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Newsletter 03

FourFax Newsletter #3

23 March 2002 by Chris Parker

In This Issue

  • The Committee
  • The 90th Anniversary Reunion
  • The Membership Database
  • ‘Not Members’ Database
  • Membership Types
  • News From Members
  • The Web Site
  • The Message Board
  • Red Arrows SOPs
  • Contact FourFax


Welcome to FourFax Newsletter #3. We had a committee meeting on 11 March so this issue contains details on the decisions made at the meeting and more information on the 90th Anniversary reunion later this year.

Membership is now over 160! Word of mouth is certainly working. Please continue to pass the word on to your colleagues – we need as many members as we can to make the reunion a success…

Apologies to those of you who registered on the web site at the beginning of March and didn’t receive an acknowledgement from me, due to a stupid error on my part. I changed my personal e-mail address at the end of February and forgot to change the registration page to reflect it, so any registration e-mails to me during that period have gone to the bit-bucket in the sky. It’s all working again now (I’ve tested it) and the registrations are flowing in again.

Please register for Association Membership at the web site if you haven’t already done so…

The Committee

We now have 10 members on the committee: Tony McKeon (President), Andy Suddards (OC IV AC) Sqn), myself (Comms), Nick Ireland (Deputy Comms), Steve Cheeseman (Treasurer), Manny Chohan (Social), Syd Morris (Sports), Charlie Davis (USMC rep), Marc Frith (USAF rep) and Jamie Hunter (in charge of the Sqn’s preparations for the 90th). We feel that the numbers are about right on the committee now, but we won’t turn anyone away, particularly anyone who wishes to volunteer as Secretary! Most of our discussions on Monday revolved around plans for the 90th (see below). In the meantime, the next committee meeting has been pencilled in for Monday 29 April.

The 90th Anniversary Reunion

The IV (AC) Sqn 90th Anniversary Reunion is confirmed for the weekend of 27/28 September 2002, at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland. The reunion will be open to all ranks and wives/partners. Children will be welcome on the Saturday afternoon at the Squadron.

The format of the weekend will be:

Friday 27 Sep 1830: Meet & Greet in the Officers’ Mess. Informal event, dress “smart casual” with Happy Hour food available. Early arrivals will be welcome on the Squadron from around 1600 onwards. OC (IV) AC will approach the PMC to see if there is any flexibility on the start time.

Saturday 28 Sep 1000 – 1300: Sports/Activities around the North Airfield and shopping in the local area. Events are likely to be: Golf (on the station 9-hole course). There is also a possibility of a game on a full course in the local area – further details in due course. Clay-pigeon shooting : further details to follow; Archery : further details to follow

Saturday 1300 – 1700: Lunchtime BBQ at the Squadron. Cheap and cheerful. The Squadron will be open all afternoon for visitors to look at the History Room, Sqn Diaries etc. A Bouncy Castle to be set up for children and bouncy adults. Go Karting will also be available from 1200-1600 for all ages and there may be a karting competition of some kind for budding Jenson Buttons…

Saturday 1430 – 1530: Flying Display. Early days, but looking at a Harrier Role Demo and/or Four-Ship, P-51, Hunter. If anybody has any suggestions or recommendations for the flying display, please let us know!

Saturday 1900: Evening function in the Officers’ Mess. In order to keep costs to a minimum and maximize the numbers we can cater for, this will be a self-service function. Dress: ‘jacket & tie’. We are investigating the costs of hiring a small band and a disco.

Sunday am: Wake up, eat bacon, drink coffee, stagger home.

Costs: The Friday night Meet & Greet is planned to be free. The Association will provide a quantity of beer and the committee is going to approach industry (MBDA, BAe, Rolls-Royce etc) for sponsorship. Once the free beer runs out a cash bar will operate.

Sports/Activities: cash to be taken on the spot. Charges are likely to be in the order of ?3 for clay pigeon shooting (30 clays); ?2 for two kart races; prices for other events are not yet known.

Saturday BBQ: ?4 plus drinks.

Saturday Evening Dinner/Dance: This function will be arranged for a price not exceeding ?25 per head. This price will probably not include drinks. It all depends on numbers.

Accommodation: The Officers’ Mess has 70 twin rooms at a maximum cost of ?20 per night. Forty rooms have been booked in the Sergeants’ Mess at a cost of ?7 for one night and ?17 for two nights. Transit accommodation will also be available – further details to follow. Accommodation will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Serving RAF personnel will be accommodated in their own Mess.

