View Full Version : Hawker Hunter through Tower Bridge

Aileron Roll
25th Jul 2003, 04:04
Have always had abit of an interest in this incident, but really know very little about it !

Any facts, views, or outright lies appreciated !

PPRuNe Pop
25th Jul 2003, 04:18
As I recall, and I expect that others will add to it, the Hunter was from 1 Squadron. The story I heard was that pilots were getting fed-up with the government giving the RAF a bad time, scaling it down etc. In a bar somewhere, a pilot (Flt Lt. Alan Pollock if my memory serves me right) who was about to leave the RAF agreed to be elected to fly a Hunter through Tower Bridge as a protest.

It was told to me by a senior officer so I repeat it for what it is worth. I have no doubt if it's wrong we will hear about it.

26th Jul 2003, 15:54
I thought Alan was on 54 Sqn at the time. At least, I think that's what he told me at a 54 Sqn reunion some 25 yrs ago - mind you, it was a very alchoholic weekend...... I also seem to remember we had a painting of the event in the crewroom.

Can any current 54 Sqn or 1 Sqn members help on this, it should be somewhere in the Squadron archives.


29th Jul 2003, 05:38
Here's one for starters! (http://www.raf.mod.uk/reds/teamhist2.html)

30th Jul 2003, 18:03
I had seen a painting of this event quite a few years ago. I have been searching for a print but i think it was a one off.

30th Jul 2003, 20:29

Coincidentally (if it's any help) I was browsing through one of the bookstalls at the PFA Rally at Kemble a couple of weeks ago and came across a softbacked book about the history of Tangmere. It includes a photo of the print, albeit in black and white.

Can't remember the title; just "Tangmere" I think. Looked like it might be one in a series of airfield histories. If you can find the book there may be a reference for the photo that might throw some light on subject

2nd Aug 2003, 00:27
The jet was in Bahrein (RAF Muharraq) in about 1970, can't remember whether it was on 8 or 208 (both sqns there at the time).

You couldn't miss it - it had a dayglo Tower Bridge shaped "zap" on the tail, so officialdom must have had a sense of humour then, at least in the Gulf....!

2nd Aug 2003, 00:57
Al was a Flight Commander on No 1(F) Sqn at the time of the Tower Bridge incident. Following the feat he then returned to West Raynham leaving an angry trail of complaints behind him from the airfields in East Anglia which he had 'taken out' inverted at about 200 ft on his way home. His rejoin at Raynham was from an inverted run-in to the break from about 200 ft. The painting of the event used to hang in the 1(F) Sqn museum, and probably still does.

John (Gary) Cooper
2nd Aug 2003, 04:12
Yep recall the famous 22 Loop by Hunters, was not the same feat achieved at a Plymouth Air Show that I seem to recall by the same team.

1956 was the year that 6 Hunters returning from a display ran out of fuel, couldn't make base due to adverse weather conditions, these 6 were Cat 5 but I do believe there were additional Hunters having the same problem but were subsequently salvaged.

The feat under the Tower Bridge was at first thought to have been a joke, I was at Wattisham at the time, can't recall whether he beat up WTM on the way back to Raynham though.


John Farley
2nd Aug 2003, 04:50
On the day concerned I was sitting at my desk at Dunsfold listening on the phone to a Wing Commander in OR speaking about some issue of the day, when he started to speak ever more slowly (a very rare event for that individual) and just before he came to a stop his last words were ‘There is a Hunter flying under the bridges’ There then followed about 3 secs of silence at both ends before we both spoke simultaneously one word – Pollock.

But then you see we both knew him quite well.

henry crun
2nd Aug 2003, 05:41
John Gary Cooper, I know of the Hunter formation from the DFLS running out /short of fuel at West Raynham in the 1950's but not the incident you mention.

Do you have any more detail on where the Hunters were displaying, what squadron they were from, etc ?

2nd Aug 2003, 06:19
There was a similar incident in 1955 when the 54 Squadron display team (Black knights?) were performing a display for some aerial photographers over Odiham.

I believe they had problems with the weather and being picked up by Odiham ATC during their GCA. Eventually they almost all ran out of fuel. A couple of the Hunters pilots ejected as their engines flamed-out, another force landed at Tangmere and another diverted to Farnborough. There was a Vampire T.11 and a Meteor night-fighter involved as camera ships too - the Vamp was abandoned and the crew, one of whom was a USAF photographer, bailed out over Odiham. I think the Meteor was the only aircraft to land back at Odiham in one piece although on one engine to conserve fuel.

Quite a display :D

2nd Aug 2003, 15:12

Thanks for clearing up my 54/1f anomalie.

In my defence, I must say that the 54 th's 60th aniversary reunion in 76 was a 'very good' weekend, and over the years, I have spent a lot of time in 1F Sqn's crewroom. Old age must be blurring the memory.


John (Gary) Cooper
2nd Aug 2003, 15:26

DFLS is this the Day Fighter Leader Squadron (School?) at West Raynham incident? I was under the impression that this was part of an air display team, I seem to recall that 6 were written off in the same incident and that others were salvaged being less than Cat 5 damaged.

henry crun
2nd Aug 2003, 16:57
Thats right JGC, it was the Day Fighter Leaders School though to the best of my knowledge it was not an aerobatic team.
The school would have been too busy to indulge in that sort of activity.

They were on a normal training sortie and were caught out by a deterioration in the weather, but depending on who tells the story there was more to it than that.

Whatever, it did cause something of a stink and the sudden posting of certain gentlemen in authority.

Aileron Roll
5th Aug 2003, 19:44
Thankyou all for your comments, is very good to hear some of the "auctal" history behind this, just a shame a no doubt outstanding officer had his carear cut short !

