FourFax Newsletter #6
7 December 2002 by Chris Parker
In This Issue
The 90th Anniversary Reunion – Report Committee News A Word From The Boss – news from IV (AC) Sqn Ties & Tankards The Membership Database – Who’s Joined ‘Not Members’ Database – Who’s Not Joined News From Members (And Some Non-Members) Future Events – What Next? FAA Letter – Another Pilot in Trouble The Web Site – What’s There And What’s New Contact FourFax – Who’s Who And How To Contact Them The 90th Anniversary Reunion
The Squadron celebrated its 90th Anniversary with a huge reunion over the weekend of 27/28 October 2002. The reunion kicked off with over 300 people gathering for the Friday Night Meet & Greet in the Junior Ranks Mess. Much ale was consumed and many war stories were told. A breakaway group of wives met at the George Hotel in Stamford to catch up on their news and make up stories about us…
John Gamble made the longest journey to be with us, having travelled from Beijing, China. Thanks to the efforts of Al Pollock, we were privileged to enjoy the company of Campbell Voullaire who was a Flight Commander on the Squadron when it deployed to France in 1940. As the only member present older than the Sqn itself, Campbell was guest of honour!
Saturday morning sports activities were, sadly but understandably, poorly attended. However, everyone recovered in time for the Sqn Open Day and BBQ – attendance was over 500! The Squadron made a tremendous effort and the hangar was arranged with displays of aircraft, weapons, safety equipment, videos of the Sqn’s exploits, the Sqn shop and much more. Outside, the weather was kind to us and the sun shone all afternoon. Andy Pickard and his team managed the BBQ, eventually shutting down at 3:30 pm having served over 500 meals. Al Pinner, now on 20 (R) Sqn at Wittering, was responsible for organising a wonderful air display which included the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, a pair of P-51 Mustangs, the Yak display team from Compton Abbas, an L39 Albatross ably demonstrated my FourFax member Mark Linney, a Hawker Hunter from Kemble flown by Andy Cubin, a Tornado F3 from Leeming, the Rolls-Royce Spitfire PR19, and of course, the IV (AC) Sqn four-ship of Harrier GR7s.
The Saturday night dinner was held in the Officers’ Mess and attended by 350 members and guests. The evening kicked off with a few words from the Association President, Tony McKeon, and OC4, Andy Suddards. Andy also presented prizes to the winners of the Saturday morning sports events and accepted the new Harrier painting from Des Davies (Aug 49-Nov 51). After the formalities we sat down to an informal buffet dinner, entertained by a five-piece jazz band and a disco until 2am. (I did hear some reports of some misbehaviour later on in the night, but, sadly, didn’t get any details…)
Many thanks to Andy Suddards and all the Squadron and Station personnel who gave up their free time to make the weekend such a success.
A selection of e-mails from members about the reunion is reproduced below and over 200 photographs of the weekend can be found on the web site.
The last committee meeting took place early in November and we took the opportunity to review and debrief the reunion. Andy Pickard has replaced Manny Chohan as Social Member since Manny’s posting – thanks, Manny, for your valuable contributions. The next meeting will take place in mid-January, airline rosters permitting.
A Word From The Boss
Time moves swiftly on – today (7 Nov) AVM Lidbetter, AOC 3 Gp, visits for RAF Cottesmore’s Annual Inspection. As usual, the leaves have been swept away, the bicycle racks are tidy and the boots polished, however, formality is less evident than in days gone by – a medal ceremony rather than formal parade for example. We are also expecting a brief on why the STOVL F-35 JSF, rather than the catapult CV version was chosen as the type of aircraft to replace the Harrier – interesting!
Happy 4 returned last week from spending 10 days at FAF Cazeaux in SW France, near Bordeaux. A welcome break from the UK’s autumnal weather and an excellent time was had by all. Flying alongside Mirage F-1s from Cambrai, in mini-COMAOs with other French assets including M2000 RDI and RDY, AWACS and KC-135 tankers, the flying was a great experience. It would not have been France without the occasional flight plan faff, a typically Gallic “Non” and the odd orbit waiting to enter French airspace. However, the spirit of co-operation and friendliness was fantastic and linguistic difficulties were usually the cause. The local restaurants were great and whether it be surfing, a weekend in Biarritz, playing golf or hiking in the Pyrenees, personnel had great fun. With Cottesmore suffering fog and gales with temperatures 8 deg C lower than in France, we felt quite lucky.
The 90th Anniversary celebrations are still in our minds. It turned out to be a weekend that surpassed most people’s expectations I feel, and the Sqn thoroughly enjoyed hosting our Association members. The fantastic turn out of 500+ people and the glorious ‘Battle of Britain’ weather made the efforts of those who helped organize the weekend events all worthwhile. I personally enjoyed seeing so many people obviously having a good time, catching up with old colleagues, meeting new people, finding out about what the Sqn is up to today, enjoying a few drinks and watching some aircraft displays. The many nice letters of thanks (and more in one very generous case) have been lovely to receive and seem to indicate that all efforts were appreciated. Whilst it may be a while before we have an event quite as grand as that, the Association with Sqn involvement do plan to keep the social side active. All suggestions as to what, when, where gratefully received. A plan should be out quite soon we hope.
The Sqn is now well and truly into the winter night flying season, bringing a whole new group of pilots up to speed on NVG flying and night combat ready status. We have also welcomed back our 2 pilots who completed the NATO TLP Course in Florennes, Belgium – they returned with glowing reports concerning their tactical leadership abilities. With half an eye on real world events, we are honing our attack skills and ensuring our people and aircraft are as well prepared as they can be. The move towards a Joint GR7 Force has taken one step further – Lt Cdr Kev Seymour, who has extensive FA2 and AV8B hours, has joined IV(AC) Sqn as the first RN GR7 cross-over pilot. Any history buffs know of any previous Royal Navy aircrew on IV(AC) Sqn? Apart from the many events planned in the ‘social season’ running up to Christmas, the Sqn’s next major events are in Spring. These include deployments to Bardufoss in Norway late Feb, a week at Night TLT Scotland in March and AIR WARRIOR in Nellis USA next April. Summer will see the Sqn then focusing on carrier ops working with HMS INVINCIBLE.
That’s it from me – good to see you are still checking out the fourfax site! I’m off to meet Le grand poisson-t?te.
Ties & Tankards
The Squadron hopes to have a Sqn tie available for sale soon. The tie is not in what one might expect to be Sqn colours (black, gold, red) but a striped pattern made of ‘RAF’ colours (dark blue, dark red and sky blue). There’s a picture of the tie on the web site.
Pete Russell and Barny Robins, who produced the name tags for the reunion, are investigating the costs involved in producing a 90th Anniversary Commemorative Tankard. As soon as I have more details on these tankards (and the ties) I’ll post the information on the web site.
The membership list has been updated again and can be found in the Members’ section. Membership is now up to 535 and still growing, although not as quickly as before the reunion – check your Christmas cards for friends who haven’t signed up!
If you’d like me to amend the information about you listed on the web site, either send me an e-mail or re-register on the web site (clicking on the ‘Update’ button at the bottom). I’m happy to upload as much or as little information as you like.
“Not Members” Database
Not Members Database
News From Members (Before the Reunion)
** From Tim Smith (Jun 70-Dec 71): Just a quick note to say that it is with some regret that I (we) will not be able to attend the 90th Anniversary Reunion. I had hoped earlier this year that I might be able to make the trip but that is not to be, I wish it were otherwise.
