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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 16th Feb 2015, 13:28
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Dogle wrote: "My greatest fear is that I shall throw away something of value (sentimental/historical) from his great collection of war memorabilia. My father wrote his memoirs down which we are having self published. I'm not sure if anyone would be interested in reading this. We don't intend making profit from it but in order to cover costs it will possibly cost around 20 (it is no small tome...277 pages and A4 size)."

The smart money these days, for self-publishing, is to use Amazon. You need only upload the kindle version, and anybody requiring a hard copy clicks 'print on demand'.


On the topic of paint that changes colour when detecting gas, this Fougasse cartoon refers. No idea, though, about Post Boxes.

http://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/...unny-i-thought

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Old 16th Feb 2015, 17:33
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Hong Kong 1946

Sorry Danny, I don't recall much (if anything) about my initial crewing-up at Bomber OTU, nor what happened after the unit was switched to Transport! Anyway, here is the first part of my account of HK life in '46.........


Finally at full strength at Kai Tak around the end of April 1946, 96 Sqdn was faced with using its C-47s to operate a tenuous network of scheduled services covering Japan in the east, Singapore to the south and Calcutta to the west plus of course points in between; there were also flights to other places from time to time, but our main task was to provide what was in effect a military airline totally devoid of airline-style comforts that, in the almost total absence of any civil airlines serving this vast area, also offered limited provision for civilian passengers. Following an aborted flight to Chungking as co-pilot, in mid May my crew & I found ourselves pitched in at the deep end operating one of the newly-established schedules to our main Japanese base at Iwakuni, located in the British zone of the main island.

Given Kai Tak's close proximity to local terrain and the limitations thus imposed, only daylight operations were permitted and in fact my log book records no night flying whatever from this time on until demob later in the year; which of course meant that all route departures were early to mid-morning, while arrivals tended to be later in the day. The flight to Iwakuni was accomplished in two stages, first day to Shanghai and then after a night stop on to Japan. Rather than proceed direct to Shanghai our route took us round the curve of China's south eastern coast though whether this was for diplomatic reasons or just to avoid the usual Cu-nim build-up overland I don't know, but it gave us a good view of historic places such as Amoy, Swatow and others where it was interesting to notice that traditional craft such as junks and suchlike considerably outnumbered western-style shipping.

After a five and a half hour flight we arrived at Lunghwa, a long-vanished airfield on the south west outskirts of Shanghai that was shared with the USAAF and also the Chinese Air Force. I recall little of our road trip into the city, other than travelling along the Bund and noticing the various mercantile and other buildings that looked mostly larger and more numerous than those of Hong Kong, eventually being deposited at what I think was (or had been, pre-war) a seaman's mission in the old International Settlement area. It appeared to be run mainly by local staff who provided reasonable bar and grub facilities, so there was little need to venture into the town which at that time had little to offer anyway other than money changers, of which there seemed to be many for rampant inflation was beginning to take off the rate then was about 250 yuan to $1HK, and became noticeably greater on each subsequent visit.

A further 4.30 hr flight the next day brought us to Iwakuni, situated on Japan's inland sea close to Hiroshima or what was left of it. The over-water part of the trip had been clear but much of western Japan was clouded over, so we were pleased when the cloud broke as we approached our destination and caught a first glimpse of the devastated city prior to landing a sobering sight, which we able to inspect in more detail during the next few days. My log book records we spent several days here, eventually departing in a different aircraft from the one we brought in but no details other than we flew three air tests carrying out radio checks - for what purpose I can't recall.

However this caused us no grief, for time passed in a cooler climate was not unwelcome; indeed it inclined at times to the chilly side against which our rather scruffy 'uniforms', a mixture of jungle green and KD, offered scant protection so the availability of a traditional Nipponese bath house was a decided boon. This facility, located not far from our block and adjacent to the main boiler house, offered not only copious showers but also what resembled a shallow swimming pool at least 20ft square that was filled with clean hot water about 3 ft deep. Nobody else on the base seemed to use it, so (following the local way of life) after a blissful shower we passed a good deal of time just lolling about in the pool where, despite its lack of depth, swimming was just about possible.

The air tests facilitated a proper low level recce of Hiroshima, which in effect resembled nothing more than a giant rubble heap. True, the roads had been cleared so there was a recognisable street plan but otherwise nothing standing at all apart from a very occasional steel-framed shell, while apart from a few pedestrians, a very occasional tramcar and the odd vehicle there was little sign of life; to look on which, and realise that just one bomb was responsible, left an impression that remains with me to this day. Few alive now can claim to have seen a nuclear-obliterated city with their own eyes, and I do honestly believe that if it were possible to wind the clock back so that those in power today could see it too, then there might be less sabre-rattling and stupid talk of possible great power conflict; for, make no mistake, any use of nuclear weapons would inevitably escalate and that would be that finis.