6th Aug 2003, 22:43
There's an interesting article in 'AVIATION NEWS' (September 2003, page 691) about the 'Black Arrows', including a rare photograph of 24! Hunters in formation, as they practiced over RAF Odiham on September 7, 1958.

Although not showing the famous 'Farnborough Loop', I thought that Mike Jenvey, in particular, might be interested.

19th Aug 2003, 20:54
Just got hold of a copy of Flypast September 1982. It has a picture of the painting and an article by Alan Pollock called ' The Day I Flew Under Tower Bridge'. If pictures can be posted on here let me know and i'll scan it in.

Aileron Roll
23rd Aug 2003, 18:46
Alexis, would dearly love to read the said article, any chance of a copy..... could of course cover postage, copying etc....

24th Aug 2003, 06:30
PM me your e-mail address and i'll scan it in and send it to you.

25th Aug 2003, 14:56
My God, has Flypast been going since 1982. No wonder she-who-must-be-obeyed complains about the size of the pile of flying related comics.......Flypast, Aeroplane, Pilot, Flyer, Todays Pilot ........

21st Sep 2004, 12:24
A truly great story. Out of interest what happened to the polit concerned? He must have had some sort of censure.

21st Sep 2004, 14:23
Navaleye- read page 1?

21st Sep 2004, 14:48
I remember being told at the time, by a mutual acquaintance of Pollock's, that :mad::mad: had previously been in trouble for carrying out illegal aerobatic manoeuvres in a Gnat at Valley - something to do with problems with the tailplane as far as I remember.

Flying Lawyer
21st Sep 2004, 19:50
Mike Jenvey

Here's the picture you asked about.

22 Hunter loop

The formation was led by Squadron Leader Roger Topp, then OC 111 Squadron.
By lucky coincidence, I found myself sitting next to him on a flight to Antigua last winter. Now 81 years old, he had a wonderful career, including leading the Black Arrows and, as a test pilot, worked on many aircraft up to the Tornado. One of Roger's students at ETPS went on to become a distinguished test pilot himself - none other than our own John Farley.
Roger enjoyed reminiscing - but probably not half as much as I enjoyed listening. Our respective ladies were very patient - no doubt relieved to discover we weren't staying at the same hotel!

26th Sep 2004, 12:53
Flying Lawer

Great shot.

Was that the year when 22 became 21 when one left the formation to show off on his own by banging out.

And in view of Princess Margaret too I recall.

Have forgotten what got into him to go off on his own and misbehave like that.

Had a long walk back from Laffan's Plain!

John Farley
26th Sep 2004, 18:04

The event you are thinking of was when the then new Odiham Hunter wing put up 16 from the Farnborough to celebrate the RAE Jubilee in July 1955 in front of Princess Margaret.

The Hunter had only recently entered service so it was far too early for form aeros. Four sections streamed off for a flyby of four boxes. Number 2 in the third section took off with a false lock and wing-rocked right out of the formation, I don't think he made it but I am not sure about that. The aircraft hit a barn. The missing man type fly-by was fairly poignant given the smoke going up a mile or two away.


Kieron Kirk
6th Feb 2006, 22:09
Whilst John Farley was having a 'phone conversation in his office at Dunsfold, I was in Wally Rayner's office (Assistant Works Manager) at Kingston. Just before mid-day, I looked out of the window and saw a Hunter with 4 drop tanks, low(200ft or so) going like the clappers in the distance towards London. At lunch shortly afterwards I mentioned this strange sighting to others, but nobody had seen the a/c. I thought no more of the matter until I got home and listened to the news on the radio.

23rd Jul 2006, 11:04
I would love a copy of the mentioned incident and picture. I am actually distantly related to Alan Pollock and have been trying to find some information on the subject for some time. I have been in touch with various members of the family but the picture has been misplaced. We would all love to see it.

He was the son of Agnes and John Pollock. They were both Scottish although he and his siblings were born in London where his father was a Police Inspector. Agnes, his mother was my Great Grandfathers sister.

I would be very gratful for any info.:)

23rd Jul 2006, 19:06
Try contacting the Officer Commanding No 1(F) Sqn, RAF Cottesmore. An oil painting of the event used to hang in the crewroom.

28th Nov 2009, 19:22
Having read this thread some time ago I came across this article:

Jever Steam Laundry - 4 Sqn personnel Pollock 004 (http://www.rafjever.org/4sqnper004.htm)

I like the letter to the editor at the end (if only he could see the world of 2009!!!)

SIR,-The beating-up of Central London and Tower Bridge by a Hunter signifies to me that the adventurous spirit is not
yet quite dead in the RAF. The apparently timid fashion
in which some RAF aircraft have been flown at air displays during recent
years had led me to believe that pilots who were willing to fly in a
spirited fashion, using fine judgment in the process (and thereby
increasing their efficiency as fighting pilots), no longer existed in
the RAF.

I bet that this flight gave the aircraft knockers and the Neddies in
Whitehall (who don't know what aircraft are, anyway, or so it would
seem) something to think about.

Good luck to the pilot! I would rather trust the defence of this country
to a handful of his type than to a great number of the timids.

Redditch, Worcshttp://www.rafjever.org/graphics/1px-trans.gifJ. G. ROBINSON

Original Thread:


28th Nov 2009, 19:47
I love this story.

I don't neccessarily condone what Flt Lt Pollock did, but I can certainly understand it.

Looking back now it's all a bit of fun, and an excellent piece of flying. I would have loved to have been standing on the bridge at the time. However, that's all given the fact that he pulled it off....

The stunt was obviously well within the pilot's abilities, but we certainly wouldn't be talking about him with such admiration if something had gone wrong.

Nevertheless, nothing went wrong, and it was frigging awesome.

Lightning Mate
29th Nov 2009, 16:10
"I don't neccessarily condone what Flt Lt Pollock did, but I can certainly understand it.

Looking back now it's all a bit of fun, and an excellent piece of flying. I would have loved to have been standing on the bridge at the time. However, that's all given the fact that he pulled it off....

The stunt was obviously well within the pilot's abilities, but we certainly wouldn't be talking about him with such admiration if something had gone wrong.

Nevertheless, nothing went wrong, and it was frigging awesome."

Flying under the lower half of London Bridge requires absolutely no skill whatsoever.

It requires an absolute idiot with average RAF fighter pilot flying skills.

....and yes, Pillock, sorry Pollack, was my era.

29th Nov 2009, 16:17
Really? Given the little time he had to get himself sorted?

I imagine that had he planned it it wouldn't be a particularly difficult manouvre for one of you guys, but since it was a spur of the moment thing I guessed there would be an element of difficulty.

1st Dec 2009, 20:56
Your denigration of a fellow pilot does you a disservice.

2nd Dec 2009, 13:18
... as the gentleman can't even name the correct bridge, comment best ignored! Is it too much to expect that all references to London Bridge be changed to Tower Bridge....especially the thread name?:ugh:

2nd Dec 2009, 13:56
Best stick to silhouettes LM

2nd Dec 2009, 14:42
As I recall I bunch of rich septics got equally confused 40 odd years ago and spent a fortune buying the wrong bridge :E

Tim McLelland
3rd Dec 2009, 23:56
Mr P is certainly alive and well.

A great guy full of enthusiasm and "can-do" attitude - precisely the sort of chap that the stuffy miseries in Whitehall and elsewhere resent!

4th Dec 2009, 09:32
With all this talk about Al perhaps sombody can get him to tell of his motorcycle trip from Gutersloh to visit his father in Istanbul with Fred D**** on the pillion.

Or of his adventure crossing from Sylt to Niebul by bicycle.

Or of his trip to raid Group HQ on New Years Day.

An original Good Egg !

Double Zero
5th Dec 2009, 18:32

At Tangmere museum 2 ' simulators ' are set up with a choice of flights, using specially written appropriate aircraft ( Lysander, Speed Hunter WB188, etc, and the most popular choice ; ' The Tower Bridge Challenge '.

A copy of the painting & brief description of Mr.Pollock's ' feat ' ( I am not a fan, the consequences...surprised he wasn't jailed, but as I heard it he was hoping for a Courts Martial to air his views, but the RAF just chucked him on medical grounds, a neat side-step) is alongside, and one can have a go at flying through the bridge.

One's go begins at about 2-3,000' over the eastern Thames estuary, a few miles but within sight of the bridge.

If you're quick ( the thing is on a 3-4 min timer ) you can get through v. fast, loop, roll off the top and land at London City Airport - it's based upon MS Flight Sim 2004 - or go through , fast, head about 292 and land at Northolt.

You can buy the add-on software at the museum ( £10 ) but will need F.S.2004 as well.

You can also beat up the mil' dome ( unfortunately not strafe ) and ' do ' Dartford bridge - the whole secret to getting through the bridge of course is lining up as early as possible; those who try any last minute correction inevitably come a cropper.

Al Pollock lives nearby and drops in now & again; he can't repeat his performance !

NB Check museum is open, they have a winter shut down; 01243 790090.


8th Dec 2009, 20:32
"What on earth is the matter with the youth of today? In my day we used to fly whole squadrons of aeroplanes through bridges. At Rouen all of No. 1 Squadron Hurricanes flew under the transporter bridge one behind the other." G. Plinston (Sqn/Ldr Ret'd)

Flight International (April '68)

Double Zero
9th Dec 2009, 20:22
I am told that at the last second Al Pollock didn't think he'd allowed for his tailfin; he was lucky, but I agree it's not particularly difficult for a good service pilot to fly through Tower Bridge.

What I do find unacceptable is the huge risk to civilians & architecture; only a sneeze from him or engine, the slightest distraction would have ended in tragedy.

I have attended a test range rather frequently where ' beat-up's ' are the norm, seen an A-10 inverted at less than wingspan height, a Sea Harrier at gable height & high speed between hangars, and a Tornado F3 take off, gear up, then down again, full power towards the hangars; the pilot yanked on the stick, and the thing pointed up but just skidded along, with the afterburners REALLY 10' or so ( less if anything, even experienced people were running ) above the grass.

Eventually it decided to climb, barely missing the hangars - if it hadn't, only a few semi-military personnel would have been killed while the occupants could eject, so that's alright then.

The Tower Bridge episode was stupid to say the least.

10th Dec 2009, 10:19
Yeh but loads of fun Double Zero!!:)

It was before the days of 'Elf and Safety' afterall!!

10th Dec 2009, 11:04
Well said newt! 'Twas also before PC came along.

only a sneeze from him or engine, the slightest distraction would have ended in tragedy.

I take it DZ that you have made your views known to 'that chap' who occasionally frequents your museum and has a go on your simulator? As with many aspects of aviation, past and present, there is always a very thin hard line between authorised and unauthorised activity; and whilst acknowledging your altruistic view, there is also another which recognises spirited endeavour. Stand back and observe much of that authorised activity wherein only a sneeze from man or machine or the slightest distraction might end in tragedy, whatever the safeguards. I wager that you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy such events, auth'd or not. In aviation, ill-disciplined behaviour warrants penalisation - but, along with my betters, I for one will always be happily fallible to turning a blind eye towards those who are holier than me! :cool:

10th Dec 2009, 17:09
At or around the same time ( April 68 ) as the Tower Bridge event, was the 1 Sqdn ( F Troop ) 50th birthday celebrations.
At that time I was a J/T Radar Tech on XXX Sqdn Lightning 3s at Wattisham.
I was standing on the wing of an F3 doing the Radar turnaround service which involved the replacing of the VCR Cartridge in the Visual recorder in the Spine. I was on the line facing east when a Hunter appeared very low and fast and trashed the line of 111 and 29 Sqdn A/C at my head height. As the aeroplane passed he opened his dive brake and dumped leaflets all over both lines.
The leaflet read on one side 1 Sqdn 50th birthday, on the other, a picture of a Hunter coming out of the Sun with the Quotation ' Its the ONE in the Sun that gets you'.

Later that evening I do remember packing loo paper into the dive brakes of 2 F3's who if i remember correctly returned the complement at West Rayham.

Happy Days ***

Sir George Cayley
10th Dec 2009, 17:28
At a more sedate pace, I was told that Sqdn Ldr AA (Charlie) Rollo took his favorite C150 under the M62 bridge at Barton early one morning just before he retired from training tyros at the Lancs Aero Club.

It has a large opening over the Manchester Ship Canal so not a huge test of skill and courage at 90 kts, but I do so hope the story is true.

Occasionally, there needs to be some fun and naughtiness in life.:ok:

Sir George Cayley

Double Zero
11th Dec 2009, 13:52
A, were there any people on the bridge,

B, why would they be ' scuppered ' if someone saw it ?


12th Dec 2009, 17:00
Jindabyne - well said, sir. Tis a while since we last flew a Hunter together!

There is a big difference between doing something unsafe and breaking rules. You can stick within the rules and be unsafe, you can break the rules and be safe (and spectacular!). One of the arts of display flying is to make the easy look spectacular and the difficult look safe. There is also a lot of discussion currently on-going about a hypothesis that pilots who stick in the middle of the envelope may well come unstuck when something untowards happens as they have a very small comfort zone and a lack of familiarity with unusual situations. However, someone who pushes themselves to their and the aircraft's limits will have far better experience to fall back on when things go wrong.

And as for Al Pollock and Tower bridge, that is one of those events that I wish I could have done!

Flying Lawyer
12th Dec 2009, 22:36

Excellent post. :ok:
Good to see informed opinions being posted to redress the balance.
Agree with you about Al Pollock's feat although, in my case, it's one of those events that I wish I could have seen. (Done, only in my dreams.)

Double Zerosurprised he wasn't jailedJailed? :rolleyes:
I would have regarded it as an honour to represent him FOC had there been a need, and am confident he would not have gone to jail. not an official pilot Are you, or have you ever been, a pilot?
Don't be offended by the question; I'm just curious given the very strong opinions you express.
BTW, LOMCEVAK knows just a bit about being an RAF Test Pilot, operational flying and displaying flying. ;)


13th Dec 2009, 11:29

I take it DZ that you have made your views known to 'that chap' who occasionally frequents your museum and has a go on your simulator?

Well, did you?

Of interest, were you ever in Gib?

PPRuNe Pop
13th Dec 2009, 19:36

Suggest you take a look at LOMCEVAK's profile.

15th Dec 2009, 12:10

D*** old chap, that was just a tad over 29 years ago, and I can well recall our trip up to Lossie - but can you tell me why I find it increasingly difficult to remember what I did yesterday!!

15th Dec 2009, 12:13
Why do I get the impression I'm being ganged up upon by a few retrospective heroes?


If you are able to examine dispassionately your comments, you will find the answer.

And your reference to 'retrospective heroes' on this forum is, I suggest, not worthy of someone that is privileged to be asociated with Tangmere and those others, well-known to some who post here, that are part of the place.

15th Dec 2009, 12:25
Great!! For once I agree with Jindabyne!

Deeply offended by the term "retrospective hero" as I suspect are several others on this thread!

Maybe PPRuNe Pop would like to direct DZ to a few more pofiles he has missed?

PPRuNe Pop
15th Dec 2009, 12:29

D*** old chap, that was just a tad over 29 years ago, and I can well recall our trip up to Lossie - but can you tell me why I find it increasingly difficult to remember what I did yesterday!!

I think I can help you out! Its called getting old, but your mate, and mine, never looks as though he ever going to get old. :ugh: :E

16th Dec 2009, 14:09

It appears that you have, quite understandably, been deeply affected by one display accident involving a test pilot. However, you do not seem to have a great breadth of experience and there are considerations that you have not addressed.

I can assure you that there are many test pilots who are involved in display flying and many more who would like to be. What you need to realise is that they, like me, display as a hobby and not solely as part of their professional duties. However, when their employer needs a pilot to perform a display they are a natural choice because they already have the requisite skill sets.

Where a problem may exist is when a flight test organisation decides that they need an aircraft displayed for marketing purposes and they nominate a pilot who has no previous display experience to work up and perform the display. I have always felt that there are some interesting risks associate with this case that need careful mitigation. I have seen some excellent displays developed in this way but I know of accidents that have occurred also. In addition to the skills of the display pilot is the experience of the display work-up supervisor. Using a CTP who has no display experience to work up a new display pilot is not smart. However, the British military are very bad in this respect also as they often consider aircrew promoted to Wing Commander to be instant experts in supervising displays even if they have no display experience themselves.

To return to my previous end note regarding my wish to have flown through Tower Bridge, I wish that I could have planned and executed the task in a controlled fashion, much as bridge fly-throughs for several films have been done. But would I have vented my anger by doing it as Al did? No, although I did fancy supersonic under the Severn Bridge in the F4!

