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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 22nd Jan 2014, 12:53
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It;s a shame the picture is reversed. In real life it was on its port wingtip.

When I lived at RAF Aldergrove in the late forties I used to crawl around a Sunderland that was in the aircraft dump with various Lancasters and Halifaxs. How it got there I do not know; the road from Lough Neagh was impossibly narrow including a steep hump backed railway bridge; so it was possible that it landed on tha concrete at Aldergrove for some reason.

I had this idea of converting one of the floats to a boat but the RAF police kept chasing me off the site.
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 15:00
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Sorry, not the Grace Spitfire

Supermarine Spitfire Registry - A Warbirds Resource Group Site



Missing from the photograph is the credit which should be given to Jean Marie Urlacher, Aviation photographer and pilot.

N
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 15:50
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Chugalug2

A simple bit of professional pride by the Flt Eng, or was this perhaps a VIP flight?
Probably SOP in those days (see the photo below of one of 205/209's Sunderland's moored at China Bay with props nicely lined up) - and with me aboard definitely NOT a VIP flight! It was just a standard rotation of the SAR aircraft detached to China Bay


Last edited by Warmtoast; 22nd Jan 2014 at 16:50. Reason: To add photo of moored Sunderland at China Bay
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 19:31
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Danny has to Ftght the Good Paper Fight.

Matters administrative would now be worthy of note. I'm not sure of the order of events, but it doesn't matter anyway. First was a Letter from Higher Authority (probably "Personal and Confidential" - which is always bad news).

I opened it in fear and trembling. But it was not what I expected. It seemed that the Air Council, in pursuance of A.M.O so-and-so, were graciously minded to continue my employment (n.b: I do not use the word "career") up to the age of 55, five years longer than my original contract, on the existing terms, if I so wished.

Cave Daneos, et dona ferentes (Beware of the Greeks bearing gifts !). There had to be a catch in this somewhere. I turned up the A.M.O. and read the fine print with infinite care. But it appeared clear that acceptance would in no way inhibit a PVR after the age of 50 (and in fact I was to leave at 51). What could we lose ?

Aged 40, 50 was a long way off, and 55 even further. But already our thoughts had begun to dwell on the gap ahead between leaving the Service and State Pension age. It's a nice balance, leave at 50 with a poor prospect of further employment and 15 years to fill, or hang on to 55 with only 10 years but a worse prospect.

We discussed it: this way, we could keep our options open: we decided to accept.

************

I'd finished my ATC Course at Shawbury in July,'55, leaving with no personal documentary evidence of the fact. You just turned up at your posting, said "Hello, Sir" to the SATCO, he gave you Station Flying Orders, said "Read, Learn, Inwardly Digest - and sign here. So-and-so will show you round the place, you'll be on the roster on Approach Monday morning. Any Questions ? No ? Then welcome aboard, and Good Luck".

Oddly enough, this "Sink or swim" introduction worked quite well. You must remember that then the intakes were, almost without exception, still ex-wartime aircrew, with a preponderance of pilots and navigators. All the procedures were familiar to you from your time on the "other side of the fence". You were speaking the same language, the abbreviations used were second nature to you, you knew what an aircraft could (and could not) be asked do, and you were talking to people who'd so recently might have been your squadron mates. Short of flying yourself, what's not to like ?

Early the next year I went back to Shawbury for the month long GCA course at Sleap, came back, same thing. You became a fully qualified Controller by a sort of osmosis. The years went by, I did tours at Strubby, Thorney Island, and was now almost two years into a tour at GK. Then the RAF started to have scruples. This wasn't really a professional way to go about things. There should be some sort of body set up to oversee the standards of Controlling, and to assess the competence of those already engaged in this black art.

Hitherto, the ATC Branch had been self-policing, in the sense that an incompetent Controller must stick out like a sore thumb; the pilots will be up in arms immediately; OC(F) will have him out at once. But now an ATC Examining Board was established at Shawbury, and on every station a Local Examining Officer was appointed (usually, but not invariably, the SATCO). His task was to satisfy himself that each newcomer was safe to stand a solo watch before turning him loose in a particular chair.

