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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 9th Apr 2009, 16:44
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regle
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Tease ? Cockney Steve ?

I have been called many things but never a tease (unqualified T.G.). Everything comes to them wot waits but I am still in 1948 and the air has suddenly become fragrant with the scent of distant climes and some of the scent is not so fragrant ! Wait for it ! Coming to your screen in Living Black and White..........? Where ? 'til later, Regle.
 
Old 9th Apr 2009, 18:49
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Thanks Cliff and Reg!

Cliff and Reg, thanks to you both for your very comprehensive replies; really interesting as usual, and also it's nice to have your questions answered in such a thoughtful manner.

The way that the RAF evolved from its formation through to its post-war guise is something that interests me...from being the most junior service it seems that it went through numerous 'attitude changes' (for want of a better description) in a very short space of time. I think you got it about right Reg when you mentioned the importance of the technical trades to the increasingly complex post-war RAF...I think that this may have gone some way to helping break the social barriers, as it were, that may have existed pre-war.

I suppose that discipline (perhaps "formalities" would be a better term?) must have been harder, and perhaps to an extent counter-productive, to enforce on a largely non-volunteer force - however enthusuastic that force was about winning the war. And - as Cliff says - rank didn't mean so much in the air. Perhaps it was easier to re-introduce pre-war rules and codes as people were de-mobilised, and the ratio of conscripts/volunteers shifted once again?

There's probably a University thesis in there somewhere....

...but I shall let you both get on with your stories! Many thanks again gents.
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Old 11th Apr 2009, 09:29
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>>Would love to know what would have happened if you had thumped the Groupy. Under the influence of hypoxia ?<<

That made me laugh. I suppose the answer is that, by the time I reached the 'Yellow Submarine' I had learned enough self discipline to be emotionally detached in a stressful situation! More seriously, it taught me that feeling aggressive toward other crew members probably meant I should check to see if I was unplugged.

I still wonder what would have happened if I had thumped the Groupy and the thought that I will never know doesn't bother me in the slightest.
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Old 14th Apr 2009, 16:40
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Pro Bono Publico

As I have said before , we had assumed the engineers course would be quite simple, but whenever we commenced a new subject, we were constantly surprised at the complexity. Subjects like , pneumatics, and hydraulics, were we had to memorise working pressures, circuits, colour codes of pipes, etc. Electrics, were I had a reasonable knowledge already , I had to learn about Coulombs , and things like 746 watts equals one horse power., it was never ending. When we came to the subject of Dinghies, we thought surely we must know it all by now, but no, more writing and ,memorising .To prove it I have scanned two of the pages which should give you some Idea. Thought it was just a case of shouting “I’m in the dinghy Jack, let go the painter” ( A wartime expression). So the days were spent writing notes ,and the evenings, “mugging up” and questioning each other.




However Saturdays were a different proposition. We found three ‘singing pubs’ one in Tiger Bay, one in Bridgend, and I think one in Llantwit Major. All of these were easily accessible by steam train from St Athan station. I remember well, one night when it snowed hard ,the return journey should have only taken a few minutes from Bridgend,, but , talk about press on regardless , the engine driver rammed the drfts, backed up and rammed again, and again. We reached camp about six A.M. . Seven hours of ramming. Unfortunately no one claimed for whiplash in those days, or complained that it was a no corridor/toilet carriage. ( nuff said, or we will be back on Elsans again.) The grand finale to most evenings, was when friendly rivalry , between towns and counties began. Geordies sang ’Keep your feet still Geordie Hinny, Glaswegians ’I belong to Glasgae, Welshmen ’We’ll keep a welcome in the hillside’ Cockneys ’Doing the Lambeth Walk’ etc . All ‘at the top of their voices’ . The singing continued on the return train journey. don’t remember any serious arguments, or fights. Writing the foregoing reminds me of recently watching ‘Night Bomber’ on my video, and hearing all the flight mechs, who were fitting a Merlin to a Lanc, whistling the number one top of the hit parade tune, and thinking “don’t hear much whistling and singing these days.

Just wondering if there are any ex flight engineers reading this, could you come in and answer a question on Merlin engines that I was asked on my final exams. I had much difficulty answering, but managed it in the end. If there are no replies, I will give the answer later.

