Monday, 22 May 2017

2016 Reunion Report - RAF Halton

Looking every bit the 30+ years older . . . at the RAFHAA Museum in the former Henderson Gym

Potentially quite an emotional milestone, this year - well, LAST year (Sep 2016) as I write this in May 2017 . . .

It seems that a perfect storm of factors are converging to change the way things have been, in terms of the regular RAFHAA Triennials:

1. The RAFHAA is possibly ceasing to function since there just aren't enough people volunteering to take on the various roles required to run the organisation. It's transitioning into providing a legacy website and using the assn's funding for sponsoring future aircraft engineering apprenticeships (TEAL 2020) for individuals. More on that here.

2. RAF Halton is going to be closed and the land sold off by 2022.

Therefore it was announced in a HAA newsletter last year that this would likely be the last reunion of its kind at Halton. In fact, as we arrived to check-in for the event, we were told that it was almost cancelled two weeks before and only last minute intervention with the interim Station Commander saved the day, but it was very close.

We await the report from the HAA's postponed AGM (Sept 2017). Some more on this can be read here .

HAVING SAID THAT - the 2016 Reunion was another great weekend outing of fun, frivolity, rekindled stories and friendships. I think about 18 of us turned up in the end - some just for the day. In the above photo, I (Hodge) am missing as I'm behind the camera . . .

While we were in the museum, someone spotted that our own AVM Mike Quigley was missing from the Apprentices Hall of Fame where our ex-Appos reaching Air rank appeared in profile. Right after the event we worked with Min Larkin and Mike to have that sorted. 139 Entry now has its representative on that wall. Well done Mike, an incredible career and personal achievement. We also recognised the sterling achievements of our other (possibly only two) remaining serving members, WO's Mike Inder and Steve Ward. Well done, Gents! We have not been in contact with Steve, but Mike I informs us his last whereabouts was SWO at RAF Leeming, or was it Dishforth?? Love to hear from you, Steve.

The night before the Triennial was spent in the barrack blocks - single man rooms and not a bull night in sight! Eating in the Mess and off to the Sergeants Mess for drinks. At £15 for a round of about 16 beers, a good night was had by all and 139s seemed to be the best represented numbers in the bar.

On Henderson Parade square the next day, 139's were by far the only substantial Entry turnout from (at least) the 130's onwards. There were (literally) only two ex appos there (behind us in the parade by Entry order) from 140 onwards to the last Appo Entry (155's?).

Aside from the day at the Triennial, we had a night in Aylesbury - dining in fine style at The Broad Leys (superb food, service and atmosphere) followed by drinks around the town and crashing back to the hotel in the early hours.

Could have been the last time meeting at RAF Halton, our spiritual home.

For more info on 139's head over to our Facebook group page - I know, I know, we old men don't really like FB that much - but it works because it's convenient!!

Next Reunion is being held in the Lake District in October 2017. Organised by Mike Quigley in his home area. Come along!

Nob Out!

May 2017

Friday, 17 April 2015

Reunion 2016 - RAF Halton

Maitland Drill Hanger, RAF Halton - 139 Entry 2013 Reunion
Getting this one in EARLY, for a change as we have a fixed date and location!

Our first reunion (2013) took place at the RAF Halton Apprentices Triennial and it was a blast. Staying Friday night in the accomodation blocks, eating in the mess, a great night in the SNCO Mess bar and lots of reminicing around the various locations of the camp during Sat - incluing a parade and marching down the hill with the band! Sat night out and about in Milton Keynes.

At that reunion we had such a good time, we agreed to meet every year around the same time. In years when the Triennial takes place, we meet at Halton. In other years we meet in other parts of the UK (2014: Betys-y-Coed, 2015 - to be held in Norwich in Oct)

So here is 'the gen' for the 139 Entry Reunion 2016:
  • Dates: 23-25 September 2016
  • Venue: RAF Halton
  • Activities: Organised by RAFHAAA itinerary
Last Triennial we struggled to get local accomodation for the Saturday night - so we will be working in the coming months to secure spaces around the Wendover area.

More details are available on the FB page at email us via the Contact Us link, above.

