Defending the Baltic Express

Defending the Baltic Express

Defenceless, it relied on its unmatched performance to provide vital data for the USA and NATO on some of the most sensitive parts of the globe. One of the regular missions flown by the SR71 Blackbird out of a base in the United Kingdom, RAF Mildenhall, was East across the North and Baltic Seas towards the territories of the Soviet Union; these flights were known as the Baltic Express. All went until one day…

The SR71 at Mildenhall


The original A12


The Baltic Express track


The Saab 29, nicknamed the Tunnan


The Draken


The Saab AJS 37 Viggen


The Vig was also capable of operating from unusual locations


Shockwave formation during an unstart.


An SR71 pilot in his pressure suit


The Mig 25 Foxbat


Three of the 4 Viggen pilots involved receive their Air Medals



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Digital Public Library of America, USAF, John5199, Blockhaj, Alan Wilson, Guenter KONZ-BEYER Bad Erlach, NASA, Alex Beltyukov, Defence Imagery and the US Gov.

Check-in Confessions, Part Two

Check-in Confessions, Part Two

The crew come clean on some of their layover hotel experiences. After Part 1, the Good, comes Part 2, the Bad and the Ugly!


Capt Nick’s hotel in Mong Kok, the epicentre of the SARS pandemic.


The New York hotel nicknamed the Transylvania!


The Kentucky Derby.


ACME B-727 Flight Engineer Jeff.


His room resembled a monk’s cell.


Stouffers in its heyday.


Steph’s famous A sign!


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Chong Fat, Maximilian Dörrbecker, Dr Fred Murphy, ArnoldReinhold,, Carol M. Highsmith, Zarateman and Oliver Pitzke.

Check-in Confessions, Part One

Check-in Confessions, Part One

Over their careers, airline pilots, and doctors come to that, will have stayed in a myriad of loggings during their overnight stays and the vast majority will have merged into a conglomeration of memories but every now and then one or two will stand out from the rest. In this tale, the crew have kindly shared some of their experiences starting with the Good… the Bad and the Ugly will follow on next week so be sure to tune in!


Capt Nick landing in Hong Kong


The Langham Place hotel


The amazing vertical mall.



The original Tim Ho Wan dim sum resturant



The Bird Market



The C141


American Samoa


The Rainmaker Hotel


The Boeing 767


The Intercontinental Tahiti Resort


The Leeward Island of Montserrat


Olveston house


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Langham Place hotel, the USAF, NOAA, Jerry & Roy Klotz MD, Intercontinental Hotels and Olveston house.

The Baby Killers

The Baby Killers

It was the 19th of January 1915 and the people of the English towns of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn were woken by an eerie throbbing sound from above them. No-one there had ever heard it before, this deep rumble of powerful engines in the sky, slowly approaching in the darkness. People left their homes and looked into the inky black sky but nothing could be seen. The noise grew and, now alarmed at this strange roaring, they began to run but nobody was sure which way would be safe… they didn’t know if they were running towards danger or away! Then the blackness was cracked wide open by a bright flash, soon followed by the thunder of an explosion as bombs dropped on the defenceless people below. The full horror of aerial warfare had been unleashed on the people of England and when the smoke cleared, the first deaths revealed.

The bombing of Kings Lynn and Great Yarmouth.


A British recruitment poster.


A commemorative wall plaque.


Newspaper headlines of the day.


The Buckingham bullet.


Lt Warneford’s downing of the first Zeppelin by a fighter aircraft.


The L23 capturing the Norwegian bark, Royal.


Using Zeppelins in support of the German Navy was a primary mission and crashes became commonplace.


The world’s first deck landing on an aircraft carrier, the converted Battlecruiser HMS Furious.


Sopwith Camels onboard HMS Furious prior to the Tondern raid.


The aftermath of the Tondern raid on the Toska hangar.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to The Library of Congress, Christopher Braun, Geni, Crosby F Gordon, The War Illustrated, the Imperial War Museum, Marshall Everett, the Ministry of Defence and for images in the Public Domain.

Sweet Retirement

Sweet Retirement

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Sweet, after a 33 year career flying the Warthog, completed his final flight on the 5th of June 2021 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. As he climbed out he was met with a shower of champagne. I don’t regret going over there, fighting and getting shot down, Sweet said, that’s what I took an oath to do. The Air Force Chief of Staff, General Charles Brown said, with your retirement, it will be the first time in the history of our Air Force that we will not have a former POW serving. Thank you for all you’ve done.  This is the story of Rob Sweet.

The venerable Spad (the A-1 Skyraider).


General Electric GAU-8/A beside a Volkswagen Beetle!


A comparison of size between a .303 round and that of the GAU-8.


The smoke created by the GAU-8 could be a problem when ingested into the engines.


An Iraq Republican Guard armoured vehicle.


The SA-3 Strela.


Rockeye bomblets.


Lt Col Sweet is finally released.


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the USN, USAF, Samf4u, Defence Imagery, Department of National Defence, Vitaly V. Kuzminand and Johnny Saunderson.

RAF Form 414 Vol 11

RAF Form 414 Vol 11

Another foray into the log book as the Old Pilot starts work as a Qualified Flying Instructor at No 4 Flying Training School, RAF Valley.


Another course of newly minted QFIs


A Hawk T1 over RAF Valley on the island of Anglesey


Hawks in close formation


The Reds doing it properly in cloud and everything!


Flying solo in the Hawk


The Hawk doing aerobatics


The RAF Valley Summer Ball


Yours truly, B2 QFI


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the UK Ministry of Defence.