And so it was that all Controllers and aspirants fresh from Shawbury, were issued with a Certificate of Competency (Form 5994). This took the form of a very pretty little hard-backed booklet, about 4x5 inches, pale blue with silver embossed lettering (later, I'm told, in gold - missed out again !). Basically, this was analagous to a pilot's Log Book, for in it the LEO certified that the owner was competent to operate unsupervised in every separate position in the tower and/or Truck (Local - Approach - Radar Director - Precision Approach - etc).

As these certificates were valid only for the station at which they were issued, you had to collect another lot on each new posting, and your book soon filled up (I count 35 items on 17 certicates). Of course, the people who'd been doing it for years, without being responsible for any major disasters, got a free ride to begin with.

And so, on 1st January, 1962, I was issued with Certificate No. 513, duly signed by a Sqn.Ldr. Butt, of the ATC Examining Board, which takes pride of place after my Logbook on the shelf now (having been left behind at Leeming when I retired, it caught up with me four months later, courtesy of Tom Davison) .

Enough for the moment,

Cheers, everybody,

Danny42C


(Unworthy Jest): "Those who can, Do....those who can't, Instruct....those who can neither Do nor Instruct go on the Examining Board". (Sorry, MPN11 !)

Last edited by Danny42C; 22nd Jan 2014 at 19:44. Reason: Add Text.
 
Old 22nd Jan 2014, 21:30
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A link to the story of Sunderland T9114 landing ;

Sunderland flying boat landed on a Pembrokeshire airfield
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 21:51
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Oh, no, Danny - by no means unworthy ..... and but barely in jest (where so many a true word be spoken!).

The late Professor Parkinson wrote lightheartedly in his most popular work about the alarming rise of the admirals/ships ratio, etc., but his analysis of the inexorable rise of bureaucracy remains ghoulishly apposite.

During the war bureaucracy was, no doubt, very much in place (as in the 'seditious' song, "We are the Whitehall Warriors!") but I suspect that it was somewhat contained because of the importance of the job in hand, and the willingness of those actually doing the job to challenge the desk drivers from time to time (would you agree?). Now, of course, it seems practically unbridled ....

I am mindful of the comment of a distinguished Indian aviator .... 'The British introduced us to bureaucracy ... and we perfected it!'.
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 22:07
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Accompanying text
RAF Manston CR 62 in the for ground, AR-1 and on the far right DRDF
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 22:21
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Danny,

The competency book sounds akin to a little gem they dropped on ground tradesmen. I seem to remember getting my "Record of Tradesmans Qualifications and Experience" (I forget the form number now), mid 70s. Everywhere I went I had to be re qualified to Marshall, refuel etc etc. I still have the book somewhere and if I find it, it will probably bring back some memories. I do remember thinking though that, at the point of introduction, my "record" was to be effectively zeroed. It was not retrospective for us older sweats, so our experience started on day of issue of book, as opposed to the preceding 15 or 20 years of service. I must say, I never found a use for that particular tome, it may explain why I'm not sure of its location at the moment.

Your journey towards the Royal Air Force that I knew is moving on, and I for one am starting to see things, in your story, that are familiar to my service. It's interesting to see how someone of your experience and history sees the things I also saw and I, like many look forward to your continuing career, even if it is in "Air Tragic" keep it going Danny, "memoriam fecit hoc" (Dean Martin 1964).

Smudge
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Old 22nd Jan 2014, 23:23
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dogle,

We may have introduced bureaucracy to India: they took to it like ducks to water ! The "babu" was as essential to any Indian enterprise in my time as is the computer today. Come to think of it, one is the logical development of the other, and I understand they're well in the forefront of the IT business in places like Bangalore. (Perhaps they could be induced to come over and sort out some of our Departmental Planners' latest string of monumental computer disasters ?)....D.

ricardian,

The AR62 (long after my time !) looks a very useful piece of machinery indeed. When did it come on the market, and did the RAF buy any ? (Having said that, I suppose the old PAR really did all you could reasonably want).

