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RAE Thurleigh

Old 14th Feb 2012, 07:21
  #121 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Brittany France
Age: 97
Posts: 81

green granite
Just for interest sake.

On the 5th December 1962 I carried out 4 landings in thick fog at London Airport ( see GOOGLE- Flt Lt. C. Grogan)
The following day Mr Prescott a senior BLEU Scientist telephoned me to say that he wished me to be ready to go with him to Cambridge that afternoon to do a broadcast for the BBC.
I must say I was pleased he was driving because it was quite foggy and my ground navigation was rather suspect. On route he said " I hope this is going to work out OK. I have been briefed to find this garage on Jesus Street and ask for the keys of the studio." Well I thought this is going to be more hazardous than landing in fog.
However in the event. We found the garage, and with my fingers crossed, I asked for the 'Keys to the studio'. Without batting an eye lid. I was handed a bunch of keys.and advised that if we turned the corner and parked the car we would see a GREEN door, All will be explained inside!
Beyond the door through a rather tatty corridor, was a modern office door, which we entered. Inside was a modern studio, a desk, on which was a large, old style micriphone and a telephone, also under see through plastic picture frame, was a notice which read,
If there is noise coming from the room next door...Bang on the wall...If the noise persists, ring this number.
After a while the telephone rang and Mr Prescott was advised to go over to radio broadcast. We were now both able to join in and we were told we were being taped. Remember Mr Prescott was an expert at this and I was quite green so during extensive questioning I was constantly challenged to simplify my answers for a non flying public.
OK. Ordeal over, we were now on route home. Mr Prescott said."That broadcast is going out just before the 6 O'clock news. Let's pop into this Pub and see if we can listen to it!" Inside he asked the landlord if we could. Well we were told the only radio was in their front room.They had never done this before, he would call us when the programme was on. We were duly called and looked at vey suspiciously by his wife and Mother. But when the broadcast began, it was miraculous, they recognised our voices and their eyes glowed. They were in the midst of celebreties
I was truly amazed to hear my side of the story It sounded quite professional, such was the expertise of the programmer. It certainly was not down to me. As we left, the old lady said to Mr Prescott..." Our television has stopped working! Is there anything you can do".

Having re read this I think I may have made a mistake with names..It could have been Mr Shayler. Anyway it was one of them...Sorry.Paddy

Last edited by Padhist; 14th Apr 2012 at 17:23. Reason: Memory lapse
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Old 4th May 2013, 10:57
  #122 (permalink)  
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For those that haven't seen it here's the video of the Final Days at Bedford

Last edited by green granite; 4th May 2013 at 10:57.
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Old 10th May 2013, 16:43
  #123 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: hampshire
Age: 63
Posts: 1
Hi, not a pilot or even a boffin, just an ex-RAE apprentice wishing to share some unique and rare photographs and memories. I worked in Flight Systems on the flight simulators and the telemetry equipment. In a previous post someone asked for photographs of the aircraft we had at Thurleigh, I have some of the T2 Harrier (XW175 - before its garish respray) piloted (I believe) by John Bolton (sp?) and a couple of Mr John Farley (see picture below) and his non-RAE T2, all taken in Feb 1977 aboard HMS Hermes somewhere in the Moray Firth. My role in this little exercise was to man the telemetry equipment recording flight-trials information (I also built a bit of it) - all of which was housed in the little orange and white cabin to the left of the picture - which incidentally was made at Thurleigh from a section of old wind tunnel.

I have 14 more pictures like this if anyone is interested in seeing them.

erm... some memories - The head of Electronics School was indeed Keith Paull, and he drove a Reliant Regal, not a Robin. His expertise was in thermionic valves so solid state electronics was an alien tech for him ... but he did fill our days with a lot of esoteric stuff like his memoirs as a dispatch rider, the Scouts, his thoughts on paranormal stuff and research into flying fortresses based at Twinwoods. As someone said, a lot of "characters" worked at the RAE in those days...