A Lancaster lands and taxies down the perry track into the dispersal. Engines are switched off, they almost stop, and then fire up again. They continue to do this, add infinitum,. What is the cause ?.
Although most will understand the words ‘perry track, and ‘dispersal’ I should explain for the benefit of any one who does not ,that ‘perry track’ refers to the concrete track running round the perimeter of the airfield not , only to allow aircraft to taxy to all runways, but also to reach dispersal points located at intervals around the perry track. This reduced the chance that all aircraft could be destroyed by one bomb. During the war this was also practised by civilian firms who operated any type of transport. At the end of the day the vehicles would be taken home by drivers so that they were well dispersed. Should two drivers live close together an office staff member would take it home instead.

Reg , I notice the words in ditching subject, Sutton Harness. Is this what we now call seat belts, I can’t remember .
N.B Call light signal D.D.D represents the call "Dinghy, Dinghy, prepare for ditching. da dit dit X 3 in morse. I can still remember my morse.
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Old 14th Apr 2009, 18:01
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Sutton Harness

Cliff, if my memory serves me right the "Sutton Harness"" was the webbing worn to enable the pack type parachute to be hooked on to the wearer. It was , probably by accident, very useful to grab on to if in some sort of emergency such as Ditching or moving an otherwise, difficult to get hold of body ! It rings more true to me than the "Safety Belt" in the Check List. On further thought I think that the proof is that the Pilot of a Halifax did not wear the webbing but had an unwieldy seat type parachute , If my memory is right( and I should not be the least surprised if someone finds that I am completely wrong.) Hope to be with you soon, Regle
SECOND THOUGHTS; I looked it up on Wik and there is a note that a pilot of a Spitfire died in a landing because of the severe strain of the central locking pin of his harness. Sutton evidently refers to the shoulder of any such restraint, Open to debate.

Last edited by regle; 14th Apr 2009 at 20:28. Reason: More information
 
Old 14th Apr 2009, 18:38
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>> could you come in and answer a question on Merlin engines that I was asked on my final exams. I had much difficulty answering, but managed it in the end.<<

Let's get this straight: you can remember an exam question from over 65 years ago???

In the 1980's I went through Jet Provost training and I can't remember a darned thing about the JP except the downwind checks. The RAF had gone over to what they pleased to call the 'Systems Approach to Flying Training' or 'SAFT'. This seemed to be designed by accountants who enjoyed costing everything you did.

First you were given a booklet which would say:

'At the end of this booklet you will be able to state the components of the hydraulic system.'

Second, the intructor went through said components.

Third you got an exam which asked you to list the same components.

It was a jolly good way of 'proving' (on paper) that you knew about hydraulics, However, we called it 'learn and dump' because the next day you went on to soemthing else without having to digest what you had memorised for the exam.

By contrast, you guys received an education in aircraft systems that has stood the test of time.

Fascinating thread. There are lessons to be learned from the past for sure.
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Old 15th Apr 2009, 09:22
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Aas far as I remember, the Sutton Harness was the seat-belt/shoulder harness. However, it differed from the later harness in that the straps had eyelets in them through which a pin was placed to hold them all in position. The only way to tighten them was to take the pin out and refit the harness using different holes.
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Old 15th Apr 2009, 11:38
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I believe Schiller is correct. The holes in the harness were quite large, as was the central pin (and, I'd assume, with thick gauntlets on, was not particularly easy to undo, particularly in 'less than ideal conditions'). And then there was the headset lead, which back then, was large, and separate to the oxy mask lead and usually behind your head.

In having the Sutton harness, the Brits were ahead of some of their allies. I was surprised to find some of the US types of that vintage didn't have a shoulder harness, but just a lap strap, with not very reassuring double webbing 'poke in' securing points. This lack of a shoulder harness could lead to terrible face/head injuries on gunsights in forced landings in single engine types.
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Old 15th Apr 2009, 14:38
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Cool Sutton harness

Also, the Americans did not have the quick release box on their parachutes which ours did so it involved three hooks to undo - one at each top of thigh and one across the chest. Carry on Cliffnemo. All very nostalgic!! Bravolima aka Ormeside!!!.
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Old 16th Apr 2009, 14:03
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Hi Spartican

Hi Spartican. < Can I remember a question from sixty five years ago ? > Yes I can.. Can I remember the answer ? That remains to be seen. When I answer, I will try to write from memory , with no reference to notes. I think that as it was a struggle to work out, and that I was so pleased that I got it right, that I remember. Regards your remarks about education on aircraft systems, I often thought we would never need a lot of the knowledge in flight, and the only answer any of us could come up with was that we were also being groomed for posting to the Far East, after V.E Day, where servicing facilities were not so well organised. For instance , we might use an airfield, with fully trained Halifax or B17 mechanics who knew every thing about their aircraft , but baffled by some of the systems on the Lancaster. (comments ?) I am sure that with their skill and our knowledge , we would have coped O.K.

