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

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

Old 26th Oct 2013, 21:47
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Danny,

My apologies, of course ATA, I doubt you would have needed new tyres so quickly. ATS indeed, five demerits duly awarded

Smudge
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Old 27th Oct 2013, 00:33
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Smudge,

I wasn't really talking about tyres. The Auxiliary Territorial Service were the charming young ladies of the Army variety. (but you were pulling an old man's leg, weren't you ? Shame on you !)

D.
 
Old 27th Oct 2013, 16:43
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You rumbled me Danny

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Old 27th Oct 2013, 18:05
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Danny does his Good Deed of the Day (Night !)

Now what is this Cold War warrior doing in return for the vast sums being devoted to his upkeep by the long suffering taxpayer ? Oddly enough, quite a bit as it happened. And it happened like this:

In my 17 years as an air-trafficker, 3 were spent at the School (Shawbury). The other 14 were all at the "coalface" - half as Approach, half Talkdown. So say, 7 years T/Down, off and on. In that time it is hard to guess, but I cannot have done less than 1,000 runs. Again at a guess, say 80% were clear weather (under the hood) training runs.

Of the remaining 20%, nearly all would be "live" (in the sense that they could not have got down where and when they wanted without my assistance). But no "Life or Death" was involved: they would have the fuel to get to a better place if they missed-approach with me. And then there is a last, tiny number where that did not apply.

It was quite early in my time at GK, for we had not got into an OMQ there yet. At 0200 on a miserable night, I was on watch in the CPN-4; a Warm Front was coming through, and this one was a typical example: low cloudbase still coming down, drizzle and mist below and poor visibility. You would not put a dog out on a night like this.

A NATO exercise was winding-down. We'd recovered all ours, but were still standing by as named diversion for Laarbruch (Lord knows why; they would have to overfly Brüggen and Wildenrath to get to us - I suppose both were stood-down that night). Laarbruch had their last pair airborne: (Mission ## Alpha and Bravo), almost in circuit. Ten minutes more, and we can all wrap-up. The radar mechs stood around impatiently, waiting for the word from me. Then it all went pear-shaped.

I don't know exactly what happened. "Alpha" touched down, a tyre blew, or a wheel broke (as Chugalug knows, this can happen), a leg collapsed or got torn off. And a Canberra was left reclining gracefully on one elbow in the middle of Laarbruch runway (no casualty). It would take a half-hour at least to get it off. And "Bravo" had twenty minuits' fuel and no runway.

My Approach box squawked. Approach gave me the story in a couple of terse sentences, and a QTE. I put a strobe on it and there was "Bravo", plodding steadily towards me. "I have him at 39 miles", I said, "put him across to me - leave the box open - let's have some fresh Met". You didn't need to be Einstein to do the sum, this one was going to be close.

He came up on frequency, we exchanged the ususal courtesies, then I launched into my patter: "GCA minimums * (sic) are 200 ft", I said, "but I understand that that is academic ?" "Yes", he said, "it is". So the chips were down, it would be a one-shot operation.

* (Old Classics Master goes up to 101% rpm in the grave).

I was quietly confident. Pilots come (from my standpoint) as Squadron pilots or Bloggs, and I'd had plenty of both. Bloggs is hard work (after all, the lad's got to learn, this is what it's all about, everybody has to start sometime ) as he wanders all over your tube like a drunken spider. But the Squadron pilot knows his stuff. He will do exactly as told straightaway: he is a pleasure to deal with. And I had one such now.

Approach waited for a pause, and gave me: "400 ft base and 800 yds, light and variable", which I passed on to my man. And now I think I may have got it wrong when I told you a while back that the GK Truck was aligned on 27, for I suddenly seem to have a powerful recollection of his passing me in an easterly direction on the runway, and turning right onto the south taxiway to get to the apron. For of course the "run" went perfectly.

Thanks", he said. "Don't mention it", said I, "Call local on ###decimal#, Goodnight". "Any more ?" I asked Approach. "No, that's it". "Run-down" I told the mechs.

Fast-forward half an hour. Now the scene changes: in the darkened dining hall of the Mess, all the tables are laid for breakfast, but in one better lit corner four people are tucking into their bacon & eggs - the night-flying supper - in companionable silence. On one side sit the two "young tigers" - the Canberra pilot and his nav. Facing them are the two "old hairies" - (for Approach was a wartime nav). I thought of the pleasing symmetry of the picture: the table was divided by almost a generation of time and experience, but "it was a like task we were at". Between us, the RAF still had a Canberra and two young men were still hale and hearty.

It wasn't a bad night's work. They would stay the night in rooms in the Mess (always kept ready), then take the refuelled Canberra back to Laarbruch in the morning. I had my own room (for I would be on duty till 0800), then I'd take the road home for Heerlen or Cologne.

I want to pick up my point about CPN-4 alignment. Two of the four "Clutch" airfields were 09/27, the others 10/28. Almost certainly all would have CPN-4s aligned alike - but how ? There must be plenty of ex-RAF(G) people out there. Anyone ?

Evenin', folks,

Danny42C.


You can't lose 'em all !

Last edited by Danny42C; 30th Oct 2013 at 19:33. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 28th Oct 2013, 11:33
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Between us, the RAF still had a Canberra and two young men were still hale and hearty.

And, hopefully, they still are, as well as the two "not so young" men. "Pleasing symmetry" indeed, and pleasing story too.

Jack

PS Trust you have been too badly affected by wind ....
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Old 28th Oct 2013, 16:40
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Union Jack,

Jack,

Strangely enough, not affected at all externally, but...........!

Thanks for the appreciative remarks !

Danny
 
Old 29th Oct 2013, 16:42
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Danny Takes to the Skies - again !

There was about a two-months gap between my arrival in GK and bringing my family over to Heerlen. GK was fairly relaxed over the weekends; they ran a popular gliding club. Many of the members were naturally squadron crews (a nav was towed off one Sunday morning for a Silver "C"; the next thing we heard of him was that he was down somewhere south of Toulouse, a distance record which stood for many years). I had no particular ambition to go gliding (after all, it's just more flying, with a forced landing after any trip away from base - and you're not even getting paid for it !).

Nevertheless it seemed a harmless occupation and I decided to try it. My instructor was W/Cdr Crowshaw, the C.O. of 3 Squadron. We started on the dual "K.2", rather a handsome thing as I remember, and ran through through the approved syllabus. Like most powered pilots (I imagine), I was horrified by the attitude during a winch launch - even worse than a Meteor in the climb - and pushed the stick forward right heartily when he cut loose ! After a few winches-and-bumps (including the obligatory line-break exercise), I was put in the queue for one of the Club's Grunau "Babies", and in due course came to the top.

Sometime ago I've told the tale of my first solo, but I got round well enough. However, they'd told me to turn in on the end of the downwind leg at 400 ft, and this I dutifully did. But they had not told me to keep tapping the ASI on the way round: it seemed that, in the absence of engine vibration, that elderly instrument tended to stick. I'd been instructed to extend the airbrakes on finals to kill off excessive height ("reverse-throttle", Smudge !), but looking over the side what I saw made that seem unwise - whatever else I'd got, it wasn't excessive height !

To cut a short story long, I kept the brakes in and tightened up a bit, but even so I just managed to scrape in, coming to rest exactly abeam the official timekeeper's trestle. This saved people having to push me back, and of course left it in the ideal spot for the next chap to climb in and the wire to be hooked-up. But that wasn't exactly the idea, of course.

I did a few more circuits in the "Baby", and a dual ot two in the "K.2" to find thermals around the field (and land back). But I got no further than that, for as soon as my family rejoined me, I would be off the Station when not on duty, and far too busy anyway. But it had been very interesting.

However, while I was there, the Club members naturally had to muck-in with all the humbler duties: pushing gliders in and out of the hangar, dragging the wire back after each launch with a Landrover they'd got, and of course working the winch. And this was a home-made contraption of which Heath Robinson would have been justly proud.

They'd got hold of a cheap old open-bodied Opel "Kapitan", and cut off all the bodywork, leaving only the driver's seat. Then they took off the drive shaft, leaving only the wheels and back axle. Lastly they fitted a cable drum back onto the gearbox in place of the shaft (all this perilously close under your toes) - where was "Elf'n'Pastry" when we needed you ? Of course the sorry remains of a powerful old car could no longer move: the Club Landrover (not RAF) hauled it about.

