Tuesday, 31 March 2009

New Pictures

Spot Iain Mortimer and Kev Higgins on this Westlands Puma course . . .

Kev Higgins hanging off an odd shaped rock . . .

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Pictures from Andy May

Many thanks Andy for providing these snaps . . .

Andy & Ken Switzer & 'The Tanks' on Henderson Parade ground.

The infamous Pontiac Firebird 4.1 litre . . .

Stripping paint off the Pontiac outside the 138's block

Andy on his BSA at Chivenor

Life in the RAF today

Extracted (with permission!) from an email discussion with an 139'er who's still in. "No names, no pack drill" as they say . . .

"How's life as a Chief? Put it this way, I'm older, balder and grey and I suppose a bit wiser.

At the moment it's hectic because I've had three bloody good NCO's posted out on the same day and only received one replacement so far. What with people detached, courses and leave I'm short of supervisors and am having to work down a level and do my own job as well. With old aircraft, scarce spares and a lack of manpower trying to meet the same demands proves interesting, but it's been like that for the last 10 years or so, longer.

I'll tell you one thing mate, if you came back in the mob tomorrow you wouldn't recognise it. They keep trying to keep up with civvy street. The apprenticeship went because they adopted the system that British Airways used. We just about got it up and running and BA dropped it because it was shite.

The Training has been tweaked again since. The latest is everyone is now multi skilled i.e. what we were trained to do, but where we spent three years getting our skills after a 4-6 week course we are all equal. I term myself 'proper multi skilled' not plastic multi skilled.

New trainees now come out of Cosford with the basics of all 4 trades and are effectively FLM's. After 18-24 months they then go for further training for 18 months and come out as SAC Techs, JT doesn't exist anymore, which is roughly equivalent to us when we left Halton.

The calibre of the lads coming in nowadays is nothing like our entry. Political correctness and health and safety have seriously diluted the Forces.

Halton Life - Richard Martin (Turner)

Extracted from an email discussion Rich Martin and I had . . . Rich really captures the essense of all those different aspects of our lives over three years at Halton. Amazing when you think back on it.

"I know what you mean about some of the [YouTube] videos, I now think, I was part of that (bullying)! I was the 'Corporal' that marched half of 142 entry into the Officers mess in muddy boots whilst someone else(?) purporting to be a PTI took the others for a run!

Also seems odd to me knowing everyone so closely for 3 of the most formative years of my life then that passout day starburst. People I had down as career men left (myself included!) and others like Mark Bilney, I think only 19 at passout, rising to (I think) Sqn. Ldr! Andy Bailey was always very smart (won the academic achievement trophy if I remember correct) but no apparent interest in leading - just retired as Sqn/Ldr. and Iain Mortimer, another 'young one' now crew chief on Hercs. And me, Corporal (rtd.) and never bothered to rise beyond PC in the cops. I blame too many exams at Halton, just had enough of the constant testing and will I/wont I make it!!!!! Did you get that feeling?

Funny old thing, Tony Smyth (137) joined Notts Police too (now a Chief Inspector).

I was a fairly prolific snapper and dug out the old photos last night, had a great laugh. Even got some 'official' black and whites of our passout, a copy of our last weeks timetable, my forces railcard, a handwritten bull night report from Swinderby and other bits of memorabilia (bit of a hoarder!). May try and scan some of it for the site if you're interested?

Keep up the good work - it really does invoke a mix of emotions but after all this time mainly happy ones.
  • Block raids, on the piss with the Jim (don't ***k with me I'm from Ilkeston) Boyle,
  • getting chucked out of the local pool, day trips to Selsey Bill,
  • weekends at mates homes,
  • riding Ian Cooke's Phantic moped (Illegally),
  • parades in London,
  • getting OFF parades in London with a Gen App to photograph everyone (still got the photos and still can't believe they bought that crap!),
  • breaking in to Kermode Hall to replace the Ex App Air Ranks pics with spoof B&W 'Biggles' shots taken at the camera club (Me, Littlewood, Egerton, Arden, Crowder (his gorgeous girlfriend!), Freemantle, Higgins....) Still got them shots too somewhere!
  • falling asleep at the wheel on the way back from N.Wales R&I 2 and only being saved by Keith pulling me back onto the road!
  • our unofficial flypast "139 End of an Era" banner-towing Cessna,
  • getting completely off my head in the Football Club,
  • attacking Keith whilst pissed for 'losing me' on the walk home from Wendover,
  • rallying in the woods,
  • that huge Wolfhound at a pub in the Hills (The Gate?),
  • long cross country runs,
  • nearly breaking my leg trying (and almost succeeding) in jumping the Halton Canal,
  • boxing, judo,
  • trying to beat Iain Mortimer to the title of 'most prolific skiver from parades' either with legit 'underpass' sick-chit or non-legit via the 'back way' past the Gym (did you know Donald Finlay ex-Appo./Sqn. Ldr. after which it was named was a 1936 Olympic Silver medallist?). I think Iain won that one, esp. once he was goat herd!
  • filing that f****** block of steel,
  • trying to set the timing on a 36 cylinder engine,
  • Sgt (Tools in) Lockhart at Airfields,
  • drag racing/doughnutting on the parade square,
  • cutting a Christmas tree down from the woods,
  • strippers in the NAAFI,
  • the NAAFI wagon at Kermode/workshops,
  • diving out of top floor windows onto a pile of newly delivered mattresses (any photos out there?).
  • CROWBOROUGH and being hyper on Pro-plus afterwards.
  • photo club, car club, computer club, don't like clubs club!
  • all day sessions on Attik Attak or Horace goes skiing,
  • Star Wars Sunday watching all THREE Star Wars films and drinking beer,
  • the bloody marching with the pipes and drums.
  • the flour bomb attacks of senior entry,
  • BEING senior entry,
  • incessant bulling, pressing, polishing, cleaning....bed packs, drill, band practice, drill squad (the mobile sperm bank!), Ingollotti (spelling?), Touche Turtle (Flight Commander),
  • repairing our junky cars from the local scrapper,
  • buying the 'dream cars' and posing about after finals (my practical car of choice being a 3.5 litre Rover)!
  • those great last few days just dossing around feeling King of the Hill before passout and then that really weird feeling as we packed our bags and left for the last time.
And you tell it to the kids today.................Init?

I'm sure I can drag up more but I need something to talk about over a beer!"