Your reference to the course being designed by accountants reminded me of the saying that our webbing, big pack, etc was designed by Lady Astor (I think,) Well she did call the lads fighting their way up from Africa, D Day dodgers. Does any one remember ? I know it wasn’t Vera Lyn.


TRIVIA.

I’m elated, over the moon. Just read an article in yesterdays paper showing a note written by a well known politician. You see when I started this blog, I was concerned, ‘The moving finger having writ moves on, nor all thy piety and wit cannot remove half a word’ and all that Plus grammar , spelling mistakes, coupled with the fact, journalist I aint. I now know I am not the daftest writer in the country, and have scanned the article for your amusement. I swear I have not airbrushed the item below, and have done my best to enhance it. Sorry if it is a bit off thread, but do think it relates to some of my scans, well remotely.



P.S Bottom right hand corner is the word 'nowlege' (very sic)
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Old 16th Apr 2009, 15:23
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Well I just had to contribute!

The seat belts used on the Spitfire and other British aircraft of the era are often being referred to as the Sutton Harness. What exactly was the Sutton Harness?
The Sutton Harness used in single-seat fighters was a patented quick-release safety belt system introduced late during World War I. Over the years, several types of Sutton Harness were developed, covering both simple lap straps and four-point aerobatic harnesses. In the 1930s, the four-point Sutton harness was a broadly established standard in all RAF aircraft types, from de Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth and Miles Magister to the Spitfire and Hurricane.
Sutton Harness


The Sutton Harness system in the Spitfire
The Sutton harness commonly used during the initial to mid-war period consisted of four straps about 2'' wide that had a row of grommets spaced about 1and 1/2 " apart.
The shoulder straps of the harness were attached at a single point to a transverse cable which was attached by brackets bolted to the ends of the fuselage longerons behind the pilot's head/shoulders. The length of the cable provided a degree of shock absorption upon impact. Also, the wire could be slackened by means of a lever in the cockpit to permit the pilot to lean forwards.
The lap straps were attached to the lower airframe.
The four straps met in front of the pilot's chest. On the free end of one of the lap straps there was a brass locking cone that had a hole near the top that passed laterally through the cone for the locking pin. The pilot put the remaining three straps over the cone and locked the straps together in the pilots lap. The distinctive-looking locking pin was secured to the cone strap with a leather thong.

Shoulder straps of the Sutton Harness
When the pilot wanted to release himself, he pulled on the thong which withdrew the locking pin from the cone, freeing all straps simultaneously. It was the first quick release device.
Due to the way the shoulder harness was attached to the fuselage structure, the part of the harness going through the armoured bulkhead behind the seat and continuing to to the rear was one of the clearly visible thingies inside the rear glazing of the Spitfire (and sadly, is one thing regularly overlooked by modellers).

The attachment cable of the Sutton harness visible under the rear glazing of the Spitfire.
The upper buckles are threaded through frame 11 (behind pilot) referred above and bolted to a bayonet coupling, connecting the shoulder straps to two wires going back over the antenna mounting frame, one each side of the mast foot, to an anchor point at frame 15. Another wire attached the bayonet coupling to the longitudinal frame under the rear glazing, probably to prevent the coupling from disappearing down into the fuselage when the straps were unfastened. The Y-shaped end of the shoulder straps went down behind the seat back, toward an anchor point on the seat mounting frame.



This photograph illustrates how the pilot was strapped in the Sutton Harness. The locking pin was attached by a thread to one of the shoulder strap, and is often seen hanging along with the strap over the cockpit sill and down the fuselage side of aircraft on readiness. The pilot is Norwegian Kjell L'Abbee-Lund while serving with No. 611 Squadron.