After brief instruction and a dual session, I took my turn on the winch. It was dragged into place head-on to the gliders, and anchored securely. The wire was pulled back off the winch (gearbox in neutral) and down to the gliders. I'm a bit hazy about the signals, but I think that when they levelled the wings, it was "Take up Slack" (I engaged top at tick-over, and watched the cable come taut, then pushed clutch out and held it). And when they waggled them it was "All Out": I let the clutch in and floored the accelerator.

I think the "Kappy" had the GMC three-litre six which had gone into all sorts of war vehicles, and there was much life in this old dog yet. There was a tremendous roar, the glider rose off into the air and you watched the line like a hawk for the next few seconds, lifting off only when the glider released, but leaving the engine ticking with clutch in till the cable drogue hit the ground (to avoid tangles), then back to neutral.

The cooling system had got a bit bunged-up over the years (as they do), so we left the radiator cap off: at the end of each winch I'd be garlanded in steam for a half a minute until it went "off the boil". And we always kept a bucket of water for top-up. The L/R would come flying out, hook-up the cable end and reel it back for the next customer.

One question did exercise our minds: what protection did you have if a cable snapped ? Damn-all, seemed to be the answer. There was only the screen. Get down smartly under the dash, keep the cable drum going to shorten, as far as possible, the broken end which was coming at you. Fortunately, it never happened !

Cheers, everybody,

Danny42C.

Gravity never lets up !

Last edited by Danny42C; 29th Oct 2013 at 17:27. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 29th Oct 2013, 17:14
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RAF Hawkinge, 18 Aug 1961 ... 3 solo launches.

From my expression, I guess this was the first one!!

My logbook suggests I had received 71 minutes dual instruction

Last edited by MPN11; 29th Oct 2013 at 17:15.
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 17:24
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The story of the Canberra at the last chance saloon reminds me of the day a talk-down controller saved my bacon, and my reputation as an instrument pilot. Six T17s on exercise over the SW Approaches in and we heard Shackletons being diverted to Gibraltar as whole of the UK went out in fog. Boss decided to call it a day on the exercise and we headed for St Mawgan. Boss called the order for descent - me last and I am the only White Card. Everyone goes down the slope in turn and lands safely. I suddenly become acutely aware that one of the guys in the back is a very new Dad. We agreed one attempt, 100 ft minimum, and if we did not get in then I would fly over the airfield at 1000ft or so and they would bang out, I would then head the aeroplane out over the sea and follow them out. In the end I flew the best instrument approach I ever flew with a brilliant talk down controller and we saw the lights at 125 ft and just over half a mile. the boss bought my beer that night. So whoever that controller was - THANK YOU.
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 18:17
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MPN11,

Congratulations on your First Solo ! Truly, one picture says a thousand words . We all know the feeiing well - we have all (as the saying goes): "been there" in our distant youth......D.

Wander00,

Another heartening story - and another illustration of what adrenaline can do for you when you're really up against it.

And thank you for the compliment to one of my (often derided) clan !.....D.

My regards to you both, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 29th Oct 2013 at 18:21. Reason: Error.
 
Old 29th Oct 2013, 18:37
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Danny,

" To cut a short story long, I kept the brakes in and tightened up a bit, but even so I just managed to scrape in, coming to rest exactly abeam the official timekeeper's trestle. This saved people having to push me back, and of course left it in the ideal spot for the next chap to climb in and the wire to be hooked-up. But that wasn't exactly the idea, of course."

Or could your previous experience in aviating aluminium around the atmosphere have given you that "sharp edge" to drop it on a sixpence? As a glider pilot, slightly later than your emergence as an engineless aviator, I suspect that, as you advised me in the past, flying is flying. Great seeing some gliding coming in, RAF Germany had some great clubs in my time, any info on thermal or wave flying in Germany in your time would be interesting. Another smashing post, and more service flying options.

multorum ingeniis virum

Smudge
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Old 29th Oct 2013, 22:43
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Smudge,

As you say, all flying is flying, the thing has wings and a tail: it matters little whether it is propelled by gravity, or pulled along with a prop, or pushed along by a giant blowlamp - it's all the same. The old stick and rudder works as well today as ever it did for the Wrights.

