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Your life in their hands?

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Your life in their hands?

Old 27th Apr 2008, 20:41
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Your life in their hands?

You know the feeling. You get on-board an aircraft and think 'what the bl00dy hell!!!!' I had a 'lamp-swinging' session with a few old buddies a week or so ago and the tales were told.

Early 90's, NATO burning holes in the skies above the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. The F3 boys going home to tea and medals at Gioia del Colle, all looking forward to gozome time.

Come the day, hurray, we can all go home 'cos the Scottish F3 Force are taking over the task. What do we get to bring us home? The NATO airships send us a TU-154 of Air Ukraine! Hmm, interesting we all thought, then as we climbed aboard, to a man it was 'What the bl00dy hell!!!'

The main cabin luxuriously kitted out with, not Axminster, but LINO. Aircraft seats that moved, not reclining type of movement, but sliding type of movement because a lot of them were not bolted down. Cabin crew of the 'night club bouncer' school of hospitality, and they were the females!! On looking out the window, there is our 'professional' first officer doing his preflight checks with a fag in his mouth.

Before we could all escape this fiasco, the cabin doors were closed and we all listened to the emergency brief, wonderful, all in fluent Ukrainian!!

On getting airborne we circled a bit, taking in breathtaking scenes of Southern Italy before setting of towards Malta. This navigational error was soon corrected with much heated chatter between the 'I speak English good, I learn it from a book' radio officer and Italian Air Traffic Control.

Ah, snack time. Out came the Air Ukraine version of the butty box. I've never eaten so much cucumber in my life washed down with cucumber juice.

Eventually we stumbled our way across Europe getting ever closer to the secret F3 airbase in North Yorkshire. Lunchtime, Cucumber a la King anyone?

Our tame Air Traffiker in the mean time has been listening to the R/T chatter (sad, I know), then informs us that the aircraft has had radar vectors all the way home because the aircraft doesn't have a map that runs west of Ukraine. Hence the heated radio chatter between Manuel the radio officer, Eurocontrol and LATCC.

Eventually we are vectored all the way home. The white knuckles on finals showing beautifully through the golden tan's gained in Italy.

JEngO then pipes up 'How are they going to refuel this thing? We don't have Russian fuel connections at base' (another sad case).

Anyhow, finally we all disembark. Massively grateful for getting home, not that concerned about the stresses of flying over the FRY, but Air Ukraine's Trooper was another matter.

As a finale, I was tasked by the Boss to get ERC's, BINA's and EUMED's for the crew to get them home. This was manna from heaven to them. The RAF provided the whole airline with 1 copy of each chart and doc. On subsequent troopers, the radio officer was sent to Flight Planning to amend THE chart and THE doc.

Oh, and re-entering the aircraft to deposit said load of Docs and Charts, there was the head steward (with fag in mouth) cleaning the cabin with a mop, with gallons of water slopping about. The VASS chiefy took one look and decided to get off, all the electrical cable runs ran under the floor.

The refuelling problem was solved, the aircraft had a NATO coupling factory fitted as standard. Not a civvy coupling, a NATO coupling. Hmm, it makes you think what the role of the TU-154 was in case of unpleasantness between East and West.

Oh and I just found this snippet

The NATO reporting name of the Tu-154 is Careless.

Appropriate.

Anyway, I'm sure there's many a tale waiting to be told.

Over to you.

Last edited by taxydual; 28th Apr 2008 at 00:27. Reason: Added the NATO name for the TU-154
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Old 27th Apr 2008, 21:44
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All Warsaw Pact aircraft had NATO fittings for fuel, power etc fitted as standard. You can probably work out why.
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Old 27th Apr 2008, 22:58
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Oh I worked that one out, but this coupling had the NATO STANAG Number embossed in it!!
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Old 27th Apr 2008, 23:38
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All Warsaw Pact aircraft had NATO fittings for fuel, power etc fitted as standard. You can probably work out why.
Perhaps it was for the same reason that they were all 7.63mm and ready to invade. I for one spent many summers on OPs Reforger, Lionheart, Crusader et al in the Fulda gap getting ready for the now (thankfully) un-prepared Russkis to wander through. Our bits fitted theirs, but for sure you couldn't put a Sov round into an SLR.

Last edited by Dan D'air; 28th Apr 2008 at 01:36.
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Old 27th Apr 2008, 23:47
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Not quite as bad as the Soviet tales, but I remember one balmy summer day on a certain UAS in the midlands. It was the week before the airshow and those of us not on the programme had been tasked with getting everything ready.

A civi Dakota came in - I forget exactly why - but the hostie was rather fetching (we did wonder what he needed a hostie on board for, but having seen her, we could see his point!). Anyway, to cut a long story short, after lunch, we were given the option of a quick pax ride round the local area. It all seemed to go to plan, we got out of the sqn for a bit, spent half an hour watching the hosties breasts trying to get out of her uniform every time we hit a bit of a turbulence and then landed back without any drama.

So where does this all fit in with the thread? As we walked back to ops, the pilot pipes up about what a successful flight it was - the engineers must have fixed it finally as it was only the second time that month he hadn't had an engine failure on finals!
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 03:30
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The question shouldn't be why "the aircraft had a NATO coupling factory fitted as standard", but where did it come from in the first place and who provided the export licence?
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 06:03
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Not an MOD contract, but there was an Air Atlanta 747SP flying down to Las Islas Malvinas in the late 90s when someone was convinced there was oil down there. This aircraft was flying the oil exploration workers down there and it was quite plush. Only 80 seats, all large leather first class variety and gorgeous (well, to those who hadn't seen anything more attractive than Flossie the sheep for a month) Icelandic hosties. So when it parked next to us one day, we went on board to say hello and have an oggle.