Some local hotels and B&Bs:

  • The Whipper-In Hotel, Market Place, Oakham, 01572 756971
  • Best Western Barnsdale Hotel, Exton, Oakham, 01572 757901
  • The Old Wisteria Hotel, Oakham, 4 Catmose Street, Oakham, 01572 722844
  • Garden House Hotel, St Martins, Stamford, 01780 763359
  • George of Stamford, 71 St Martins, Stamford, 01780 750750
  • The Dolphin Pub and Guesthouse, 12 East Street, Stamford, 01780 55494
  • Mrs. Penelope Swithinbank (B&B), 16 St. George’s Square, Stamford, 01780 482099

Publicity: The RAF News is publishing an article soon, and Air Clues, Feedback, Aeroplane Monthly and Flypast are going to be approached. Please spread the word and send in details of people on the Not Members web page so we can maximize numbers. We will also be sending a ‘snail-mailshot’ to everybody on the 1991 FourFax database who hasn’t yet registered on the web site.

Travel: For security reasons, RAF Cottesmore will require vehicle details in advance. The nearest railway stations are Oakham (5 miles), Stamford (12 miles), Melton Mobray (15 miles), Grantham (18 miles) and Peterborough (25 miles). People will be able to arrive by air on the Friday afternoon or Saturday morning.

Booking: There is a ‘Pre-Registration Form’ now in the members’ section of the web site. Please complete this as soon as possible to register your intention to attend the reunion. This page is purely for the committee to try and get a good idea of numbers. THERE IS NO OBLIGATION OR COMMITMENT TO ATTEND AT THIS STAGE. This page will change to a ‘Reunion Booking’ page in May, at which stage firm bookings will be taken. DO NOT SEND ANY MONEY YET! (And please do not contact the Squadron directly – they are very busy!)

Membership Database

The membership list has been updated and is in the Members’ section.

“Not Members” Database

I’ve created a “Not members” page which lists ex-members of the squadron whom I don’t have contact details for. Please take a look at these names – if you are in contact with anyone on this list please pester them to sign up on the Registration page and/or forward their details to me.

Membership Types

There are presently four types of membership of the Association, so I’d better explain what they are! Firstly, there is Life Membership, which consists of members who paid ?50 for Life Membership to the ‘old Fourfax’ ten years ago (Annual Membership back then was ?5 per year). Secondly, there is Ordinary Membership, for want of a better term, which is everybody who has served on the Squadron apart from Life Members. Thirdly, there is Honorary Membership, for people who had a close and respected association with the Squadron but didn’t actually serve on IV. Finally there is Associate Membership for ex-military people who had friends on the Squadron and just want to keep in touch.

There are two Honorary Members at the moment: Dave Boggon, who was the Standards Officer at Gutersloh in the early 80’s and an Honorary Member of the Squadron at the time, and Tisch Drake (nee Woodland) who was the partner of John Clark, a Harrier GR3 pilot who was killed on detachment to Belize in 1981. There are also two Associate Members, Dave Wallace and Don Fennessy, who were on 3 Squadron at Gutersloh on the Harrier GR3 and have asked to be put on the mailing list.

News From Members

** From Marc ‘Rambo’ Frith (Dec 85 – Nov 87): As the Continental Representative of the Four Squadron Assn. I just want to report that Wanda and I had a great visit from Tim Ellison recently…. He was flying from California to Orlando and stopped and spent two wonderful days with us. I picked him up at Craig Field and got to see his plane. He was en route to Orlando to do some aerial photography of some warbirds. It was a spectacular visit and Tim endured Wanda’s questioning and talking quite well. Our son, Marshall, noted after Tim left that he was so inspirational as a living legend that you can still press on with life after a tragedy and nothing can stop you. Tim is indeed an inspiration to all of us!

I would also like to report that our youngest, Marshall, received and accepted an appointment to the United States Naval Academy for the Class of 2006. I know I’ll take the brunt of the jokes about fathering a “squid”, however, the price is right, he’ll have a job after graduation, and I’m going shopping for my new trolling motor for the fishing boat now!

We’ll be empty nesters as of June 28th, when he reports to the Naval Academy, so we’ve got plenty of room for any of the mates who want to come to Florida and visit the IV(AC) Sqn deployed location. Delta has decreased its furlough threat 300 numbers so I’m above the current threat line for now so that is good news. Been flying in a lot of weather here lately that reminds me of England and rerouted a bunch to boot….. I’ve got the dates on my calendar and will try and bid the time off when Sep comes. You know how that goes! Delta is still furloughing but or final paperwork for the grievance is filled today – we’ll see. I won’t be on the dole but most likely will be pushed back to reserve. Let us know what we can do for you here in the colonies! Keep the Faith!