If the opportunity arises, I would like you to pass on my best wishes to all those good bona mates that I had the pleasure and privilege to serve with on not only 4 Squadron but also on 1 and 3. Life in Canada continues to be very interesting and challenging; if there are any there who might be interested in joining our organisation then they only have to drop me a line to find out more. Good luck, and have a great reunion.
** From Pete Gourri: I am pleased to let you know that I made contact with the 4 Sqn “Uncle” amd have reaffiliated 444 Sqn ATC. If 444 ATC can help you in any way, subject to commitments, we would be delighted so please feel free to call. Thank you for your help.
** From Cab Townsend (Sep 97-Jan 01): Fin Monahan’s e-mail address in NZ: email@example.com [Nope, that address doesn’t work – Chris]
** From Roger Briance (Jan 81-Jan 84): Sorry but I will not be able to make the reunion, but I hope it all goes well for you all. I have some sad news I am afraid. One of the names on the ‘Non members’ list is Dave Giles. If this is ‘Duff Gen’ Giles, Armourer of some repute, wife of Ann and father to Glen and Kerry, I am afraid he passed away suddenly quite a few years ago now. Can I add a name to the list. Is anyone in contact with ‘Ben’ Ayres, the well know rigger and rugby player of the early 80s? If so I would like to make contact again. Keep up the good work.
** From Dave Lee (87-89): Sorry I can’t make the reunion, I am mid shift of a two month stint in the deserts of Oman, helping to find oil and to earn a few bob to support my off shift social life! We have a bar here in the desert(!), so I will down a few ales (no wobbly though….doh!) and remember the good old days in the Hover and the infamous morning after Kidney punching carried out by MouSe, Nick the Neck, Rab Steele, Mark Sanderson, etc followed by a bollocking from Mad Jim Mc Jock!, oh, those were the days.
Send my regards to all the Happy 4 boys from the late eighties and if they ever holiday in Thailand drop me a line and I can show them the sights (!) of my adopted home. I hope after all the effort that all goes well with the bash and everybody enjoys the weekend. I also hope to see some corking photos from the aftermath. Cheers & Beers, Dave Lee (87-89)
** From Chris Gurney: I have just returned from witnessing the best GR7 demo that I have ever seen. Your 4’s 4 demo was brilliant especially with the use of pyrotechnics – if only you could replace the Arrows! [Chris is referring to the Sqn’s participation in the Southport Air Show in August – Chris]
** From Rod Jones (67-69): Re: Sqn Official Photos: The year I wanted to reference was 1967-68. The photo was taken in front of the hanger with two FR10s. The whole Sqn was there and I believe we all put our names down for a print. Someone must have a copy somewhere….
** From Paul (Matty) Matthews (94-98): Not sure about the reunion yet as I have been on leave for about a month (and now have a loverly daughter, Hannah) and I’m not sure what’s going on at work but I may be stateside with 13 Sqn (where I am now JEngO) but if I don’t get to be there, best wishes.
** From Pete Lees (Nov 78-Feb 82): Once again, the Cathay request system has worked a charm. I’m flying from Hong Kong to Perth on the Friday of the reunion after a week in sunny HKG! Typical. Needless to say we’re both upset at the prospect of missing yet another Squadron get-together but we’ll be able to come to all of them when I write my own roster (which isn’t that far away – yikes!). Have a great time, don’t get toooo drunk and send us lots of pics. Give our love to everyone and tell them that we really will catch up one day in the not too distant future. Lots of love to all from all the Lees’.
** From Des Roberts (Apr 75-Dec 77 & Jan 79-Jan 80): I found my old photo album recently and thought that you might like to put this motley crew in the 1970s album. This was taken by me while on deployment at Gezeke (?) in either 1976 or 1977. If the old grey matter is still functioning, L to R Cpl Stan ?, J/T Ian Priestly, J/T Bill Connolly, J/T Paddy Langton, J/T ? Sgt John Sellers (brandishing the big stick again) and SAC Russ Gordon (maybe). As you can see by what is being consumed, this was taken at breakfast time! I just wonder what ever happened to this lot, and where they all are now.
It is great to see so many old faces looking so young! Is it really 27 years ago that the first bunch of FLM’s (me included) arrived on 4 Sqn? I have been in contact with some of the lads, though hardly any of us could fit that description now, and all seem to have done very well for them selves, I’m glad to say. Most either made it through the ranks, or took a gamble into civvy street, with maintenance in the commercial aerospace field. As for me, I am taking a sabbatical as I now have a minor disability after an accident, but for the past 13 years, I was with Britannia Airways, gaining A & C licenses.
Anyway, while I was looking at the photo page, I found the picture of the Squadron Standard being presented in 1977. I can put another name to this picture, and I also spotted the ‘deliberate mistake’! The airman on the right of the picture is SAC Martin Eccles, also a FLM. But 1977 was a long time ago, and I just cannot remember the rest of the crew. And the ‘deliberate mistake’? Take a careful look at the photo; it is a mirror image! Hope to see you all at the reunion. Regards from Des Roberts. [Doh! Image corrected, thanks Des! – Chris]
** From John Wickham (86-89): Had a lot of fun scrolling thru all the names and reminiscing, nice to see I will not be the only Supplier, AVM Gill! And he was court marshalled, I only got charged! I have spoken to John Welham (Rigger Chief) will e-mail, Kev Mcinerney (3 Heads) and Jim Dudley, Gaz Martin (Elecy) was SEngO on The Red Arrows and is now at Wyton and is also interested. If you add my name to the database it was only Wickham whilst on the Sqn, if you can put it on my profile Sengo’s comments on my leaving do was ?What’s the difference between Wickham and a Fire Bottle, Wickham was Charged!? Maple Leaf 1987.
** From Chris Thorn: To be honest, I was trying to get into your album just to look at any historical pictures. I have net been a member of IV Squadron, but was interested because I believe my father had a brief stay with the Squadron during the late 60s and early 70s. He had been on 8 Squadron, and after went to II(AC) Sqn. I believe whilst with IV Sqn he participated either in exercises Big Click or Royal Flush and I believe was part of the winning team. I was curious to see if you had any photos of this era.
My Dad was, at the time, Flt Lt Tim Thorn, and, after IV Sqn went to II (AC) Squadron still flying Hunters before ground tours and then conversion to the mighty (!) Jaguar and a flight commander job on 41 Sqn. He then went on to command II(AC) Sqn between 1980 and 1983. He retired from the post of Commandant General RAF Regiment at the rank of Air Commodore in 1995. My dad has just been to II (AC)’s 90th Anniversary at RAF Marham and thoroughly enjoyed it. [Chris then put us in touch with Tim – Chris]
** From Tim Thorn (Aug 69-May 70): Many thanks for your note. I spent last weekend celebrating II (AC) Sqn’s 90th Anniversary. It was truly excellent but oh! the consumption! Very regrettably, I don’t think I can make IV’s 90th as I am scheduled to be overseas on business. It can still change! Keep the good work up.
** From Roger Gault (May 78-Apr 81 & Nov 87-May 90): Sorry but forgot to tell you that xjet went into receivership and so as well as losing my job, the xjet e-mail address no longer works. Hope things are improving with Virgin and more aircrew are remaining above the “cut line”. Looking forward to seeing you again on 27th/28th. Many congrats on the Association Web Site. You have done a fantastic job and no doubt it involved many hours of hard slog.
