Midnight in the Boeing 737 flight simulator is called the graveyard shift, and there I was teaching two cadet pilots from China the finer points of flying jet transports. They had learnt to fly in New Zealand and just out of flying school with only 230 hours in their log books, were destined to fly the Boeing 737 as second in command. Both were landing the simulator quite safely, so I put up my feet and watched them fly without further help. The cockpit was warm, I was tired and soon my eyelids grew heavy. As the years pass, some get nostalgic for their youth and I was no exception, finding myself daydreaming of the good old days as a pilot in the RAAF and the airlines.
While dozing, my thoughts drifted back in years to the time I first flew a Sea Fury. My eyes had hardly closed when I was jolted awake by the sound of a massive crunch from the simulator, accompanied by a string of Chinese oaths. These signified that one of my students had failed to round-out at Guang Zhou International. The poor old simulator had then done a major dummy spit, and accompanied by dreadful groaning and crashing noises, the landing gear had collapsed. It was time for a coffee break and a crash reset. By some strange quirk of the sub-conscious, the impact of the simulator crashing coincided with the Sea Fury landing in my dream. Funny thing was, that I once nearly wrote off a real Sea Fury and only its sturdy Dowty undercarriage saved the day. Let me tell you the story.
After graduation in December 1952 I was posted to the RAAF fighter base at Williamtown to fly Mustangs and Vampires. While I enjoyed the hack, flick and zoom thing, I was a lousy shot and sadly lacked the skills needed to be a true fighter pilot. I could bracket a tank with my rockets, but never hit it. Despite spraying bullets all over the firing range, I rarely hit the target. I blamed this on poor harmonization of the Mustang machine guns, which I suspected were set to 250 miles instead of 250 yards. My commanding officer, a thoughtful ex-Spitfire pilot, wisely decided that Australia would be safer with me as a bomber pilot, where I was unlikely to hurt anyone with stray bullets. And so I was posted to fly Lincolns at Townsville. To my delight there was a Mustang on strength, but its guns had been removed and I was unable to practice my new found firing skills. Swamp crocodiles could rest in peace and the bombing range on Rattlesnake Island would remain a safe haven for wildlife. The Mustang was modified for target towing, and besides flying Lincolns, I spent many hours towing a drogue at which air gunners fired cannon shells.
With relief, tempered by moments of fear, I realised I wasn’t the only lousy shot in the Air Force. Our task was to chase foreign submarines. The tame ones were based at Sydney and we would fly to the RAN base at Nowra to practice the art of submarine hunting. Each year we were allowed to drop one Mk 34 homing torpedo aimed at an acoustic buoy that made submarine noises. Torpedoes were expensive, the defence budget tight, so we saw the annual torpedo drop, (all of five minutes), as a joyous occasion. The torpedo, launched from the Lincoln at 200 feet, would hit the sea, then go feral, circling the unfortunate buoy before arrowing in with the ferocity of a White Pointer. On hitting the buoy, it would broach the surface, then continue to circle until lining up for another go. After five minutes, it would run out of puff and float lazily on the surface until retrieved by a waiting rescue launch. Overhead, the Lincoln would steep turn to allow the crew to see the results of a year of waiting for this precious moment in time. Intelligence reports later revealed that most Russian submarines could out-run our torpedoes, hence the exercise was somewhat academic.
On 12th October 1953, I flew to Nowra in Lincoln A73-57, to undergo training on No 7 Joint Anti-Submarine Course. Some of our crew stayed at the Petty Officer’s Mess where we received free food and lodgings for the month. The officers in the crew were less fortunate. They stayed at the Officers Mess – in Navy parlance the Ward Room, and were charged for extra eggs at breakfast. They watched in envy as Navy officers knocked down pink gin at lunch-time, while our chaps were on the wagon till off duty. Lincoln crews spent a few days in the class room learning about Sugar Sugars and Huff Duffs (submerged submarines and high frequency direction finding). War games were played in a large hall with the floor representing the sea. Model ships and submarines were moved around under orders from Wing Commanders and Captains situated in adjacent small cubicles, while naval ratings would act as messenger boys between opposing fleets. An exploding thunder-flash would signify the end of some unfortunate ship, and umpires would toss firecrackers into the cubicles of those deemed responsible for yet another maritime disaster.
A truce was called for 20th October, and I wandered down to the hangars to look at aeroplanes. On the tarmac I saw lines of Sea Furies and Fireflies. In the hangars were Venoms and Wirraways plus a Dakota, Auster, and some helicopters. A few months earlier in Darwin, I had neatly stood a Wirraway on its nose when the brakes jammed. Notwithstanding, I decided to ask permission to borrow a Navy Wirraway for some general flying practice. One could do that sort of thing in those days; in fact it was encouraged, in order to give young Service pilots as wide experience as possible. Nowadays, - no way. Modern aircraft cost big money and the spectre of media headlines has made squadron commanders more cautious than those of the early post war days. The flight commander was a delightful chap called Lieutenant Colin Wheatley. I asked him if I could fly a Wirraway, mentioning that I had flown Mustangs and was now second dickey on Long Nose Lincolns. He was very enthusiastic and said “ Oh! – So you have flown ‘Stangs, eh? Well forget the Wirraway, how about a Fury instead?” I could hardly believe my ears and quickly accepted his offer, little realising what I had let myself in for.
From a bookshelf he handed me Pilot’s Notes Sea Fury Mk 11, and said “Read this Sergeant, and after lunch we’ll fix you up.” I spent the next two hours avidly swotting. Page 40, paragraph 63 gave advice on spinning. “Intentional spinning is prohibited. Should an accidental spin occur, normal recovery action should be applied immediately and a speed of 175 knots should be attained before recovery from the resulting dive is attempted.” Must remember that one I thought, in case I get a bit careless with aerobatics - for which paragraph 65 tabled the various speeds. Loop were flown at 320-360 knots, upward roll 350-400 knots. Heady speeds indeed after the 165 knots cruise speed of the stately Lincoln, although you could get 300 knots in a dive while pretending not to notice the flexing of the wings. Like most British engines, power was indicated as pounds of boost per square inch, rather than in manifold pressure in inches of mercury as with American aircraft. Zero boost equating to 30 inches of mercury. Then, having enjoyed the condemned’s last meal in the Petty Officers Mess, I straightened my tie and marched down the hill to the tarmac at 1300. My allotted aircraft, Sea Fury RAN 920 with its wings smartly folded in salute, was among several others on line.
A Sub-Lieutenant of my own age briefed me on emergencies, general flying, take-off technique and go around procedure. Time dims the finer details of that briefing, but I still remember a few vital points. “First thing to remember on take-off is that it swings right” said the Sub-Lieutenant. “For that reason avoid opening the throttle too fast and don’t push the tail up too early. Use +9 ½ boost and the rich mixture cuts in at +4. That’s when the swing will occur. Take-off with the canopy in the open position in case of engine failure after take-off. And very important - when you wind the canopy shut don’t let your hand slip off the handle, because if it does, the airflow will slam the canopy forward and hit the back of your head. We lost a pilot last year because of that. Finally, no spins please, and 90 knots over the fence”. Sounded like good advice, except that I felt that 90 knots over the fence was a bit slow for such a big fighter - especially after the 105 knots I had used in Mustangs. Still, I assumed that the Sub-Lieutenant knew what he was talking about and asked no more questions. Throwing my parachute nonchalantly over one shoulder I accompanied my mentor to the flight line. Approaching the aircraft, I got that nervous flutter in the pit of my stomach and wondered did I really want to fly this brute with its 2500HP Centaurus engine and massive five bladed propeller? Close up, I was surprised how high from the ground was the cockpit and how small in comparison with the size of the aircraft. I needed more time to familiarize myself with the cockpit layout and too late I began to think that perhaps I should have stuck with the Wirraway.
The walk-around complete, I climbed into the cockpit assisted by the Sub-Lieutenant and a Naval rating known as a “Pilot’s Mate”. After a further discussion on start up procedures, I was ready to go.First carry out a left to right check (in Boeings this is called the scan). Confirm ignition switch off, main fuel cock on, throttle ½ inch open, supercharger control in low gear, and park brake on. Now prime the cylinders, ignition on, select the cartridge starter, and get the all clear to start. That done, press the combined starter and booster coil push-button. There was a muffled explosion, a cloud of black smoke and a few revolutions of the propeller. Then the engine simply stopped. The Sub-Lieutenant, who was standing on the port wing leaning into the cockpit, muttered something about a jammed starter solenoid. He called this news down to the Pilot’s Mate, who had been standing at ease by the starboard wing with his hands behind his back. The Mate leapt Tarzan-like on to the starboard wheel and from there on to the wing. Astonished, I saw him produce a rubber mallet and give a resounding whack to the engine cowl in front of the windscreen. This presumably freed the offending solenoid and after springing back to the ground, the Mate gave me the thumbs up for another start. After a second cartridge was placed in the firing chamber, I checked all clear and pressed the starter button. There was another big bang with accompanying smoke and the propeller made more desultory turns and stopped. Soot from the cartridge exhaust drifted over the white uniform of the Sub-Lieutenant who was still standing on the wing, and scowling at this latest turn of events. Turned out that I had forgotten to turn on the ignition switch. Guilty as charged, Your Honour! A third cartridge was selected, ignition switch on, throttle set, and I pressed the starter button. A big bang as the cartridge fired and magnifique! -the prop spun and the engine caught on all 18 cylinders.
