The Wood Duck, Part 2

The Wood Duck, Part 2

The conclusion of a chat over a pint with Wood Duck, the Royal Australian Air Force Air Attache to the Australian High Commission in London.


Images of No 2 OCU when it was equipped with the FA18


The handover of No 2 OCU Hornets to the new commanding officer and the new F35 Lightning fighters.


RSAF Hawk trainers

The Wood Duck, Part 1

The Wood Duck, Part 1

As a fighter pilot on the newly formed 77 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force, now equipped with brand new FA/18s, we had many experienced pilots but before long we also acquired pilots on their first operational type.  One such pilot was Woody, or more formally known as Wood Duck and flying the Hornet was just the start of a long career in aviation that took him all around the world.  Now the Air Attache at the Australian High Commission in London, Woody and I met at a local hostelry and had a beer whilst talking about old times.


The Australian FA/18B


Flypasts performed by No 2 OCU RAAF whilst under Woody’s command


Woody as a youngster in the Hong Kong bar whilst on deployment in Malaysia.


RAAF Hornets in Butterworth


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the RAAF, the USAF, the RMAF and No 2 OCU RAAF.

The Risk Takers

The Risk Takers

So you want to be an airline pilot? You want to travel the world, visit strange and exotic countries and immerse yourself in the wonders of foreign cultures? You want to make a good living, bring up a family and plan for a wonderful retirement driving your luxurious RV around the wide open spaces of your beloved country? Has it crossed you mind that your chosen occupation might not be the safest way to achieve your dreams?


The Old Curmudgeon rides again


Airliner crashes are rare events


Ensure that you join a recognised union that can afford you legal representation anywhere in the world

RAF Form 414, Vol 22

RAF Form 414, Vol 22

I trust that you will recall the stories from my RAF Logbook which had reached the point of my first Hornet deployment to New Zealand to work with the Kiwi A4 Skyhawks of No 75 Squadron Royal New Zealand Air Force at Ohakea.
The squadron we were working with had a rich history and I was sure I was going to enjoy my time with them.


75 Sqn RNZAF formed with Wellingtons purchased by the New Zealand government


75 Sqn A4 Skyhawk


The Kiwi Red formation team


Inverted whilst in contact


An A4 in combat firing rockets


How to fly a flat scissors


An FA18 pulls into the vertical


The effectiveness of camouflage


Low level


Attacking a splash target


The Hornet at night


The disappearance of the hook was investigated


The perp was arrested!


75 Sqn RNZAF was sadly disbanded


Images shown under creative commons licence with thanks to the RAF, the New Zealand Defence Force, the USN, CNATRA, Bernardo Malfitano and Myself.


Straighten Up and Fly Right

Straighten Up and Fly Right

The Right Hand Traffic Rule stated that an aircraft which was flying within the United Kingdom in sight of the ground and following a road, railway, canal or coastline, or any other line of landmarks shall keep such line of landmarks on its left.  For reasons that defeat me the rule went on to give an exception stating, “provided that this rule shall not apply to a helicopter following the Motorway M4 on a route from West Drayton to Osterley Lock!”  Let me take you back to the the birth of commercial aviation in Europe after the First World War.Daimler Airways operated the De Havilland aircraft on the Croydon to Paris route and Grands Express were operating the same route, albeit originating from Paris. The scene was therefore set and, no doubt the astute amongst you will already be speculating on what befell the Daimler Airway mail flight departing Croydon on the 7th of April 1922 and the Grand Express aircraft that left Le Bourget on the same day, just after noon.  This is that story.


The Farman Goliath airliner


The DH18


The BAS 500cc single Gold Star


London to Le Bourget


Le Bourget to London


Traffic in France drove on the right hand side


On that fateful day, the weather was poor


The Picardie accident was the world’s first mid air collision between airliners


Images shown under the Creative Commons licence with thanks to Albert Thuloup, Handley Page, BP, SADSM, The Library of Congress and Popular Mechanics.

Brass Monkeys

Brass Monkeys

Traditionally the phrase Brass Monkeys goes hand in hand with weather so cold that only a naughty sounding description like, “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey,” will suffice.  If, however, you were the crew member a NATO aircraft in Europe during the tense times of the Cold War, Brass Monkeys meant something very specific!  It was a code phrase that everyone knew of and listened out for on the Guard frequency just in case it was broadcast.  Two or three minutes into the flight Rikki was super-sonic and climbing through twenty thousand feet or so when the first “Brass Monkeys” call came over the radio: “Brass monkeys, brass monkeys, aircraft heading east at high speed fifty miles east of Gutersloh, brass monkeys”. He ignored it!

The true origin of Brass Monkeys has been lost in time


The identification papers of defector Viktor Belenko


Map of the East/West German airspace


An F84


West German Navy Sea Hawk


A Lightning F3 landing


Mig 21s chasing


Returning safely


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Louis-Philippe Crépin, images in the Public Domain, the CIA, the RAF, Rosario Van Tulpe, Milborne One and Mike Freer.