Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 29th Apr 2013, 21:39
  #3741 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Various Forms of Transport.

Tim Mills,

Long shot: were you at Episcopi in the summer of '54 by any chance ? Then, as you were in touch with El Adem in the course of your sand-exporting business (sounds a bit like coals-to-Newcastle to me !), did you hear anything of the loss of one of 608's Vampires plus pilot there about that time ? They were very tight-lipped about it when they came back, I never learned the details.

"Batchy" was one of the greats; they don't make 'em like that any more (more's the pity). Yes, he was AOC 12 Group at Newton (can't remember if it was grass or runways in early '50s - think runways). .......D.


The Bond was in for a rebore (but it had done 20,000 miles). I think I've described the DIY decoke procedure earlier, I must look it up. I don't doubt that it was capable of getting to Paris (every garagiste had melange a deux temps on tap), but I chickened out. (I did the same in '60, when picking up my 403 - the best car of my life - from the Peugeot showrooms in the Champs Elysee). I spent my last few francs in hiring one of their drivers to take me out to the last Metro station, and then point me in the general direction of Germany.

He was a little wizened old chap, eyes half closed against the fumes from the Gauloise permanently stuck to his lower lip. I can still vividly recall my horror as he hurled us nonchalantly into the rush-hour maelstrom of the rond-point round the Arc. Horns blared and tyres screamed, but by some miracle we survived until he got out somewhere near Le Bourget, and I survived after that.

As for sea transport, a matelot or two fore-and-aft could easily carry the thing on board. I'm not sure about the ROROs.

Yes, with a full load aboard the Errant Boy's Bike was sadly in need of a Stab-Aug system and required careful handling. Ten bob plus tips ! - you must've had a generous Boss. As for your veg: "We must all eat a peck of dirt before we die", and "what the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve over"....D.


Comparison is odious, but the Spit (once clear of the ground !) was more directionally stable than the bike, I must admit.....D.

Stop Press: Have got own laptop back, but have forgotten how to use it. Will edit this at some future date to put in accents.

Regards to you all,

Old 30th Apr 2013, 05:27
  #3742 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 172
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hope it is ok to post it in this section ?

During a WW2 German bombing raid on Southampton for once my mother actually went to the shelter in her back garden.
The next morning there was a large dent in the ground but obviously if it had been caused by a bomb it hadn't gone off.
In the 1960's whilst digging in the same piece of ground she dug up a Nazi medallion - hopefully my picture of it will post ok.
In the late 1990's I showed this to a German gentleman who was staying with us and told him the story of how it was found.
He straight away insisted that I contact the Police in England as he strongly suspected that it had been caused by a 250kg bomb
which hadn't exploded. This I did with the result that a truck from the Army bomb disposal unit turned up and investigated for several
hours, it rather shocked the now resident of course but being British she offered tea and bikkies to the soldiers.
They didn't find anything but agreed it was probably caused by an unexploded bomb. However they thought that it must have
skipped into a neighbours garden and been taken away. Snag is to this theory is that when my mother found this object she showed it
to the neighbours and they had a chat about the war as they also lived there at the time. They never said anything about a bomb being
taken away but they did remember that air raid.

I wonder if it had been put into the bomb to sabotage it and so prevent it exploding, I won't say what a cousin of mine said,
suffice to say it was a lot more gruesome and IMHO rather silly.

Last edited by Nervous SLF; 30th Apr 2013 at 05:31.
Nervous SLF is offline  
Old 30th Apr 2013, 06:41
  #3743 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 26,795
Received 270 Likes on 109 Posts
According to the Internet, that is a German 1936 May Day badge. There should be a manufacturer's name on the reverse side, togther with the attachment pin.

Presumably these things were handed out to employees?
BEagle is online now  
Old 30th Apr 2013, 07:04
  #3744 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: New Zealand
Posts: 172
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The pin has rotted away, the medallion appears to be made of a light alloy. The name on the back is, as far as I can see, M. Kutsch Attendurn I.W.

