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RAF Manston – History of No. 1 AEF (1967 to 1995)

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RAF Manston – History of No. 1 AEF (1967 to 1995)

Old 1st Jun 2009, 18:35
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RAF Manston – History of No. 1 AEF (1967 to 1995)

Hi everyone…

Some of you may know that the AEF (Air Experience Flight) organisation turns 51 this coming September. Over the years this organisation, which was originally equipped with Chipmunk aircraft, has been an invaluable “recruiter” for not only the RAF but the Fleet Air Arm along with the Army Air Corps across all ranks and trades. Many UK aircrew (Mil or Civil), past and present, will have probably gained their first thrill for flying in the back of a Chipmunk !

Having had the privilege of serving with No. 1 AEF for nine years back in the 70’s and early 80’s, as a small tribute, I have authored a brief history on Wikipedia that I thought some of you might find of interest… or even jog a few early memories !

1 Air Experience Flight - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It would be really great to hear from past “customers”… even better if you could share some photos and stories.

I’m still looking to add to the article… where any help would be greatly appreciated. I’m particularly keen to find out more on the pre Manston era, but appreciate that might be a bit of a long shot now. Equally, I’d appreciate any detail from 1981 to the date the Flight closed at Manston in 1995.

There may have been other aircraft serials on the fleet at times… where it would be good to add these to the fleet list (even find out if they are still flying)… so time to look at the 414 or your 3822 (if you still have it !)

Maybe some contribution from the current 1 AEF Team down at St Athan who carry on the good work today ?

Kind regards

Coff.

Last edited by CoffmanStarter; 16th Jan 2010 at 15:28.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 09:19
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Join Date: Feb 2005
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Just had a quick look in my 3822, between 93 & 95 i flew in

WG430(6)
WK554(4)
WP855(5)
WP860(6)

What a cracking time that was, wish i could turn back the clock.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 13:12
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Manston AEF, happy memories of flogging down the A2 in a coach from Gravesend (402 Sqn ATC) then spending the day trying to steal bits of aircraft from the fire pits despite being told not to go over there! The Red Arrows (Gnats) also used to use Manston in the winter and our NCO's crewroom was adorned with a nice Red Arrows pitot head cover pinched by some naughty cadet. Also did my first solo there with 617 VGS but that as they say is another story.
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Old 2nd Jun 2009, 13:18
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Coffman check your PM
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 19:14
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Hi fire3...

Thanks for your reply... much appreciated. A quick search suggests WG430 is in the USA, while WK554 is now in South Africa, with WP855 "downunder" in Australia and WP860 up at Perth Scotland (all still flying it would seem)... I'll update the Wiki page shortly. It looks like 430's Tail ID No: was a 3 ?

Thanks again...

Coff.

Last edited by CoffmanStarter; 6th Jun 2009 at 06:41.
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Old 4th Jun 2009, 19:17
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Hi Matt...

Thanks for your PM's. All noted. Much appreciated.

Just had a fantastic hook-up with the son of one of the Founder Pilots... just about to drop him a line... more history to add and maybe some early pictures !

Kind regards...

Coff.
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Old 5th Jun 2009, 11:28
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i will try to track down some pictures of my time with 1 AEF,.

Did you know the old 1 AEF sign that used to sit outside the AEF hut is now in the Manston history museum?
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Old 6th Jun 2009, 06:21
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Hi fire3...

Thanks I'm aware of where the old sign now rests. Am I right in assuming you were a Staff Cadet with Boss Paddy & Pete ? If so please PM...

Coff.

Last edited by CoffmanStarter; 6th Jun 2009 at 06:42.
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Old 11th Jun 2009, 13:50
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1 Aef Staff Pilot

Hi. Thank you for the 1 AEF history. I was lucky enough to fly for 1 AEF whilst I was a staff officer in MOD in 1990 & 91. Pete Stonham was the Boss and was much respected by all present. I really enjoyed my tailwheel checkout with Pete, never having been qualified on the Chippie before (I learnt on the JP in 1972/3), although I do remember being in the "boot" as a CCF cadet. My Sundays during that period consisted of a usually pleasant drive or motorcycle ride across Kent followed by 5 Chippie trips to Dover Castle and a nice ride home again. It really eased the pain of life in the MOD.