After our return we seem to have been idle for the first half of June, but the latter half saw us accumulate 50 hours of flight to various destinations - Changi via Saigon, Shanghai & return, then up to Iwakuni again. Throughout the whole of my 1945-46 sojourn in the SEAC area I kept a record of all loads carried, mostly pretty mundane stuff but maybe of some interest here & there: mostly a mixture of passengers, freight & mail but from mid-July onwards I noted civilian passengers as well as military, while on 12th June we carried a Jap war criminal from Saigon to Changi (wonder what happened to him?).

Sector times on this sort of work were generally greater than in the Burma theatre Hong Kong to Saigon could stretch to seven hours as against a normal 5 if bad weather were encountered so the Dak's Sperry autopilot was a highly valued piece of equipment. The control box, mounted in the centre panel just forward of the throttles, carried the Horizon and DI from which it obtained attitude and heading information, these instruments also being a useful back-up to those on the pilots' panels, while it was also possible, by using the independent speed controls, to adjust the servos' rate of response to any displacement or correction. Failure (in my experience anyway) was virtually unknown, and I have to say that Mr Sperry's piece of kit far outclassed anything to be found on home-built aircraft even ten years later.
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 04:26
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Danny, you were quite correct in your post this was the RAF,s most costly raid of the war. I first became aware of this when Dad started making comparisions of ''then vs. now" during that Faulklands War, and later during the first Persian Gulf War. Early on after joining Bomber Command, the aircrew were advised that losses would happen, in fact the phrase 'sustainable losses' was often used. The crews were told that the planners made provisions that a 4% loss rate was acceptable; anything under 4% RAF could simultaneously expand their force while still maintaining offensive operations.
On the Neuremberg raid 95 bombers were lost, but RAF policy at the time was to count only those aircraft that were lost over European soil as losses. Aircraft abandoned over England, crashed on landing, or were written off by battle damage were not included in that total. I hope someone may confirm or correct me, but I also believe aircraft ditched in the North Sea were not included in the total. For these reasons a further 12 to 14 aircraft were denied any further use for operations, but were not included in the total. This makes the true loss of aircraft close to 110 on this single raid.
Dad listened to the reporters covering the Faulklands War listing the loss rate ( undreamed of during the Battle of Berlin), and concluded that the spin doctors were including almost every flight made in the theatre that day, divided by any losses incurred. He felt it was comparing apples to oranges, and that him and his comrades in Bomber Command had their contribution artificially downplayed. Despite the unimaginable horrors he experienced in ops and life as a POW, he mostly focused on the positive and humourous side of squadron and POW life. I only recall him being put out by 2 events; one was manipulation of loss numbers; the other was an intense dislike and disgust for a single officer
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Old 17th Feb 2015, 23:18
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Bomber Command Loss Rates in WWII

jeffb,

Thank you for sharing some of your late Father's recollections with us.

Your Dad's estimate of 110 losses on the raid would show an even more horrifying figure of 13.5% overall (or more than 1/7 of the aircraft involved). 4% sounds bad enough, but at least a bomber crew might have been able to derive some small comfort from the arithmetical fact that they had a 96% chance of survival on each individual raid. Of course we know now that the overall chance for a bomber crew's survival for the whole war was no more than about 55%, but on each trip the "luck counter" is reset to zero, as it were, and hope springs eternal.

I believe that our aircrew in Bomber Command had the second worst survival rate of all the combatant categories on both sides: only surpassed by the German Navy's U-Boat crews (and that was probably due, in no small measure, to the work of Bletchley Park).

Now your remark: "Despite the unimaginable horrors he experienced in ops and life as a POW, he mostly focused on the positive and humourous side of squadron and POW life..." must have awakened more than my curiousity. What tales did he tell you over the years ? Please pass on to us all you can remember, for the number of living witnesses is now very small indeed, and soon it will be only you, the next generation, which can add anything new to the story of our "finest hour". Remember Fred (RIP), who once said on this Thread that he'd been "on the run from the Gestapo for six weeks" (and now the story is lost for ever).

