View Full Version : Smoking - what were the rules?

29th Jan 2008, 20:06
Presumably, smoking while flying was not an option until the closed cockpit arrived. Thereafter, what were the rules?

This is as a result of a pub conversation, and I volunteered to find out. Here. Which may have been unwise....

While an aircraft was or had recently been refueled, you'd be daft to light up. We were thinking more on the lines of having taken off on a bombing raid over enemy territory in your Mosquito, with lots of petrol and explosives - well today you'd possibly think twice, but on a night like that I'd be smoking all the way there and back.

And what does the RAF say today? OK in a Typhoon unless you're meeting a tanker?

30th Jan 2008, 04:58
Don't forget that, as the majority of aircraft were unpressurised, you'd be on oxygen & have your mask on at cruise altitude so no smoking. Even if you were flying a low level ground attack fighter like the original Typhoon you'd still be on oxygen even before starting as there was too many fumes into the cockpit from the engine. The exception might be the low level bomber runs like 617's Dambuster sorties or the USAF Ploesti raids but these would NOT be the norm.

30th Jan 2008, 21:05
There was a Jaguar Boss renowned for tabbing during trails, even had his own stick on ashtray, probably from Halfords.

Cornish Jack
31st Jan 2008, 10:56
Auntie Betty's Flying Club didn't like smoking while flying - hence the Shack Mk 3s, when delivered, had their ashtrays removed. Most of us smoked (unofficially) and the standard ashtray was a paper cup half-full of water. One of our (then) AQMs on the Bev was a forty-a-day man and the climb to the flight deck would generate an interesting facial shade of blue!! This relates to the world of medium range transport - don't know what the 'shiny fleets' used to do!!:p

31st Jan 2008, 12:53
I've seen it claimed that Adolf Galland had a cigar lighter fitted in his Me109 (or Fw 190) - but then he was the boss.

31st Jan 2008, 13:16
Plenty of WW2 Heavy bomber aircrews would light up around the aircraft before take off and also during the descent on the way home. Read Jack Currie's LANCASTER TARGET for a snippet of smoking on ops!
There were also tales of rear-gunners stuffing their flying boots with fag butts to disguise their habit..not quiet sure why they didnt throw them out!!

31st Jan 2008, 14:57
You could follow trails of tobacco smoke coming from the flight decks of Hastings, Argosies and Britannias

31st Jan 2008, 16:21
Official (or non-official) smoking rules in the old-days and today.
In the F-104, we took a "bean bag" ashtray and located it on the CB panel.
In flight (which were not long, average 35 minutes missions) we puffed one.
Was (1) take O2 mask strap off to the side (2) take a puff (3) mask back on.
Blowing O2 from mouth made crazy sparks/flames with cigarettes.
AIM-9H Sidewinders blew-up as easy, if you smoked or not.
Nowadays the airline crews smoke in the cockpit. Tough luck for passengers.
Flight attendants can come to have a Marlboro. Must take turns.
On the 747-200 (small upper deck) we generally block the access to SLF.
So we smoke there. That is non-public "crew rest quarters"...
One of the recent threads about smoking got sent to "jet blast"...
Do some research, and see how much smokers and non-smokers love each other.
Yeah, such a danger to smoke with all that jet fuel in airplanes.
Trouble is, the non-smoking rules were thought for "purple" 130/145 octane.
I once filled up my "Zippo" with Jet-A1. (i.e. try it with similar home-heating oil).
Never could light-it up again, I had to throw it away...
The way young kids (anti-smokers) are nowadays - ("NG" pilots) -
No drinking within 50 feet of airplane, no smoking 8 hours before flight.
Cannabis is not tobacco product.
I am (again) ready for "how stinking your smoking is to us non-smokers" -
Note - your "Polo" aftershave is equally offensive to us...
Happy contrails (puff puff puff) -

1st Feb 2008, 03:46
Not sure about Hastings but Argosies & Brittanias are both pressurised so no problem with smoking sans mask. One problem with glass cockpits & smoking is that the residue build up between the CRT & the front glass - to the extent that the units have to be pulled and dismantled to clean them!

1st Feb 2008, 06:25
Lack of pressurisation in the Hastings meant we flew below 10000', even over northern Turkey. Before TOD the dog ends were put in a container, usually an empty OXO Tin, and thrown out of a DV window!

1st Feb 2008, 17:13
Thanks for all the info chaps. Will report it all to the pub tonight.

BelArgUSA, if I ever find myself on your 747, can I come up and enjoy a cigar with you?

1st Feb 2008, 22:19
F-111 were delivered with ashtrays in the arm rests.....