We found out in 1980 that it was to raise money for the Nazis the mystery is how it ended up in our garden in what is strongly thought
to be a bomb crater from WW2
Nervous SLF is offline  
Old 30th Apr 2013, 07:22
  #3745 (permalink)  

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Lancashire born. In Cebu now
Age: 70
Posts: 368
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Keep the stories coming Danny, so enjoyable.

I remember those bikes vividly, mainly for the same reason as Chugalug.
My Uncle had a butchers shop in Blackpool. I started at an early age gutting chickens and boning out lamb breasts. I progressed as I got older. As soon as I was big enough to ride the errand bike that was it. Off to hotels, guest houses and homes laden down with meat and eggs. Winter was the only time I got caught out going down the hill on Northgate, where I skidded and came off. Not many eggs left btw! For that I got the princely sum of 2/6d on a Saturday. Plus tips if I was lucky.
Sorry for the departure...back to you fliers.
lasernigel is offline  
Old 30th Apr 2013, 08:15
  #3746 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
Location: Quite near 'An aerodrome somewhere in England'
Posts: 26,795
Received 270 Likes on 109 Posts
Nervous SLF, that would be M Kutsch of Attendorn, a light engineering works situated in a small town in North-Rhein Westphalia.

Last edited by BEagle; 30th Apr 2013 at 08:17.
BEagle is online now  
Old 1st May 2013, 05:08
  #3747 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: NSW Australia
Posts: 127
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Reference Episcopi, Danny, afraid not, I was there '65/'66 after a great tour on 32 squadron Canberras down the road at Akrotiri. Main role nuclear deterrence, so lots of LABS bombing practice on Episcopi range tossing 25 pounders into the Med, but also iron bomb practice, both "left, left,right, steady,back a bit", and shallow dive, not as steep as yours though! And low level rocketing with 2" rockets, 50 feet level, on what is now Larnaca airport. Great fun.

On another matter, I seem to remember a post a while back mentioning bomb trolley go carts not being launched down the hill in to Binbrook village; probably one of Geriaviators' lovely stories. Made me think, hills, in Lincolnshire, oxymoron surely! During my years in RAF Lincolnshire I never saw a hill; but then I only saw the south of the county, never posted to the craggy north!

See you later, as they say in this neck of the woods.
Tim Mills is offline  
Old 1st May 2013, 18:13
  #3748 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
RAF Binbrook.

Tim Mills,

Found a spot height of 124 ft near Binbrook airfield (seems as if it was at the top of "Ash Hill"). Yes, Geriaviator and his fellow juvenile delinquents did launch scrap bomb trollies down the hill to Binbrook village (the mind boggles !).

As you say, the rest of the county was flat as a pancake.

Cheers, Danny.
Old 1st May 2013, 18:24
  #3749 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Droitwich Spa
Posts: 33
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lincolnshire High spots

Safety Heights still apply even in Lincs!!!
Wolds Top at 168 metres (551 feet) above sea level (TF121964).
Others include:
Castcliffe Hill - TF301735 - 139 metres (456 ft)
Gaumer Hill - TF289778 - 129 metres (423 ft)
Meagram Top - TF392789 - 58 metres (190 ft)
Warden Hill - TF347737 - 113 metres (371 ft)
Tetford Hill - TF326761 - 142 metres (466 ft)
Hoe Hill - TF308731 - 127 metres (417 ft)
Bob Wyer is offline  
Old 1st May 2013, 23:07
  #3750 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Norbury
Age: 82
Posts: 34
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lincolnshire high spots

Not forgetting Lincoln Cathedral now only 83 metres but was 160 metres before the spire fell down
exgroundcrew is offline  
Old 2nd May 2013, 13:18
  #3751 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 82
Posts: 832
Received 240 Likes on 75 Posts
Binbrook hill and the bomb trolley

Tim, Danny

We did find a bomb trolley, but did not dive upon Binbrook village. The trolley was on the salvage dispersal near the south end of the main runway which can still be seen on https://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&tab=wl&authuser=0

The hill began at the Patch and ran down past the junction with Orford Rd. It was steep enough for the Bedford OE school bus to attain 50mph and the trolley would probably have been close behind it. Fortunately, it was about three-quarters of a mile from the salvage dump to top of the hill, too far for three little lads to haul the monster. Otherwise, Geriaviator would not have been posting here today.

Last edited by Geriaviator; 2nd May 2013 at 13:37.
Geriaviator is offline  
Old 2nd May 2013, 18:02
  #3752 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Back at Thornaby, Danny gets some Good News.

The two weeks passed by, we had no significant problems, our troops collected their fortnight's pay plus (I think) their Annual Bounties; we said "Goodbye" to Martlesham and went back to Thornaby. There training was suspended for a week or two to give everybody a rest and allow the regulars to get in a spot of leave.

I've earlier described my failure to get a full career Permanent Commission, and my acceptance into the humbler "Limited Career" PC in the GD (Air Traffic Control) Branch. This would, of course, mean the end of my flying career. The details had not been worked out, but I imagine that the transfer between Branches would have taken place after my current tour at Thornaby. That they would allow me to continue as GD (Pilot) until the end of my SSC (in'57) was too much to hope for.

But now, five years before that date, AMO A499/52 appeared, extending the LCPC offer to the GD (Pilot) Branch. Naturally I immediately applied for my LCPC to be switched to that. And it was approved, too. But (and it proved a very big "But"), it was conditional on my passing the full aircrew medical board again. I didn' t anticipate any difficulty. From the very first, in 1940, I'd known that my mother's concern over my "Weak Chest" was not without foundation. But this had been no hindrance to me in any way; I saw no reason to mention it and the medics couldn't find it. On my two previous full Boards (in '40 and '49), I'd "blown up the mercury" for the full 60 seconds: that satisfied the Board that my lungs were good enough. And 35,000 ft in an unpressurised Meteor had been no problem.

Since my return to the RAF in '49, I'd had a blameless aeronautical conduct sheet, I hadn't bent or scratched a single aircraft, or committed any misdemeanour. It was a pity that I managed to blot my escutcheon so late (as it would prove to be) in the day. I shall tell the sorry story in my next two Posts.

Goodnight, all,


"If you have tears, prepare to shed them now" (Shakespeare: Julius Caesar)

Last edited by Danny42C; 29th Jun 2015 at 17:16. Reason: Speling !
Old 4th May 2013, 01:47
  #3753 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Danny Puts his Foot in It - right royally ! (Part 1)

It was a Sunday afternoon in late '52. I was strolling back from lunch to my office when the howling of Goblins indicated that 608's first detail of interceptions was getting into the air. "Sooner 'em than me", I thought.

For it was "a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year" (E.A. Poe : The Fall of the House of Usher" ). This was one of them. Weathermen call it "Anticyclonic Gloom". A huge high-pressure system was anchored over the UK. There was little or no wind; over all Teeside lay a thick blanket of haze from ICI, the blast furnaces and coke ovens, together with the chimney smoke from hundreds of thousands of coal fires. In those days the Environment hadn't been invented, and nobody would have cared a jot for it if it had.

Slant visibility was very poor, but it is a feature of this smog that you can see straight down through it fairly well. And it usually goes up only 1500-2500 feet into an "inversion", which effectively traps it into a layer above which all is (more or less) clear and blue.

I'd settled back into the regular routine of the day; everything was running smoothly in the Unit, and my afternoon tea and biscuit had just arrived at my desk. The phone rang. It was John Newboult over on the squadron. "Look", he said "we've got a Vampire just in off routine inspection. The Boss wants it on the line ASAP, but it needs an airtest. I'm up to my eyes in it here, and Mike's in the air with the Auxiliaries. Could you possibly...?"

You do not look gift horses in the mouth. Stifling a suggestion that his Boss might get off his rump and do the airtest himself, I agreed (well, you've got to help a mate, haven't you), collected my kit, hopped on the bike, and went over to Flights. It was now mid-afternoon and the light was starting to fade.

I went straight up through this stuff into the clear air above. The Vampire seemed sound in wind and limb, my last check was to take it up to 35,000 to make sure that the "Minimum Burner Pressure" light didn't flicker at max continuous - (I never heard of a Goblin flaming-out, did anyone else ?)

Now I was up high with not much else to do. I did a few rolls to keep my hand in, which entailed a bit of mental arithmetic at the end. A Vampire has a group of five fuel gauges: you have to tot-up the five readings to get the total. That isn't too hard if the fuel stayed in its own tank, but if the aircraft is thrown about a bit, it all goes walkabout. A tank which previously showed full is now half empty, another which showed empty is now half full. One which was three-quarter is down to a quarter. You have to do the sum all over again.

Then I thought, I'll do a nice big loop. Going down was fine, gentle pull up with full throttle fine, over the top with just enough "G" to keep me comfortably in my seat, throttle closed and start on down. We hadn't got all that far when the old "snatching" and "thumping" started, and I realised that I was well on my way to my first (and last !) supersonic Vampire. Idiot ! I slammed the dive brakes out, hoping that the structure would hold together (yes, I know that the book says you can put them out at any speed, but............) This brought us up "all standing", but the wings were, thankfully, still in position when I looked out. I started to breathe again and we reached equilibrium once more.

Now it has always been my practice that, once you have tried the patience of Providence and got away with it, not to do anything silly again on the same flight. It would be S&L and gentle turns from now on. I'll do a Controlled Descent. It'll give the Auxiliary Controller a bit of practice, and save me having to scratch about in this murk trying to find the field. If it works OK, and I have fuel, might do another one.

As the squadron was still out on exercise, I was the only customer and the QGH should be "straight out of the book". I was soon overhead. All the QGHs I'd done there before had been done on a NE >SW Safety Lane. This brings you in over Tees mouth, and there are plenty of landmarks from then on, culminating in Thornaby cemetery (the many white military headstones show up a treat) acting as a sort of Inner Marker for the 22 threshold.

But today he sent me out SW>NE. I didn't even know they had a second safety lane, but you learn something every day. I thought he was a bit slow letting me down outbound, but no matter - it would give me more time to settle down inbound. Check Height 2,500, and I'm skimming over a sea of mushroom soup. "Descend to Visual - call field in sight". Down into the clag I go, at 1,500 I can see a circle of ground perhaps half a mile wide below me, but nothing further out. But not to worry, the steers are 040-045-040, I'm right "in the groove", the field must appear any moment.

But things are not always what they seem.

Have a good weekend, gentlemen (Part 2 on Sunday, D.V.)


It is better to travel hopefully than to arrive.
Old 6th May 2013, 02:33
  #3754 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Danny puts his Foot in It. (Part 2)

There it is ! "Field in sight"......"Over to local"...."Silversand 21 joining" ..The bored Local Controller puts down his Sunday paper: "21-04left-1019-circuitclear-calldownwind". I watch the runway as a cat watches a mouse, never taking my eyes off it. For I know, from bitter experience, that in these conditions you only need to look away for a couple of seconds and it's gone. Thrashing around trying to find it again is no good, you have to swallow your pride and go back to Approach for steers to bring you home again (this does no good at all to your image).

"21 Downwind".......Call finals-surfacewind-020tenknots". The local Controller hasn't seen me, but in any case he wouldn't expect to in this smog, and besides, I'm behind him as he sits in the Tower. And he's entitled to assume that a pilot is where he says he is...."21 finals, three greens".."21, land". I swing round and down to the runway.

Half way round, something strikes me as odd. Prewar, there had been a small road running close to that side of the boundary. The runway was extended during the war, a section of the road was closed off, and had been incorporated into the new taxiway. Post war, the road had been reinstated, some 200 ft of the runway had been cut off with an angle-iron and wire fence across. (The useless stub of runway and its verges were a popular picnic spot for the locals; there they could watch the flying as they scoffed their sandwiches).

Landing on 04, you came over this fence to the displaced threshold. But the fence had gone ! Someone had taken it away ! Nobody had told me ! I hadn't flown for ten days or so, had I missed something on the crewroom blackboard ? I was very low now, concentrating on the "piano keys" (did we have them then ?). For the first time, I had a quick glance to my left. There were one or two gliders far over on the grass. Thornaby didn't fly gliders ! Help ! - I'm having a nightmare ! - Where am I ?