We met the operating crew - and to say there was a bit of an atmosphere was an understatement. The pilots looked like they were about to punch each other, the F/E was going to punch both. It transpires that they had been flying there without any maps or approach plates. The Captain, who had done the trip twice before had mentioned it was no problem. All they had to do is steer to a 10 mile final point at 2000' and it was a piece of p!ss. Well, it would be if the cloud base was lower than 2000' and you couldn't see the ground which would stop you being scared (no GPWS on this aircraft). But on this day, the weather was a good Falklands day and the ceiling was 2100'. They broke cloud to see the Mount Kent radome 150' below them!

That afternoon, OC Ops phoned me and asked us to photocopy ten sets of approach plates.
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 06:53
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This aircraft was flying the oil exploration workers down there and it was quite plush.
According to one of those pax, in comparison to being bounced around the North Sea in a minibus, they thoroughly enjoyed those trips, despite having to spend a few hours in what looked like the Western Isles but without the culture. The Hosties were indeed splendid, and he's not surprised at all about the lassais-faire attitude of the guys driving.

As for the presence or otherwise of viable quantities of crude..........couldn't say.
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 09:00
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Sounds like us...

Your story doesn't sound to far removed from some of my RAF experiences.

Borrowed maps and charts from various nations. Wrong ATC frequencies.
Wrong/incorrect TAPS...
...er, can we have vectors to a visual please...
Wrong fuel cards/unable to pay for fuel.
Being 'escorted' to the nearest bank with AMEX in hand.

I could go on.
Point being that we look like a complete bunch of amateurs more often than not.

Cucumber sandwiches? Luxury...
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 09:48
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Wasn't there once a department called 'Navigation Flight Services' who used to look after such things? I guess that's gone as well now....

After the 137 MHz fiasco (MoD had somehow missed the worldwide change from 118-136 to 118-137 MHz for VHF comms......), I rang a chap at the Wyton IPT to ask how the FM-immunity compliant navigation and VHF comms systems were coming along for a certain 4-jet fleet.....

He'd never heard about the legislation due in less than 9 months time and it had only been on the cards for about 20 years. It seems that a 'not in my tour' predecessor had buried it in a file somewhere. So I faxed him a copy of an article in Pilot - this was the first written requirement he'd ever seen. Predictably he was less than pleased; I believe we had a few expensive diversions in the first few months of the mandatory compliance period from non FM-immune fitted aircraft unable to make IFR approaches at certain aerodromes.

Yet our Flying Club aircraft all had FM-immune VHF radios and nav receivers before the deadline .
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 17:04
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That didn't only happen to the 4 engined fleet. The IPTs must have been 'working' together to provide a unified front of inaction. Although I have heard of similar stories over the same issue with foreign air forces too so it looks like we don't have the monopoly on muppetry.
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Old 28th Apr 2008, 18:55
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Whilst in training during the late 70's I was fortunate to take part in an exchange visit with Frech Air Force trainees technicians at their base near La Rochelle.
The trip out was taken courtesy of Albert Airways and the return was to be taken in a Transall. At the last monemt we were informed that the aircraft had been otherwise tasked and we were to fly home again in a Nord Noratlas.....




In all honesty none of us had ever heard of a Noratlas before let alone seen one, but our French hosts delighted in regaling us with tales of its little mishaps. Such as the time a fire extinguisher went off at the front of the cargo deck and all the paras on board rushed to the rear thinking the worst. The worst did in fact happen when the aircraft stalled due to the sudden weight shift, and crashed with loss of life of all aboard. Or so we were told

The next day the piston engined Noratlas pitched up, complete with oil leaks and an elastic bungee keeping a sorry looking collection of cables and pipes clealr of the retracting main leg in one u/c bay. The flight crew were fluent in, er, French, and our interpeter had to man the radios once we got indise UK airspace.
Still, we got back OK and it was a hell of a lot more intersting a flight than a boring Transall.

Last edited by splitbrain; 28th Apr 2008 at 19:13.
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Old 3rd May 2008, 12:10
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Excuse me sir, put that blaady fag out!

Just a quicky, I can remember sitting at Lossie looking out over the VASS pan watching a Belgian F105 starfighter taxi to a stop. A bowser rolls up and one of the VASS SACs starts refuelling. One of the quirks of the F105 was that it was open line refuelling, a bit like the petrol pump at the garage (open flap, stick nozzle in, pull handle).
Pilot of said F105 by this time has unstrapped, taken off his helmet and is now sat on the top step of the ladder. Without a care in the world he then reaches into his flying suit, takes out a packet of fags and sets about lighting up.
The ensuing discussion between the VASS chiefy and the Belgian pilot was brief and one sided.

Ogre
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Old 3rd May 2008, 13:30
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Originally Posted by Ogre
Without a care in the world he then reaches into his flying suit, takes out a packet of fags and sets about lighting up.
I think I know how he must have felt.

The only time I've ever felt the need for a cigarette was after a pax trip in a Dutch Bo105, across the Irish Sea from West Freugh to Jurby, low-level, at night, in a thunderstorm.
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