With apologies to reg and Cliff for mentioning "fighters"!
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Old 16th Apr 2009, 16:02
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We have another bash at Civvy St.

When the BEA Check flight was no more, we were given three months pay in lieu of notice and were let loose on a very overcrowded market. Luckily... and notice how many times in my life that word comes up... there were people in the Air Ministry that felt very badly about the treatment that we had been given. I, with one or two others of the late Check Flight were contacted and were put in touch with the newly emerging International sector of Air India. I sent them my c.v. and was offered an immediate job , based in Bombay, as it was still called. I was told that the job entailed training embryo Captains in flying the DC3's which the US Air Force had left all over India--and the world in fact-and also to train their senior pilots in the flying of the first British civil airliner to emerge after the war, the Vickers Viking. The fact that I had already flown the prototype whilst still at the EFS, had a lot to do with my successful application. At that time I remember being astonished at the plush seating... or so it seemed to me after years of flying warplanes... and the proper toilet instead of the old Elsan. I think that the lavish passenger layout impressed me more than the actual performance of the aircraft.
We had to leave our families to join us later and were due to leave the Uk in May 1948. This was just after the "partition" of India. I had been a fanatic supporter of Blackpool Football Club since my boyhood days , and had been lucky enough to form a very good friendship with several of the team that made Blackpool one of the strongest in the country,during the regionalised League Football in wartime Britain, due to Blackpool being the main centre of initial training for the RAF and thus able to call on many of the PT Instructors amongst whom were some of the biggest names in Football. Stanley Matthews had been a Corporal in my Father's Signal Centre and Stanley Mortenson, England's centre-forward, had been injured in a flying accident and was also in Blackpool. They and others, were always very kind when I met them whilst on leave and it was probably through them that I had actually been given two seats for the 1948 Cup Final between Blackpool and Manchester United but it was Dora and her brother-in-law who went to Wembley and saw Blackpool beaten by four goals to two in what was called the finest footballing Final to date. I was on my way, in a brand new Lockheed Constellation, to Bombay together with another ex-Check Pilot who had been taken on with me ,Jack Eshelby.
We had been promised free passage and good accommodation for our families but they would have to wait a short while before joining us. India was exciting. Apart from my training in the United States and passage through Canada , I had never been out of the UK before. India was exotic and totally different to anywhere that I had ever been. Jack and I had a week or two based in the Taj Mahal Hotel whilst we became acclimatised. I got on well with the Indian Pilots and
understood them when they referred to the "Wickers Wikings which were being delivered daily. In a very short time , Dora and our two children, Peter and Linda, together with Jack's wife, Hazel and their two children came to join us and examined the very nice accommodation that was being offered to us. Eventually we decided on a lovely, completely furnished, large bungalow, made of white marble, spacious and built for two families, practically on the beach at Juhu which was a tiny fishing village near to Santa Cruz, Bombay's airport. It looked wildly romantic but we were soon to be sadly disillusioned.
Our dining room overlooked the romantic beach, complete with coconut palms but when the tide went out, miles of smelly mud flats were revealed. Worse was to come as these mud flats served as the
communal toilets for the local villagers. First the men would come out and perform their toilets and ablutions and then it was the turn of the women. They each carried the obligatory circular Player's cigarette tin filled with water to use instead of toilet paper. All this was performed under our dining room windows.!
We had just about got used to this aspect of our daily lives when along came the saga of the pi-dogs. We had been pestered by these wretched half-wild packs of skeletal dogs rummaging into our waste bins so we called the local police to see if something could be done about it. This they certainly did ! I came back from the airport, one day and could smell a terrible odour from over a mile away. Our hysterical wives tried to explain that the police had been and had put lumps of raw meat down but did not tell them that the meat had been laced with strychnine. The pi-dogs had scoffed it and had promptly died a terrible death. The waiting kite hawks had swooped down to scavenge and had suffered the same fate. Then came the vultures.....The resulting carnage and smell was indescribable. I went post haste to the Police and, to give them their due, they immediately called the Sanitary services and three huge trucks filled with dozens of "coolies" were cleaning up as though it was a routine job...which it probably was.
 
