RAF Form 414, Vol 25

RAF Form 414, Vol 25

Form 414, my RAF Logbook continues with me leaving Australia and the Hornet unhappily in my rear vision mirror as I was heading back to Blighty and a cold winter in Lincolnshire.  No 229 Operational Conversion Unit was the training unit that would give me my first taste of the Mighty Fin, the Swing Wing Super Jet, Mother Riley’s Cardboard Aeroplane otherwise known as the Air Defence Variant of the Tornado.


Not just a British aircraft, the Tornado was a project involving Germany and Italy as well.


A cutaway of the ADV Tornado


Just some of the multitude of limitations that Tornado pilots were required to memorise


The Tornado cockpit showing the wing sweep lever


The Mighty Fins of 43 and 111 Squadrons


The RB199 lacked sufficient thrust to allow the F3 to perform adequately at medium and high level but it did have a way of going backwards!


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Surruno, Panavia, BAe, the RAF Museum, Mike Freer, Kevan Dickin, Chris Lofting and the RAF.

RAF Form 414, Vol 24

RAF Form 414, Vol 24

After I landed my aircraft I clambered out of the Hornet with the cold realisation that I might have flown my last sortie.  The spinning sensation had ceased and the sortie had gone beautifully, it was almost as if it had been a bad dream. A continuation of tales from the Old Pilot’s logbook, RAF Form 414.


Was the sun about to set on my career?


The surgery span round and round




Exercise K89


One of our opponents, the F16


Firing off live missiles like the AIM 7M Sparrow


Landing in a thunderstorm


A week on Song Song island acting as the Range Safety Officer


The RSO and his crew of Malay troops


My final flight and the boys renamed my aircraft Nick The Pom!



A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Moon

The year is 1957 and the space race is underway.  The major powers around the world, mainly the Soviet Union and the United States, are all striving to develop the technology that will allow them to reach outer space. The Soviet Union’s Academy of Sciences prime aim was to beat the Americans into Earth orbit and their top secret Sputnik project was about to reward all the efforts put in by a generation of scientists and engineers.  Sputnik 1 was soon to be placed atop an R-7 rocket and launched into a low orbit to become the first artificial Earth Satellite. But what if they hadn’t been the first?


Sputnik was fired into a low earth orbit on the 4th of October 1957 atop an R-7 rocket


Some months before the Sputnik launch the US were conducting nuclear tests


The Pascal I underground test caused a huge blue flame to erupt from the desert


Very high speed cameras were used to film the tests


The Horizons spacecraft


People wonder what became of the manhole cover and if anything was written on it?


Images under a Creative Commons licence with thanks to the Atomic Heritage Foundation, the Federal Government of the United States, NNSA and NASA.

Flight 600

Flight 600

Let me take you back to the dim distant past and Captain Jeff’s start with his legacy airline, ACME, I mean Delta, no ACME, Delta, Acta, Delme… oh whatever. His career started, not in the Captain’s seat but somewhere in the bowels of flight deck, sitting sideways with control panels in front of him instead of windows, that stretched to the ceiling!  Jeff was an engineer on his favourite three holer, the Boeing 727. The loss rate for this iconic airliner was, unhappily, quite high.  As of 2019 the aircraft had suffered 351 major incidents of which 119 resulted in a total loss.  The loss of life resulting from these bare numbers has risen to over four thousand souls.  One addition to those sad statistics came from Flight 600.  This is the story.


The Boeing 727 Flight Deck


The 727 on its maiden flight


The famous S bend


With tail mounted engines the wings could be fitted with full span lift devices


The B727 was the first first airliner to have an APU


The 727 had rear mounted stairs that were used by the nefarious DB Cooper


Which resulted in the fitting of a Cooper Vane


The mechanics of a microburst


Our Captain Jeff


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Felix Goetting, Alex Beltyukov, Boeing, Tank67, Daderot, Juras14, Aero Icarus and NASA.

The Consequence of a Deliberate Act

The Consequence of a Deliberate Act

Two of the Saratoga’s F14 Tomcats were tasked to defend the carrier against a simulated attack during Exercise Display Determination 87. The leader of this small formation included a senior pilot and skipper of a newly arrived Junior Grade Lieutenant Timothy Dorsey. Many years later, Dorsey would be nominated for promotion to a one-star Rear Admiral, an appointment that required Congressional approval.  What stood in his way was an incident that occurred during that fateful day in 1987.


USS Saratoga


Timothy Dorsey


F14 Tomcats on deck


An F4 tanking


HUD film of the engagement


US Navy wings


Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to the US Navy, US Air Force and the US Gov.