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CAA Flying Unit

Old 23rd Aug 2017, 07:09
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CAA Flying Unit

Does anyone have any memories of this unit to share ? I'm 46 now but I wasn't aware the CAAFU even existed until I was about 15. However, unbeknownst to me, I had come across HS748 AVXI several times already, doing the ILS checks at Leeds Bradford. I don't know if XJ ever visited LBA or the HS125.

I was always intrigued as to the identity and purpose of this mysterious 748, seemingly flying round in circles for hours but not landing. Once I knew what it was all about it was interesting to watch and listen on the airbands. Nowadays it's just not the same with the tiny twin prop machines doing the calibration, although some of the manoeuvres are quite a sight.
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 08:56
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My first ever flight was in HS748 G-ATMJ as part of a program the CAA ran for Essex school children....At the time I attended the Junior school in the village of Stansted.

It is the only flight in my log without a date and think it was 1974

There was a 3rd 748, G-ATMI and this was also used for calibration work
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 09:48
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Dunno about 'TMI flying for CAFU ? CAA records show Dan Air taking it in 1976 after Court Line/Autair, then ending up with Emerald.

'TMJ was CAFU '72 to '78 though.

Last edited by G-ARZG; 23rd Aug 2017 at 09:52. Reason: '72 to '78 for 'TMJ's CAFU service
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 09:49
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Was ATMJ the aircraft that the CAA 'shared' with Dan-Air ?

When I saw XI taxi in and park at LBA after a calibration run, it struck me how independent its operation was. No obvious handling agent, no steps or refuelling. One of the crew chocked the nosewheel having come down the internal steps. The only persons who met the crew were the Tels engineers.
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 10:11
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Records I have checked show G-AVXI and XJ as purchased new by the Board of Trade. G-ATMJ was purchased second hand from Autair (Court Line) then sold to Danair in 1978.

Last edited by Planemike; 23rd Aug 2017 at 11:11.
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 11:05
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Mooncrest, you may find a lot more information and memories about CAFU here CAFU History - Home
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 11:23
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In the early eighties, as a local (to Stansted) air cadet, I did a fair bit of flying with CAFU, as our next door neighbour was one of the units flight ops inspectors. I was lucky enough to fly in G-AVDX, plus it's replacement G-CCAA, and the units Navajo.

Sorry about the image quality, it was taken with my brownie camera.

[IMG][/IMG]
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 11:36
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The Doves were often employed at the College of Air Traffic Control at Bournemouth to provide 'live' training for NATCS controllers. ATCO Cadet trainees were required to fly in the right hand seat during the training flights.
I vaguely remember we were in groups of 3, one flying the others 'controlling'.

Last edited by chevvron; 23rd Aug 2017 at 12:42.
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 12:08
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Several Doves met their end at Biggin Hill, presumably having first been picked over for spares by Fairflight Charters. I can recall G-ALFT and G-ALFU which probably ended up on the fire dump. I think another one is preserved at Duxford?

I recall the 748s doing circuits at Gatwick, also BAA had a Shrike Commander they used for some sort of calibration duties I think?
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 12:28
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I can recall G-ALFT and G-ALFU which probably ended up on the fire dump. I think another one is preserved at Duxford?
Foxtrot Uniform is the one hanging from the ceiling at Duxford....
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 12:28
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Let's not forget all the poor nervous souls who had to fly the Doves to get an Instrument Rating
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 15:34
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happybiker. I've just read the extract from the CAFU book. I don't doubt incidents such as those were far from ordinary and most of the calibration missions were routine multiple approaches and monitoring monitors. Was a strong stomach needed I wonder - something of a rollercoaster ride.
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 18:16
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The Dove photo was taken by my father and is G-ANUU, DH104 Dove Mk 6, CAA Calibration Unit, LGW, 1966 Jul 01

The 748 photo is my photo of G-AVXJ, HS748 srs 2, CAA, GCI, 13 May 1986.


G-ANUU, DH104 Dove Mk 6, CAA Calibration Unit, LGW, 1966 Jul 01.jpg

G-AVXJ, HS748 srs 2, CAA, GCI, 13 May 1986..jpg
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 19:18
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I spent a month at Stansted in the mid-60s on a Met. Observers course. Apart from various airlines carrying out mainly circuit training.......constellations, vanguards 707s etc [what a mix!] the majority of movements were the Civil Aviation Flying Unit. At that time Doves and Princes in the 'Minair' red and black livery. Off they all went to carry out flight checks on en-route and airfield navaids and of course the ATC college at Bournemouth being a 'CAA' college in those days had some use of Minair aircraft for training airfield radar controllers.

The Manual of ATC stated that CAA flight calibrations had priority over most other aircraft and the 'calibrators' of the past twenty years have been far more cooperative than the Minair guys in this respect. The latter certainly demanded priority and in the days of the HS 748 calibrations made it very difficult to expedite and maintain an orderly flow of the other traffic, particularly when they failed to communicate their next intention!

It was a good day when 'regulation' and 'operations' were segregated!
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 19:50
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I clearly remember seeing the first 748 departing Staverton after having some work performed by Smiths Instruments, I think it was on delivery to STN. Upon arrival at the Smiths hangar I found the second 748 in work. I was about 8 years old, my Fathers was an engineer at Smiths.
In 1970 we moved as a family to Essex when my Father took a job at CAAFU, I remember lots of Doves and the President in the hangar.
In the 80's whilst working for ATEL at STN I spent some time on secondment to CAAFU, there was 1 Dove left, a 125, Navajo and the 2 748's.
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 21:09
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G-ARGZ, you have corrected me appropriately, was of course VXI not TMI
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Old 23rd Aug 2017, 22:32
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Foxtrot Uniform is the one hanging from the ceiling at Duxford....
Indeed it is - NUT and NUU at Biggin? 40 years ago...
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Old 24th Aug 2017, 11:25
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Originally Posted by treadigraph View Post
Indeed it is - NUT and NUU at Biggin? 40 years ago...
My logbook shows I flew two flights each in 'NUW and 'NUT from Bournemouth in Feb 1974 whilst on my Approach Radar course at the College of ATC.
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Old 24th Aug 2017, 11:42
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This page on the Air Britain site shows 'NUT and 'NUU at Biggin in '77, latterly on the fire dump.

'NUW ended up with Aces High and is now at the East Midlands Aeropark. Bit tatty unless they've been able to restore her.

'NOV is with the Museum of flight at East Fortune.
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Old 24th Aug 2017, 12:29
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What were their Chipmunks used for and when did they dispose of them? Remember seeing one at Stansted in the 60's.
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