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 18th Feb 2015, 02:34
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The losses on this raid were at first not believed by CO,s and Intelligence Officers, as chronicled in the book The Red Line by John Nichol, a book describing this disaster. Many, when describing the fantastic and continuous losses, were dismissed as not being possible. Some were told by disbelieving officers to get their act together and tell what the truth, not outrageous claims. In this book, a gunner from, coincidently from Dad,s 166 squadron, when told by the IO that 795 aircraft set out, told the IO to strike off the odd ( 700 odd aircraft) number- a very accurate accurate number met with disbelief at first. 166 squadron lost 4 Lancasters that night.
The crews were aware of the odds of survival; they knew that if you put three airmen in a room, the odds in Bomber Command at that time were that one would be killed; one would be injured or captured; and one would survive. They always regarded themselves as the guy who made it through; they had the lucky charm, the ritual, the training, the tricks of the trade to survive; it was always the other guy who made a mistake and got the chop. This was the only way they could face ops night after night.
Two crew members were changed during the time at Kirmington. The Flt Engineer was, at the Skippers insistence, replaced after the first op. About the 7th or so op the mid upper couldn,t take it any longer; as has been outlined in previous posts he was quietly but very quickly removed from the Station and a new gunner assigned.
The crews very much kept to themselves, not really getting to know other crews by much more than casual passing. However, they were fiercely close to each other, even having their Skipper, a PO, borrow some Flt Sgt,s tunic to have a pint with them in Sgt,s mess
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 14:29
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Mr Sperry's Autopilot

harrym

I find it incredible that, barely 9 years after the Wright Bros. first flights, the ingenious Mr Sperry invented his autopilot, something that most of us would have thought of as an invention of a much later era.
See Wiki:

"The first aircraft autopilot was developed by Sperry Corporation in 1912. The autopilot connected a gyroscopic heading indicator and attitude indicator to hydraulically operated elevators and rudder (ailerons were not connected as wing dihedral was counted upon to produce the necessary roll stability.) It permitted the aircraft to fly straight and level on a compass course without a pilot's attention, greatly reducing the pilot's workload.
Lawrence Sperry (the son of famous inventor Elmer Sperry) demonstrated it in 1914 at an aviation safety contest held in Paris. At the contest, Sperry demonstrated the credibility of the invention by flying the aircraft with his hands away from the controls and visible to onlookers of the contest. Elmer Sperry Jr., the son of Lawrence Sperry, and Capt Shiras continued work after the war on the same auto-pilot, and in 1930 they tested a more compact and reliable auto-pilot which kept a US Army Air Corps aircraft on a true heading and altitude for three hours".

Talk about ahead of the pack!

Ian BB
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 16:38
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Flight Global has an illustration of the device here:
gyroscopic stabilizer | sperry gyroscopic | automatic stabilizer | 1915 | 0074 | Flight Archive

Would have made Mr Heath Robinson envious!
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 20:25
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Put a glass bubble over it and you have a V force NBS computer.
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Old 18th Feb 2015, 22:50
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harrym (your #6761),

I've been going through your very interesting account of early post-war air transport arrangements in SE Asia, and it would seem that the C-47s were carrying all the load as far as the RAF were concerned. You seem to have been doing a lot of long-hauls with your Daks. I had no connection with them other than as a satisfied customer, and I remember looking at the Sperry autopilot (I suppose it was the first on the US market): it must have been a boon on the thousand-mile trips you'd have to do.

In India during the war, I don't think they ever did much more than 4-hour legs (the Delhi-Calcutta route [800 miles] was well within range of a Dak), but they had an intermediate stop at Allahabad (roughly half-way). I think with 30-odd pax plus crew and one Elsan in the back, that might have been a consideration, for there'd be no more requirement for let-downs and pick-ups there than in a hundred other large towns in the country, it was just Allahabad's luck to be in the right place, I suppose.

Looking up the Dak's Specifications (C-47B-DK) on Wiki, it seems that "Range" is given as 1600 miles, but a "Ferry Range" of 3600 # miles. How can this be ? Where on earth could the extra 2000 miles have come from ? I don't remember ever seeing a Dak with any form of external stores. Would that mean additional fuel in tanks inside the stripped-out fuselage (and the pipework and pumps to transfer it ?) Did you ever hear of such a thing ?

I recall the Curtis C-46 "Commando", we had some sharing our strip in Madhaiganj (W.Bengal), it was a sort of overgrown C-47, the China National Aviation Corporation (that distant ancestor of Cathay Pacific) used them, I believe, in your part of the world. With a payload of 15,000 lbs and a range of 3,150 miles (Wiki), it could have been very useful, but I understand that it had a woeful accident record and not many were built (in comparison with the tens of thousands of C-47s which went into service with most of the world's airforces, and which dominated the civil air routes all round the globe for years to come - and are flying yet !). Did you ever come into contact with the C-46 ?