If you have any doubts about the Reunion craic - please see Rich Martin's (Turner) review of 2014. It's relaxed, great fun and not expensive - the more the merrier, so come and join in!

See you there, Tone.

Reunion 2015 - Norwich

As usual, I've been a little slow about posting this on the website/blog. Mostly because our Facebook (FB) group is where most of the chat goes on . . .

This is the 30th anniversary of our 1985 Passout and we're looking to get as many 139s at the reunion as possible. So far we have a number of 'new faces' confirmed as joining us in 2015, after successful reunions in 2013 (Raf Halton Triennial) and 2014 (Betwys-y-Coed).

So here is 'the gen' for the 139 Entry Reunion 2015:

  • Dates: 23-25 October 2015
  • Venue: Holiday Inn (Norwich North), Norwich, Norfolk
  • Activities: TBA
Right now (17 April 2015) we are taking bookings at the hotel for rooms (single or shared occupancy). You can contact the hotel direct and mention the reunion and reserve your room.

More details are available on the FB page at or email us via the Contact Us link, above.

If you have any doubts about the craic - please see Rich Martin's (Turner) review of 2014. It's relaxed, great fun and not expensive - the more the merrier, so come and join in!

See you there, Tone.

2014 Reunion - Reviewed by Richard Martin


I have attempted a brief-ish résumé of our weekend, partly to ensure my ageing memory can remember it in years to come and partly in the hope that those yet to attend may overcome any doubts (or double bookings) and get along to next year's shindig. Maybe someone can copy it to the non-FB members (please)?

Well it was a long time coming and yet over in a flash! I will confess to having had some reservations having not seen most of you since 1985 but it's fair to say the doubts very quickly melted away. The years in between fell away and we were that bunch of lively teenagers, reliving our antics; some I knew of already and some I definitely didn't! I did have a brief moment thinking it was a shame I didn't go last year but then I remembered I was still a serving rozzer back then! We experienced several Sect 5 Public Order offences, confessions of invasions of privacy, thefts, criminal damage, burglary, harassment, drinking and driving, driving other than in accordance with a driving licence, driving no insurance and the list went on! But enough of my RAF career; plenty of you lot had a similar list of misdemeanours!

I wondered how long it would take to break the ice. In my case not long, a pre-journey couple of pints with Mr Cotter (who by some quirk of fate now lives 5 minutes from me!) and then a lift from Mr Purser (who did actually help me with my enquiries as a serving officer back in the 90's!)....and so the banter and catching up began. I arrived, saw some familiar faces assembled outside having a beer (quelle surprise) and walked across the car park to cries of "hello old friend". OK so actually they may have shouted "bender!" or something similar I think but I was feeling the love.....No, really I was!

Tony (Hodgioni) aka 'Little Big Tony' (see below) had clearly put in a lot of time and effort researching the excellent accommodation, eateries, activities and produced an excellent itinerary. A big thank you Tony on behalf of us all and we promise that next year we may even read it!

I won't give a blow by blow account of the Friday meal and copious drinks that followed, what's said on reunion................and anyway a 'caution' had not been given so nothing was admissible in court. Suffice to say much piss-taking and laughing ensued and speaking for myself and one or two others, there were some 'delicate constitutions' in the morning.
After a hearty breakfast the fun then hit the road with the group splitting down the middle (there you go, doubters of the soothsayer - the group was split asunder as predicted!!!!). Half to walk up some big hill and the others to take the train after a quick photo call at Capel Curig Training Camp (very maturely resisting the urge to have away any 'Gizzits'!!!!).
The yompers made good time and arrived before the train in time for our happy band of brothers to reform and make the arduous final assault on the summit together. All 40 feet of it....but What a View! Sorry, I meant "Where's the ****ing view?!!!". Hey, we made the summit. I know because it said "summit" at the top! Photos (of clouds), more piss - taking, a train ride through some different clouds, collected cars, collected parking tickets and returned to base camp.