Even then the penny didn't drop, but instinct (at last !) took over. "Get out of it !" I slammed the throttle open, but the Goblin spools-up only slowly. The Vampire settled and I felt the wheels rumbling on the tarmac. And then, at the far runway intersection, an old sit-up-and-beg cyclist appeared, making slow and stately progress across my bows from left to right.

Clearly, he hadn't heard me (must have been deaf as a post) - and there was no reason for him to expect aircraft on a Sunday. I'd to decide whether to swerve in front of him, or behind, or wet-hen over the top, for I knew instantly that we would arrive exactly at the middle of the intersection together. Time started to pass in milliseconds. At this point, some sixth sense warned the old chap that all was not well. I cannot swear to it, but I'm sure I saw a puff of smoke from the back tyre and the bike do a "wheelie". It shot out of my field of vision.

Back in the air again, over the far end of the runway, and all became clear. In an impossibly small field lay a crashed Meteor. A few days before an AFS student had stalled on finals to runway 22 at Middleton, and pancaked into this tiny spot. No one could imagine how he had done it; it hadn't done him any good, he was severely injured and the aircraft, seemingly undamaged, had a broken back. It was still there as the engineers couldn't work out how to shift it. The fame of this incident had spread round the North East, eveybody in the air with a few minutes to spare had gone to have a look, and MSG were getting quite stroppy about it.

This sad sight clinched it: now I knew where I was. A few seconds more, and I was over the railway viaduct at Yarm. No way of getting away with it -there had been too many witnesses. I sighed and called Local: "Ring Middleton and apologise for me - I've just done a roller there by mistake". Now 608 had come back on the frequency, so it was a public confession. Guffaws and catcalls filled the air (I'm afraid R/T discipline was rather poor in those days !).

I nipped back ahead of them into the circuit, round and down. There shoudn't be anyone in the Flight Office just now, I should be able to book-in and get out without anyone seeing me. Too late! - the snitch in ATC had phoned the Squadron as soon as he'd hung up on the SDO at MSG. Boss Martin was there, and he addressed me more in anger than in sorrow. What the devil was I thinking about, a pilot of my experience, to do a damned silly thing like that ? The Squadron would get the blame for this: it was one of his aircraft, they would be the laughing stock of the Command. And what about the gliders ? Supposing there had been a tow wire awaiting pickup on the runway ? How far would I get with that wound round a wheel. ?

I thought it unlikely that MSG would be doing aerotows in these conditions, winch-launched C&Bs at the best, but it didn't seem advisable to make the point just now, or to mention the little matter of the cyclist. Boss had got his Vampire back without a scratch, hadn't he ? I'd done his airtest for him, hadn't I ? What had he to moan about ?

All my service life, I'd enjoyed stories of pilots who had done just this very thing (the favourite being the tale of a Very Senior Officer who landed somewhere or other, but remained very taciturn until he'd a chance to read DROs - and so found where he was !) How could anyone be so stupid ?, I thought. Now I knew.

In my defence, I could say that the runway patterns, the orientation of hangars and control tower, and the main runway headings were identical. The fields were only six miles apart (say little more than two minutes' flight), and the visibiltiy was appalling. I couldn't even see the oxbow in the Tees (about a mile to the west) which points like a dagger at Thornaby. But none of this exculpates me. I should have overshot as soon as I noticed the missing fence.

Good news travels fast. It had got back to my unit before I did (tail between my legs). People were very kind to me at tea in the Mess. Jack Derbyshire answered the phone and came over, sympathetically: "Old Man wants to see you in the morning - 0900".

Malcolm Sewell was a man of few words: "Three extra auxiliary weekends SDO"......"No more than I deserve, Sir".

That's all, folks.


Please sir, I'm not lost - it's just that I don't know where I am.
Old 6th May 2013, 08:40
  #3755 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 82
Posts: 4,754
Received 207 Likes on 65 Posts
There but for the Grace of God, Danny. The way that a/f's were packed together in WW2, like sardines in a tin, meant that your away-day was by no means uncommon. Given the NE murk and the non-precision approach aid on offer one would have hoped for a rather more understanding reaction from the boss. However lesser fleas have smaller fleas etc, so I guess he had his own worries, no doubt.