The AR-1 is a good old-timer, and could the "DR/DF" possibly be a CR/DF (do the civvies still use VHF ?) or a CA/DF ?......D.

Smudge,

It was ever thus: "Plus ça change, plus c'ést la même chose" runs through the RAF generations......D.

Never had much contact with the "boat" people, but have been waiting for an old Tee Emm photo to appear (succintly captioned: "Sunderland - under water" ! [top half visible] that I remember).

Cheers, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 22nd Jan 2014 at 23:34. Reason: Add Accents.
 
Old 23rd Jan 2014, 08:20
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smudge,
as an ex Air Radar Fitter I do not recall any documentation that qualified me to work on the fighter a/c (Javelin, Hunter and Lightning) that I did minster to. But I can recall as a J/T (single upside down stripe) being issued with an 'oversigning chit'. This gave me the technical authority of a Cpl without the benefit of the rank OR the pay.
Once I became aircrew then the Cat Card (blue with black lettering as I recall) did define what I was qualified to do. And a certificate in my log book (signed by OC Eng Wing) authorised me to do Role changes.
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Old 23rd Jan 2014, 15:11
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Danny42C said
The AR62 (long after my time !) looks a very useful piece of machinery indeed. When did it come on the market, and did the RAF buy any ? (Having said that, I suppose the old PAR really did all you could reasonably want).
The AR-1 is a good old-timer, and could the "DR/DF" possibly be a CR/DF (do the civvies still use VHF ?) or a CA/DF ?......D.
Sorry Danny but I cannot help you, it was a photograph I saw on an RAF group in Facebook. I was in ground signals (commcen - telegraphist) and had little or no contact with ATC matters.
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Old 23rd Jan 2014, 22:05
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Danny

The AR62 (long after my time !) looks a very useful piece of machinery indeed. When did it come on the market, and did the RAF buy any ?
From Flightglobal

Cossor PAR enters service.

Wyton is the first RAF Strike Command airfield to have the new Cossor CR-62 precision approach radar (PAR). Cossor has previously delivered three systems, two for technician training at Locking, and one for flight trials at Linton-on-Ouse. A total of 43 CR-62s are scheduled for delivery over the next five years. The contract is worth about £22 million at today’s prices. The CR-62 uses the same antennas as the old SLA-3 system, but they are being refurbished and fitted with simpler drive units and direct digital angle pick-offs. The radar uses solid-state components and modular construction. Range is 18 n.m. for a 1m- target, and the PAR features selectable digital moving target indication and a video correlator, to improve weather clutter rejection.
Details here: www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1982/1982%20-%201904.html
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Old 24th Jan 2014, 09:36
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Warmtoast

Chug'2 in post #5021 mentions a fellow pilot on 30 Sqn ( Hercs' at Fairford then ) as being ex-Sunderlands - that was a New Zealander 'Abe' Lincoln, sadly RIP. I wonder was he on 205/209 with you?


I had the privilege of being his nav' on quite a few occasions while on 30 - very old school but what a man!


While I was at LATCC as a civilian ATCO in the late 70's I found that one other ATCO had flown with Abe on Sunderlands ( Frank Leeming, a nav') and another on Shackletons ( Bob Trott,a siggie ). The big boss of LATCC in 1980, Keith Mack, I believe had flown as Abe's co-pilot on Sunderlands.


I still love reading this thread everyday!
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Old 24th Jan 2014, 10:04
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Brian 48Nav

I was never a member of 205/209 but I had several trips in 205/209's Sunderlands whilst stationed at Seletar and China Bay (1957-58) before being posted to Gan.

One particular flight I enjoyed was when I returned to China Bay by Sunderland after a spot of leave in Singapore. Having overnighted at Glugor (Penang) we took-off on the long flog to China Bay and after an hour or so at 7,000ft or thereabouts to get cool the Captain descended to around 500ft and enquiring of the signaller in charge of the brew operating the Primus in the galley why we had descended, was told that the Captain (a Flt. Lt. D. Fairbairn) enjoyed his tea which had to be made in the proper English manner with boiling water, and as any fule no's water boils at a lower temperature when at altitude. Hence the captain descending to make tea at the point where water boiled at the correct boiling point for a perfect cuppa! With the tea made, up we went again.

The navigator on that trip had a Dutch sounding name (Flt. Lt. Van Wadenoijen - not sure if the spelling is correct).

Not sure if the names ring any bells with you, but passed on for info.
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Old 24th Jan 2014, 15:09
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Many years later, during my instrument training behind a set of angled plastic screens which blocked my view but not my instructor’s, Desmond set me a simulated Catalina sortie. We would leave our base in the east of Ireland, fly west for an hour at Cat patrol speed of 120 mph, then return to Lough Erne. I would enter ‘cloud’ under the screens at 200ft and fly the sortie on instruments, without radio aids, just as he and his comrades had done 25 years before.

We flew over Lough Erne and out over the Atlantic for about 20 miles before turning and letting down for Lough Erne. I was down to 800ft and becoming quite tense, imagining that we would have been peering for a landmark. “Any sign of landfall?” asked Desmond, enjoying his view of a fine summer’s day over Donegal. “Not yet”, I replied. “I’ll let down another 200ft”.

Another five minutes, and Desmond took over. “I have control ... take a look over your shoulder”. As he rolled into a steep turn, I glimpsed rocky hillsides all around us. Had our sortie been genuine I would have flown into the Derryveagh Mountains, as two wartime patrols had done before me. A southerly wind had blown me 20 miles north of track, and given me a lesson I would never forget ... not least when I stood before the headstones of those who had paid the ultimate price for the same mistake.

Today the vast base at Castle Archdale has become a caravan park, and speedboats have replaced Sunderlands on the huge concrete slipway. Boat trailers are secured to the tiedown points which once anchored the flying boats. The ops room building has become a shop, and a few shelters and a bomb store are dotted around the grounds. The great house itself is used for outdoor pursuits and contains a small museum telling the story of the great Atlantic battle. A few miles away the Catalina 131 OTU at Killadeas is the home of Lough Erne Yacht Club, and the nearby officers’ mess has long since gone back to being the Manor House Hotel.

Only the rows of neat headstones in Irvinestown Cemetery mark the last resting place of those who gave their all.
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Old 24th Jan 2014, 23:03
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Warmtoast,

Thanks for the "gen", the pictures and the link. So we've bought 43 of these CR-62s ? A quick Google/Wiki for "List of RAF Airfields" gives a (very rough) total of 25 flying stations (including those leased to our Gallant Ally). Am I missing something ?

I must say that it looks very nice kit indeed. The sheer size of the thing is impressive. Perhaps you might need it. I quote: "Range is 18 n.m. for a lm²- target" (so a bumble bee at ½-mile ?) - you'd need 20/20 vision to see it on the tube !, and "the PAR features selectable digital moving target indication and a video correlator, to improve weather clutter rejection"

(Pardon me ? - we just had plain old MTI on the CPN-4 and PAR [a CPN-4 come in out of the cold] - and even with that you could mistake a flying duck for an aircraft close in, if you weren't careful).

I've been away from this game too long, I suppose....D.


Brian 48nav,

Thank you for the kind words - we've got a good thing going here....D.


Geriaviator,

A sobering story indeed. Makes you realise what life was really like in the days when the cloud you were in suddenly turned green - then you didn't see anything ever again (RIP for all of them) ....D.

Cheers to all, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 24th Jan 2014 at 23:05. Reason: Spacing.
 
Old 27th Jan 2014, 17:06
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Danny feels the pull of the Eternal Snows again (Part I).

Too much was happening right up to the Christmas of '61 to be able to think about a skiing holiday that winter. And we should be going back home to the UK in the autumn of '62. So it would be "Now or never" in '61. Actually it would have to be in the first weeks of January'62, as that is the cheapest time of year. From February onwards the prices steadily climb as the weather warms up. (AFAIK, this holds true for all resorts in the Northern hemisphere).

People didn't organise their own Holidays Abroad at that time - the package holiday companies had the trade all to themselves. "Abroad" was a strange place to most of the British public. You needed someone to support you out there. Erna Low (now apparently the longest running UK ski company) was a major player in those days. We organised a heavily discounted all-in package for two weeks in Gargellen (Vorarlberg, Austria) with them. I can't remember what it cost, but it can't have been much.

I would suppose that travel was then the major cost of a ski holiday from the UK. Ryanair and Easyjet were far in the future. And in the "dead" season in mid-January, the hotels were desperate for guests at any price which would cover their costs - it was unthinkable to close for two or three weeks, for the whole village depended on you - you had to keep going.

So when Erna Low got a customer who would make his own way to the resort and back, they could cut a very good deal for us indeed. The ski, boot and kit hire shops had all the stuff on the shelves; anything is better than nothing for them, same with ski lift Passes. Actually, we kitted ourselves out locally in GK or Holland, and we bought our own boots. These were not far removed from the modified Army boots I'd had in Kashmir, for cable-bindings were still in general use, you needed a flexible sole to allow the heel to rise for "lang-lauf" ( the level "Nordic" cross-country travel) still on the menu. The only other difference was: they were laced-up with "hooks & eyes" (like a skating boot), to allow you a tighter lace-up over the instep.

We were booked into the Hotel Madrisa at Gargellen. I can't recall any other large hotels in the village then; today there seem to be plenty of them, but for some reason you have to hunt for the Madrisa by name - they don't seem to need to advertise widely. First problem would be to get there.

In Germany in 1961 (and everywhere else then in Europe as far as we could see), the answer was simple - chains ! Chain up the driving wheels, and your car will keep traction in most of the snow you'll meet. And we didn't even have to buy a set. One of our fellow ATCs had a pair of the same tyre size as ours; the camp, town roads and autobahnen were kept open by the authorities, so he wouldn't need them. We borrowed them for the fortnight. But the road police wouldn't allow you even to attempt a mountain road without chains, you'd be turned back at a check-point at the bottom. As 30 mph is about the limit with them fitted, we drove down the autobahn with them in the boot, and fitted them at the base of the climb.

Anyone intending to use chains needs to practise putting them on first - in the warm and dry ! I picked my chains up at the Tower and fitted them on and off the spare until I'd got the hang of it - and then tried it on the car. Early on the Saturday morning we packed ourselves, ski kit, all our woolies and Mary's toboggan into the car and hit the road.

And the rest of the story will have to wait till next time. (what did we do about frost prevention in our CH system ?) Can't remember, maybe we had to have it drained down by the Station Engineer or someone must have kept the boiler going.

Goodnight, all,

Danny 42C.


Keep the home fires burning !

PS: Today is the second anniversary of my first Post. Never thought it (or I) would last that long !

Eheu ! fugaces labuntur anni ( Alas ! - how fleetingly the years go by).....D.

Last edited by Danny42C; 27th Jan 2014 at 17:53. Reason: Add text.
 
Old 27th Jan 2014, 18:40
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Never thought it (or I) would last that long !
You have had, and still have, something to keep your brain in gear.
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Old 27th Jan 2014, 19:25
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Ha ha Danny,

We've got you now, no stopping until the job is done Well done on reaching this anniversary, but if you want some real credibility it will take at least 10 years.

"soll niemand setlle für weniger als die ganze Geschichte"

Smudge
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Old 28th Jan 2014, 17:29
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Fareastdriver,

I've often thought, that if all pensioners not already on line were issued with simple laptops at 65, (and OU programme of basic instructions for them run on BBC Channel 2 in the black hours), then the onset of Alzheimers might to some extent be delayed, and existing cases stabilised. You'd only have to do this for 10-15 years until the computer literate generations caught up.

All muscles atrophy with lack of use, and I'd think that brain cells might well do the same. The consequent savings to the NHS might even pay for it ! (I stand to be shot down on this)....D.

Smudge,

Never fear: "dum spiro, scribo" shall be my motto. Die Ganz Geschicte is unterwegs - aber nur langsam !...D.

Cheers, both, Danny.
 

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