16th Dec 2009, 15:44
Says it all LOM! (and under the Humber in the Bucc).

16th Dec 2009, 17:14
When doing air tests on the VC10K from Scrapheap Challenge, StAthan, I often wondered about that new Severn bridge.......:E

An old Vampire QFI once admitted that the Clifton suspension bridge was considered a rite of passage by most of his students.

A fellow UAS QFI was pinched for flying under some bridge in Germany back in the 1950s in a Venom; unfortunately bang to rights as he was identified by his bright red bonedome by a witness standing on the bridge looking down at him!

Re. the 'oomber Bridge, wasn't the Barratts' Homes Jet Ranger pinched for flying under that soon after it opened?

16th Dec 2009, 18:24

I believe there was only one attempt to hack the Clifton bridge in a jet aircraft. That was in 1957 by a Fg Off Crossley from 501 Sn (RAuxAF). His Vampire sadly impacted Leigh Woods in the gorge, just beyond the bridge; apparently nobody was dogging among the trees at the time, so all was well DZ.

Fake Sealion
16th Dec 2009, 19:02

D*** , now I know why you were taking such an interest in the Itchen Bridge as we trundled over it in the Bedford . . .can't for the life on me remember our drivers name? I'm sure you can!


17th Dec 2009, 15:26

A bit of random thread creep here but you are correct - I can; it was Mr Stubbs (Bob, I now think).

Merry Xmas


17th Dec 2009, 22:06
C'mon, let us into this fascinating bit, please ---

18th Dec 2009, 13:07
It's not that fascinating. MANY years ago Fake Sealion and I were at UAS together and we had an old MT Bedford J2 as transport from the university to the airfield. Bob Stubbs was the driver. I think that the Itchen Bridge comment (which is a giveaway as to the UAS and era) is a bit of poetic license!

PPRuNe Pop
18th Dec 2009, 13:55
Ummmm. FWIW,

I have flown a Druine Turbulent under a hand held banner about 7 feet off the ground in line astern with 6 other Turbs. Not very fast (about 70kts I think), quite exciting really (absolutely) certainly good fun. Then we would cut toilet rolls also in line astern, burst balloons and flour bomb 'anything.' Then we had a tied together formation (Tiger Club stuff) of four Turbs from takeoff, display, formation flying, to touch down still tied together! Never broke a link!

Try that in Hunters, Jags Hawks or Lightnings! :E ;) :D

Fake Sealion
18th Dec 2009, 15:22
C'mon, let us into this fascinating bit, please ---

Despite everything - just goes to show that this forum REALLY does still work as a Rumour Network as intended ! :ok:

No LOMCEVAK has not flown under the Itchen Bridge . . . . . :eek:

21st Dec 2009, 03:23
Then we would cut toilet rollsSimilar trick some of us used to do with Robin 2160s - throw the bog roll out the canopy, split-s and try and cut it in the descent.

All good fun & games until one amazingly lodged itself in the cowling having gone through the prop disk :eek: :=

We all stopped doing that trick pretty sharpish.

26th Dec 2009, 20:03
I say again, to fly through Tower Bridge on a whim, while it was covered in traffic and people, was not ' good airmanship ', it was plain foolhardy, or despite Flying Lawyer's objections, the colloquial term ' criminally stupid ' springs to mind.
By 2009 standards, probably; but it was 1968, of its time perhaps. And if it had been a Bucc then he would have flown under (new) London Bridge as well ;)

27th Dec 2009, 12:51
the colloquial term ' criminally stupid ' springs to mind.

Oh do get over it DZ! It happened and nobody got hurt!

Take a Chill Pill and relax!!

29th Dec 2009, 20:18
@Double Zero The 'talk' is that at the last nano-second Al Pollock didn't think he'd allowed for his fin to clear -also he was supposed to be at full throttle - so please allow me for remarking some alarm at this ' stunt '. From the article referenced in post #31, which purports to be by the pilot himself: Swiftly I concluded Sydney Camm's favourite fighter would have to fly as close to the top structure as possible. Rather like a reverse skip bombing run with target cues above! At the last split second before I crossed underneath, the steel girders suddenly seemed to explode all about my cockpit, above, below and about my ears, totally engulfing canopy and one's traditional sense of flying fun! That microsecond my mind felt quite certain I had overcooked it and the top span would certainly take my fin off the next millisecond. Something then happened which had only occurred once before to me, when I had mushed after pull-out from an FAC attack with over-sufficient aircraft weight and "g" and insufficient speed, power and thought! Thinking I had hit the ground but missing Cloud Ninety Nine by a whisker, my heart actually had missed a couple of beats with the shock of expected imminent disaster. After that there was the acute, physical reaction as the heart fires up to full stroke again, just like a fighter's fuel pump, trying hard to catch up again. My Hunter flew on, rather unexpectedly finding itself still completely functional and not a finless wonder and I headed out over Greenwich and Hornchurch, heading towards Clacton.

31st Dec 2009, 15:51
Slightly off thread , but still in the vein of 'Non-authorised' flights over London. Was there an incident with a fast Jet Pilot , somewhat lacking in gruntl with the press, lining up with Fleet Street and sending a sonic boom down said street?

diesel addict
31st Dec 2009, 16:41
"Fleet St. bang" - Could have been 'Dicky' Martin in Javelin (WT830?? )

Profile 179 page 6 states

" Shortly afterwards (Martin replacing Waterton - my italics) sonic bangs were heard for the first time from a Javelin. This was not publicly demonstrated, and at the time there had been a lot of adverse comment about the long Javelin development programme and the lack of results. On the night of 4th. July (1954) many thousands of Londoners heard the bang of a Javelin's supersonic passage. Mr. Maudling, then Minister of Supply, explained to the House on 11th. July that "the aircraft was cruising at high altitude and near the speed of sound when the pilot's oxygen supply suddenly failed; during the ensuing confusion he inadvertently exceeded the speed of sound causing the bang".