Adjusting the throttle to idle, I turned to the Sub-Lieutenant only to see him hopping around on the ground having been blown off the wing by the slipstream. I nearly wept with laughter! Selecting the wing-locking lever, I watched fascinated as the wings slowly lowered into place. On my signal, the Pilot’s Mate withdrew the wheel chocks and gave me a salute from the safety of the starboard wing tip. The Sub-Lieutenant had already exited stage left, shaking his head in disbelief. Having received taxi instructions from the tower controller, I released the tail-wheel lock and swung out of the lines. The long nose of the Sea Fury meant that I had to continuously weave to check ahead, meanwhile keeping an eye on the brake air pressure gauge. Each squeeze of the brake lever depleted the air reservoir and at idle rpm the air compressor was inefficient. I discovered that exhaust smoke from the engine was being drawn into the cockpit by the slipstream, and it was necessary to wear the oxygen mask while taxying. After being cleared for take-off, I did a final check of the trims, ensured the canopy was locked open, adjusted the seat, noted the position of the airspeed indicator and muttered a small incantation to the patron saint of pilots. As I gingerly opened the throttle, I noticed two red fire tenders on either side of the runway, their occupants dressed in asbestos suits (or whatever they wore in those days), helmets on and ready for battle. These chaps were serious about their job, and as I began the take-off roll, both tenders initially kept up till about 40 knots, and then rapidly fell behind.
With full left rudder trim, it was easy to keep straight with coarse rudder, while the acceleration was similar to that experienced in a Mustang. I had just raised the tail when I momentarily lost sight of the airspeed indicator. Engrossed in keeping straight and with the shattering noise of 2500HP belting my ears, I was beyond the normal 100 knot take-off speed when I found it again. After lifting off I realised that the beast was airborne at less than half throttle. If you think that improbable, then page three of the Pilots Notes states:- “ Full throttle should always be used for take-off, even though the aircraft may become airborne before a full throttle position is reached”. Now off the deck, I hurriedly pushed the throttle to full take-off power. As it went through the rich mixture cut-in point of +4 boost, the extra torque caused a rapid roll. I picked the wing up smartly and tried to raise the gear. This was no mean feat, as being rather short and with a locked shoulder harness, I could barely reach the undercarriage lever. The lever could only be raised after a safety catch was unlatched and this was a tricky one-fingered effort. The Fury porpoised a few times as I groped for the safety catch and gear combination with my right hand, while I transferred my left hand from the throttle to the stick. This ridiculous switching of hands at a critical moment of take-off was a feature of several British fighters, including the Spitfire. Finally I got the gear up and pulled the propeller pitch control back into what would normally be full coarse pitch on most aircraft – but which was called “Auto” in the Sea Fury. Henceforth the propeller pitch was controlled automatically by the throttle.
Climbing at 165 knots and passing 1500 feet, I swapped hands to close the canopy. What happened then, beggars belief. I was wearing a standard issue cloth helmet to which my goggles were attached by an elastic band. While winding the canopy handle forward my gloved hand slipped and the handle ran free under aerodynamic load. I ducked instinctively, remembering in a flash the warning from the Sub-Lieutenant of the lethality of an unlocked free-sliding canopy. The canopy slammed shut missing my head, but catching the top of my goggles. I was jerked up by the elastic band and by the force of the slipstream tugging against the goggles, which were whipping around outside the canopy. I lost sight of the instrument panel, seeing nothing but blue sky while by now the Fury was accelerating and getting badly out of trim. I was up the proverbial creek, not game to let go of the stick in order to use both hands to force the canopy open. It was sheer farce, but by now I had lost my sense of humour. In between straining with my neck to break clear of the goggles, and groping for the elevator trim to relieve the stick pressures, my head was twanged back hard several times against the top of the canopy. Meanwhile the Sea Fury was rocketing skyward at 3000 feet per minute. Fortunately, after one more savage neck pull, the elastic band snapped and my goggles disappeared below, leaving me with a sore neck and high pulse rate. I was miffed some weeks later, when explaining to a disbelieving RAAF stores officer that I had indeed lost my goggles from a Sea Fury. He was unconvinced that my story was true, adding that if I was so stupid as to beg for rides in Navy aircraft, I deserved to pay for the lost goggles.
Having regained my lost dignity, I now enjoyed myself doing steep turns, stalls in the landing configuration (I was a bit worried about spinning if I stuffed the recovery), and a few aerobatics. Apart from the high noise level inside the cockpit, the Sea Fury proved a beautiful aircraft to fly. I was surprised at how short the wings looked from the cockpit and the feather lightness of the controls even at 400 knots. The rate of roll was impressive and in retrospect, I preferred the Sea Fury to the Mustang. I felt, however, that the Mustang would be more forgiving in belly landing. Trying combinations of power settings I found that at maximum range configuration the aircraft steadied at 195 knots with only 1400 rpm. With climb power for aerobatics the speed quickly reached 400 knots. With an acceleration in a dive near that of a Vampire. I was tempted to do a vertical climbing roll, but again the thought of an inadvertent spin made me cautious, so I satisfied myself instead with numerous barrel rolls. Just before one slow roll, I aimed the Fury at a cloud for nose reference and was startled to see another aircraft coming at me head on. I broke violently then straightened up long enough to look over the port wing. