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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 31st Jan 2014, 20:17
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Clicker,

I have been on two separate visits to Swanwick but both were group visits from organisations. There is a visitors lecture room with a viewing gallery looking down on the operating floor. The intro stuff was/is very interesting but looking down on what was happening without really understanding what each position was doing was not hugely interesting.

ACW

Swanwick Mil is just one or two desks on an enormous floor of desks.
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Old 31st Jan 2014, 23:05
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Danny42C
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You never know what you can do till you try.

Geriaviator (your #5060),

Only too true ! Many aircraft accdents result from Pilot Error - often the basic error of not leaving the thing in the hangar and going by train !....D.

Warmtoast (your #5063),

Quoting your: "RAF Thornhill (5FTS), S. Rhodesia as an Air Traffic Control Assistant, probably the lowest form of life in the control tower apart from the tea lady".

Wrong ! - The Tea Lady/Chap takes precedence in Order of Importance (only just) below SATCO.

Your pics positively beg comment:

1. Eagle-eyed steely-jawed young ATC (Tom Cruise ?) stares unafraid at impending air disaster in sky outside, is about to issue masterly order which will save aircraft and all passengers (inc heroine) aboard. Final clinch, curtains, credits roll.

2. That Board !!! Most AFSs had similar ideas, all using very sharp map-pins: I particularly remember the Leeming one, a sort of huge multiple alarm clock with two clocks and a lot of knitting needles inside - you needed a full-time Assistant to work it. But never did I see one the size of that horror of yours !

3. Local Control - what luxury ! (You should have paid them for the privilege of working in a place like that). When I think of life in the freezing, draughty shacks that the RAF stuck on top of the old cubic wartime buildings in those days, I'm green with envy....D.

MPN11 (your #5064),

So that's what they were called ("Akeroyd"), was it ? The Leeming one was supposed to be the brain-child of a F/Sgt, who'd got an award of £250 for the idea. It was about 30 in square, 12 in deep, weighed a ton and sat on a table of its own in Local (anyway, I'm sure you remember it well)......D.

(your #5068),

You're spot on with age 35. After the war MCA were recruiting for ATCs. They advertised for 18 yr old Cadets (and trained them to PPL as part of their Course), and would take ex-pilots and navs (500 hrs min) up to that age.

But the RAF were more generous. I think they would take entrants for SSCs in all Ground Branches (in which they included ATC) up to 39, and curiously I had an experience very similar to yours with a student who must have been nearly that.

Again, it was a lady (name long forgotten), grossly underconfident (I really don't know how she got in in the first place). Anyway she'd been brain-washed at school into the belief that she would always fail at exams: she started at Shawbury with that mindset, and told us so.

"We're on a hiding to nothing here", I thought. But, "I haven't lost a student yet", I told her, "and I'm not going to start with you". Again, the outcome was the same as yours, she was a good average and got through all right. Then she was panicking about how she would get on at her first posting, so I suppose the SATCO (wherever it was) would have to do it all over again....D.

ACW418 and Clicker (your #5066, #5067, #5069),

From West Drayton and Swanwick, Good Lord deliver us.....D.

Regards to all, Danny.
 
Old 1st Feb 2014, 02:11
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Danny feels the pull of the Eternal Snows again (Part II).

The journey down went quite smoothly, the autobahnen were clear and dry. We topped up with coupon petrol at the last German BP tankstelle and crossed into Austria (at Bregenz ?) as dusk was falling. After another 40 miles, we turned off for Gargellen. I stopped at a clearing and put the chains on (of course you had then to drive on another couple of hundred yards, stop again and check to see if you could "take up the slack" and tighten them another link or so).

Passing the police check-point, we started the five-mile climb up the valley (our village was right up at the "vale head" - the end of the road - so there'd be no through traffic). It was surprisingly easy. Dipped beams lit up the snow banks and the surface like daylight. We were on snow now, but the 403 purred on quietly at 20 mph, with the clinking rhythm of the chains and the squashy front Michelin 'X's (normal pressure eighteen psi) giving a perfect grip on their fat paws. I can't remember meeting anything at all coming down the hill; it was a "piece-of-cake".

It wasn't hard to find the "Madrisa", I imagine it was the largest building in Gargellen (then); it took up one side of the little town square, with the onion-domed church opposite. In darkness now, we found the front door and went in to a warm welcome (in every sense). We soon unpacked, I took the car round to the car park at the back. We fed, bathed and settled down Mary (now two years old), had a good meal and retired thankfully for the night.

The hotel was in two parts - the old original wooden building facing the square (we had a balcony room), and a much larger newer extension behind. Dinner had been enjoyable. Gargellen is a very low resort (less than 5,000 ft); the snow had been patchy, a day or so the previous week it had actually rained . Prospects looked poor. But our arrival had brought good fortune - during the night there was a six-inch dump of snow on the balcony rail. Breakfast (in bright sunshine) had been cheerful.

The little church was packed to bursting, which was just as well as it was absolutely freezing. After Mass, we came back to our room. Bent on a siesta to round off lunch, we were busily engaged in settling Mary down for her sleep, but hadn't heard the village band assembling on the long balcony outside the room. The moment she at last dropped off, they let rip with a rousing selection of Tyrolean tunes. They played for another half-hour, then we could all have our afternoon snooze.

But very first thing that morning, I'd met Snag No.1. It seems that in Austria then there were two separate domestic electricity supplies - AC and DC (but both 220v). The old part where we were was on DC, but the new building AC. My razor was dual-voltage, but only AC. So in order to get a shave, I'd had to go down into the new hotel hall, where the only available point was in the telephone kiosk. It was a minor annoyance: we had little else to complain about.

(Perhaps I should mention at this stage that DC was in common use in older properties in the UK until well after the war; most elecrical devices in those days had to be "AC/DC").

Of course, there was no ski school on the Sabbath (although I think the ski lifts were working). Now what lifts they had then, I find it hard to remember. There would certainly be T-bars for the nursery slopes, and I know there was a chair-lift for the higher ones, and the was a gondola lift for the summit. I believe it is now possible to link runs over the top with the high Klosters snow fields, but I don't think you could do it in our day.

(Klosters [Switzerland] is only 10 miles away as the crow flies, but, IIRC, about 80 miles by road, as you have to go right down to the bottom of one valley and up the next).

Although it was obvious that the hotel catered mainly for family groups, it was rare to see pre-ski age toddlers and I don't think the hotel had a crèche. Mrs D. had elected not to ski, but to enjoy the time with Mary, watching me risking life and limb on the mountain. I probably collected skis, poles and Lift pass on the Sunday afternoon (which can't have taken long, for we'd our own kit and boots). The day continued fine, the forecast was good. We should see what the morrow would bring.

This will have to run into Part III now.

Goodnight, everbody,

Danny42C.


Let it snow !

Last edited by Danny42C; 1st Feb 2014 at 02:16. Reason: Error.
 
Old 1st Feb 2014, 03:04
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Another memory brought back by Danny, I recall going to Scotland a few years ago and a visit to a little island called Easdale, south of Oban, to see a friend that was working there for the summer. Lovely place but so small you can walked round the shore line in 20 minutes.

As they had no rooms I had gone to the internet "Hotels within 20 miles" it said and one was to the south of Oban. Good I thought, it will be near where Vicky is, I thought.

So visit over, jump in car, switch on satnav. Shortest distance 85 miles said satnav. No can't be right I thought. But it was, needed to drive around a couple of Loch's.

That said it was a lovely 2 1/2 hour drive through some of the best scenery I had seen for ages. Well worth my flight plan error.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 03:23
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Thanks ACW418,

I might just try an email to them and see what happens.

I thought it might be like you said based on photos I've seen from that balcony although it would be much better on the shop floor but I suppose security and all that put pay to such idea's after 9/11 and 7/7.

I've made a few to other centre's in the past even back to the days when West Drayton (Civil) had the radar's remotely in Sopley if my memory serves me correctly. Then a few years later back there with a visit to Eastern Radar after they had moved there from Watton. I found them all interesting as it helped fill in the gaps from what I knew from my monitoring. Now want to see how the centre previously known as Scottish Mil has slotted in.

Danny,

its not that bad at a centre, I mean it's given us MPN11 for a start.

I wonder, and more than possible that I've heard MPN11 on Eastern Radar back in the 80's, quite likely as did a lot of monitoring around that time. Still do at times.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 10:27
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I too once visited West Drayton, including the RAF Mil cell there. Pride of place I seem to remember was a large vertical map of the UK on which auto triangulation beams would pin point an aircraft transmitting on the distress freq (243 Mhz by then I guess). I've often wondered under whose control they operated, Obviously they had their own internal CoC (up to Wg Cdr?) but did they then come under NATS operational control, or were they answerable operationally to the RAF? If so who, an AOC? I know, I should have asked!


As ever, you paint the scene superbly Danny, both in time and place. Electricity in the UK was a jumble of non compatible plugs back then, even if you were on AC. 15 and 5 Amp plugs, as well as special ones for razors, clocks, lights etc. My mother used to subvert the whole process by plugging her iron into a "Y" shaped lighting outlet attached to the ceiling pendant that also fed a light bulb. That I am still here to tell the tale is surely down to pure providence.


It is a measure of your attraction to the engineering state of the art that you boasted an electric razor of any sort. Shaving by safety razor, soap, and brush was still the default then and not the retro style fashion that it is today.


Good luck on the slopes, and please don't do anything silly, will you?
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 10:41
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Chugalug2

Did you notice the sign above the door at D&D?

It was a "Double Diamond" sign presume "on loan" from a pub somewhere.

Seem to recall that they cover both 243.0 and 121.5.

Last time I saw their set up they also had the beams come up on some smaller displays zoomed into the beams crossover with a chart underneath in order to locate nearest town/airfield.

Also can say I've used their services, albeit as a practise PAN when I was in a Cessna 150 with a guy from Transamerica ops who later I believe ended up a fleet captain with KLM on B747's. Did an "unsure of location" call with a divert to the nearest airfield which was Lydd and our intended. Evene better was the return. We had arranged with Gatwick for an approach and overshoot if traffic was quite. It was and we got sandwiched in between two Air Europe B737's, although we didn't do the full approach, joined at 2 or 3 miles if I remember correctly. Would loved to have seen the spotters faces as they watched from the roof of the terminal.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 13:33
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Can't say I do,clicker, but very appropriate! In the old days they would have probably got fitted out with the pumps as well for a TGIF. Unthinkable and to be greatly deprecated now of course!


For some reason I think that the map display only worked on 121.5 and that 243 fixes were achieved by some other means, but memory as ever is vague.


Ah yes, that very first Practice Pan. One felt as nervous as if one were addressing the nation, and you had to practice the Practice well beforehand so that the script flowed rather than be punctuated with ...pauses and ...er's.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 16:59
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D&D had auto-triangulation on both frequencies.
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Old 1st Feb 2014, 17:06
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I went round West Drayton in the early 1970s. The big wall map was fed by CADFs around the country, any distress call produced lines of bearing; the ops clerks/ATC clerks marked the intersection with a couple of "light pistols" which shone a beam of light onto the map to mark the intersection. Old technology but seemed to work.
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 02:30
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Income Tax and Sealing Wax, and Cabbages and Kings.

Another delighful case of "one good memory deserves another" (which is, of course, the "raison d'être" of this Thread).

clicker,

"I'll tak' the high road and ye tak' the low road, and I'll be in Scotland afore ye " (or, in this case, Easdale ! Hope it was worth the trip).

Apart from the loss of your blue skies, fluffy white clouds and aeroplanes to watch, and having to spend all your days chained to a tube "in durance vile" in some dark dungeon from which you rarely emerged, blinking, into the light of day, and under the scrutiny (like polar bears in a pit) of visitors (as it now seems) on a balcony, it can't have been too bad. (Admittedly, the fact that Area Radar gave the Thread MPN11 [or was it the other way round ?] is to be applauded) ...... But West Drayton was in London (all right, Middlesex).

As no serviceman under star rank (with family) could afford to live in/near London those days (is it any better now ?), West Drayton was a no-no for most people in the Branch, and I was always glad to have avoided it. Is Swanwick (Hampshire) any better ?

Why not put it somewhere in the Midlands or North ? (there is human habitation North of Watford, after all). Don't all the inputs come in by landline or microwave link ? so it could be anywhere in the UK (or is there something I've missed ?)

End of rant...D.

Chugalug,

We've missed you on here and were starting to get worried. Welcome back !

You may be interested to know that one of the "Y" adaptors you recall from your boyhood is alive and well, and is functioning in our garage as I write (I have the input to the trickle charger wired up with a bayonet plug to the side outlet). IIRC, your Mother would have had a pull switch on hers, too, so she could switch out the light, but still keep ironing.

The snag in the arrangement was the wattage of the iron, which usually blew the 5A fusewire in the box. But hey, what's the problem ? Stick in 15A wire ! As this was long before PVC insulation and metal sheathing, and I think they had rubber (perishable) insulation and silk sheathing in the old "spider wiring", electrical fires were by no means uncommon.

Well do I remember the old round pins in the 5A and 15A 2-pin and 3-pin plugs. When you only had a 3-pin plug for a 2-pin socket, you dismantled the plug, took out the two pins and pushed them (with no insulation at all !) into the socket (it was a good idea to make sure the socket was "dead" before you started, and to instruct the family to keep their fingers off afterwards ).

Even more perilous "short cuts" (no pun intended) were common practice as an alternative to that method. When you wanted to connect something up, but didn't have a plug to fit, you simply fed the bare wire ends into the holes in the socket (for the round-pin plugs had no "shields", such as are actuated by the flat earth pin in modern plugs *). To secure them, you twisted a bit of paper as a wedge, or used matchsticks. You need to connect two cables ? Twist the bare ends together, insulate with the black, tarry, insulating tape in universal use then. It'll last for years !

Note * : (You can defeat that too. Poke a pencil point into the socket earth, push down and back to open the "shields", proceed as before. And the shields will spring back and trap the insulated part of the flex, so you don't need a matchstick).

It will be no surprise to learn that the prudent householder always kept a card of fuse wires and a small screwdriver in the fusebox (as I do myself to this day), and a torch nearby. Your parents' generation lived dangerously even before the war !

Electric razors were on the market in Southport as early as '46. I bought one, it was of the reciprocating blade variety, it cost me two guineas, it was useless (but the little pigskin pouch was nice). Since then, I've had one or two of the same kind (a Braun was good), but finally settled on the rotating blade Philips. Won't change now.

Re: The First Practice Pan ("unaccustomed as I am to Public Speaking") recalls a similar situation (Don't remember where) with the Tannoy. This has mikes in ATC, SHQ ? - and the Guardroom. Here a Tannoy had to go out urgently, the Corporal was busy on the phone. The slip of paper was handed to an airman (defaulter ?) close by. "Put this out !"

He cleared his throat, nervously keyed the mike and quavered: "Stand By for Broadcast"...(deathly pause)..."What the f#ck do I say now !"... (which brought the house down all round the Station)

No need to worry, D. and family will come back from the snow sound in wind and limb (if somewhat lighter in the wallet)....D

ricardian,

To put it another way, it's because it works that it gets to be old technology ! . ....D.

G'night all, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 2nd Feb 2014 at 02:38. Reason: Add Smilies.
 
Old 2nd Feb 2014, 08:11
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Danny,
when I was a 'techie' the matchstick in the socket trick was known as the Bryant and May connection for obvious reasons.
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 10:47
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Danny42C

The snag in the arrangement was the wattage of the iron, which usually blew the 5A fusewire in the box. But hey, what's the problem ? Stick in 15A wire !
...and in the absence of fuse wire a strip of silver paper from a cigarette packet worked OK - although to be fair it wouldn't blow at much under 350Amps! - but it worked occasionally and the house hasn't burnt down yet!
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 11:07
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In Sainsburys this week they had 3 pin 13 amp fused plugs but not replacement fuses? I still have a card of fuse wire for old times sake.
mmitch.
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 11:46
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At RAF Driffield circa 1962 there was a big enquiry after it was discovered that the main 100 amp fuse for an accommodation block had been replaced by a finely fettled fire bucket handle
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 13:08
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fettling is a lost art

silver foil was my ultimate back up....from cig packet, or kitchen who cares.


glf
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 14:47
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Often used the dead fuse to hold a strand of wire wedged between the fuse and the contact (often via a Bryant and May tool kit).
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 17:07
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Too complicated. I don't even understand why the volts don't dribble out of the holes and onto the floor
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Old 2nd Feb 2014, 20:42
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Angel

We seem to have aroused quite a response to the tale of the many electrical misdemeanours common in days of yore ! And thank you all for not taking me to task for my stupid typo ("delighful" - reminds be of the "deadful" we had a while back. Fixed, now).

ancientaviator62, Warmtoast, mmitch, ricardian, Gulfstreamaviator and clicker,

Thanks for the various additions you made to the main theme. I hadn't heard of the "Bryant & May" name for the idea before (as a pipe smoker, found "Swan" burned a bit longer), but then you learn something new every day. A Fire Bucket handle (fettled) does sound a bit extreme; the worst I heard of was the six-inch nail- across-the-fusebox solution to running (strictly prohibited) electric fires in the huts to augment the output of the coke stove (particularly if you were at the far end !).

The silver paper and (the later and better) kitchen foil is the solution to many problems. There may yet be one or two folk who still do not know that the Achilles Heel of many AAA and AA powered devices (notably remote controls) is the little tensioning coil spring at the base, which weakens. A rolled up scrap of foil (the size of a pea) often works wonders.

I note from some of the replies that the domestic fuse is assumed to be of cartridge-type. But earlier yet, you just had a bit of ceramic with a tiny hole at each end through which you threaded your fusewire, then clamped each end round a screw. All was in a two-prong carrier which you plugged back into the box.

This was by no means easy, if your only light source was a burning match. But surely these are things of the past ? Not so ! (I can assure you).

MPN11,

They did ! Unfortunately there was sometimes a human body interposed (if the floor was anything of an "earth"), with a possible fatal outcome.

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 2nd Feb 2014, 22:02
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keyed the mike and quavered: "Stand By for Broadcast"...(deathly pause)..."What the f#ck do I say now !"
That, as we say up here, ia an absolute dumer (or doomer)

I,m still chuckling about it now! -Thanks for that one Danny.

I, m still using a Wylex consumer unit with rewirable carriers,-bought/aquired spares, so if one pops, just swap!...little coloured dots on them to denote the amperage they're supposed to be wired for...red, 30A blue 15A, white 5A.

have found odd lengths of lead-sheathed ,during renovations....conductors rubber covered and then woven-cotton sheathed...would cost a fortune to make today, which is probably why you only got 1 socket in a room (every one went back to it's own fuse on the fuseboard )

In my youth, I quickly established a superior technique to the B&M connection....one bared the "Tails" and if twisted, untwisted and fanned-out slightly and bent to 90*....poke flattened tails in appropriate holes, then shove in a plug for a switched item.....connection made, plug covered the bare bits2 items off one feed without a double adapter or second plug.
keep the tales coming, gents, As a civilian, i find them fascinating..

as an aside, in my teens I had a good friend who had done NS around 1953...he became a tank-driver and served in Germany...Apparently, the locals referred to them as "the children's army"....anyhow, he delighted in recounting how they would wait untol crops were well-developed, then drive full -tilt across them, thus destroying the poor farmer's efforts.....apparently the military did compensate them, but he didn't know or care if it covered the damage.

those were, indeed, the days.
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