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Ken Andrews. Bankstown instructor now age 98 and still OK

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Ken Andrews. Bankstown instructor now age 98 and still OK

Old 20th Mar 2018, 07:58
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Ken Andrews. Bankstown instructor now age 98 and still OK

Many will remember Ken Andrews who was a flying instructor at Bankstown for many years. He still lives in Sydney and I talked to him today. Ken was a popular instructor at Bankstown. He was ex RAAF on Mustangs and Vampires in the middle 1950's with the rank of Squadron Leader at RAAF Central Flying School East Sale when I did my instructors course there in July 1955.
In fact my log book shows I was his co-pilot on his first command trip at East Sale in Lincoln A73-18 on 3 August 1955.
For those in PPRuNe who knew him at Bankstown I am happy to say he is still in the land of the living in Sydney, and has all his marbles and is now 98 years old. He sounded clear as a bell on the phone.
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Old 20th Mar 2018, 09:16
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Now that's great to hear. Ken is a gentleman of the first water. We used to be with the same company some time back and it was always interesting to have a coffee break and chat with him.
He did my CPL test too. What a nightmare that was. I actually diverted twice due weather so he kindly didn't throw one of his own into the mix. As a check pilot he was great value, when the check bit was satisfied he always had something worthwhile to teach me.
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Old 20th Mar 2018, 09:41
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I remember Ken from his days at Camden during the 1970s. He was Chief Pilot at Skyservice Aviation flying Norsemans on aerial survey, trial fire bombing and skydiving operations. He bailed out of a Norseman off Bondi following and engine failure (VH-GSF OR GSG?). The owner of the outfit, Ed Fleming restored P51 VH-IVI for Ray Whitbread and Ken test flew it after the restoration and conversion to a 2 seat / dual control machine. He also checked the new owner out in IVI. Ken was also CFI at a couple of schools, including Camden Aviation. He also flew the Sopwith Pup and Foker Triplane replicas which were assembled at Camden. I’m pretty sure his son Warren flew them too when Neil Cottee owned them and operated them out of Sproules Lane, Bowral doing mini airshows to promote Pacific Films. I remember Ken is a true gentleman and a highly competent aviator.


VH-GSF, 18 January 1970. Nine POB all bailed out. "Engine failed and burst into flames during a skydiving display off Manly Beach. Eight parachutists bailed out, followed by pilot at 5,000 feet. All were rescued by boats. The Norseman struck the sea 6 miles off the beach."
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Old 20th Mar 2018, 11:57
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Good on you Ken!
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Old 20th Mar 2018, 21:26
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Thanks for updating us Centaurus. Ken signed off a few endorsements for me years ago, and I'll always remember him as a true gentleman with a wealth of knowledge and experience he was happy to share.
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Old 20th Mar 2018, 22:46
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the ditched Norseman - Ken was carrying a bunch of parachutists. There was a carnival on the beach. The old round engine sprung a massive oil leak. (Threw a pot ?) In a split second there was no forward vis at all. Ken turned round to yell - we are going to have to ditch . . . .but the merry throng had already departed. A passing Korean ?? trawler fished Ken out of the drink.

One of Ken's passions was breeding race horses. How successfully, no idea.

(JL _ if you come up to Sinney soon we can see if Ken would be happy to have a recorded chat. For posterity. rgds JDW)
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Old 21st Mar 2018, 00:04
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That's great news! I was lucky enough to have a significant camaraderie with Ken - he was the testing officer for my CPL, ME CIR and a few of my renewals in the late 80's

I always describe him as a hard task master but scrupulously fair. He certainly made me feel at ease in the left seat.

My all time favourite memory of Ken was one day when I was refuelling an aircraft on the line, I had a chuppa-chup in my mouth (for non-Aussies, a lolly on a white stick). Ken was climbing into the cockpit of an aircraft on the line behind, saw me, jumped off the wing, came straight over to me and asked what I thought I was doing.

From a distance he thought I had a cigarette in my mouth whilst peering into a the tank to see if it was uptown the tab! Can I say it made my next CIR renewal an interesting proposition!