You are quite right about the Atom Bomb; Like it or not, Mutually Assured Destruction (and nothing else) has kept WWIII off the table these past 60 years; long may it remain so; and it underlines the utter folly of even contemplating discarding Trident before something even more effective in resisting nuclear blackmail can be found to take its place.

Danny.
 
Old 18th Feb 2015, 23:49
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Chelsea Pensioner Peter Carrie has reached his 100th birthday! He served with both the Army and the RAF, and served in Bomber Command during WWII. Last year he was awarded his RAF Bomber Command clasp, making him the only Chelsea Pensioner to receive his award.

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Old 19th Feb 2015, 07:53
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Looking up the Dak's Specifications (C-47B-DK) on Wiki, it seems that "Range" is given as 1600 miles, but a "Ferry Range" of 3600 # miles. How can this be ? Where on earth could the extra 2000 miles have come from ? I don't remember ever seeing a Dak with any form of external stores. Would that mean additional fuel in tanks inside the stripped-out fuselage (and the pipework and pumps to transfer it ?) Did you ever hear of such a thing ?
It looks like they were plumbed for nine 100 US gallon internal tanks for ferrying, more than doubling the 805 US gallon standard fuel, according to C-47/Dakota

"The cylindrical plastic and rubberized tanks were held in wooden cradles."
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Old 19th Feb 2015, 11:38
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Of C-46s and 7s

topgas

According to the Army Air Forces Pilot Training Manual for the C-47, (page 84)

"Extreme range is computed on the following basis (1200 gallons maximum, at 6 lbs. per gallon; four fuselage tanks; no reserve): 31,000-27,000 lbs. gross weight with 7200 lbs. of fuel".

The maximum range that is given for that for that configuration is 2848 miles (at 27000 lbs. gross, 138 IAS, 16:50 Hrs.Mins at 12,000-14,000 feet).

Danny

If "Ice Pilots" comes back on the TV you will be able to enjoy their experiences with the two C-46s that they still operate, and they do say that they are the most difficult aircraft on their fleet to handle!

Visit Buffalo Airways: Your passage to the North. - Home

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Old 19th Feb 2015, 17:26
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C-47 range

Danny, I think your query re C-47 range has been answered by Ian B-B and topgas; I have seen Daks at Hickam (Honolulu), and they certainly could not have got there using standard tankage. I have a vague memory that the requisite internal plumbing was pre-installed in all of them, and was readily accessible under the floor though I must confess to never having seen it with my own eyes.

As for the C-46, I think this was briefly discussed in a previous post some time back. They did indeed have a rather indifferent reputation in the SE Asia theatre which I believe was largely due to the unreliability of their props' constant speed mechanism, being all-electric rather than the conventional oil - the electrics did not like the monsoon climate. On the other hand, I looked over one at Nassau in '75/76 and it seemed in pretty good shape.

Ian B-B: thanks for the Sperry info, had no idea that autopilot history went back such a long way; interesting to know too, that the C-46 still serves!
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Old 19th Feb 2015, 23:49
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Some of the events that took place at 166 squadron were a study in contrasts at time. One Friday Dad and another crew were tasked with a cross country nav exercise. The weather was terrible, and as Dad said, we never should have gone, but there,s a war on. Dad departed about 10 minutes after the first crew, and after about an hour the expected happened, and both ac were ordered to return to base due to deteriorating weather. When they got back the weather was barely flyable, they just got in; the other crew, having taken off first, were about 20 minutes behind. By that time the weather really went south; the broke out and snuggled up close to the first set of runway lights they found. The captain thought they were landing just to the right of the left flare path, instead it was the right side flare path he was next to-he was landing beside rather than on the runway. he misjudged the flare, hit, kangaroo hopped up to about 30 feet, whereupon the Lanc stalled and hit a second time with sufficient force to collapse both gears. It skidded to a halt, no fire, everyone got out uninjured. It was then that they found out they had landed off the runway. As no ops were planned, and the ac wasn,t blocking the runway, the CO decided to leave the Lanc were it was until Monday. Apparently salvage of the ac were not performed by RAF crews, but rather by civilian personelle, who worked day Monday to Friday, days only; anything outside that was subject to overtime, which the CO didn,t want to pay, so it sat there.
Once the formalities over, everyone heads to the mess for have a few pints to settle jangled nerves. About supper time the MP,s come in, apparently a civilian electrician can, t find his car; it was a small one, a Morris or Austin I believe- has anyone seen it? Nobody had, but then it was not unheard of, especially on a Friday for some crew to borrow transport to trips further afield; it was not uncommon to find the car abandoned a short distance from the base the next morning. In fact, someone, either the SWO or the Adj, had been known, in previous occurances, to arrange to a liberal quantity of 100 octane to ''fall" into the fuel tank in an effort to smooth ruffled feathers.
Saturday came no car found, by Sunday the MP,ss were getting quite frantic and insistant in their inquiries, but nothing found, at least, until Monday morning. The Lanc was hoisted, gear pinned down, and someone noticed the bomb bay doors looked funny, damage was not consistent with skidding along the grass. Further investigation showed the missing car snuggled right in the middle of the bomb bay- the doors had folded around it when the aircraft came down, and nobody noticed while it rested on it,s belly. The crew never even saw it prior to the crash and were totally unaware it was even there.
After that, the jokes was, when a nav couldn,t find his pencil, or a guuner his parachute or whatever, the reply was-Have you looked in W----,s bomb bay??
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Old 20th Feb 2015, 10:13
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Smile