Apologies for extending the thread creep, but does this fit the scenario ?

31st Dec 2009, 19:58

Thanks for that, and it does indeed.

DZ will also be very happy, as it was at no risk whatsoever.

HNY to you both.

2nd Jan 2010, 13:23
Way back in the 70's my brother wanted me to photo him going between the arches of the Ribblehead Viaduct, but it was me who lost the bottle and refused to partake in that move, but he assured me it was fine he had already done it, But I still backed away,:eek:...:=
Peter R-B

22nd Jan 2010, 12:48
For a comparison of times gone past, could I refer you to Alex Henshaw's low flying demonstration over Birmingham, as recorded in his book "Sigh for a Merlin"...................it was crowded then & I think he infers that he did it as an act of pique.................unrehearsed............but brilliantly skilfull flying:hmm:

22nd Jan 2010, 19:44
Did A Major Draper fly an Auster under all London bridges and then hand in his ppl

22nd Jan 2010, 21:44
Did A Major Draper fly an Auster under all London bridges and then hand in his ppl

The Mad Major - Major Christopher Draper, as reported in the press at the time:




His 1979 Obitury


His signed book "The Mad Major" is currently on offer on eBay at £6.99



Flying Lawyer
25th Jan 2010, 18:48
Ah ...... Major Draper. :ok:
Another pilot whom I would have regarded it as an honour to represent FOC - but I was under two at the time!

Conditional Discharge and ten guineas costs - a very sensible decision by the Stipendiary Magistrate Mr Frank Milton who, by the time I appeared before him as a very young barrister 20 years later, was Sir Frank Milton and Chief Metropolitan Stipendiary Magistrate. Tough when required and merciful when appropriate; a good combination.

Our grey, obsessively risk-averse modern world doesn't seem to produce as many 'characters'. Unfortunately.

26th Jan 2010, 20:04
I seem to recall that he also drove round and round a large London Roundabout continously 100 times.

30th Jan 2010, 11:27
With all the details of 1930's and later flights under the Thames bridges it's hard to realise that the first flight through Tower Bridge took place in 1912. As commented in the press at the time:

By Hydro-aeroplane up the Thames.

August 1912

ALTHOUGH London was deprived by the appalling weather of the sight of M. Beaumont piloting his hydro-aeroplane up the Thames, the visit of Mr. F. K. McClean more than compensated for the loss. Remembering an appointment in town on Saturday morning, Mr. McClean thought it would be a good idea to come up on his Short machine, and so at 6 a.m. he had it brought out of its shed at Harty Ferry, in the Isle of Sheppey, and after seeing everything in order he started off. Following the coast round Leysdown, Warden Point to Sheerness, he continued over the Thames. At Gravesend the smoke of the various factories rather troubled the aviator but he made good progress. Approaching London Mr. McClean brought his machine lower down and negotiated the Tower Bridge between the lower and upper spans, but the remaining bridges to Westminster he flew underneath, the water being just touched at Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges. He reached Westminster about 8.30 and was taken ashore to Westminster Pier on a Port of London Launch. The return journey on Sunday afternoon was not so successful owing to restrictions as to rising from the water which had been imposed by the police. The bridges had all been safely negotiated, and when near Shadwell Basin Mr. McClean started to manoeuvre to get into the air at the point designated by the river authorities. He had made one circuit when the machine side-slipped, and either through hitting a barge or by sudden contact with the water one of the floats was damaged. The machine was then towed into .Shadwell Dock, this operation being superintended by Mr. McClean from the driving seat, and dismantled for its return by road to Eastchurch.


Here he is doing it. And below his 1955 obituray.


4th Feb 2010, 08:04
Plleeease DZ - get off your high horse, and give us a rest old chap.

4th Feb 2010, 15:31
Sorry in advance for (slight) thread-creep, but i remember a story from quite recently about a helicopter seen flying under a bridge somewhere in Scotland.

The powers-that-were at the time were unable to identify the miscreants, and i wondered if anybody here on pprune knew any more about it? I seem to remember it was a civil craft, possibly a Jet Ranger?

4th Feb 2010, 17:20
SAR used to (and possibly still do) regularly practise a lo-viz approach to Southern General hospital which brought them up the Clyde and under the Erskine bridge. Maybe this is the source of the rumour?

4th Feb 2010, 18:16
I can't remember a recent incident but perhaps it was this in 2003?
Time flies. ;)
BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Helicopter pilot's bridge stunt (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3022948.stm)

The main span of the Skye Bridge is 250m wide and 40m high.
From the news article:
Last year a pilot avoided prosecution for flying his light plane under the bridge after claiming he only did so to avoid a flock of seagulls. One of the Rotorheads regulars posted this -


I set up a forum poll. Results: Voting has now effectively stopped so it's time to take stock of what fellow helicopter people thought.
Although the number of votes gradually increased over the weeks, the percentage of votes for each of the four options remained almost unchanged throughout.

311 people voted.
The overwhelming majority (60.77%) hoped the pilot would get away with it.

Some people seemed to think hoping the pilot would get away with it this time was the same as approving of what he did. (I don't think the two necessarily run together.)
19.29% thought he should be prosecuted and fined, but didn't think any licensing action should be taken.
Slightly fewer (15.11%) thought he should have his licence pulled for a short period.
15 people (4.82%) thought he should lose his licence forever. (I only put that one in as a joke, but there you go! :rolleyes: )


A few weeks later, two Spanish pilots flew their light aircraft under the 54 feet high Ballachulish Bridge in the Highlands.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/39245000/jpg/_39245624_ballachone203.jpg They were interviewed by Police and cautioned.

