Flying Over Christmas

Flying Over Christmas

Waiting for the arrival of the December flying roster was always a tense time. Those with big family gatherings are anxious to ensure they are at home with their loved ones whilst the more carefree crew, with fewer ties, might want to be down route somewhere exotic knowing that a bevy of party goers would be flying with them. I know of one crew who flew over Christmas with great excitement… at least I believe so! Their names were Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, the crew of the Apollo 8 space mission.



Victorian Christmas


Father Christmas


The Apollo 8 Crew


The Zond 5 spacecraft


The emblem and launch of Apollo 8


Stage 3 jettison


The surface of the moon




A safe return


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Antoine-François Callet, Joseph Lionel Williams, Robert Seymour, Josiah King, Alfred Henry Forrester, the USSR Post and NASA.

500 Show PT

500 Show PT

And so Plane Tales was born with the story of the mixologist Joe Gilmore… well, kind of. There had been a few bits in the Show pre the Farnborough special but it hadn’t become part of APG like it is now. The number of Tales will never catch Jeff’s impressive half millennium but they have now passed the 300 mark and these are a few of the memorable ones.

The mixologist, Joe Gilmore


Tumble Down Dick


The flight under Tower Bridge




Capt Ogg ditching the Sovereign of the Skies.


Bob Hoover


Major Bung Lee lands his Bird Dog on the USS Midway


Capt Andy Anderson




Voiceover artist Greg Willits at


A tribute to the crew of Lady be Good


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks given on the original episode, Thomas Rowlandson, Greg Willits and DaniKauf, the USAF, the USN and those in the Public Domain.

The Five Hundredth

The Five Hundredth

In the United States the Coast Guard is a fully paid up branch of the military. Its men and women have served with valour in many conflicts and I’m going to tell you about one such event, the rescue of Misty 11.


The badge of the US Coast Guard


An F100 Fast FAC Misty crew


An OV10 Bronco


Spads escorting a Jolly Green Giant


The jungle penetrator.


Landing in difficult terrain


500 saves


The approach into the valley


The rescue


Technical Sergeant Donald G. Smith


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the USAF National Museum, the USAF, USAF National Museum, USGOV-PD, Digital Public Library of America, Defence Imagery, the US Coast Guard and US Gov.

RAF Form 414, Vol 12

RAF Form 414, Vol 12

Year two of Porridge… that’s an old term used by prisoners to describe their time inside jail but was very apt as many of my fellow flying instructors and I had not volunteered for this particular job and it was a long one.  As I leaf through the pages of my log book I recall memories from my flying career.

Flying with the Air Officer Commanding


The badge of No 4 Flying Training School, palm tree and all!


Lining up for breaks to the right when someone decided to go LEFT instead!


The fabled MON formation


How the English might have read it!


10 Hawks in echelon




The F4 FIRE Drill


If FIRE confirmed – EJECT




Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the RAF, BAe, MOD and Mr Geoff Lee of Plane Focus.

Operation Tarnegol

Operation Tarnegol

Suddenly the black of the night that surrounded them was split open by bright tracer cannon fire that streaked by the windows with loud cracks and then came the shock and thud as some struck the aircraft. The lights were all extinguished… so in the dark, tense and alarmed, everyone waited to see what would happen next. It was the 24th of October 1956, and the first shots in a war over the Suez Canal had just been fired!

Ferdinand de Lesseps, the Father of the Suez Canal


The opening of the canal


A collection of canal views


British armed forces went great lengths to protect the canal during 2 World Wars


After a military coup in Egypt, Nasser took control of the country and seized the Suez Canal



The NF13 Meteor sold to the IAF by Britain


An Il14, as used by the Egyption Air Force


The actual Gloster Meteor used in the attack


The Ilyushin is brought down killing all onboard


The invasion by British, French and Israeli forces is a complete success but political pressures force them to relinquish the canal


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Mohamed kamal 1984, NADAR, the Tropenmuseum, the IWM, the RAF, the MOD, Lars Söderström and other images in the Public Domain.

How the Poppy Grew

How the Poppy Grew

About this time of the year, I like to do a tale that turns our minds to those who gave their lives for their countries in the many conflicts that have plagued the world.  In the past in tales such as, “In Flanders Fields and Lest We Forget” I’ve talked about the poppy, used as a symbol of remembrance in many countries, and the poem penned by the Canadian doctor, Lt Col John McCrae.  There was a gap in my story, however, that I would now like to close.  The gap that transformed the sad words of John McCrae’s poem into the adoption of the poppy as a representation of remembrance for the fallen, amongst such a large part of the English speaking world… and beyond.

Lt Col John McCrae


The Escadrille Lafayette in July 1917


Moina Belle Michael


Desk and poppy




In Flanders Fields written by John McCrae


An original remembrance poppy


The Poppy Factory in London


Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance in the Albert Hall


The Poppy Lady’s historic road marker


Images under Creative Commons licence under Public Domain and with thanks to the National Museum of the Air Force, the Poppy Project, Neysa McMein, Heatherannej, Nickeaglesfield, the MOD and Ember390.