Old 16th Apr 2009, 19:49
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Apart from my training in the United States and passage through Canada , I had never been out of the UK before
.
Ahem, I suppose Germany, France, Holland and Belgium etcetera didn't count as you didn't land!!!
Keep on the good works!!
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Old 16th Apr 2009, 21:35
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Never even entered my mind, Icare9

I did'nt even think of Canada and the U.S. as "Foreign". Thanks for the thought though. My son was in Berlin some time ago and was asked whether he had been there before. He answered "No, but my Father used to come here quite often. ". Just Kidding !
 
Old 16th Apr 2009, 22:22
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Cliff, not to spoil your tale, but could the answer to the problem, be as follows..... a lot of taxying on heat-soaked engines, especially if leaned-out, would be susceptible to pre-ignition....switch off mags, pull mixture back and an imperfect shutoff, combined with a slightly cracked throttle, would allow "dieseling".....In the late 1960's ,I took the keys from a new Transit van,after a 6 mile journey It continued to run,albeit lumpily, for over 5 minutes.....later cars and vans of virtually all makes introduced a solenoid air-valve to the inlet-manifold...switching the ignition off allowed the valve to open (spring loaded open, powerd shut) thus breaking the airflow over the carb. jets.......sorry about the thread drift!

I made the huge assumption that the Merlin had Carbs...the float-chambers must have been like kitchen sinks.

My mind still boggles at the vast expense in fuel, materials and time to fly a single mission.
Add in the number of man(and woman! ) -hours in support,planning and maintenance and the costs are awe-inspiring....then add in the cost in human life...truly a different world you lived in then.
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Old 17th Apr 2009, 07:04
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It was a rule drummed into us in training, never to walk through the prop arc of a piston engined aircraft. At Northolt the B17 and Lancaster arrived one day and crowds gathered to admire them as they parked. I stopped one WRAF Officer from walking under the B17 through a prop arc and just as she was about to give me the "Don't you shout at me Mr. BS!" treatment, there was a bang and the prop kicked over. She left in a hurry, presumably to change her underwear.

If I remember correctly, the Spitfire and Hurricane had a big button on the lower right side of the instrument panel for shutting down the engine. I suppose this worked as you describe, by opening the manifold and preventing the engine drawing in any fuel, so it would stop without any fuel charge left in the cylinders.

Old aeroplanes, like my Grandmother, have loads of character and they kick when you least expect it.
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Old 17th Apr 2009, 16:22
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`No need to apologise , Andy for mentioning the word fighter. I mentioned the word politician, and I’m still here. Very interesting the article on Sutton harness, brought it all back.

Spartacus. Still thinking about ‘remembering for sixty five years. Could it be remembering remembering remembering ?. That is discussing it with other engineers from time to time or having similar problems later in civvy street ?

Steve , Replies do not spoil the thread, If it wasn’t for the replies this thread would have stopped long ago, and are very welcome.. Good try Steve, but not dieseling ,sometimes called preignition, or running on, or due to heat soaked engines. We had very definite instructions that on reaching the dispersal, we must run all engines at fast revs for a few minutes to allow the engines to cool down. This also ensured that the sodium filled valves could cool off. Which some valves would not do, owing to being off their seats when stopped. After switching off the magnetos, we then switched off the four I.C.O switches which cut off the fuel completely to the carburettors, be they Solex fitted to the British Merlins or Strombergs fitted to the Canadian/ Packard Merlins. These switches can be seen , top right on my previous instrument panel drawing. My historic Beetle (71) also has an ALMOST similar I.C.O but they call it an electromagnetic cut off valve. It is the slight difference in the two designs that is part of the answer to my question.

You mention the costs of maintenance, one , never mentioned is the cost of all the back up tools and aircraft spares which were slowly moved up in trailers, as the front advanced into Germany. When I ‘Went redundant’ ( a phrase used by many aircrew), I finished up in charge of the mechanical stores at R.A.F Wunsdorf, (Near Hanover) and was amazed at the amount of stores still in trailers.

Blacksheep I wondered whether the Merlins on single engined aircraft had an I.C.O fitted, I would think so. Any Merlin mechs, flight engineers out there . If so OVER.
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Old 18th Apr 2009, 16:30
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Cliff....I assume ICO = Idle Cut Off ? Yes, I've worked on many a car with that system, but certain models would still pull fuel from the main-jet, sufficient to maintain running...some designs had both the air-dump solenoid and the idle cutoff. the Fords sounded like an asthmatic, when you turned them off

Interesting to learn that Sodium filled valves were around then....it was quite a novelty in the 70's car repair business and, having been cautioned against cutting them, I often wondered what happened when a piston broke a head off when the timing went.....removed a few bent ones from Fiat twin-cams, but the heads stayed on

still awaiting the answer .....and this is still the best thread on proon
Thanks!
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Old 18th Apr 2009, 21:37
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Passage to India .