During my time there I worked on the telemetry equipment of the Flight System's T2 Harrier and the Gnat (Tonka toy... that's a new one on me) and as a radio tech the Sea Vixen, Lightning, HS125, Hunter, Sea King, Puma and Wasp. Being based in the Electronics School for two years, I also watched many launches from the steam catapult, including the Fairey Gannet, which would drop off the end of the deck and run along the grass for several yards before finally getting airborne.
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Old 27th Jun 2013, 16:08
  #124 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Warwick, Warwickshire
Age: 75
Posts: 6
Fairey Ultra-Light Helicopter trials

Does anyone who worked at RAE Thurleigh remember the Fairey Ultra-Light helicopter G-APJJ being mounted on top of a bus for rotor performance trials of some description? I should be grateful for any information at all, including dates and personal comments, but especially any images of this setup for a history of the Midland Aircraft Preservation Society which acquired 'PJJ on loan from the then College of Aeronautics at Cranfield in the mid-1970s.
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Old 28th May 2014, 13:56
  #125 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2014
Location: North East
Posts: 1
Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but I'm doing some research into Thurleigh, fascinating place. For those of you that haven't found it "Wings Over Thurleigh" can be bough from BAHG for £15 + p&p (£6.00 I think) and its a great read.

I was wondering if any of you chaps have photos of the NAD areas pre the closedown. I'm particularly interested in the cats, the flush one, the steel deck one and the cordite one, the Oscillating Platform and "HMS Kid"

I've managed to get some information that shows the remains of the oscillating platform on the southern end of the "cordite cat" but not sure if this is where it always "lived". I had read mention that the tracks that it was mounted on went back into a Hanger at one point, but I can't see where this could have been.

I've no idea where "HMS Kidd" was on the site, so any information would be really useful, as would any images showing the other two cats or the arrestor gear.

All the best,

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Old 28th May 2014, 19:36
  #126 (permalink)  

Dog Tired
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: uk
Posts: 1,682
Can't help you Ben on the pictures but my son carries on the tradition there.

He's a design engineer and has exclusive use of a 3-d printer...

Thurleigh lives on.
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Old 29th May 2014, 23:44
  #127 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: UK
Posts: 1,974
I donít think that I can better any of the published photos. My time with RAE was post NAD, but I did manage to exercise the raised catapult on several occasions.
Sam Kidd was associated with building many things, but I suspect that due to the complexity of the rolling platform it was contracted out Ė as was the ski jump.
HMS Kidd might be what I knew as HMS Bedford which was constructed in Sam Kidd tradition to replicate a carrier deck and conning tower with full night lighting for Harrier trials. It was impressively real when all of the other airfield lights were off. IIRC this was aligned with the arrestor runway on the N side.
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Old 29th Apr 2020, 18:19
  #128 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Newport Pagnell
Posts: 1
Originally Posted by Busa1400 View Post
I used to work at RAE Thurleigh about 20 years ago. At the time they had a BAE111, amongst others. I seem to remember a Seaking with a radar bulb built on the nose. I know it is a long shot, but anyone got any photos of the Thurleigh fleet ?
Check out on facebook "military bedfordshire" he has an album of old phots from RAE Bedford on there :-)
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Old 30th Apr 2020, 10:54
  #129 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Warwick, Warwickshire
Age: 75
Posts: 6
Following the 50th anniversary of what was initially the Midland Aircraft Preservation Society (now Midland Air Museum), the founding members are compiling a detailed history, covering its origins and development up to the early-90s. Several of the aeroplanes secured during that period have links with RAE Bedford, notably the Boulton Paul P111a VT935, the Fairey Ultralight Helicopter G-APJJ and Meteor NF.14 WS838. Consequently, although we do have some images of all three at Thurleigh, it would be very helpful to obtain any further information regarding their use and testing there, together with personal recollections of particular incidents.
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