Double Zero A very good pilot I knew crashed in a display. Same here.
Another very good pilot I knew died in his bed.

Originally posted by John Farley (quoting veteran reporter John Lawton speaking to the American Association of Broadcast Journalists in 1985): The irony of the Information Age is that it has given new respectability to uninformed opinion.
It doesn't always achieve that effect.
Worth considering before you post again? ;)

4th Feb 2010, 18:35
I rather suspect that if Alan Pollock were to have been reading this thread since its inception, and I rather hope he has, he would have been amazed by the variety of pontifications, hypothesising and general rubbish that has emerged from a wide variety of people who haven't been there, other than in Microsoft Flight Sim and Walter Mitty land, and whose postings lend more to modern justifications of the whys and wherefores of achievements of others than life on a front line squadron in the sixties and seventies.

He did it. Fact. If you don't like it, well just get over it.

Whilst it may go against the grain of the politically correct times in which we live now, if not then, I happen to believe that it was a blooming marvellous action. Well done Sir. I salute you. As one who was present at the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of The Royal Air Force at Abingdon in 1968, soon after Flt Lt Pollock's memorable flypast, I was conscious of his actions, but it was only in subsequent years that I saw the mediocrity against which he was protesting. Look around you people. Now.

Most of us haven't, nor will ever have the capability to do such a feat; marvel at his flying skill and fine judgement of the clearances on the day and, if this applies to you, go back to your cupboards under the stairs or, more specifically, your OO trainset and your box of tissues and stop boring the pants off the rest of humanity.

4th Feb 2010, 21:17

Well said Sir !!

6th Feb 2010, 08:47

I doubt that the fool will be able to resist - similarities with the comparison of an Essex girl to a 747 (nothing against Essex girls!).

6th Feb 2010, 15:47

I agree - maybe we should promise a holiday in Majorca !!


Tim McLelland
12th Feb 2010, 15:17
My only "qualification" to have an opinion on this subject is that I have at least spoken directly to Alan about the incident. He's quite clear that he had no plans to fly through the bridge and his aim was to "buzz" the Houses of Parliament and Whitehall, because of the complete indifference which was being displayed towards the RAF's anniversary. The option of flying through the bridge presented itself as he departed from central London, and with only a few seconds to make a decision, he concluded that it was worth a go. He did indeed think that he might have lost the tail as he flew through but of course he escaped unscathed.

I understand people's concerns about safety, rules and so on, but I still think he deserves our respect and admiration for having the guts to forget about rules and regulations, and just go ahead and show some spirit. That is surely what the RAF is (or was) all about. The way he was treated after the incident serves to illustrate how the RAF and MoD had become populated with countless grey individuals who were more concerned with politics, rules, hierarchy and their own positions, instead of showing any support for a man who evidently believed in the RAF and the men he worked with, and who simply wanted to give the RAF some well-deserved headlines on a significant anniversary. Good on him say I. Wish there were more people like him.

12th Feb 2010, 15:25

Totally agree.

Perhaps 00 should read the fifth principle of PPruNe Forums

Some feel compelled to have “absolutely the last word” or “be vindicated” on a thread topic regardless of other posters views. This causes threads to become long and tediously repetitious and WILL cause its premature closure to the detriment of others.
We provide a forum for the exchange of rumour, news and views of matters aviation NOT a venue for the imposition of personal agenda. We will not tolerate this violation of individual rights.
We are the friend of EVERY PPRuNer equally on this forum without fear or favour, as we should be with each other, unless they breach the bounds of decency and civility. A difference of opinion in civilized company should not necessarily invoke or provoke instant hostility.
We are, like many, a little tired of the “if you cant see the rightness of my argument then I feel sorry for you, because I am trying to help you ” routine, and the “If you don’t agree with me you mst be an idiot/management/scab” has grown old as well. PPRuNe has no intention of allowing a brain-cell-challenged minority to derail important debates. Argue your point on the various issues in a civilized manner, accept that there may be different views from yours, and get on with it. Attack the argument and not the person. We will all then, at the very least learn something beyond mere polemics.

12th Feb 2010, 17:25
Well said Tim and X767! :D

12th Feb 2010, 19:28
This waffle, OO, is of your own making.

But, on reflection, is it really? I suspect that you're really one of us - you might even be Al himself. His sense of humour would be to tease us all, light the blue touch paper, sit back, and have a good chortle!

Come on old chap, own up!

On the other hand, if I'm wrong OO, you must be the fellow at the end of the bar whom everyone ignores.

12th Feb 2010, 19:29
At Last !!

And I know Ray would have wanted his name spelled correctly !

12th Feb 2010, 20:05
To those of calm influence; sorry Tim, but you have rather been singled out, and also to those armchair Top Guns and retrospective heroes including such luminaries as Fying Lawyer, Newt, X767, Jindabyne, Heliport and many others, I am sure that you would agree that this has indeed been a polarising thread.

We may stick our heads in our mouths (1044 on 11th Feb) but unlike some I don't believe that we inflict it or the risk of it on others. There are a number of things that (sic)we have got through to our skulls (1928 on 12th Feb); not least of which are courtesy and a respect for other peoples' opinions, something that was always there, even if we may not have agreed with those opinions.

I find it fascinating that the most persistent and, to my mind, aggressive, antagonistic and insulting posters on this thread has sought out the moderators to end this waffle (1928 on 12th Feb).