I wonder if that got in the ORB or a photo was taken?
Brilliant.
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Old 20th Feb 2015, 18:11
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jeffb,

Thanks for a splendid story ! But lightning can strike twice (read my #3354, p.168 - "The Tale of the Gaydon Vulcan"). But in that case, the prides and joys of Flying Wing did not escape so easily.

Did your Dad say what happened to the Baby Austin (or whatever) that was nestling under the Lanc like a chick under a hen ? If it was the common "open tourer" variety, the front screen was folded forward and the hood and sidescreens stowed, there might have been enough "ground clearance" to avoid further damage other than that caused by breaking through the bomb doors.

Danny.

PS: There is a good story about a Baby Austin on Page 185 (my #3686).

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Old 21st Feb 2015, 12:26
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Danny:
With the aircraft stalling and hitting sufficiently hard to cause both main gears to fold, it must have been quite a force. That being said, it was not sufficient to puncture the top of the bomb bay. I am sure people visited the wreck over the weekend, but nobody noticed the clues that the crew had picked up something extra along the way!
I do believe the vehicle was destroyed. This begs the question, were vehicles of that period insured? If so that must have been quite the claim. Dad seems to feel that it was a case of sorry about you luck, you are out a car.
Interestingly enough in Canada, automobile insurance policies have a standard list of exclusion- damage from falling aircraft is one of them! Perhaps whoever inserted that clause was a long lost cousin of this unfortunate electrician!
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Old 21st Feb 2015, 20:44
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jeffb,

In response to your: "I do believe the vehicle was destroyed. This begs the question, were vehicles of that period insured? If so that must have been quite the claim. Dad seems to feel that it was a case of sorry about you luck, you are out a car".

Yes, the law was that you had to have Third Party Insurance before you could tax the car and legally go on the road. That, of course, only covered you for the damage you might do to other persons or their property. Next step up (and more expensive) was Third Party, Fire and Theft, which had an obvious attraction in that, if you could "arrange" for your old wrecked or moribund "banger" to be "pinched" and later found burnt-out, you might get market value (little enough, but enough to buy you another one a bit better) from the insurers. Most penniless RAF people went for that.

If you could spare quite a bit more, and your car was more valuable (which counted most of us out), you bought Comprehensive. In those days, IIRC, this cost about twice as much as TPF&T, but if you wrapped your car round a telegraph pole, you'd get market value.

By the early '60s (when I think the Gaydon incident occurred), many of the victims were on Comprehensive, so the RAF offer of "New for Old" was too good to miss; they took the money and kept their mouths shut. (As this was the object of the exercise, maybe the RAF paid out to the TPF&Ts too). There must be many still alive who know far more about it than I (who've only read the story in "Air Clues").

(Curiously, I cannot trace the story on Google now, but it (and the photos) was certainly on Air Clues at the time. Could they somehow have kept it out of the papers (cf the "Lyneham Lightning") ?

Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Feb 2015 at 20:57. Reason: Typo.
 
Old 22nd Feb 2015, 09:00
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Nowadays most motor policies exclude "airside" cover, whether it is Heathrow or the local flying/gliding club. Don't know about back then
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Old 22nd Feb 2015, 11:10
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Vulcan Asymmetric

Did the Vulcan not go through the ATC car park at Scampton, not Gaydon? I knew a pilot who was visiting the VCR when it happened, and claimed to have led the stampede as realisation dawned. 1960's Incident Logs (1960-1969) - BCAR.org.uk gives the date as 25 May 65. It may have happened twice of course . . . .
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