Go Ken!
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Old 21st Mar 2018, 02:24
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I had a chuppa-chup in my mouth (for non-Aussies, a lolly on a white stick)
What a coincidence. In the RAAF at CFS he was known as Chu-Chu Andrews.
He used to ask nervous students "Would you like a chu-chu?" from a stock of lollies he held in his flying suit pocket.
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Old 21st Mar 2018, 03:00
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I remember him...... great to hear!
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Old 21st Mar 2018, 08:53
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That is wonderful to hear. I have very fond memories of Ken as a testing officer during my time as an instructor at Bankstown. He was reknowned for “falling asleep” during cpl tests. Little did the students know the human gps was far from asleep.
A true gentleman and a legend of the aviation industry.
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Old 21st Mar 2018, 09:17
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Yes indeed.....only good memories with Ken. I also remember of the" falling asleep" stratergy. He fooled me every single time when renewal time came. Took me a long time to realise he was only asleep with his left eye.
Good on you Ken.....Keep it up!..
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Old 21st Mar 2018, 10:18
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I have a recollection that Ken spent some time as CFI at the original Navair after Ken May (founder and CFI) was killed.
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Old 22nd Mar 2018, 02:49
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Ken was involved with my CPL Training and subsequent Instructor Rating in 1980 at AFTS - Barney Fernandes is another story for another day.
I am certain I still have tape recordings of Ken "pattering" a number of ab-initio flight sequences in the air.
Two trainee Instructors and Ken would fly out to the Bankstown Training area for a shared sequence and swap over at Hoxton Park.
We would take the tapes home and try to emulate them the next day.
Lovely gentleman and I still recall the very 'proper' and perfect flow of his patter. Hopefully just a little rubbed off on me.
We all have characters who make a mark on our career. Ken was one of mine.
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Old 22nd Mar 2018, 05:36
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Lovely gentleman and I still recall the very 'proper' and perfect flow of his patter
Quite so. During my CFS instructors course at RAAF East Sale I did my first dual Vampire flight with Ken as the instructor. I had previously only flown the single seat Vampire since when I first flew the Vampire there were no dual versions at the time. .
We taxied in before take off as there was a radio defect. The canopy on the dual Vampire was a clamshell type and operated by a button in the cockpit. Once the canopy was fully vertical (i.e. open) there was a locking device on the telescopic rod that kept it open.
Having divested myself while seated of various accoutrements like radio leads and ejection seat attachments, I put my hands up to the front windshield to lever myself out of the cockpit prior to climbing down a short ladder to the tarmac.

A I placed both hands on the top of the windshield, Ken quickly warned me to always double check the locking device was indeed locked lest a wayward wind would cause the canopy to be blown shut. I thanked him for his thoughtful advice and deciding it would be good manners to let him egress the aircraft before me, I sat back down on my parachute which was used as a cushion. Age before beauty or Squadron Leader rank before Flight Sergeant, as it were.

With that, Ken put his hands on the top of the windshield to lever himself out of the cockpit. Unfortunately a real wayward gust of wind blew the canopy shut because he had failed to ensure the locking lever had locked the canopy vertical.

The canopy fell down on both his gloved hands trapping them under the canopy bow. This in turn elicited a frightful oath of "Scheisenhausen" from Ken, who, as it turned out now had a broken finger. He could have said WTF in a loud voice but such vulgar language was not Ken.

I didn't know what "Scheisenhausen" meant but it was obviously a naughty word uttered by an officer and a gentleman and I vowed to add that to my limited vocabulary when the occasion arose; even though I was a lowly NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer).

I then made a fatal mistake. I said to Ken in an admiring voice "That was a bloody good demonstration, Sir."

"That's not bloody funny, Flight Sergeant" replied Ken through gritted teeth as he wrung his busted hand in pain. "Oops - sorry Sir" I said, managing to hide a grin behind my oxygen mask.
For the next two weeks Ken had his hand in a sling.
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Old 22nd Mar 2018, 06:15
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Her taught my Dad to fly, did MY instructor rating 20 years later- and that was 30 years ago!!!!!
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Old 22nd Mar 2018, 20:42
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Hi Centaurus

You don’t mention anything about Mr Andrews’ current domestic circumstances. Is he able to get to, for example, Warbirds Downunder 2018 if he wanted to? I assume he’d have no end of people volunteering to assist, but you know what they say about “assume”.

I have never met the gentleman, but I’d do whatever I could to ensure that someone like him got to e.g. Warbirds Downunder if he wanted to get there.
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Old 10th Sep 2018, 14:35
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You don’t mention anything about Mr Andrews’ current domestic circumstances. Is he able to get to, for example, Warbirds Downunder 2018 if he wanted to?
Lead Balloon. Sorry I didn't reply earlier. I talked to Ken again today 10 September 2018. He said he will reach 100 later this year so my earlier guess was wrong. He certainly has all his marbles because we talked about automation and its detrimental effect on handling skills. We even exchanged views on the deep stall problems with the early T-Jets like the Trident and BAC One-Eleven. I reminded him of the time the canopy of his dual Vampire Mk 35 slammed down on his hand as he was climbing from its cockpit at East sale in 1955. See Post 14 this thread. He remembered the event ruefully. He is currently house-bound and looked after by his son. My guess there is no way he could get to War Birds Downunder air shows, given his advanced years.
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Old 10th Sep 2018, 20:34
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re post #3 - and Ray Whitbread of Kogarah Motors and his fatal in his Mustang that Ken had endorsed him on -
strangely, only in the last month, I met two people, entirely unconnected and on separate occasions, who had witnessed Ray go in not far south of the Richmond RAAF base. At the time, one was a schoolboy on his bicycle, the other a 20 year old student at the Kingsford Smith Flying School at Bankstown who had pulled over in his car to watch the all white 'stang doing aerobatics. He saw the canopy come off. It was that that knocked Ray out. The plane went in near vertically at high speed, into a large block of land awaiting development, recently excavated, and because of this, almost buried itself. Both individuals claimed to be first at the crash site.
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Old 11th Sep 2018, 01:42
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How was initial training for new pilots carried out in this circumstance? Would the instructors be flying alongside in their own aircraft conducting the lesson?
You were given a copy of Pilots Notes Vampire, Mustang, Sea Fury etc and told to read it. You were shown how to do the walk around inspection. You sat in the cockpit and familiarised yourself with the layout. You asked questions of pilots who had flown the type concerned. The big day arrives and you strap in with a parachute on your bum. Another experienced pilot talks you through starting the engine by leaning over you and pointing at the start button. Once the engine is running, he walks off without looking back and an airman pulls away the chocks. You get on to the radio and ask for taxi clearance and you are on your way. You make sure you keep your copy of the Pilots notes in your flying suit pocket - just in case, you know.

In my case of the Mustang on my first flight at Schofields (I had 210 hours total log book time shared between Tiger Moths and the Wirraway) I couldn't get the landing gear down when joining the circuit so went away to the training area and read the book which told me to try to yaw and rock the aircraft. If that didn't work try the emergency handle. Meanwhile ATC alerted the Commanding Officer who hoped in his jeep and went to the control tower. What with his advice over the radio and reading the emergency gear procedure from Pilots Notes Mustang on page 40 tucked away in my flying suit pocket, the gear went down OK. Re-joined the circuit at Schofields and landed. The Mustang came in faster than a Wirraway and has a much longer nose. 105 knots over the fence compared with 75 knots in the Wirra. Held off too high because I couldn't see much over the nose and hit the deck in a hard three-pointer after a longish float feeling for the deck. Good job the Mustang has a wide tracked strong undercarriage. Relieved to be on the ground though.

Same principle when pilots flew other single pilot types like the Vampire. There was no instructor flying in formation to guide you apart from the initial high altitude Mach Run on your second or third solo. That was a formation take off and a high speed dive at 30,000 ft to feel the effects of Mach tuck. The instructor would formate on you and talk you into a dive. Being experienced he would recognise the beginning of the tuck happening before you, and order you to close the throttle and extend the dive brakes before things got too dicey. If the Mach tuck was not stopped quickly in the early Vampires (about 0.76 I think), the aircraft dive steepened dangerously and elevator control became ineffective because of shock waves forming over the fuselage curved shape air intakes. At 10,000 ft the aircraft were still diving vertically uncontrolled. Several Vampires and their pilots on courses before mine were lost as it was impossible to bale out at those speeds and there were no ejection seats on the Mk 30 single seat Vampires. Exciting days for young pilots only recently graduated with their Wings. Apologies re thread drift..
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Old 11th Sep 2018, 03:13
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Thanks for chasing that question up, Centaurus - no need at all to apologise for the delay. It’s a pity we can’t find a way to get him safely and comfortably to something like Warbirds Downunder.
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