I'm afraid the fact that I landed "on the button" was pure luck. As for thermals, there were plenty around in '60, it was a good summer in Europe, but I cannot say more than that. I had them shown to me in GK, on finding one the trick seemed to be put the glider on its left ear and do a Rate 4 turn, pulling all the 'G' that you dared (short of ripping the wings off) in order to stay in the rising column.

But I am no authority on the subject, and have little to contribute on it.

Let's have a translation - is it in the sense of "Ingenious, these Chinese" ?

Danny.
 
Old 29th Oct 2013, 23:00
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Danny,

It translates to " a man of many talents " (Latin) so not too far out. Having managed a full Silver Gliding certificate, I can tell you that your description of that landing owed more to flying experience than the standard "patter" I received. The point being, on my first solo, it strikes me that had I been low, and out of position, I certainly would not have ended up "adjacent to the launch point" or anywhere near. Its a shame your Gliding escapades were cut short, many have been, me included. I can though relate to your first solo arrival, just wish mine had been so precise

Smudge

Last edited by smujsmith; 29th Oct 2013 at 23:32.
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Old 30th Oct 2013, 15:46
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Smudge,

"A Jack of all trades, but a Master of None" would be better applied to me !

So, a full Silver "C" ! I stand in humble awe. Compared with a Magister Gliderorum such as you, I am a mere sciolist, against which PPRuNe rightly cautions us at the bottom of every page - and this is not sarcasm.

I sense there are good stories in the offing - out with 'em !

Danny.
 
Old 30th Oct 2013, 18:35
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Ahh Danny,

I'm sure many may have had some amusement, at my expense, when I was gliding, but no real stories of "derring doo" to tell really. I suspect that as a solo pilot I was always very aware that if I "cocked up" there was no one else there to save my little pink body. Therefore I tended to stay on the safe side of the envelope (as they say). Flogging around for 5+ hours in an ASK8, borrowed from a friend, to get my silver duration, was no fun at all. We had no spare parachutes as We already had them all in use on the other gliders. So our CFI said, stay local, don't crash, see you in five hours. After about two hours I would have appreciated a smoke and a walk, it was not to be. By the time I landed I, unlike the ASK8 was a wreck. But I had my goal. I stopped smoking after that, but will never forget the 5 hour silver duration flight. Incidentally, it was quite a windy day and the owner flew it after me. He allowed himself to get downwind and as it had the"penetration" of a dandelion seed ended up being rescued from a field. The aircraft was perched on a hedge, a fence pole protruding up between his legs, and he spent almost an hour using the controls to balance the thing in that state. Gliding could have its points I suppose.

Smudge
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Old 31st Oct 2013, 18:35
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Danny picks up his family.

At last the great day arrived: my family was coming out. They flew Newcastle - Düsseldorf. The trip must have been under RAF auspices, for I don't recall paying anybody anything, and I don't know who the (civil) Carrier was.

I met them on time at Düsseldorf: we had a joyous reunion, Mary had grown a lot (or so it seemed to me). The new car was greatly admired and we set off for the 50 miles back to Heerlen (Akenstrasse ?) and our new home-to-be for the next two-three months. I hope I'd had the nous to arrange with the Verheydens (they were a kindly couple) to rustle up some grub for us, but neither Mrs D. nor I can remember. From then on, we were on our own, for we didn't come into contact with them much.

The pram had survived my efforts, and been bulled-up well, now Mary would have more room than in the carricot which had been her lot since leaving Hayling. But the washing machine had to remain in storage at GK for the time being. And now we had to come to terms with life in Holland. Heerlen was a mining town, but you would never guess it but for the pithead sticking up in the middle. The big Brunssum (Hendrik) Mine was one of the largest in Europe, it extended under RAF GK well into Germany - indeed some UHF frequencies were barred to us as they set off alarm systems in the mine below.

But Heerlen had wide, tree-lined avenues (with cycle tracks, of course); it was as far from the gaunt mining villages of Durham as could be imagined. And most of the shopkeepers had a smattering of English, for almost all the RAF people had started in circumstances similar to ours, had got used to the Dutch shops and markets, and even after getting into MQs at GK preferred to go over the border (five miles), rather than to GK town (only two), for what the NAAFI shop on camp could not provide.