The more renowned examples of the genre include the Pan Am 707 landing at Northolt, mistaking it for LHR. In Singapore the parallel runway directions of Paya Lebar (then the main civil airport) and RAF Changi led to occasional cross overs (though only from the former to the latter AFAIK). I was downwind, No1, when we suddenly became No2. A BOAC VC-10 came off Kong Kong NDB, called field in sight to Paya Lebar but was lined up for 20 Changi, so his clearance to land was of limited value when he touched down there. Like you though he clicked that all was not as it should be and poured on the coals to deliver his pax to their ticketed destination. I believe his touch and go resulted in a landing fee from the MOD to BOAC, No doubt his chat with his Fleet Manager was even more terse than yours with the boss.
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 6th May 2013, 09:17
  #3756 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,222
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 3 Posts
Changi, and poured on the coals to deliver his pax to their ticketed destination
Lufthansa used to land, taxi around and take off again.
Fareastdriver is offline  
Old 6th May 2013, 09:18
  #3757 (permalink)  

FX Guru
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Greenwich
Age: 67
Posts: 900
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Presumably this was after they noticed there was no terminal??
angels is offline  
Old 7th May 2013, 23:36
  #3758 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
Danny hits a Snag.

Although I did not know it, my Vampire flying days were nearly at an end (my last flight was on 4th September'52.) It was nothing to do with my inadvertant roller at MSG. Two quite separate factors would play a part. The first started off with what had appeared at first sight to be good news indeed.

I've earlier described my failure to get a full career Permanent Commission, and my acceptance into the humbler "Limited Career" PC in the GD (Air Traffic Control) Branch. This would, of course, mean the end of my flying life. The details had not been worked out, but I imagine that the transfer between Branches would have taken place at the end of my current tour at Thornaby. That they would permit me to serve out the five years left on my SSC had to be a forlorn hope.

But now, two years before my current tour ended, AMO A499/52 appeared, extending the LCPC offer to the GD(Pilot) Branch. Naturally I immediately applied for my LCPC to be switched over to that. And this was approved, too. But (and it proved a very big But), it was conditional on my passing the full aircrew medical board again. I didn't anticipate any problems.

From the very first, in 1940, I'd known that my mother's concern over my "Weak Chest" was not without foundation. But this had been no hindrance to me in any way; I saw no reason to mention it and the medics couldn't find it. On my two previous full Boards (in '40 and '49), I'd "blown up the mercury" for the full 60 seconds: that satisfied the Board that my lungs were good enough. And 35,000 ft in an unpressurised Meteor had been no problem.

Third time unlucky. I went down again to Kelvin House, Old Portland Street - an address I was to learn to know all too well. The radiographer blew the whistle. Just a small spot on one lung. Probably nothing to worry about, thought the Board, but we'd better check it out, we'll put him into Wroughton (RAF Hospital) for investigation.

There the ENT man got in on the act, "reamed-out" my sinuses (ironically on my 31st birthday), kept me in for a fortnight until I was recognisable again, and sent me back to CMB. They turned me loose with a limited category (A2G1) - Fly, but not above 10,000 ft. - How about a pressurised cockpit ? No dice, the pressurisation might fail. From now on, I'm no use to 608 Squadron, but restricted to the Station Harvard and Tiger Moth. And I must come down every three months to Kelvin House for a check-up, to see if there had been any improvement.

Coincidentally, about this time the Air Ministry reversed their policy regarding the maintenance of the flying skills of pilots on ground tours. The accident rate from this source had been creeping up, and the reason was obvious. A little flying, like a little knowledge, is a dangerous thing. Every pilot needs a minimum of regular flying practice to remain safe, especially when he is handling front-line machinery. The current "do it yourself" arrangements were just not good enough. Some people (like myself) had been lucky in having sufficient flying on tap. But others had not been so fortunate, and had become accidents waiting to happen. It was proving expensive, it had to stop.

From now on, a Ground Tour would mean what it said (Harvards and TMs excepted - and, I suppose, Ansons and Oxfords). Once a year you would attend a two-week Refresher Course, and a final full Refresher before return to flying, and that was all. I do not remember the exact date this came into effect, but I did Refreshers in the summers of '53 and '54, and a final full one in Nov'54.