I recall that Pete was also the driving force behind the little museum at Manston over that period.

For your record, I am Ex-Harriers.

Tony Harper
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Old 12th Jun 2009, 18:50
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Hi Tony...

Thank you so much for taking the trouble to reply... glad you like the story so far ! Having a bit of an issue uploading some of the fleet pictures (copyright stuff)... but I'll get it cracked somehow. I'm also going to try and get the current 1 AEF chaps to join in.

I only met Pete the once (I was from Jonnie Johnston, John Shelton and Paddy Brown days)... really nice chap Pete... as they all were.

I'll drop you a PM...

Kind regards...

Coff.

Last edited by CoffmanStarter; 13th Jun 2009 at 07:05.
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Old 23rd Nov 2009, 21:31
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1 AEF Airframes

I have in my F3822
  • WK577 in 1965
  • WP837 in 1966 and 1969
  • WP642 and WD370 in 1970
  • WZ845 in 1971
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Old 21st Dec 2009, 20:07
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60's memories

Happy memories. Spent 3 years from 1965 - 68 as staff cadet with 1AEF. Many happy times and over 50 hrs on chippies. Set me up for life.
Anyone remember when all the WWII fighters arrived for filming "Battle of Britain"?
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Old 21st Dec 2009, 20:16
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More airframes

Found my 3882 and includes airframes:
WP846
WP837
WP577
WP851
WP344
WP627

Did forced landing in WP627 in Mar 68
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Old 30th Dec 2009, 16:52
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Serial Check

Hi BeanC...

Thanks for your information... I suspect 642 was WK642 ?

Kind regards...

Coff.
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Old 30th Dec 2009, 16:57
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Serial Check

Hi Captain W...

Thanks for your information. I suspect 627 was WB627, 577 was WK577 and 344 was WD344 ?

Kind regards...

Coff.
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Old 31st Dec 2009, 11:45
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I was flying Whirlwinds at Manston '65-68 and flew the Chipmunks part time. I have WG 896, WG 837, WG 536, WP 627, WP 855, WD 344, WP 827, WP 846 & WP 837.
I was on shift when all the Heinkel's and Me 109's appeared. A bit startling as no one had bothered to tell us that they were coming. Suddenly the sound of all those Merlins - marvellous.
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Old 6th Jan 2010, 20:35
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Serial Check

Hi Rotorfossil...

Thanks for your information... and I’m really pleased that you’ve made contact. Whilst another story... perhaps you can share the history behind the exquisitely hand drawn “crew room artwork” we inherited from 22 Squadron ! You’ll know the one I’m referring to... the almost full size reclining sun worshiper with the little yellow Whirlwind in the top left corner !

I’ve also made contact with the son of one of the founder pilots (Alpha 33 - sadly no longer with us) where we are jointly doing a bit of research on the 1 AEF fleet history.

Please check your PM...

Kind regards...

Coff.
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Old 7th Jan 2010, 16:51
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Manston has fantastic memories for me, in the late 60's early 70's my first flight was with the ATC, 312 (Canterbury) squadron. My first flight was with a pilot I only knew as "Ding", and It changed my life, especially after the aero's! and I made Flying my career. Does anybody remember him? and what was his real name? Would love the opertunity to shake his hand.





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Old 7th Jan 2010, 20:31
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Hi Wulf...

Thanks so much for your post. That will be Donald (Don) Ding you remember... Call Sign "Alpha 36". I'm afraid I lost contact with him and the other guys in the early 80's. Don was a charming Irish gentlemen who certainly enjoyed his aerobatics. He was also one of the pilots along with Les Zapp and John Powell who flew as the "Zap Pow Ding" wave !

Best regards...

Coff.
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Old 11th Jan 2010, 21:33
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Stand corrected

Coff, your suspicions are correct. It was in fact WB627, WK577 and WD344.
Have to admit my F3882 is a bit faded and grubby!
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