** From Roly Elliott (81-83): Career since IV (AC) Sqdn: I went back to Lightnings at Binbrook until I left the mob in 1988. Went to work with BAE SYSTEMS at Brough on Hawk in 1990 and am still there in the Airworthiness Dept. doing Safety Audits on new equipments etc. Have been deeply involved with the Lightning Preservation Group since 1988, keeping two Mk 6s “serviceable” at Bruntingthorpe. Have also gone back to playing bass guitar in a Folk/Blues band – just can’t stop. “Four” was hard work but memorable and I have some great memories.
** From Glenn Edge (Jun 77-Nov 80, Jun 82-Oct 84 & Nov 86-Sep 89): It is with much regret that I will be unable to attend the reunion as I leave for 6 months in Saudi next Monday and won’t be back until the end of Feb. However, I hope all goes well and that everyone has a great time. If you get the chance, please pass on my regrets to those who have put so much effort into the grand occasion. [Sorry you won’t be able to make the reunion – hope it’s not too exciting out there… – Chris]
** From Mark (Smudge) Smith (Jan 81-Jan 84): Hi all 4 Sqn members. I’m trying to find Bill Anderson, ex-fairy, 81 till about 82 or 83 on 4, then moved to 3 Sqn. Hope the reunion goes well, pity pressure of work keeps me away. By the way Chris, my brother, Neil Smith, a Sgt and then Chf/Tech rigger was also on the Sqn (and others on Harriers) during late 70s early 80s. I was lucky enough to work alongside him for a while in Gutersloh before he came back to the UK. Unfortunately, he died of cancer a few years back after a very short illness leaving 2 sons and a daughter. I’ll try to find an old picture if you like, for the site and to let people know he has gone. He was one of the more popular people on the Sqn at the time, it brought back memories seeing some of the people he worked with photos on the web site. Altogether in a different vein, attached is a photo of another Sqn member, taken by me in the airspace near Wittering, I forget the name of the parachute club. It’s Mal Harnden, who’s already a member of the web site and who told me about it. Good work, thanks for the memories.
** From Pete Jarvis (Nov 58-Feb 61): Thanks for your reminder about the Reunion. It is with immense regret that I have to say that I will be unable to attend. My wife’s illness has progressed so much in recent weeks that I have to remain in constant attendance and Pat does not readily accept others in the carer’s role. Please accept my sincere apologies coupled with very best wishes for a super event. Have a memorable time and pass on my kind regards to any friends who may ask about us. The Fighting Fourth Fear (FA) no-one!
** From Al Holman (Apr 77-Feb 80): Roster, what’s that? This corporate flying has some drawbacks and not having a roster is one of them. No notice calls are another as is lack of leave (4 weeks only). I have been holding slack on making a final decision on the reunion as I have little chance of planning ahead. Unfortunately, our other captain is away during that weekend so I was relying on nothing appearing on the board. Sod’s law has played its hand and I am now required to take a bunch of golfers up to Scotland for the same 3 days. I don’t know if they are the Americans as I am also picking up the US Ryder Cup team a few days earlier. Despite the obvious drawbacks I really enjoy this world. The variety of flying is excellent and I enjoy being much more involved. In addition I have met some interesting people. Having Anastasia give you a hug and smackeroo is getting old hat. She is a great girl and so unaffected by her pop status. Such is life someone has to do it! Sorry about the weekend but Angie and I won’t be able to make it this time. I hope the weather is kind and things go well. I expect there to be some very sore heads at the end of it all.
** From Jock Heron (Oct 72-Oct 75): Deanna’s surgery on 14 Sep will lead to temporary immobility and after she is discharged from hospital on or about 21 Sep she will need me to be here. If there is a remarkably quick recovery the situation may change and I shall get in touch immediately but regrettably I doubt that I shall be able to attend the big birthday. Please give my best wishes to OC IV and the others who have organised the event and I hope that the weekend goes off very successfully. I would dearly have loved to joust on the golf course with my old mate Syd Morris but we’ll just have to wait for another opportunity. As aye, Jock
** From Alan Pollock (Jul 57-Jun 58): I am flabbergasted how few of the 1950s & early 60s have registered or written in – we have so many of them on the Jever Steam Laundry list, who should really have joined en masse! Cheers and well done again with all you have done so effectively for Shiny Four! Am most anxious that we maximise on any possible use we now can make of the rather frenetic efforts in 2001 to accumulate as many Hunter era drivers as possible, simultaneously as we were banging as loud a drum as possible, for all of the CAS’s & air marshals therein and others, re the crass assassination of the RAF’s indirect godfather Sqn, 26, and its first Dominion Sqn in 1976.
I did send a “belt and braces”, perhaps redundant extra letter to Gp Capt P W Gilpin CBE DFC, who had been the boss for MRAF Sir John Slessor’s visit for the first standard presentation, before I arrived in Ray Chapman’s and Tim McElhaw’s times as bosses. As courtesy too, because of the late Sir John Slessor’s close Squadron links, I also sent a courtesy info copy to his son, Gp Capt J A G Slessor CVO DL (born 1924). This list was generated by copying down as many F540 names, which I could manage in my one day at Kew Public Records Office, and then running a sieve for all of them through a Retired Air Force List to see which ones had both remained in the service and survived until now. I was extremely doubtful at first but then most gratified to find a surprising threesome, who were with the Squadron at the mobilisation for France period were still listed: … in order of seniority on the Sqn at that time Lysanders with some also later Tomahawk and some Mustang: Wg Cdr E G Campbell Voullaire (senior, “A” Flt Cdr) b.1912 Wg Cdr W E V Malins DSO DFC b.1915 Air Cdre T R B Pierce CBE b.1919, then working our way forward for simplicity by birth date:
1916 Sqn Ldr C Scorer DFC (posted in postwar, just before big personnel changes when 4 took over most of 605 Sqn) 1920 Sqn Ldr D O’Leary DFC 1921 Wg Cdr J C Cox (Spits & Mosquito) Flt Lt N H Giffin (Vampire/Sabre) Flt Lt R McC Williams DFC 1922 Gp Capt D E Spencer Flt Lt K H G Utton (a Nav.of precious few left as regulars of Mosquito era) 1923 Flt Lt A C Capper AFC Sqn Ldr W T L Rigby (Vampire Adj) 1924 Wg Cdr J E Burton (ran one of my Pembrey 233 OCU Squadrons) Flt Lt J S McC Wallace MBE (Wunstorf Vampire & Sabre) 1926 Sqn Ldr I R Dick (not Ian Dick, Ldr of Arrows & one of our first Gnat students) Wg Cdr Les de Garis AFC (PAI when on Sqn ..?Vamp maybe Sabre) 1928 Flt Lt C V Atkins (with Pete Stowell below, as 1st tourists Vampire) Gp Capt C A Vasey FIMgt (Vamp/Sabre/Hunter) Sqn Ldr Geoff G Lee (will contact separately tomorrow) 1929 Flt Lt A E Sanders 1930 Sqn Ldr J D Clayton BSc AV-M L W Phipps CB AFC (?Vamp/Sabre): this sent to his home address Flt Lt Pete T Stowell (will contact tomorrow* as some others from later eras, mainly off my earlier submissions plus some extra ones dug out, such as Sqn Ldr WR Collins b.26 and checking with Pete Stowell on probable ex-4 Sqn Ldrs H W Beaton & D K Roxberry, also in Pete Williamson’s reign as Boss.
I am also pretty certain 26 (AC) Sqn’s Air Cdre J R “Jack” Frost CBE DFC DL did a few months on 4, as a Plt Off and will ring him tomorrow to check up on this & some other loose ends. I felt privileged to have heard Slessor at close quarters and met dear old Freddie West VC CBE MC (CO 1933-36) at his home when he was nearly 90 – he was talking to me, placing intermittent horse bets (three came up from memory) and watching the races, complete with intermittent other altercations and diversions, as they cropped up!
As courtesy info only & to avoid any surprises, I will copy this to Tony McKeon (on 43(F), when I was on my naughty boy’s tour in Aden) and Chris Parker, as follow up to earlier contact with him – please, all three of you, be thoroughly aware (ground down after 32 years on 43’s committee & the whole Tangmere initial saga) that I certainly do appreciate (and more than most!), Chris’s and your great Ass’n initiative but felt that some of these WW2 guys will appreciate knowing what a marvellous shindig the Squadron and RAF Cottesmore are laying on at the end of the month. Well done to you all.
PS Just over the last few years, on No.26 (AC) Springboks, we have sadly lost a lot of the Hector and Lysander guys, often our WOP/A/Gs, who used to talk of shared overlaps and interchanges in postings with No.4 (AC) Sqn on the recce & AC front – I must forward and this is attached my quick review of the original 6 Army Co-operation Sqns with types & bases from Audax to Lysander etc for your Newsletter. [All this hard work by Al was rewarded by the presence of Peter Gilpin, Iain Dick, Ray Bannard, Ken Utton, and Campbell Voulliare at the reunion. Many thanks – Chris]
** From Keith Marshall (Mar 77-Jun 78 ): Thank you for all of your work regarding the association and reunion. I have not been able to reply until now as I have been so busy moving house up to Edinburgh that reunions were not a great priority. Regrettably, I neglected to request the days off to cover the weekend in question (other commitments) and I will not be able to attend. I’m sad, as it sounds as though it will be a good do and it would be nice to meet up with the old ‘mates’. I wish you and all participants a most enjoyable and successful weekend, and I promise to do better next time. With best wishes, Keith
** From Mick Fraser (Jan 82-Jan 85): Thought I would try and send you some photos of the Squadrons first detachment to the Falklands 82-83. I hope you receive them ok. This computer thing is still new to me!
** From Rod Webb (Oct 88-Aug 91): You may already know that Bobby Eccles is fairly poorly at the moment with the big ‘C’ and as such has retired from easyJet where he was Glasgow based. Although I do not have a contact number for him he does have the web-site address for fourfax which I recently gave to Gemil Ross who sees Bobby on a regular basis. Regards and best wishes, Rod.
** From Marc Frith (Dec 85-Nov 87): Looks like we will make it to the reunion! I’ve got to fly a five day trip until Thursday, 26 Sep but I will get done that afternoon, hop on a Delta jet that leaves that evening, arrive in London on Friday morning, then either rent a car or take the train to Peterborough. We have made arrangements to stay with the Cliff’s… If I have to work on the 1st of October that would be a real bummer….. We would have to leave Stamford area on the Sunday for London to go back on Monday….. but if I must…I must! Thus, therefore, nonetheless, please plan on Wanda and I coming….. It is a shame work is getting in the way of really important events like this reunion….. Today is Sep 11, and I’m off for a few days….. kinda tough time for the Yanks here…. Heard they are moving CENTCOM headquarters to Quattar….. Look out Saddam….your days are numbered! First rounds of Oct bids come out next week….. Unfortunately I’m number 265/378 in my category so I never know what I’m going to get! Low seniority sucks! Cheers Rambo/Marc
** From Mick Parry (Oct 81-Oct 84 & Jan 88-Nov 98): Greetings from sunny Spain. Thank you for all the information that you have sent us. We are always interested to hear what is going on with 4 (AC) Sqn but circumstances don’t allow us to make the Reunion. We have now got a nice home in Spain, on the Costa Blanca and have settled down very well – enjoying life. Just as a matter of interest I am Vice Chairman of The British Legion, Javea Branch and an Associate Member of The Aircrew Association here. We have lunches with the ACA twice a month and a forthcoming event is on the 18th September which is a formal Battle of Britain Dinner. Please give our regards to Tony and Kate McKeon and to anyone who remembers us.
BTW our new e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Our last local server amalgamated with another company and we had many problems. Hope you have a successful weekend. Regards, Mick
PS: The rubber intake blanks still do as much damage as the wooden ones. (In Joke). [Yes, I remember! – Chris]
** From Nick Gilchrist (Feb 83-Oct 85): Have been trying to change roster to get time off for reunion. No joy! Am leaving Hkg today so will be in touch next week. Sorry about late call, I was looking forward to seeing the boys again.
** From Chris Bain: I’ve just received a message from Al Pollock, who seems to think I may be eligible for your association! I was only ever on a 4 (UK Echelon) holding unit at West Raynham/Wittering from Sep 69 to Jun 70, while waiting for Harrier conversion to form 20 Sqn, and was never on 4 Sqn proper. Hence I’ve never considered myself ex-4! 1(F), 2(AC), and 3(F) – quite definitely! But if the UK echelon was considered part of 4 Sqn proper, then perhaps I qualify? If so, I’m probably the only pilot to ever serve on the first 4 Sqns in the RAF? Try that out for a record!
As an aside, I’m sorry at this late stage that I can’t make your 90th, but wish everyone the very best and a good weekend. I’m on the west coast of Scotland putting the final touches to my holiday home which should be finished in Nov, but with builders around I can’t get away! Meanwhile, take a look at the enclosed recce photo. You’ve probably seen one in your Sqn archives before, but it was me, while on 3(F), that took the original. For background: it was a 4 Sqn 10-ship take off on 18 Oct 73 from Bad Lippspringe. 3 Sqn were at Moosdorf off-base site 20 miles away at the same time. It was my 4th sortie that day, and I had very little fuel at the end of a recce mission. Also note the nearest ac to the camera was turned off some 10 degs from the others and got airborne right under me, while I was trying to keep up having started in the hover, stayed hovering well over the time limits as 4, as usual were late, and tried an accelerating transition while taking film! In those days you couldn’t turn between 30 and 90 knots, so I was stuck, and eventually just crawled back into Moosdorf with flashing lights! If you think I’m eligible, let me know and I’ll register. Best wishes for the 29th. [Chris sent me a copy of the famous 10-ship Harrier take-off which is now in the Photo Library on the web site – Chris]
** From Dan Elliott (84-86): Thanks for the e-mail. I was the first Cpl on IV Sqn Ops desk in 1984 and was known as Danny. I worked with Brian Benson & Brian Yeo. Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the reunion as I will be in France on a Tennis Tour. I sure that everybody will have a stunning time and I’ll have a couple of glasses of beer to celebrate.
This may be a long shot but do you still have a copy of the song book? This was photocopied sheets of songs we used to sing on Deployment. “An Engineer told me before he died” and “English country garden” are two songs that spring to mind. I lost my copy in one of our many house moves. I would be keen to obtain a copy – do you have any sharp ideas? [Anybody got a copy of the Sqn Song Book that I can scan in? – Chris]
** From Don Fennessey (Associate Member): Dear Friends, It’s official. We were evicted from 36 Chase’s Lane and have bought a house. We’re ready for guests! New info – just in time for Christmas cards: 164 Hilltop Drive Portsmouth RI 02871 401-683-3331 Don and Sue.