One day, not long after arriving, I'd gone on watch at GK; Mrs D. sallied out with Mary to get some meat for dinner. The butcher she chose was the exception to the rule: he knew very little English. And of course, with a baby to look after, she'd certainly had no time (as I had), before she left England, to mug-up any German. The handful of customers in the shop were no help - they had no English, either. It was heavy going.

A small voice by her side piped up: "Can I help you, Ma'am ?" She breathed a deep sigh of relief. It was an American boy of 10-12. Mary had caught his eye, he immediately appointed himself interpreter, fluently and accurately conveyed her wishes to the butcher, and negotiated the sale. She fulsomely thanked her White Knight, saying, "I'm so glad you were there to help me."

In the years since, she has often retold the story. I assume that he would be the son of a member of the US Forces who were serving with us at GK. Today he would be about 65 (if he yet lives, as I hope), and (who knows) may possibly read this.

We settled down fairly comfortably in our first-floor "flat". We were never quite sure what old Mr Verheyden did for a living. Ostensibly he was a semi-retired wholesale produce merchant. But all his work seemed to be done from home; trucks (often unmarked) used to turn up at the door at all hours of the day and night; he would go out and have a short conversation with the driver, and off they would go. We suspected he was a smuggler (probably the "Mr Big"), but what he was smuggling, and in which direction, we couldn't guess. And in any case it was none of our business.

The little "flat" suited our needs well enough. It had some quirks: the bathroom (and kitchen) water was heated by gas wall "geysers" (this idea was common at home before and for a few years after the war). It was economical, as you only used gas as and when hot water was required; (central heating would always by coke boiler in the cellar). But the pilot jets got a bit furred up after a time, you might get light-up with a gentle "plop" - or a more or less violent explosion !

But the one in our bathroom was particularly erratic in this way: I grimly noted the name of the manufacturer - Junkers ! In war they had bombed us with their "Stuka", and shot us down with their "Ju88", and moved their paratroops around in the "Tante-Ju". And now they were trying to blow us up !

Yet I can't complain. Our daughter has run two Mitsubishi "Lancers"; both have been efficient and reliable cars. So I suppose I should forgive the firm for bombing me with their Type 97 ("Betty") in Burma (and losing us a valuable elephant), after having played (as torpedo bombers) the major part in sinking our "Repulse" and "P.O.W." two years before.

And they caused the Allied Navies in the Pacific much grief with the famous "Zero" ("Zeke") shipboard fighter (although I never saw one: it was exclusively a seabird). In the Arakan we had the very similar "Oscar", to contend with. This was the almost as good - but much less well known - Nakajima "01" (therefore a year newer than the Mitsubishi "00" - "Zero"),

Good evening, folks,

Danny42C


Together at last !
 
Old 1st Nov 2013, 14:19
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Danny I'm confused...

You're staying in Heerlen in the Netherlands, your wife is in the butcher and lacks German language skills?


More interestingly, you say that even when in MQ at GK, you preferred to shop in Holland; why was this? Because they were our allies?
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Old 1st Nov 2013, 15:13
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Reader123,

Mrs D. had only come out from UK for the first time a week or two earlier: German was not widely taught in English schools at that period.

Almost all our people had spent their first few months in Holland, they knew all the local shops well, it was only five miles away. GK town was an unknown quantity to them, even though it was only two. Remember that that on leaving Holland we spent the next few months in Cologne, before reaching MQ in GK.

And yes, we were more popular in Holland !

Danny

Last edited by Danny42C; 1st Nov 2013 at 15:13. Reason: Omission.
 
Old 1st Nov 2013, 17:33
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Found on Pprune today

Danny at al

In case you missed it, this has to be one of the best post WWII stories

http://www.pprune.org/military-aircr...re-1944-a.html

PZU - Out of Africa (Reyired)
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Old 1st Nov 2013, 20:32
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pzu,

Thanks ! Just finished it. Great bit of film, and I heartily second Col. Blythe's final remark - everyone should have the chance to try it just once - for we shall not see its like again.

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 1st Nov 2013 at 20:35. Reason: Error.
 

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