** From Richard Elwell (Apr 82 – Jul 84): As someone who had happy memories of Four Sqn I wasn’t happy five years ago at Leuchars. We had IV come to Leuchars for a night flying det. As I worked in Ops we were busy dealing with the det and all the problems that IV caused (we actually had a girl in tears). And the girl concerned was stn hockey goalkeeper! Now I’ve got that off my chest, I’m not in the RAF any longer. I now work for Emerald Airways at Liverpool. We have 13 x 748’s and 2 x Shorts 360’s – we only do cargo, mostly mail and papers. We must be a unique airline as we have no ex-military pilots, and it shows at times! I must say that having done numerous deployments where I slept in the ops wagon, some six years ago I was part of UNPROFOR in Bosnia – six months living in a tent, how’s that for vengeance! So anyone reading this who was in a tent at Incirlik, I sympathize but we didn’t get any of the comforts you got. Although we did get one dollar 28 cents UN pay per day along with free food haircuts and laundry.

** From Roger Gault (May 78 – Apr 81 & Nov 87 – May 90): Hi Chris, Thanks for all your Emails and good to be back in touch with the IV(AC) Sqn Association.

** From Des Stewart (Apr 61 – Oct 62): Thanks for the info re 4. I have had a look at the lists, both the members and not members. I did have Des Davies’s address in Bristol, but I haven’t spoke to him for a number of years. Mike Plimmer – I still have his address so will get in touch with him to see if he is still interested. The armourers – I will see if they belong to the RAF Armourers’ Association. I noticed that you had a Bill Dixon on the list but no details. Was he an armourer? [No details on Bill – Chris]

I spent Thursday night with an old colleague from 4 in the FR10 days, and I will pass on your details to him. I have attached three photos for you. Do you have a picture gallery? [Yes! – Chris] The 1st is an article from the Daily Telegraph dated May 12th 1963. I had the article photographed and printed out full size, had it framed and it now hangs in my office. Flt Lt Owen, pictured looking at photographs was killed at RAF Leuchars when his Lightning F6 went in, in the middle of the airfield during an aerobatic practice flight. The 2nd photo is at APC Sylt. I am at the back of the tractor leaning on it. The guy in the middle with his beret on is Tony Smith, the guy I spent Thursday with. He is a country and western singer and has recorded in Nashville. The guy in the driver’s seat with the mug of tea is the Bill Dixon I asked you about in the first paragraph. The 3rd photograph is when we went to Jever so G?tersloh could have the runway lengthened to take civilian aircraft prior to air trooping. I am not on the photo. Can’t remember where I was. The Boss (S/L Buchannan) is sitting on the cockpit canopy. He was a great wild fowler, and when we had the Sqdn bar in the basement of the barrack block, Tony Smith painted a caricature of the boss flying his Hunter and firing his Adens at the ducks and called it Buck and Duck. He was amused and said “That was the only time that we could call him Buck!” Oh happy days. [I’ll be putting these pics on the web soon – Chris]

** From Des Stewart: 1. I have been in touch with John Archbold. His address is the same, but he doesn’t have a computer so he can’t log on. Do you have alternative arrangements for snail mail? [We’re doing a snail-mailshot soon, but we won’t be able to send out newsletters that way – Chris]

  1. I tried to get in touch with Des Davies, but has gone ex directory. Address as far as I know is the same. [I think the Sqn is in touch with Des – Chris]

  2. Mike Plimmer has moved, as the address I have is not registering with directory enquiries.

  3. I would dispute the claim that Marc ‘Rambo’ Frith was the best entertainments officer. Depends what the entertainment entailed. We on 4 during the 61-62 period had our own bar in the basement of our barrack block and was open to all. Many a great night was had in the evening times and weekends. A game popular on 4 was ‘Rumble’. Ever played it? [Not that I recall – Chris] It is a good drinking game and all airframe drivers were fair game from the ‘workers’. It wasn’t unknown for a driver to pass out after 20 minutes of play. One of our pilots, Fl/Lt Harvey, was the aerobatic king. On a low level run across the airfield, looking from the hanger, all that could be seen was the cockpit and fin. On another occasion, during an exercise, he was bounced by two enemy Hunters and quickly took evading action. He pulled so much ‘G’ that the two inboard pylons were ripped off. They were carrying the 220 gallon drop tanks at the time. Needless to say this meant lot of modifying work for the armourers as we had to replace all the pylon holding bolts with longer ones, as the original ones were found to be too short.

  4. I thought that the word ‘Shiny’ only applied to 2 Sqdn? When they had the Hunters at G?tersloh they would line up their aircraft in two groups, one of 5 and one 3. This was to spell out SHINY TWO in the aircraft letter code!

