Cloud Suck

Cloud Suck

Towering cumulous clouds can often be harbingers of destruction and for pilots they should be respected and generally avoided by a wide margin.  There is, however, a breed of pilot willing to court the danger present in these meteorological monsters… the violent updrafts and downdrafts, the heavy rain and hail, the turbulence, the freezing temperatures and the lightning!  This is the story of one such pilot.

 

Derek Piggott

 

Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Ralph F. Kresge, TSRL and Thomas Bresson.

Daks on D-Day Part 2

Daks on D-Day Part 2

As part of the 75th anniversary of the D Day invasion of Nazi held Europe in 1944, Douglas DC3s, C47s and Dakotas came from around the world to reenact the Airborne troops parachute drops that first put Allied boots on the ground. In this second part of the story, I chat to Sherman Smoot, Betsy’s Chief Pilot and Nick Comacho, a pilot of the C47, Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber.

 

Nick does some work on Betsy before taking her up on her next flight.

 

Nick’s father takes a look around Betsy before her next flight.

 

The reenactment paratroops embark before their flight over Duxford.

 

Betsy’s cockpit.

 

Ready to go!

 

Daks on D-Day Part 1

Daks on D-Day Part 1

As part of the 75th anniversary of the D Day invasion of Nazi held Europe in 1944, Douglas DC3s, C47s and Dakotas came from around the world to reenact the Airborne troops parachute drops that first put Allied boots on the ground.  In this interview I chat to Nick Comacho, a pilot of the C47, Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber, that had flown over from the States to Duxford in England to take part.

 

Refuelling the C47 prior to a flight from Duxford.

 

The weather at Duxford was a trifle damp at times.

 

The reenactment parachutists gear up prior to getting airborne.

 

Betsy’s Biscuit Bomber fires up.

 

A wonderful array of vintage aircraft… quite a sight to see.

RAF Form 414 Vol 3

RAF Form 414 Vol 3

I take another dip into my flying log book, RAF Form 414. We catch up with the young ‘Old Pilot’ as he joins his first operational squadron, No 43(F) Sqn, The Fighting Cocks!  I was faced with a further 6 months of training to become a fully Combat Ready fighter pilot.  Relying on my faltering memory I said that the jamming Canberras were on 100 Sqn… they were, of course, actually from No 360 Squadron!

 

The F4 Phantoms of The Fighting Cocks.

 

Air to Air refuelling.

 

The Q shed at RAF Leuchars.

 

My flying suit badges including the treasured Squadron patch that was only worn by combat ready aircrew.

I Counted Them All Out

I Counted Them All Out

The Falkland islands, a British Sovereign Territory, had been invaded by Argentinian military forces and in response the UK assembled a task force to sail the 8,000 miles required to dispatch the invaders and free the British residents there.  Amongst the RAF Harrier pilots onboard HMS Hermes was Flt Lt Dave Morgan who took part in the first Harrier attack on the airfield at Stanley, the capital of the Falklands.  This is the story of this mission.

 

Argentinian soldiers occupy Stanley.

 

The route of the British Task Force.

 

Royal Navy Sea Harriers.

 

RAF Harriers at Stanley airfield after the successful recapture of the Falklands.

 

Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Malvinas.talam, Stephen L. Batiz USN, USN Defense Imagery, Department of History United States Military Academy and Pete Butt.

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Bedknobs and Broomsticks

Two of the most weird looking aircraft ever devised were actually immensely valuable in the development of the Hawker Harrier Jump Jet and in the training of astronauts!  This is the story of two flying bedsteads!

 

The NASA Lunar Landing Research Vehicle.

 

The original flying bedstead, more properly known as the Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig.

 

 

Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Disney, User:Geni and NASA.