Cliff, CockneySteve and others, I still feel humbled by the vast technical knowledge displayed, especially lately ,with the discourse on the "preignition" subject. I remember that my old Riley used to run on for what seemed like hours especially in warm weather. ( Does the name of Fredddy Dixon and Rileys mean anything to anyone ? No cheating via Wikking !) I feel out of place sometimes with my efforts but I have been encouraged by many and I agree that this Forum IS so interesting and I think that the change of subject is one of the things that I like about it so here goes; back to "The Jewel in the Crown."
Luckily, even with our experiences with the communal toilets and the pi-dogs, we had something that had never entered our lives before...servants. We found that we had entered the most rigid "Trade Union" that we had ever dreamed of, when we started to take on a very neccessary staff to run the household under the very different conditions that we were now faced with. It wasn't called a trade union; it was called the Caste System. I had a bearer who would only touch my clothes but not anything of my wife's; a cook who would cook but not prepare or serve food, a food preparer (potato peeler) who also cleaned the rooms but not the bathroom or toilet which were left to a poor little man from the "untouchables". There was also the Ayah who looked after the children (Very well, actually ) and considered herself above all the others. Thomas, the cook, would come to Dora every morning with a sheet of paper for the day's menu. After the rationing of the U.K. our imagination would run riot, especially the desserts, but, day after day, the prescribed sweet would not be served, with all sorts of different excuses from Thomas. We found out that the only dessert that Thomas knew was creme caramel. To this day the sight or name of creme caramel takes me instantly to India.

Although Air India had hired two of us as Instructors, not enough of the pilots were experienced enough to fly the routes and we were often pressed into service. Air India were fortunate in having as Chief, one of the most dynamic and likeable men that I have ever met in my life. His name was J.R.D. Tata, always known simply as J.R.D. He was already one of the richest men in India, through he and his family's textile mills and multitude of concerns ,but he, alone started Air India before the war. He was revered by all his employees and, I was told, taught himself to fly and I also believe that he held the first Indian Commercial Pilot's licence.
Flying, in India was different, to say the least. One of the first pupils that I had was a very young chap who had only flown small single-engined aircraft and he had to be converted to D.C.3's. His taxying was very erratic and we were fortunate in staying on the taxiway but we eventually lined up and I told him to take off. He took his feet off the brakes, opened up the port throttle and spun the aircraft around. "Ooh, yes, I clean forgot that we had two engines" he said. I eventually found out that his Father had been instrumental in getting his commercial licence "for my Birthday, you know" !
One day, coming in to land at Santa Cruz, we hit a buzzard on the approach . The authorities who had designed the airport had overlooked, or ignored the fact that there was a meat packing factory in line with the main runway and the resulting buzzards, ubiquitous "Kitehawks" and even vultures were a constant menace. This one broke one of the main legs of the extended undercarriage so I had to retract the other one and then fly around Bombay for a couple of hours to burn up fuel and then made a wheels up landing on the grass beside the runway. It was deemed safer to do this than land on the one good wheel. The monsoon helped in having made the grass nice and wet and we slid along for a long way , hotly pursued by what I thought was the safety equipment truck, but turned out to be a lorry loaded with coolies , who jumped on our aircraft, gaily waving to us through the windows and proceeded to paint out the logo, "Air India" with whitewash before it could be photographed by the Press. I had a photograph from "The Times of India" showing the D.C.3 on it's belly with the long white streak effectively hiding the logo but it has long since been lost in the numerous moves that we have made since then....1948 !
 
Old 19th Apr 2009, 18:00
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Regle: and we all now know much more about Tata from the buyout (sellout) of British Steel by Blair and Co....
Tata also manufacture trucks, cars and practically everything they can use their steel in, so they have come a long way and very successfully.
How interesting that you know the man personally from the founding of Air India, and that the Tata Company success is due to hard work and enterprise, not sleaze.
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