I hope they don't as it's always rather fun waiting for that last word from 00

12th Feb 2010, 20:19
I think your definition of "polit" says a lot about you !!

Lightning Mate
12th Feb 2010, 20:39
I note your age, if true.

"...that drove Al to carry out his daring manoeuvre"

Daring what may I ask????

Your previous comments say a lot about you too.

12th Feb 2010, 20:43
Yes - age accurate !

Thank you for your appreciation of my previous posts.


12th Feb 2010, 22:38
Some extracts from the CV of one of the people our resident armchair pilot sees fit to dismiss as "armchair Top Guns" and "retrospective heroes":Former RAF fast jet pilot, Squadron display pilot, Test Pilot for over 20 years, Test Pilot Tutor at ETPS, almost 9000 hours on over 120 types, and a highly respected civvy display pilot - for more years than I can remember.
Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air - for operational flying,
Air Force Cross - for his work as a test pilot,
Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators Derry & Richards Memorial Medal - awarded to "a test pilot who has made an outstanding contribution in advancing the art and science of aviation." (1999, first mil pilot to receive this prestigious accolade.)

As Octavian says, it is ironic that it's the most persistent, aggressive, antagonistic and insulting poster who is now calling on the moderators to "end this waffle."
I can see understand why our self-styled expert would prefer the thread to be closed, but it is quite good fun waiting to see what waffle he'll come up with next. :)

PPRuNe Pop
13th Feb 2010, 19:31
Gentleman, and ladies. You will note that there has been a major amount of real pruning. I apologise for that. But, the fashion in which some of contributions have been made is either farcical or way off topic. The incident happened many years ago. It is now a history topic and no amount of pontificating can change it, who would want to? Chuck Yeager used to tell, and it was there film enough to see, that he could low fly a P51 within a few inches of the ground from the tip of his prop. Time and time again. Some pilots have consummate skill to do things others can only dream of - some die in the attempt.

The thread is open again but only for a continued debate and no drifting please.


13th Feb 2010, 20:24
PPrune Pop

Grateful thanks are offered to you, for removing some of the more toxic and ill-informed opinions that have detracted from this thread. LM's vituperative language in denigrating fellow pilots, and DZ's tedious observations about a feat that he could never really appreciate, are regrettable and will not be missed.

Brian Abraham
14th Feb 2010, 01:57
Some pilots have consummate skill to do things others can only dream of
A local crop duster of some renown, and not adverse to giving the authorities stick, was taken to court for flying under a bridge on the highway. Not me your honour, as you can see from the evidence that the wing span of the alleged aircraft is greater than the distance between the bridge spans. Charge thrown out of court. What the good judge didn't know was he had side slipped it through. Wonder if it would have side slipped past FL had he been presiding?

Have flown under the Sydney Harbour bridge as part of a formation of many (opening of the Opera House). No great skill required in that case, akin to riding the scooter in through the open hangar doors.

14th Feb 2010, 18:48
Brian Abraham,

Nice story Brian, which underscores the vital fact in Al's feat. It took skill and judgement (particularly as Tim McLelland said, it was carried out on impulse). Those who dismiss his manoeuvre as not worth a candle, should perhaps think back to Ray Hanna's near decapitation of Alain de Cadenet in that wonderful Spitfire Low Flying Pass.
The difference between the ordinary and the exceptional, when flying is involved, is quite narrow, and so when we are presented with a bit of special flying, we should applaud and wish that we had the same ability.


Finningley Boy
4th Apr 2010, 21:10
Of course tomorrow is the 42nd Anniversary of the great event. I wonder if someone is this moment contemplating having a bash at it with a Harrier or something?:E


Lightning Mate
5th Apr 2010, 13:29
Of course tomorrow is the 42nd Anniversary of the great event. I wonder if someone is this moment contemplating having a bash at it with a Harrier or something?http://images.ibsrv.net/ibsrv/res/src:www.pprune.org/get/images/smilies/evil.gif

I really, really, really hope not!!

mike rondot
21st Mar 2011, 22:59
I met the perpetrator of the outrage a couple of months ago at a pub near Duxford to retrieve his 1976 painting and give it a clean and repair. There were loads of mistakes that needed correction - too many to list - but short of a complete repaint with numbers 4, 7 and 11 from my PBN outfit, it has now been returned in a state less painful to the eye than it was when I collected it. A nose-job and the roadway received most attention.

The bus that he remembers trundling across the bridge as he approached was represented at his suggestion as a No1. Very appropriate, given that the motto of No1 Squadron "In omnibus princeps", roughly translates in my schoolboy Latin as "First in Number One Bus"

Here is the picture:


I am willing to waive my fee to paint one of our few remaining front-line aircraft repeating the feat if anyone would care to oblige next Friday......

Mike R

22nd Mar 2011, 12:27

Someone did a rehearsal today - can I claim a prize?:cool:


mike rondot
22nd Mar 2011, 16:01
Yes, give yourself a sweetie from the jar and a special prize for updating the bus to a modern shape. That is very clever photoshopping.

22nd Mar 2011, 16:32
Looks like a No 9 bus,and he`s got the stbd gear door flapping !

22nd Mar 2011, 17:24
Door done - good spot!

22nd Mar 2011, 20:50
Nice work Jindabyne!

23rd Mar 2011, 09:26
sycamore - No78, not 9

Aah, but I now see what you mean - bit slow these days!!

Double Zero
24th Mar 2011, 10:21
Would the wonder-bomber's fin even fit through the gap ?! :E

India Four Two
24th Mar 2011, 17:21
141' from the road to the upper walkways, so plenty of room for The Mighty Fin, even with the bus there.