Once back at the Hotel some made use of the facilities, mainly the bar and lots of photos (featured elsewhere on this page) were taken before decamping to a restaurant in Betws-y-Coed. A great choice ( thanks again Tony - henceforth known as Tony Hodgioni for reasons only likely to make sense if you were a). there and b) inebriated!!!). Excellent food, plentiful drink (though generally a little less drink than the previous night!) and great company. Much merriment ensued including a poor young waiter being introduced to Little Big Tony Hodgioni by John (The Teflon Don) Purser and Glenn (Poker Face) Cotter. OK so I made the last two up. To his credit the waiter took it well! More drinks in the beer garden, more in the hotel bar and so to bed..........

Sunday morning breakfast was a full house (I think) and a last chance to pass around more of those old photos (how young???!!!). It was agreed that the weekend had been a success despite the lack of clear planning or direction (what itinerary?!!!) and that another trip should be planned for the 30th anniversary year of our passout so discussions ensued about when/where (details to be posted.......Tony Hodgson?!!! ). Most of the group then headed home (but not before queuing up to give Ged a much wanted man-hug from all of us!!!) with a few remaining to make the most of the much-improved weather to go for another walk (and perhaps they will let us know how that went - if they got back?).

A genuine heartfelt thanks to Little Big Tony Hodgioni for all his efforts and indeed to everyone for entering into the spirit and regressing 29 years for a great weekend. Let's redouble our efforts and see if we can encourage many more to pencil in the 30th anniversary of our passout.

Normal service will now resume for 12 months.........

Nob Out!!!

Rich Martin (Turner)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Reunion 2014 - Betwys-y-Coed

In these days of Facebook (I know, I know, so many middle aged men hate it and won;t touch it - I know what you mean . . .) I forgot (ALL YEAR!) to put anything on the blog about our 2014 reunion.

We are meeting in Wales where we did our R&I training - Capel Curig. We'll be in the village nearby at B-y-C.

It's on nights of 19th and 20th of September - less than 2 weeks away!

I'll post an update once we've been and done it and m,aybe even review the first reunion one year late!

Hope to see you there - or at the next one!!

Tony H.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Reunion 2013 - RAF Halton

Almost 30 years after we Passed Out - it's time to get back together!

Thanks to Glenn Cotter and John Peacock for pushing it forward, the consensus was to have our first reunion at RAF Halton on 21 Sept, during the RAFHAAA's 2013 Triennial.

We've updated the 139 Google Group mail list with the latest email addresses - you can email all listed 139 members at (so long as you are a subscribed list member).

We've added an Event on Facebook.

Please email Glenn at ASAP to register your interest. He can help you arrange off-camp accommodation for night of Fri 20th Sept - or you can contact the RAFHAA to stay on camp in one of the old block rooms (individual or shared).

Strangely, there is nothing on the RAFHAA website about the event but they have covered it (and provided Registration Forms) in recent editions (issues 65 + 66) of The Haltonian (for members). Best that you register in advance rather than just turn up on the day.

Below I've scanned some docs which will help you

Cheers, Hodge:

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Class 4 on a Gnat

Sent in by Mr David Arden, thank you sir . . . not to be outdone by other classes having their Gnat picture posted already . . .

Friday, 22 January 2010

Mr Bilney and his Bikes . . .

Hi All,

Great to see the stories of misspent youth appearing on the site now so I thought I would add mine to the list.

I went from Halton to Brize for my first tour and ended up on VC10 heavy rects for a few years, working with Tim Thompson and John Purser for a while on a team which was almost exclusively ex-appo. I went down to St Mawgan in ’89 and was a liney for a couple of years on Nimrods before deciding to have my brain removed. Just after the first Gulf War I was accepted onto the Shrivenham programme and went through my degree in Aeromechanical Systems Engineering with Rob Withers (Andy Bailey and Tim Thompson were 2 years ahead and Roy Lefley and Dave Dawes were a year ahead). Following officer training at Cranwell with Rob again, I went to Lossie as OC Eng Wing HQ Flt (Rob came up shortly afterwards on Nimrods at nearby Kinloss) and then St Athan as a production manager on the VC10 Major Programme (Rob went to VC10 2nd Line at Brize). I left St Athan in ’99 and went back to Cranwell as a flight commander on Initial Officer Training with guess who, Rob Withers again! I was promoted to Squadron Leader out of Cranwell and started a downwards spiral in awful jobs at Wyton in the DLO but escaped back to Cornwall and sunny St Mawgan for my final tour as the SAR Force Business Change Manager. Last time I spoke to Rob, he was working for Texaco in South Wales and looking to move to New Zealand.