Once flew an RAF Wessex with the captain drawing on a Marlboro

Krystal n chips
2nd Feb 2008, 05:33
It did have it's downside of course. I can't remember the detail of the incident, but I do recall a Nav on a RAF Herc getting burned when he lit a cigarette....adjacent to his oxy mask. The incident became the topic of a Flight safety film as I recall....I think the mask was actually leaking, but as I say, I can't remember the details in full...only the incident. Others here may do of course.

Robert Cooper
3rd Feb 2008, 21:10
We used those old tobacco tins with the screw on lid. served as ash tray and dog-end holder, and fitted neatly in the pocket until emptied at home or at the mess.

Bob C

4th Feb 2008, 11:35
To answer the title question from an historical prespective, you need to get the straight info from a pilot that has extensive experience...when smoking was allowed in the vast majority of passenger aircraft....like yours truly:}

Rule one:

No smoking when the No Smoking light is illuminated.

Rule two:

Smoking is allowed (yes, even in the lavatories) when the No Smoking light is not illuminated.

Exceptions to Rule one:

The Captain is allowed to smoke any time he wants...light or no light.
If in doubt, as the Captain.

Type of aircraft, Douglas DC-6B/Lockheed Electra/Convair 440...and yes, even a B707 (where I was a Captain for quite awhile) on the last type.

Now, as a Commander on an L1011, smoking is allowed on the FD, for those who wish.
Now, where the heck did I put my Havana....?:E

4th Feb 2008, 12:03
Flew Gazelles with a couple of smoking pilots, one who used a Petrie dish for the ash and butt, another who just lobbed the tab out of the window - except for one unfortunate incident when the tab-end came back in and left a pronounced burn mark on a rear seat. Fortunately for both of us I happened to have the keys to our Flt Store, and replaced the damaged item.

Both, as it happens, were former tank crew - my raised eyebrows when they lit up was met with "Well I used to smoke in a bombed-up panzer......."

4th Feb 2008, 18:10
When I was in the RAF, we all smoked - all the time (at least the vast majority of us). I well remember the case of the C-130 Nav who set fire to his oxygen mask. (I was flying Argosys in Bahrain at the time). Said Nav decide that he was tired and decided to have a bit of 100% oxgen before top of drop to perk himself up. He then decided to have a fag but didn't turn the mask off first! The inevitable happened and a fast emergency descent into Muharraq was made. It took the fire brigade three hours to extinguish the mask (I expect that this was how long it took the oxygen to run out).

I also remeber one of my Navs telling me a story about flying on his first trip on a Lincoln squadron. The captain was either Polish or Czech but he had modified his H Type oxygen mask by taking the vent plug out so that he could stuff his pipe through the hole and carry on smoking whilst at altitude!

We were certainly dedicated in those days.

4th Feb 2008, 20:05
When I was a young jet jockey in the very early sixties I had a tobacco tin with ten Rothmans and a book of matches Sellotaped tight so that it was waterproof. That was in case I had to bang out and float around the North Sea waiting to be picked up.
I did the TODs 'chuck everything out of the DV panels', once, on Valiants, followed by lots of noises from No 3 engine. Luckily it took it all.

Lou Scannon
7th Feb 2008, 14:39
On Hastings nearly everyone smoked as has previously been mentioned. We had one co-pilot Ron Nash who livened up a long night flight by crawling between the Nav and Eng's seats, unconnected the Nav's (Who was on oxygen for some reason) oxygen pipe and blowing a cloud of smoke down it. "Barny" was not impressed.

One famous engineer by the name of "Whampo" Warton who started his flying career as an LAC air gunner pre-war, preferred snuff. His favourite trick was to invite some unsuspecting young officer to partake of a pinch, knowing that the boss was looking for him for a bollocking. By the time the poor wretch had heard the summons and made the office door, he was reduced to a snivelling sneezing,red-eyed shambles.

Whampo did pay a price for this. On one occasion the co-pilot filled his snuff box with fuses making it impossible to get the fingers in and on another, John Shere simply swapped the snuff for curry powder. Whampo's sneezing and choking could be heard over the sound of the four Hercules.

7th Feb 2008, 14:56
I forgot to mention there was a hell of a clang when the OXO tin hit a propellor.

Found this slide taken from a Hastings fifty years ago over Turkey with Mount Ararat in the distance.


7th Feb 2008, 14:59
I forgot to mention there was a hell of a clang when the OXO tin hit a propellor.

Found this slide taken over Turkey at 10000' with Mount Ararat in the distance.


7th Feb 2008, 19:19
The exception might be the low level bomber runs like 617's Dambuster sorties or the USAF Ploesti raids but these would NOT be the norm.

I've heard Liberators were known to just pour fuel all over the place - so I doubt much smoking went on during the Ploesti raids... :rolleyes: