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Global Aviation Magazine : 60 Years of the Hercules

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Global Aviation Magazine : 60 Years of the Hercules

Old 22nd Jun 2016, 15:56
  #4421 (permalink)  
 
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Red Arrows trip

I guess the idea of them visiting Canada and the USA may have been on the agenda for some time and finally in October '71 an exploratory visit was made. A team of some half dozen guys were carried by a Herc' with a crew from 30 Sqn. The half-dozen included the team's engineering officer and one of their more experienced pilots, Al East.

The trip was given to 30 because the Reds' favourite Herc' skipper, John 'sexy' Hext was on the squadron. I believe one of the gripes the team had about the transporters was that successive Herc' captains had treated each support trip as an Air Support Command task and felt it was their duty to stick rigidly to the published itinerary, ignoring that the raison d'Ítre of the task was to provide back-up to the team and carry their ground crew and equipment, and if that meant waiting for them and 'missing' their chock times, so be it.

John, an ex-fighter pilot in his youth, understood instinctively their needs. He had also spent a tour as an Ops Controller at Upavon and knew how that set-up worked, particularly that the AOC did not look at every aircraft 'down the route' and note which skippers missed chock times. Obviously he couldn't do every trip as they were tasked between all the Lyneham squadrons.

In October 71 we flew from Lyneham to Sondestrom, night stop, then to Narssarssuaq the old WW2 Bluey West One, night stop, Frobisher Labrador ( where we the Herc' crew won the bingo prize in the local dive ) and finally home via Goose Bay. The co-pilot was Ed Talbot who had to fight off a would-be amorous eskimo lady one night. The crew joke was that such ladies either had TB or VD, so if in search of love one sought a lady with a cough! The other nav' was Jeff Berryman ( RIP ), there was 2 of us so we could practise Gyro grid.

The trip supporting the Red Arrows was allocated to 30 ( I didn't realise 2 aircraft had gone until now ) with John of course as captain. He asked me to be his nav', sadly I declined because I wasn't mad keen on the USA and I didn't want to be away from my young family for nearly 6 weeks - that would seem as quite a joke to later generations of Herc' crews who will have spent months and months away from their families. But back in the early 70s, Northern Ireland and to a lesser extent Oman, were the only trouble spots that we went to - no-one could have foreseen Zimbabwe, Falklands,Iraq etc etc. The 30 nav' that went with John was Alex Nash, who later found fame by becoming an RAF pilot without doing a course!

As an aside, the Reds leader Ian Dick was OC Valley just before my lad went there in '89 and years later while perusing a tourist leaflet in Midi-Pyrenees I noticed an article about him and IIRC a lavender farm he owned there.

Last edited by Brian 48nav; 22nd Jun 2016 at 16:00. Reason: open up paragraphs
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Old 23rd Jun 2016, 06:41
  #4422 (permalink)  
 
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I have already mentioned in an earlier thread that 30 had a Reds trip to the USA in the 90s. I sent Bert D. on that one as his retirement 'lollipop'. Whilst the loadmaster leader on 30 I did a Reds trip to the Far East in the late 90s. When the trip came in I gave it to a lady loadmaster as her retirement 'lollipop'. The boss told me I was to go and when I explained the situation he arranged for us both to go.
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 19:21
  #4423 (permalink)  
 
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Reds support

OK Gentlemen,

I have no wish to breach any rules on the thread and apologise if recent posts had raised any hackles. I relate a story from 14 September 1989. The Jersey air show and I was assigned as GE to a 70 Squadron crew flying the Reds support in to the Airport. The aircraft used was XV200 (ASCOT4966) curiously the aircraft that saw my career ended with a broken back. Anyway, we collected the Reds Groundcrew from Scampton (ISTR) then headed for Jersey. Most of the display aircraft, including the Reds had deployed a day earlier, so when the weather forecast for our arrival was "marginal" (wind wise) it was no surprise that the approach and landing was handled brilliantly by the superb capability of an experienced crew (apart from myself, GEs do nothing to assist that phase of the trip). Having landed and disgorged the load, we were informed that the winds were contrary for at least 3 hours, our departure would be delayed. We were invited, as a crew, to a reception in a hangar, and with orders from our Captain that soft drinks only were the order of the day, all trotted off to what we thought would be a pleasant experience. With Cokes in hand, we were approached by a chap in a red "grow bag" and leather jacket who looked down his nose at me (resplendent in green "grow bag", Ch Tech rank badges, and GE nameplate on left breast). He advised our Captain that the party was for people "actually contributing" to the Jersey air display, and I was obviously not one of those. My Captain said that we had brought in his ground support today, in weather we would have been entitled to abort in, I was part of his crew and that it was a shame that that was his attitude, he was the leader of the Reds at the time. We left, as a crew, and I always remember the attitude of that man on that day. We all enjoyed a few beers at the bowl on return, I'm sure anyone on that trip would remember that attitude. The Reds are a great display team, I do hope they treat their own Groundcrew better than those who fly in support of them. Am I a bitter old bugger ? I don't think so, I just think I was never derided by a C130 crew as that man did that day. Perhaps I am.

Smudge
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 20:43
  #4424 (permalink)  
 
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Smudge .. there are always idiots somewhere looking for the chance to demonstrate their stupidity, sometimes the Reds had more than their fair share... I was lucky enough to do several Reds support trips, both abroad and UK ..but a UK one was the best example of some "lack of thought" ....

in a nutshell, part of the task was two shows at Mildenhall, early afternoon then evening, after which a transit to Aberdeen, Dyce where the Reds would be doing a show at around 10 the following morning, following a "Civic Reception" on the evening of our arrival..

so they do the second show at Mildenhall, land, get serviced, refuel and depart ... we rapidly finish loading the kit they've just used and their servicing crew, start up (with two known problems that we have running "fixes" for) and depart for Aberdeen....

On arrival at Aberdeen the GE is down the back helping the Loadie with one of the problems, we shut down 3 engines (leaving #3 running at low speed) while I nip out with screwdriver and broom to sort the other "fix" on the GTC door .....

I'm just about to signal the skipper to start the GTC when my headset is almost ripped off by an idiot Flt Lt who is shouting "where the **** have you lot been, you are supposed to be here when we land ....." yup .. the Engineering Officer who had cadged a lift in the back of one of the Reds ...

Once we were sorted he had an extremely one sided conversation with my skipper, part of which involved the explanation of the laws of physics and the relative speeds of a Hawk and a Hercules and the effect of that over a few hundred miles ..... He was VERY quiet over the rest of the trip .....
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 20:55
  #4425 (permalink)  
 
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Many years ago when VC10 Captains required a ring of confidence and were acting Sqn Ldrs a Britannia crew were in transit to Changi and enjoying a cool beer in a certain Indian Ocean transit point. With the crew was their Squadron Wing Commander who on arriving had been informed he had been promoted to Group Captain with immediate effect. His crew mates decided he should wear the appropriate rank insignia and furnished him with a compilation of Flt Lt stripes to total the required 4 rings. On entering the refreshment area the VC10 Captain on seeing this rabble assumed they were all junior officers taking the michael over his half stripe, and made his views known quite clearly and loudly!

The following day a newly promoted Group Captain boarded a certain VC10 returning to the UK captained by one very sheepish acting Sqn Ldr flying the new boss of Transport Command home!!

Some people just have to open mouth before engaging brain.......
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 21:37
  #4426 (permalink)  
 
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Gentlemen,

You both show examples of what I was attempting to highlight. It was by no means limited to aircrew, or senior officers. As a GE, I had become a member of a bit of a rogue group, if you will pardon the terminology. As a single trade liney, I would always have the support of a base, or deployment base, with support. And therefore no need to think beyond doing it by the book. As a GE I needed to think how I could keep Albert going, with the agreement of the crew who were operating, in a safe and acceptable fashion. I remember one trip which ended with a direct Bermuda - Lyneham home leg. Weather favourable, an empty aircraft, and about 12 hours flying. Our only problem was part of one of the engines was not cooperating so I dug in to my "spares bag". Lo and behold I found a spare part, but it was one mod state short of the latest item. Picture the scene, the potential for a couple of days off in Bermuda and we had the discussion, no one was in any doubt, the part was only required to start the engine on the ground, if it failed at that point, we could always go tits, at least we had made the attempt. The Nav, top bloke, reckoned with a little extra fuel, if we got 2 hours out of Bermuda, and an air start using the airflow wasn't forthcoming, a 3 engined transit home was well within our capabilities. We started up and went home. On arrival back at Lyneham, I was shattered, having done a deal with the loady to do six hours on the galley, as he abused my hammock. The line debrief with the Captain and Eng was concluded when I had a quiet word with the Propulsion trade manager on shift. "Can you pull that relay on No3" says I, with a wink, and put the proper job in. He smiled, nodded and I left. Two days later I was invited for a chat with OC Eng Wing, the line Chief had reported my most unprofessional attitude to aircraft engineering and it had gone up the chain. All I could do was take the hit, and learn my lesson. I should have replaced the item myself as soon as we got back, not involving those who I though appreciated that my job was to get the aircraft home, safely, in consultation with the operating crew. I had a chat with the Propulsion TM in the Sgts mess at a dining out night a few months later, and asked why he involved the extended reporting chain, when he could have made his point directly to me. His reply was that, he was peeved that I might have denied him and one of his lads a recovery in Bermuda. I rest my case M'lauds.

Smudge

Last edited by smujsmith; 28th Jun 2016 at 21:39. Reason: I missed a comma
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 21:46
  #4427 (permalink)  
 
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Smudge, I would like to think the aircraft Commander involved stood up for you and pointed out he had accepted your solution and accepted the aircraft.
If not he was not being an Officer and looking after his crew !!
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 21:55
  #4428 (permalink)  
 
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^^^^ This!
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Old 28th Jun 2016, 22:18
  #4429 (permalink)  
 
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Bingofuel,

Never took it up with the skipper. I know he would have backed me up had I asked. Some things were best just let rest (as they say "up north"). Myself and the Flt Eng involved did have a laugh about it on a later trip. Such is life.

Smudge
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Old 29th Jun 2016, 11:16
  #4430 (permalink)  
 
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Smudge,
I may be unique here in being the only one to have been groundcrew on an aerobatic sqn (92 The Blue Diamonds) and supported the Red Arrows with the Gnat and the Hawk. We did lots of UK internals with the Herc during the Gnat era due to its short 'legs'. I have no recollection of ever being invited to a post show party, and as groundcrew on 92 we would definitely not be seen never mind heard !
One of the Reds once asked me what a loadmaster was doing as a Squadron Leader.
I reminded him that we had passed exactly the same OCTU course and that shut him up.
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Old 29th Jun 2016, 13:34
  #4431 (permalink)  
 
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Some years ago I was on an Arrows support flight giving displays in France and Italy before arriving for the big one in Valletta harbour in Malta. En route there was a display at Roanne in the Loire. It was a small hilltop airfield which we could "get in" to but the Reds couldn't so we were based in St. Yan down the road. The open boot of Albert was left to the GE to supervise because he had some "things to see to" as the Reds groundcrew topped up the jets with coloured kerosene so the crew went by bus to the show. Sitting under the wing of a spitfire with a bottle of rouge I said how much it reminded me of the summer of 1940 when the Reds arrived from all points below the horizon for a vertical join up over the field. It was pandemonium. The frogs had never seen the like. One woman approached our skipper and spoke to him in French. "Here Doug," he said. What have you done to her. She says she's been ravished and does look as if it's true". I translated and said "Ravi" in French means delighted and she wet herself when the Reds arrived.
Our man in Paris, F****y Y****n arrived and said "You should put on the Herc Tac Demo" We kicked the wine bottles under the spit and said that the frame was a workshop full of spares and cans of fuel and not good for lots of G and unusual positions and we were half an hour away by bus. He reluctantly relented but we got a call from Group saying that we could perform if required. When we got back to Albert the GE told us that the Red groundies were grumbling about missing the show so we got him to ask them what they thought of the idea of having to get all their kit off the aircraft so that we could do a Tac Demo as Group authorised. He said that they were grateful we had refused the instruction. We had an accord.
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Old 30th Jun 2016, 10:37
  #4432 (permalink)  
 
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smudge,
ref your engineering 'solution' and the sensible way to deal with it have I told the tale of the IRCM box before ?
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Old 3rd Jul 2016, 14:07
  #4433 (permalink)  
 
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rank and file

Bingo
A similar situation for very different motives occurred on a nightstop at NAS Miramar. It was Ladies' Night in the O Club and we decided to check it out. We had with us an SVC who already had been granted a "field promotion" to sergeant to keep him out of the execrable junior ranks quarters for the night. The crew decide to go mob handed in flying suits to the O Club so rank braids were dissected to give everybody a Fg Off bar. well there was one half ring left so the SVC was further promoted in the field to Plt Off and told a. Tell the barman you are 21 and b. Don't get carried away by the elevated station when you're pi$$ed! The place was mostly full of other guests, the Navy flyers having found something better to do and the only query we received was to the slow rate of promotion in the RAF which allowed 50 year olds to still be Fg Offs. Honour was satisfied as the Brits were just about the last ones standing along with a couple of Aussie heli blokes, so we dragged our SVC out from under a Vietnamese girl who wanted to love him longtime and called it a day.


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Old 3rd Jul 2016, 16:27
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I am intrigued by mention above of a guy who went from nav to pilot without a course in between - can anyone tell us more
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Old 8th Jul 2016, 15:29
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Mentions of " You were supposed to be here before us " revive the memories of a Red Arrows trip back when the Gnat was the frame of choice for the Arrows. The trip involved a Night stop at Blackpool staying in the Norland Hotel on the prom followed by a flight to the East of England the following day. It appeared the Captain had been getting some stick on how long Albert took to get anywhere and had vowed that we were going to do our best to prove otherwise.
The following morning the info came round that the Arrows were going to do a little sightseeing in the Lake District on their way from Blackpool to I think it was Waddo and this played into the captain's hands. After the Gnats had fired up and were taxying, the Palouste starters were very rapidly rolled onto the ramp and were tied down as the ramp was coming up and Albert was taxying for the runway. The brief was flaps up, gear up direct heading to Waddo and don't bother with this climb to altitude bit, it only wasted time! So, after what was possibly the lowest level transit the Arrow's ground crew had ever experienced a straight in approach was requested, granted and taken with some heavy braking and reverse pitch on landing followed by the shortest taxi routing ever to end with the Captain vacating the aircraft with the props winding down to recline on the grass as the Gnats landed and taxied by enabling the Captain to ask the Arrows " What took you so long".
Albert 1 Arrows 0.
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Old 8th Jul 2016, 17:11
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Gopher - love it
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 14:07
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Wander00

Just back from holiday in France ( nuff' said! - crappy gite! ) - I'll need to search my emails from 4 or 5 years ago to recall exactly how Nasher went from nav' to pilot.
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 14:26
  #4438 (permalink)  
 
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You should have come to our gites then! No worries, it just seemed a bit of something interesting. I have an Admin mate who as a gp capt was OC all the little units in Germany a few years back - he all but qualified on helicopters. Lots of stick and cyclic time though.
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 20:11
  #4439 (permalink)  
 
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Nav to pilot in one easy move

Alex N went from Herc nav to 32 Sqn Gazelle nav. At Northolt he flew frequently with Danny Danton a very professional heli pilot and QHI. With no pax on board Alex flew the aircraft and displayed a lot of natural ability. With the backing of OC 32 Danny represented Alex's case to become a heli pilot with the powers at Shawbury. He was tested at Shawbury and found to be very good and so was posted on to a heli course and pilots wings. I think the point was at that time he was the only/first RAF professional to gain pilot wings without undertaking a fixed wing course.
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Old 12th Jul 2016, 21:50
  #4440 (permalink)  
 
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Couple of Herc anniversaries being commemorated. I know they're "J" models, but looking good all the same.




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