  5. Pat King was another one of our pilots. He was also a good rugby player. Do you know if he is still in? I did hear that he is now an Air Commodore or higher. [He’s in the Gulf and has promised to register with us soon! – Chris] PS. Do you want articles on life after 4 and the RAF? [Anything, I’ll use anything! – Chris]

** From Adrian ‘Beaker’ Bushell (Dec 81 – Jul 84): It’s nice to be back. Congrats on the site. I am still in touch with several ex-4 Sqn linies amongst whom are, Barney Robbins, Fish O’Gorman, Ted Drayton, Mouse Reed, Mac McCrudden etc. I will start ‘badgering’ them to join up and hopefully they are also in touch with several other bods. Watch this space. Keep up the good work. [Thanks for your help, Adrian, all your pals have signed up now! – Chris]

** From Gary Pheasant (Dec 86 – Oct 88): Chris, just got off the phone with Charlie Davis. He brought me up to speed on all of the festivities and goings on. Can I assume that as I was a lifetime member from the old days that I am still on the rolls as a life member now? [Yes, anyone who signed up as a life member in the old days will remain a life member – Chris] Still with Delta flying 767 Domestic and International. Working in training doing rating rides and annual checkrides and flying one trip per month right now. Girls are both off in college which leaves Anne and me plenty of time to travel. Will be off to London I think at the end of the month. Anne’s sister has a flat on the Thames near Tower Bridge and as she is in Hong Kong most of the time we take advantage of free accommodations when we can. I hope to be able to make the 4 sqn reunion.

** From Mike O’Gorman (Sep 81 – Mar 85): I am not sure if you remember me but I was a FLM who poured you into bed after air displays on many occasions (Auf Dem Dumpel in Germany was one), lots of gliders on the ceiling and I zapped one after climbing on top of a human circle. [Shurely some mistake! – Chris] I thought this ex-4 thing had died until Mouse (Andrew Reed) told me that you are on the web. Anyway look forward to seeing you at the reunion as well as hoping to see others ie: Jim Fernie, Tony McKeon, Pete Collins, Colin Stephens, Jeff Glover? Can you get hold of Lee Buland USMC? [Lee has registered! – Chris]

** From Peter Cook (Jun 84 – Mar 87): My pleasure to have registered. I have searched the Internet on many occasions trying to find a good link with 4 Sqn, but luckily an old sqn mate made contact and gave me the address. I in turn will pass it on to other ex-members that I know the whereabouts of. It was good to see so many familiar names in the members list, including groundcrew and aircrew from my Harrier Force days. Tony McKeon was my first sqn “Boss”, though I’m ashamed to say it’s taken your newsletter to remind of his name! Has anybody considered compiling a sqn ‘Roll of Honour’? While I was with the Sqn we lost Flt Lt Brian Weatherly and Sqn Ldr Bruce Cogram, as the result of flying accidents (I think that’s their correct name spellings, but will need to consult my records. Bruce Cogram was the first jockey I ever strapped into a Harrier – a true gent!). Anyway, glad to be on the list and look forward to future publications. You’ve done a great job by my reckoning. [Thanks, Peter. We’ll look at a Roll of Honour once the reunion is behind us – Chris]

** From Colin Medhurst (1965-68): Many thanks for the information received from you recently. On the non-members listing there are a number of people I would like to get in touch with again. Amongst these are two in particular, Al Cleaver and Joe Cook, with whom I served at Gutersloh. Do you, by any chance, have their snail mail addresses or telephone numbers or any other information amongst the previous (or earlier) Fourfax records to which you referred. [No, nothing on Al or Joe yet – Chris]

** From Al Pinner (Jan 93 – Dec 95 & Nov 99 – Mar 02): Last day as Exec on IV was on Friday and have just started at Wittering today as OC Sim (sad old tosser!). I do have a suggestion that I would like to raise for your next meeting: While we do not know the numbers who will come to the reunion, may I suggest that it represents a chance to raise some money for a charity. The Flying for the Disabled charity raises money to annually award Flying Scholarships to disabled people. You may recall that last year a lady called Polly Vacher circumnavigated the world in a PA38 to raise money for this charity, and she was escorted out and back by a GR7 of IV(AC). Moreover, 2 ex-members – Tim Ellison and Bob Begg are both disabled pilots with connections to the charity: Tim flies disabled people on various open days and Bob is an ex-SAC who was paralysed in an accident in the early eighties and was awarded a scholarship. The decision is obviously up to you and the committee, but if you think it a good idea, I could run with it as I am in regular contact with Polly. [Good idea, Al, we’ll look into it! – Chris]

The Web Site-

Web site information

Message Board

I’ve set up an internet Message Board so that members can leave messages, ask questions and make suggestions directly. It’s been pretty quiet lately, but the facility is there to use. Click on the Message Board menu item on any Members’ page and leave your message!

Red Arrows Standard Operating Procedures

  1. There’s only one position to be in… the right one.
  2. If you get out of position… get back in ASAP.
  3. If someone in front of you starts to thrash, select full power and get real close.
  4. Don’t take any s..t from Synchro.
  5. Don’t ask for advice in season – you’ve had six months training, you should be able to do it by now.
  6. There is only one person in the Red Arrows who isn’t a Red Arrow… the manager, so don’t listen to him.
  7. Cope.

The above has been expanded from a condensed edition of the SOPs of the RAF Aerobatic Team.