he to moan about ?

All my service life, I'd enjoyed stories of pilots who had done just this very thing (the favourite being the tale of a Very Senior Officer who landed somewhere or other, but remained very taciturn until he'd a chance to read DROs - and so found where he was !) How could anyone be so stupid ?, I thought. Now I knew.

In my defence, I could say that the runway patterns, the orientation of hangars and control tower, and the main runway headings were identical. The fields were only six miles apart (say little more than two minutes' flight), and the visibiltiy was appalling. I couldn't even see the oxbow in the Tees (about a mile to the west) which points like a dagger at Thornaby. But none of this exculpates me. I should have overshot as soon as I noticed the missing fence.

Good news travels fast. It had got back to my unit before I did (tail between my legs). People were very kind to me at tea in the Mess. Jack Derbyshire answered the phone and came over, sympathetically: "Old Man wants to see you in the morning - 0900".

Malcolm Sewell was a man of few words: "Three extra auxiliary weekends SDO"......"No more than I deserve, Sir".

That's all, folks.

Danny42C


Please sir, I'm not lost - it's just that I don't know where I am.
Chugalug2 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23rd Oct 2017, 15:57   #11420 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Fairford, Glos
Age: 93
Posts: 142
Roving, in your #11418 you refer to the Beverley's open rear doors. I presume this refers to the pax doors, rather than those of the clamshell variety? So far as I recall, it was illegal to carry pax in the main hold when the clamshells were removed but then rules and the Bev did not always go together!

However, you are so right about the noise! The only transport that could compare was the York, its freight compartment of the PCF version giving a fair version of hell - this aided at night by flames streaming from the inboard engines' exhaust stubs, their colour giving a fair indication of the degree of throttle opening - deep orange at takeoff, shading to blue for cruise.

Chugalug2, many thanks for the re-post of Danny's face-losing episode, I missed it first time round. To keep him company in the hall of bad memories here is one from my Britannia days:


As yet another course drew on, ATS staff and students looked forward to the final treat (or trial, depending on one's viewpoint) of the route trainer. Globals lay in the future, so the expected routing would normally have been the standard Hong Kong via Changi in both directions. On this occasion however, one of the periodic Middle East crises erupted shortly before the due date, with the inevitable result that all available aircraft were required for area reinforcement.

Given this need, the trainers' accustomed leisurely progress was now out of the question and so our commitment was slotted in as part of the operation; having shed passengers at Bahrein, we would then proceed onwards in the normal instructional role. Staff crew would be reduced to one (per trade) per aircraft, but trainees would not be reduced pro rata and so I found myself saddled with four u/t copilots plus the usual other variegated crew members; plainly my workload would be somewhat enhanced as compared with a normal tasking, and especially so since our young hopefuls were prohibited by ASI's from carrying out takeoffs or landings with pax on board.

The op. was fairly intensive, with flights departing every few hours. Drawing a short straw I was allocated a late evening departure, the prospect leaving me distinctly unchuffed; commencing a maximum duty period at a time when the body would normally expect rest, we could surely look forward to a condition of living death prior to final destination. As expected, afternoon sleep proved a lost cause, so that the flight planning stage found me at least in an even less alert condition than normal.

Out on the ramp the Station Commander hovered around, proof of pressure from high places that all must go well. Off blocks on time, everything looked good until the very last moment; but the spring of '64 had been fairly lush, and with the airfield mowers having been hard at work the loose grass bogey struck again - one engine well down on torque, its compressor blow-off valves clogged with grass clippings. Taxying back in, I prayed we might be granted a night's rest but it was not to be. Already XL 640 was parked in the next bay, ready and waiting; all hands set to with a will to transfer our load, even Alastair lending his services as a baggage handler and then finally pushing us up the steps. This time all was well and soon we were climbing into the now-dark sky, feeling more ready for bed than for the interminable hours confronting us.

Of the long drag to Akrotiri I remember little, other than total time off flight deck amounting to a few minutes necessary for a dash to the toilet and back. The sun was well up when Cyprus came into view, and arrival presented no problems despite our general exhaustion; but by the time onwards flight planning had been completed I felt like a zombie, and awaited the next stage with some apprehension in so far as my fitness for duty was concerned. On the other hand, barring further delay we would (just) be within the legal duty time limit, and so there was little option but to proceed and hope that nothing testing occurred. Recalling the cryptic saying that "an aviator of superior ability is one who uses that ability in such a manner as not to have to make use of it" I climbed back aboard; but in my head was an uneasy feeling that I, at least, was already functioning in autopilot mode, while a sure prospect of the morning sun blazing into our eyes during the run east further degraded an already low morale.

Acknowledging the marshaller's farewell wave, I noticed a 3-ton truck parked on slightly rising ground to the left of the short taxyway leading to Runway 29. Although closer than either desirable or necessary, I judged clearance to be adequate; a judgement reinforced by the lack of any visible sign of alarm from the truck's passengers, plus a distinct impression that the curve of the taxyway would take us well clear. A second or two later the aircraft lurched sickeningly to the left, and although it then continued normally I braked to a halt at once, enquiring if anyone knew what had happened; incredibly, my addled brain refused to deduce the obvious. Reality was restored by the signaller pointing out that our port wing tip was "sticking up out of that 3-tonner"; unwillingly craning my head round, the grisly sight told me everything-------every pilot's nightmare, the unforgivable sin, was there right in front of my eyes, and it was all my own work.

But even accidents sometimes have redeeming features. By a stroke of fortune the lorry's tilt frame had taken the tip off dead clean; all retaining rivets had sheared off neatly, leaving the wing's virtually undamaged stub end ready to receive the replacement. This arrived only hours later in a back-up aircraft, when I was already facing a hastily convened inquiry.

It did not take long; the cause of the accident was only too plain, and having been in sole control at the time it was both impossible and unreasonable to try and duck my responsibility for what had occurred. However, a lot of flak landed on the MT section; not only was the truck in flagrant disregard of MT standing orders by being parked where it was, the driver had no airfield driving permit and had not even signed his section order book. As for me, the board's president was kindly and sympathetic, finding something to say about our ludicrous scheduling as a mitigating circumstance (although obviously not in so many words), but his conclusion was nonetheless inevitable: my fault, open & shut case.

Five days later we flew our now repaired Britannia back home, the students soon to depart again on a proper Hong Kong trainer but this time without me. Weeks passed, the administrative mills ground as slowly as ever, but sure as fate came the expected summons to a formal interview with the Station Commander. As I listened to him politely deliver a formal admonishment, I unworthily wondered if he too was thinking of his episode at Gan some months before; but of course the words were not his, he was only acting under orders in relaying a bollocking from on high.

Although the C-in-C had chosen to ignore anything the Board said in mitigation concerning fatigue, scheduling & so on, it was a lesson I did not forget and in the years to come did what little I could by way of sundry reports etc to moderate the severity of excessive and poorly planned crew duty times often wished on us by those above. I like to think that perhaps something was achieved thereby, even if not very much; however, given the economic imperative for large transport aircraft to be flown round the clock, plus the human body's natural limitations, this is a problem which will surely remain with aviation so long as there are aeroplanes.
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