** From Glen Hennesey (Aug 93-Aug 96): I am sorry I can not be at the Reunion this weekend, I hope all goes well and every one has a good time I would like to say hi to any of the blokes that were on 4 between 93–96 hope all is well with them. If any one could get hold of Mark Thorne (he is on three faggott I think) can they pass on my phone number to him. Thanks.
** From Eric Smith (Jan 61-May 62 & Nov 64-Jun 67): Sorry to be a nuisance, but I have just checked my packing for the weekend, and am horrified to note that my No 4 Sqn tie is not for public exposure (shades of past misuse?), and I’m wondering if you could kindly arrange for one to be left in my room in the Mess. I can then appear suitably attired(no pun intended) and pay at the Squadron? Yours hopefully, Eric. [I tried, Eric, but couldn’t track one down in time. We’ll definitely have some in time for the 100th! – Chris]
** From Adi Pickup (94-96): Hi All, Please note Adi Pickup has a new e-mail address: email@example.com – thanx very much. Adi, Daisy and Poppy
News From Members (After the Reunion)
** From John Wickham (86-89): I have just returned from an absolutely fantastic reunion. I can’t thank you enough for all your efforts in organising it, much much better than the 75th but let’s hope not as good as the Centurion. My sincere thanks to you and all who were participating today to make it so enjoyable.
** From Mark Sanderson (87-90): Sorry we couldn’t make the reunion, even though we’d booked and paid, I got beaten up in the local pub last week and spent the weekend in hospital with a broken cheekbone and 7 stitches, with a metal plate now in my jaw. Hope your weekend went better. Regards to all, Mark [Ouch! Get well soon! – Chris]
** From Steve Hampton (Mar 86-Sep 87): First of all, I would like to congratulate you on having organised an absolutely most excellent weekend. Julie and I thoroughly were taken aback by, not only the sheer scale of the event but by the turnout of people, past and present I think the Squadron has done itself proud this weekend, the flying display, well what can be said, I haven’t been part of life in the blue suit for a long time but when fours four turned and bowed, it all came back to me and I could feel the old resolve starting to give, OK, I nearly wept, but as an ex armourer I’m not going to admit it! Having won the trophy for the archery, one up for the armourers, past and present, was a fluky but highly entertaining part, thanks again to those who gave their time for us. Chris, Julie and I thank you, the boss, and all who gave up your time, so that we could savour the spirit, once again, of happy 4 all the best Steve Hampton and Julie Roberts P.S. Can we do it again next week? P.P.S only kidding
** From Julie Roberts: Chris, Thank you for introducing me to Steve’s World, he misses it so much and I hear him talking about It, but never experienced it myself until the weekend. It was amazing and I curse him as much as he curses himself for the old PVR. Never mind eh, some of the lads now working at Valley are keeping an eye out for him, even if it’s just hearing aircraft everyday, that will keep him quiet. Thanks, Julie (Steve Hampton’s girlfriend)
** From Mike O’Gorman (Sep 81-Mar 85): I would just like to convey my sincere thanks for such a fantastic reunion. Additionally please thank your good lady wife for dragging me onto the dance floor and making my night. It was a well organized event, everything went smoothly and it is down to yourself and all the other hard working chaps that made it possible. However there are still plenty of people missing in action who I will try my best to find. I look forward to the next meet. All the very best Mike O’Gorman………aka “Fish”
** From Ken Utton (Apr 46-May 50): Thanks very much for a wonderful reunion. The organisation – brilliant! The whole presentation – even more so! It brought back so very many happy memories. Thanks again. Ken
** From John Hickie (80s): Dear Tony and Chris, Through you Mary and I would like to thank all members of the Association, the CO and All Ranks of IV (AC) Sqn, the display pilots and all those who contributed to make Saturday such a memorable day. It was super seeing so many old friends again, the organisation was superb, and the “sun shone on the righteous”. From us both, many, many thanks. John
** From Ian Rowlands (90-92): May I take this opportunity to thank you and all the members of the Four Sqn Association committee for a fantastic weekend. The long hours of planning and organisation certainly were most appreciated, whoever arranged the weather should be especially thanked. A few (quite a few) beers were drunk and few stories retold, memories that will stay with me for a long time. Here’s to the 100th. Ian
** From Ken McCann (Sep 86-Jul 87 & Jul 90-Jul 93 & Nov 98-Apr 01): Very many thanks for all your hard work in ensuring last weekend was such a success. I am sorry that we didn’t have time to chat but if the headache was anything to go by, a thoroughly fine time was had by all. Regards, Ken
** From Mike Aynsley (Jan 70-Dec 72): Many superlatives could describe the weekend. Fantastic fits the bill admirably. It has been thirty years since I last saw ten of my fellow piss-heads. We continued where we left off. Although fatter, older, hopefully wiser, definitely greyer, we all had a fantastic time. It is akin to being on a travellator at Heathrow. Whilst you are on it you are part of it, you are part of its history. You get off and it carries on without you and you don’t know what really goes on afterwards. I got off in 1972. Many of my contemporaries got off at that time, some in the 80s and some the 90s but we are all now watching the travellator on its inexorable movement through time. You told me that you left in 1988. I wonder if you have the same feeling?
OK. Many thanks must go to the army of helpers that made the weekend flow so smoothly. I will not try to name them for fear of leaving somebody out. Please pass on my heartfelt thanks. Many thanks to you as well. As for a repeat, well five years or so would be ideal. Too soon and the novelty would wear off. Thanks again, Mike
** From John Veitch (70-72): Many thanks to you and the rest of the Squadron for the very enjoyable weekend. Great time. Cheers, John
** From Ade Bushell (Dec 81-Jul 84): Guys, It was without a shadow of a doubt one of the best weekends I have had the pleasure of having in a long, long, long time. My kidneys may never be the same again, but hey! What the hell (wine chasers should be banned under the Geneva Convention). My only regret was the weekend fair flew past and the events ended all to soon.
Congratulations to everyone who made the effort to attend, the saddos who promised to come but never showed missed out on a quiet magical event. Hopefully all the photos will be posted on the Four Fax site sometime soon. There are some real classic photos all ready on the site. I am going to try and get some of mine up on the site if I can figure out how this bloody PC works, Ha! Once again, it was really special meeting all the guys again, hopefully the 100th anniversary will be just as amazing, (when is the 100th again? Next year? After the Oktoberfest, I think?). Regards to all, Ade Bushell?The FLM formally known as BEAKER.
PS The Bratties and all the free Wobbly were a touch of genius. Talk about reliving the good old Germany days. Many, many thanks from all the Gutersloh linies in attendance.
** From Alan Pollock (Jul 57-Jun 58): Congratulations! What a swell No.IV (AC) Sqn 90th Anniversary Reunion & Party that was! Dear Four Boss, El Presidente (or, maybe even better, Il Duce, after our motto!), Chris & Keith… in euros, “Felicidades, Congratulazione, Felicitations, Gluckwunsch, Pozdravlennye” or, in plain old airspeak, “Well Done, it was bloody marvellous!”
Since (give or take) attending a couple of dozen “Jever Steam Laundry” (No.122 Wing) meetings at Dirty Dick’s and beyond, just after Saturnalia over the past 43 years of its existence, I was sadly and surprisingly ashamed that there were not more of our JSL on parade on the day, to sup the brown Limpopo juice with the current Happy Fourth of Foot and Air, although, with that other select Four, that happy Four, those JSL Messrs Peter Hunwick, Pat King, Peter Gilpin & Ray Chapman, we did at least try to make up for some of those other (including those 4 Four other fairly last minute!) missing 122 Wing defaulters.