So whichever way you look at it, my Vampire days would have been over - at least for the time being . Meanwhile my position was that my LCPC as GD(Pilot) was on hold, with GD(ATC) as a fallback.

It was a bit of a disappointment, but that's life.

Goodnight once more,


It's just the way the mop flops.
Old 8th May 2013, 22:40
  #3759 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 82
Posts: 4,754
Received 207 Likes on 65 Posts
Some catch, that Catch-22! Of all the challenges to be faced when deciding on a career as a pilot, the most difficult to overcome, once it stands in your way, is the medical one. Danny, you have flown the creme de la creme, the ultimate in piston technology, and moved onto the new white hot heat of technology, the jet turbine. Two very different technologies powering two very different airframes, yet having a common feature, sheer beauty! You mastered them both, but now here is something that cannot be controlled, that leaves one at the mercy of the men in white coats. Once they draw the breath in through their teeth, all hope and ambition can be destroyed at a stroke.
Your problem was a "weak chest". Mine was hay fever. Half way through training the pollen count went through the roof. I reported sick, was given some pills, but the eyes kept streaming and I kept sneezing. Like you I was packed off to CME. I was seen by a number of high ranking doctors, the most junior being a Group Captain. Eventually the "Board" decided that I could continue in training subject to a course of ever increasing doses, both in quantity and potency, of a "soup" of everything that I was deemed to be allergic to. So on a weekly basis I reported to Sick Quarters for yet another fix.
As it happened that year our course was lucky enough to be packed off to the USA for a whistle stop tour of military academies and bases. So fix day found me at West Point where a very dubious Army MO obliged me by injecting yet more of the dollop. Eventually the treatment finished and off again to CME for their decision. No sucking in of breath thankfully, but some timely advice from I think an Air Marshal. "Always remember, once you report sick we have to decide what is to be done with you. It might not be what you wish." That somewhat oblique yet pointed comment stayed with me thereafter so that my only contact with their trade was for the annual medical. Of course that was where the real challenge lay, and could not be avoided. Mess up a simulator session or a check ride and you can make sure to do better next time. Mess up the medical and you are on a hiding to nothing, unless you are Yossarian of course! Some catch.
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 9th May 2013, 20:32
  #3760 (permalink)  
Posts: n/a
The Men in the White Coats.


Once again a timely and pertinent analysis of a fear which must lie at the back of the minds of all military and civil pilots - if their health should be impaired for any reason, their career is finished. All too truly spoke your Air Marshal; I would only add that once the medics get their claws into you, they never let go (as Private Frazer was always saying: "We're Doomed !"). You at least escaped their clutches - well done !

A brief possibility of escape was dangled in front of me in the early months of my via dolorosa. The small section of lung which had developed bronchiectasis could be surgically removed to enable me to return to A1G1. But as the RAF had little occasion for thoracic surgery, they bought-in a civilian consultant for such jobs, and the one they used was going to cost an arm and a leg.

Nothing but the best for the RAF (and in general I would go along with that). Their man had been the Royal surgeon who had operated on the late King George VI ("The King's Speech" King), in a vain attempt to repair the ravages of a lifetime's cigarettes. The King had died (I imply no causal relationship), but even so, it was maybe just as well that the RAF decided that they weren't that short of pilots as to warrant the outlay. "As you were" ! as far as I was concerned.

For the next two years they pursued a policy of masterly inactivity, but now I'm danger of shooting my own foxes, so I'll call it a day.

It occurs to me that I should have said something more about "Positioning Flights". I have no more than a layman's knowledge of commercial operations, but, as it was explained to me, there are times when you want your aircraft somewhere for the first flight in the morning; it's somewhere else the night before, and you have to fly an uneconomic trip to get it to where it's wanted the next day. So you slash the fares to fill as many seats as you can.

Having said that, I did wonder why they could not arrange matters so that the Air France aircraft could "position" at Orly, and the BEA one at Heathrow, but I suppose that would have been too easy.

Cheers, Danny.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.