I left the mob about 5 years ago and initially set up a corporate training company using extreme sports etc, but it proved a bit too seasonal for my liking so I concentrated on consultancy specialising in change management and business improvement. These days I still live in Cornwall but I work all over; mainly home counties and midlands in the UK but also Romania, Egypt, Denmark and later this year the US and the Middle East.

I kept up with my bikes until about 2000 with a selection of Jap machines; the best of which was my dream bike when we were at Halton, a Suzuki GSX1000 Katana. This beasty had a Yoshimura race tuned engine. I never owned an Italian bike Ed, but I did finish with a Honda Firestorm 1000cc V twin so I did make a bit of a break from in line fours and the noise was fantastic! Latterly and ironically in light of the US car theme that’s developing here, when I left the RAF I treated myself to a Jeep Grand Cherokee; so Andy May you have a lot to answer for by the sounds of it!

Personal life-wise, I am married to Hayley and have been for 2 ½ years and we live in Cornwall with Hayley’s youngest, Sarah (15) and our 2 dogs – a wee Westie and an English Mastiff. I have another step-daughter (Hayley’s eldest) Charlotte at UWE and I have my 2 daughters from my first marriage Grace (14) and Emilia (12) in Cambridge (its because I have 4 daughters that I have a 17 stone Mastiff – even the balance a little!). I got into mountaineering after Halton and have had some fun in Scotland winter climbing and in the Alps, but not as serious as our Everest conqueror, Mr Carroll!

Anyway that’s me. I hope the reunion does come off and if I can help, I will. All the best gents. I look forward to hearing from more 139’s.

Best wishes Mark

Mark Bilney

'H' Jones - seeking snow

Posted by Hodge on behalf of H . . .

Hi guys, here is my resume;

After Halton, went to Valley and had 3 good years mastering the Valley walk….head and shoulders bent forward into the wind and go for it. Married in ’86 first born in ’87. Still played a lot of Rugby at RAFU 21 level and then in the week for the station (much to my Chief’s disapproval).

Got some good knowledge on the Hawk so then volunteered for the Red Arrows. Did 4 years on the team and in this time had child number 2. So I now have a daughter 22 yrs, and a son 20 yrs.

Left the RAF in 1992 and took a job down in Southampton which paid nearly the same as a corporal at Aerostructures, Hamble, building the rear fuselage of the Hawk. Hated it.

My airframe repair skills were never that good and so lasted 4 months and got a live a/c job with Airworks Bournemouth……..on Chipmunks. Really enjoyed this but could not survive on the Airworks pay!

So after marriage breakdown, ditched the a/c industry, for what I though was temporary, to go to Uni in Bournemouth and took a degree in Engineering Business Development. My dream was to invent/manufacture/sell stuff to the military and make a fortune.

However…..took a year placement with the computer company ICL (now Fujitsu) which steered me into IT. Graduated in ’98. Worked for Fujitsu for 9 years. Another marriage, another divorce, no more children.

I am now a freelance IT Test consultant living in Berkshire (Wokingham) with Linda near the M4, so close to all IT companies and the big smoke. Rugby days finished far too early, fighting to stay semi-fit with cycling and gym stuff and enjoy my new love …snowboarding.

Anyone close by, would be great to catch up. (ask Hodge for H's email address)

Look forward to catching up.

Howard (H) Jones

BTW, anyone heard from Steve Monnery, Bob Swift?

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Countdown to the Triennial

Taken from the RAFHAAA website (see our Links page)

Countdown To The Triennial - Click!

Guys - this is how long we (well those of us in the UK at least!) have until the potential reunion.

Better count me out unless you all want to chip in and buy your friendly webmaster a return flight* from Melbourne . . . hint . . .

*(I'll even pay for the carbon offset . . .)