An exact four decades since the Squadron’s Fiftieth Anniversary SMJ at Fliegerhorst RAF Gutersloh, when Reggie Spiers and a motley bunch of us flew over from UK for that particular jolly, we are entitled to some judgement on these matters, so we would much like to say what a really outstanding event, firstly the Squadron and secondly the Ass’n, put together for the delectation of our “In Futurum Videre” mafiosi, with your sterling efforts over the past year.
What more can one say, when words are so inadequate to describe such a stunning achievement? Both on the ground and in the air, the whole celebratory weekend was superb – all of us send full marks to No.IV (AC) Squadron and our grateful thanks and appreciation to all the Squadron members, in every section & at every level on it, for what was so obviously such a tremendous team effort and success. These occasions, such as this 90th Anniversary weekend, do not just happen and then appear to be so effortless and relaxed. The Squadron and the Ass’n must have put in a tremendous and sustained effort to ensure such an outstanding celebratory occasion came off so expertly, yet so enjoyably “on the day”.
With many thanks again from the Hunter era to you all on the Harrier epoch and sending every best wish to each and every one on still (so obviously!) Shiny and Happy Four, Sincerely, Al et al
** From Gary Pheasant (Dec 86-Oct 88): Chris — Bravo and three cheers. You did a magnificent job organizing the reunion. Anne and I truly enjoyed ourselves and could not have imagined a better event. It was great to re-new so many acquaintances and share stories (some even true I think) with everyone there. It was great to see both you and Fo and if you ever have the chance to get near Atlanta please plan to stop for a visit. We would love to show you the city and toss back a few in the process. Thanks again and smooth flying (by the way, does anyone have a ride report at 50W?)! Fez
** From Les Hendry (80-82): Hi Godber, Great weekend, Kaz and I had a brilliant time. So good to catch up with the “bona mates” after all this time and find out they are doing well. Thanks for all the org, you obviously put a lot of effort in. The whole weekend went very smoothly and the weather was epic. I’m amazed that Kaz managed to put up with all the “old stories”! Let’s hope it is less than 20 years before we see each other again. All the best and once again well done on the weekend. Regards Les & Kaz
** From Bob Grant (69-73 & 83-86): Dear Chris, I just thought it would be appropriate to send my congratulations to you and all the guys on the committee for the terrific weekend at RAF Cottesmore. The organisation, the food, the drink, the planned events, and the flying displays were all marvellous. Then to cap it all, the good weather put the icing on the cake. My wife and I, really enjoyed our visit, thank you very much for your efforts in getting us to the party. We of course met up with old comrades, and people that we haven’t seen in thirty two years, having been on the original Harrier formation Squadron at RAF Wittering, and then out in RAF Wildenrath back in 1969 to 1973. I also served under Tony McKeon during 1983 to 1986. Once again, it was a tremendous effort by everyone involved. Best wishes, Bob Grant. (Ex Armourer, now on Brimstone ILS at MBDA Borehamwood).
** From John Farley (May 58-Nov 60): Hi Chris, I am so glad we bumped into each other in the entrance to the Mess on Sat. But sorry I never made contact again! It was that sort of do eh? However, the purpose of this is to most sincerely thank you for all the effort and efficiency that you put into the arrangements for the event. It must have been a lot of work but my, you did it so well. Both Del and I really enjoyed ourselves (she was not long out of hospital from a lady bit op so it was a bit of an airtest for her) she was made a big fuss of by people who knew me and that was very nice.
David Chandler who was the SNCO in the hangar during my time on IV came and had a chat. He was a big fan of our Eng Off at the time Chas Hopkins. When I said Chas had been my best man when I got married for the first time in the station church at Jever and is now married to my first wife and living in France and that we stay with them on holiday as Chas and I were apprentices together he had to hold on to the furniture to keep his balance. Small world the aviation business. Yours, John
PS Andy asked me to do a few words for the website. Do I send them to you? [Yes please! – Chris]
** From Billy Bretherton (81-84): MY HEAD STILL HURTS…. BillyBXXXXXX
** From Paul Ashenden (Apr 99-Nov 02): Sorry I should have said I’m off to the Hercules IPT at RAF Wyton as of 4th November I shall be off to Florenne and the current TLP det for my last trip with four from next weekend for a couple of weeks. Cheers, Paul
** From Ray Bannard (Oct 61-Dec 63): Congratulations on a job well done! If you have a moment, please send me the e-mail/postal address for Gp Capt P.W. Gilpin. I don’t see him listed under Membership. Sincerely, Ray [Culvers Close, 39 Sheep Street, Burford, Oxfordshire, OX18 4LS – Chris]
** From Alan ‘Nobby’ Clark (80-83): Chris, Just to say that I had a fantastic weekend at the 90th reunion. Great to see so many old faces again and renew friendships with those from so long ago. Would you please be kind enough to amend my e-mail address to the following; firstname.lastname@example.org . Many thanks again and I look forward to speaking soon. All the very best, Alan ‘Nobby’ Clark
** From Norma Harvey (Sep 75-Sep 78 & Jun 82-Jul 85): Chris, Just a sincere thanks for all your hard work and involvment in the recent 4 Squadron reunion. I had a most enjoyable time among some great friends. Thank you for leading me through the registration and accepting me as an Associate member. I am quite proud to be a ‘Bona Mate’! and I really do mean it. Hope it is not too long before we are all in each others company again. Kindest regards, Norma
** From Al Hage (Jul 61-Oct 63): Rob and Chris, A great day for the 90th. Good to see that 4 is still the best even after forty years. My thanks to all for a most memorable and interesting chance to see the Squadron both on the ground and in the air. Wally Morton has arranged to convert my 1962 cine film to video. In due course I will send copies to those who are interested. My best wishes for the future. Al Hage
** From Richard Elwell (Apr 82-Jul 84): Well, I’ve got a new job. I now work on the ops side for j-max air services. We have an FBO at Blackpool Airport, we also operate John Hargreaves’s personal aircraft which is a Hawker 800XP. This will be replaced at the end of October by a Falcon 900XP. John Hargreaves is the owner of Matalan so he’s not short of a bob or two! I applied for the reserves a few months ago, got a big shock at my medical. It turns out that I’m high tone deaf in my left ear, not only that but because my right eye is weaker than my left and uncorrectable I can’t be an FOA. It also turns out that because my right eye has always been like it has I shouldn’t have been in the trade I was in the RAF! Because of my medical problems I applied to join one of the int Squadrons, but it turns out that the int trades have a similar eyesight rule so I’ve kicked joining the reserves into touch, I think I’ll stay a civvie!
** From Paul (Dinger) Bell (82-85): Well all I can say is thank Christ I am not the only balding old git around (not you Mick), although I was only there for a few hours it was excellent to see everybody, it just doesn’t seem like 17 years. I would also like to thank Billy for his confessions, but sorry mate, you’re still a complete bastard. Mouse, I am saying nothing, and I never thought I would see the day when Bruce Stocken would be seen filming Harriers. I was gutted that I could not make the evening do, but I felt fine on Sunday morning – how about you? Well lads, it was just a quick note to say thanks for an exceptional day, and a special thanks to Fish for getting in touch in the first place. I hope we can all get together again for a liney do in the future. All the Best, Paul (Dinger) Bell
** From Tim Ellison (85-89): Hi Chris, Now the dust has settled, I just wanted to say thanks to you and the rest of the organising committee for a great weekend. What must have been a tremendous amount of hard work was justly rewarded with good weather, good friends and good beer. Many thanks, Tim
** From Michael Payne (80-83): Hope the reunion went well and all the memories were washed down with copious amounts of CPX Wobbly! I hope to be able to attend the next event. PS Do you remember “Harriet the hen from Hovelhof” as reported in the Zeitung 47? She was my chicken! [Strange, what people remember! – Chris]
** From Mo Tiwana (Dec 69-May 72 & Jun 70-Dec 72): Hello Chris, Just a quickie to let you know that I am safely back in Dubai. May I take this opportunity of thanking you and congratulating you for organising a very wonderful and enjoyable re-union. Both my son and I had a very wonderful time. I would not have missed it for the world. It really was a job very very well done. The only sad bit was when we started comparing notes with left overs of our era. There are so many of our era, both ground crew and aircrew that have gone to that big hangar in the sky. I suppose it is inevitable. As for further re-unions, I am in full favour of once every two years. Once again,well done. With kindest regards, Mo
** From Chris Granville-White (Feb 66-Dec 66 & Mar 75-Nov 77): I’ve been away at sea since the reunion (examining RAF and RN sailing skippers off the west coast of Scotland), otherwise I would have contacted you earlier. The reunion weekend was excellent – congratulations on your superb organisation, and thank you. Di and I really enjoyed seeing old chums and chumesses, and the flying display was great.
In response to Tony McKeon’s question, I would favour a reunion every 5 years, and certainly not more often than every 3 years. This is on the basis that an annual event ceases to be ‘special’, and relatively few people would make the effort – therefore its better to have an occasional big bash when lots of people will be there. For example, 208 Sqn has an annual reunion dinner on the 3rd Saturday each October. Because this is so predictable, I do not think that more than a fairly contained number attend each year – but I’d go like a shot if it was an occasional event where a reasonable number of my contemporaries would be there. Secondly, I’d vote not to have music during the meal because we all want to talk, and the loud music makes this more difficult – it’s noisy enough as it is!. So, that’s my message! Great stuff – THANK YOU. Best wishes, Chris
** From John Cater (56-59): Just a line to thank you from all of us for a fabulous weekend. (It was kind of you to put on an air show for my 65th birthday.) I wondered if there would be anyone at the reunion from RAF Jever in Germany, as I could not see any mention of it in the members’ list, but the first person I met in the car park was the OC of 4 Squadron back in the 50s, when they were at RAF Jever, Ray Chapman. I met such interesting people, including John Farley the test pilot, did you see the programme on Harriers last night on channel 5? I took lots of photos and I managed to make a panorama shot from 5 separate photos of the crowd line. Chris, you and the committee did a great job organising so many people. I gather from speaking to the lady at reception that they do not have such big parties anymore. So well done. Best regards, John
** From Heather Reid (Jul 99-present): Hi. Thanks for the refund. Our two girls were born on Friday 27th Sept late at night. So good job we weren’t at the celebrations! Many thanks again, Heather
** From Mick Fraser (Jan 82-Jan 85): Hi folks, just sussed how to reply to everybody at once rather than individually. Just like to pass on my thanks to everybody for making it a weekend to remember. Big pat on the back for Chris and the committee for making it all work properly. Let’s do it again soon. All the very best to everyone and as my old mate used to tell me; “As you slide down the bannister of life may all the splinters be pointing downwards!” cheers, Mick
** From Chris Danner (80s): Just a quick note to let you know that my only e-mail address is now email@example.com. I will fill you in on the gory details at a later date, enough to say the company I was with suffered the aftershocks of 9/11, ….an Americanism for being laid off!
I have set up business as an independant aviation consultant here in Texas and, at the moment, I’m fully employed on a project which has three locations, Texas, Taiwan and Prague so I am kept off the streets! We have just had a nice break for Thanksgiving, what a wonderful tradition. We will be staying here in Texas for Christmas and will miss being home for the holiday but at least the warm weather will make up for it….and we can still watch the Queen live at breakfast on BBC America!
Have a safe and happy Christmas, I’ll give you the full run down nearer Christmas. All the best, Chris
** From Pat King (61-63 & 70-72): Dear ‘Boss’, I write to thank you and all those members of No. IV (AC) Squadron who worked so hard to arrange what, by any standard, was an outstanding reunion and a birthday weekend of great note.
There’s no doubt that very meticulous planning and equally thorough execution paid off most handsomely providing a lovely and very happy weekend for all of us. It was very refreshing to be back in a Service environment. It’s not until you leave the Service that you realise how good the people are and how efficient by comparison with civilian life. Although very refreshed mentally, I believe I overtrained on the Warsteiner and used up more of my fatigue life than is wise at my age. My Chief of Domestic Staff has, I understand, given up hoping I will ever mature after the fun had at the weekend. Once again, our most sincere thanks and congratulations for a very happy 90th, Yours, Pat
** From Ray Chapman (Oct 55-Oct 57): What is the score on 90th birthday photos? I would like copies of the one taken outside the hanger from a cherry picker after the flying display, and the ones taken in the Officers’ Mess of previous COs and members. Quite prepared to pay costs of repro and postage etc. [The photos are now on the web site including versions large enough to print out and frame. If you or anyone else would like us to send you ‘hard’ copies, please shout and I’ll arrange it – Chris]
** From Peter Gilpin (Aug 53-Dec 55): Dear Andrew, Now that I have arrived back home after our holiday in Suffolk I’m able to write and thank you; all members of No. IV and the various members of the IV Sqn Association for organising a most memorable 90th Anniversary Celebration. There is no doubt that it was a splendid occasion and went without a hitch from the guests’ point of view and was well up to the standard which one expects from No. IV Sqn. All in all, it reflects great credit on you all.
All current members of the Sqn, both Officers and Airmen, with whom I spoke were cheerful, helpful, enthusiastic and proud to be members of a great team. This indicates very high morale. Credit for this must go to “The Boss” who sets the standard and example. Well done! With all best wishes to Shiny Four for all the future, Yours sincerely, Peter
** From Iain Dick (Mar 49-Apr 51): Dear Wg Cdr Suddards, I should like to express my sincerest appreciation for the excellence of the weekend celebrations in honour of Shiny Four. The planning and application were without fault with the effort put into the occasion by all concerned over a previous period of time resulting in a brilliant presentation. All in all, through the whole time, there was not a dull or frowning face anywhere to be seem, ample plaudits for a monumental effort.
I am writing to the PMC to thank him and his staff for their trojan efforts on our behalf. I hope you will not object to my presumption in forwarding a small contribution in similar appreciation to reward the faceless “erks” and men under your command who contributed so unstintingly on their “free weekend” to make the occasion such a resounding success. Being unaware of any Airmen’s Christmas or similar fund, I hope you will forgive the liberty of my making the cheque out to you personally. They were as much a part of the festivities!
Again, many thanks and best wishes to you, your good lady and family and all the members of the Squadron for a truly GREAT DAY! Yours sincerely, Iain
** From Campbell Voullaire (38-40): It’s always difficult to write a brief ‘thank you’ letter. To avoid the extremes of effusiveness and a gruff abruptness. For the last forty years I have avoided any kind of reunion. I look back, occasionally, though rarely, to days with 4 Squadron, of friends with a light in the eye, and brisk of movement. Heigh ho. So, I have always expected a reunion to be of people like me, cramping about and comparing the marvellous past with the appalling present.
How wrong can one be.
When I was driven through the entrance to Cottesmore I was again part of something I had known so well. Not just the buildings, hangars, Mess, but the spirit of the place and of the people. Sitting with you and Mrs Suddards, watching that splendid flying display and listening to the talk around me (when no Tornado or Harrier was passing), I heard voices just like those I had heard at Farnborough or Odiham, or outside the Nissen huts, a generation ago. Same spirit, same zest, same interest.
You, as CO, and all serving members of the Squadron, honoured me more than a forty-year deserter merited. Though one compliment paid to me was one which I would have liked to skip, that of being the only member present older that the Squadron itself. Certainly a distinction not achievable by anyone else, but not enviable. Yours, Campbell
Feedback from members at the reunion and by e-mail since indicates that you all regard the reunion as a success. The question now is how often should we hold such events? The committee spent some time discussing this, and the consensus was that if such events are held too frequently, people wouldn’t clear their diaries to attend. Conversely, a less frequent reunion would be well-supported with members making every effort to be there.
Accordingly, we feel that a major reunion should only be held every 5 years, which means we’ll be planning another big thrash in 2007 for the 95th Anniversary and again in 2012 for the really big one, the 100th. In between, the committee will organise annual events which will vary from year to year. Some ideas are a beer call in the Cottesmore area, a dinner in London and a get-together at an Air Display (Shuttleworth? RIAD? Duxford Flying Legends?). All members will, of course, be welcome at these annual events, but we do not expect people to travel great distances to be there. That’s our thinking at the moment – as always, all suggestions are welcome.
Federal Aviation Agency, Washington 25, D.C.
I was asked to make a written statement concerning certain events that occurred yesterday. First of all, I would like to thank that very nice FAA man who took my student pilot’s license and told me I wouldn’t need it any more. I guess that means that you’re giving me my full-fledged pilot’s license. You should watch that fellow though, after I told him all of this he seemed quite nervous and his hand was shaking. Anyway, here is what happened.
The weather had been kind of bad since last week, when I soloed. But on the day in question I was not about to let low ceilings and visibility, and a slight freezing drizzle, deter me from another exciting experience at the controls of an airplane. I was pretty proud of my accomplishment, and I had invited my neighbor to go with me since I planned to fly to a town about two hundred miles away where I knew of an excellent restaurant that served absolutely wonderful charcoaled steaks and the greatest martinis.
On the way to the airport my neighbor was a little concerned about the weather but I assured him once again about the steaks and martinis that we would soon be enjoying and he seemed much happier.
When we arrived at the airport the freezing drizzle had stopped, as I already knew from my ground school meteorology it would. There were only a few snow flakes. I checked the weather and I was assured that it was solid IFR. I was delighted. But when I talked to the local operator I found out that my regular airplane, a Piper J-4 Cub, was down for repairs. You could imagine my disappointment. Just then a friendly, intelligent line boy suggested that I take another airplane, which I immediately saw was very sleek and looked much easier to fly. I think that he called it a Aztec C, also made by Piper. I didn’t have a tail wheel, but I didn’t say anything because I was in a hurry. Oh yes, it had a spare engine for some reason.
We climbed in and I began looking for an ignition switch. Now, I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but it shouldn’t be necessary to get the airplane manual just to find out how to start an airplane. That’s ridiculous. I never saw so many dials and needles and knobs, handles and switches. As we both know, confidentially, they have simplified this in the J-4 Cub. I forgot to mention that I did file a flight plan, and those people were so nice. When I told them I was flying an Aztec they said it was all right to go direct via Victor-435, a local superhighway, all the way. These fellows deserve a lot credit. They told me a lot of other things too, but everybody has problems with red tape.
The take-off was one of my best and I carefully left the pattern just the way the book says it should be done. The tower operator told me to contact Department Control Radar but that seemed kind of silly since I knew where I was going. There must have been some kind of emergency because, all of a sudden, a lot of airline pilots began yelling at the same time and made such a racket that I just turned off the radio. You’d think that those professionals would be better trained. Anyway, I climbed up into a few little flat clouds, cumulus type, at three hundred feet, but Highway 435 was right under me and, since I knew it was straight east to the town where we were going to have drinks and dinner, I just went on up into the solid overcast. After all, it was snowing so hard by now that it was a waste of time to watch the ground. This was a bad thing to do, I realized. My neighbor undoubtedly wanted to see the scenery, especially the mountains all around us, but everybody has to be disappointed sometime and we pilots have to make the best of it, don’t we?
It was pretty smooth flying and, except for the ice that seemed to be forming here and there, especially on the windshield, there wasn’t much to see. I will say that I handled the controls quite easily for a pilot with only six hours. My computer and pencils fell out of my shirt pocket once in a while but these phenomena sometime occur I am told. I don’t expect you to believe this, but my pocket watch was standing straight up on its chain. That was pretty funny and asked my neighbor to look but he just kept staring ahead with sort of a glassy look in his eyes and I figured that he was afraid of height like all non-pilots are. By the way, something was wrong with the altimeter, it kept winding and unwinding all the time.
Finally, I decided we had flown about long enough to be where we were going, since I had worked it out on the computer. I am a whiz at that computer, but something must have gone wrong with it since when I came down to look for the airport there wasn’t anything there except mountains. These weather people sure had been wrong, too. It was real marginal conditions with a ceiling of about one hundred feet. You just can’t trust anybody in this business except yourself, right? Why, there were even thunderstorms going on with occasional bolt of lightning. I decided that my neighbor should see how beautiful it was and the way it seemed to turn that fog all yellow, but I guess he was asleep, having gotten over his fear of height, and I didn’t want to wake him up. Anyway, just then an emergency occurred because the engine quit. It really didn’t worry me since I had just read the manual and I knew right where the other ignition switch was. I just fired up the other engine and we kept right on going. This business of having two engines is really a safety factor. If one quits the other is right there ready to go. Maybe all airplanes should have two engines. You might look into this.
As pilot in command, I take my responsibilities very seriously. It was apparent that I would have to go down lower and keep a sharp eye in such bad weather. I was glad my neighbor was asleep because it was pretty dark under the clouds and if it hadn’t been for the lightning flashes it would have been hard to navigate. Also, it was hard to read road signs through the ice on the windshield. Several cars ran off the road when we passed and you can sure see what they mean about flying being a lot safer than driving.
To make a long story short, I finally spotted an airport that I knew right away was pretty close to town and, since we were already late for cocktails and dinner, I decided to land there. It was an Air Force Base so I knew it had plenty of runway and I could already see a lot of colored lights flashing in the control tower so I knew that we were welcome. Somebody had told me that you could always talk to these military people on the international emergency frequency so I tried it but you wouldn’t believe the language that I heard. These people ought to be straightened out by somebody and I would like to complain, as a taxpayer. Evidently there were expecting somebody to come in and land because they kept talking about some god damn stupid son-of-a-***** up in that fog. I wanted to be helpful so I landed on the ramp to be out of the way in case that other fellow needed the runway. A lot of people came running out waving at us. It was pretty evident that they had never seen an Aztec C before. One fellow, some General with a pretty nasty temper, was real mad about something. I tried to explain to him in a reasonable manner that I didn’t think the tower operator should be swearing at that guy up there, but his face was so red that I think he must have a drinking problem.
Well, that’s about all I caught a bus back home because the weather really got bad, but my neighbor stayed at the hospital there. He can’t make a statement yet because he’s still not awake. Poor fellow, he must have the flu, or something.
Let me know if you need anything else, and please send my new license airmail, special delivery.
Very, truly yours, xxxx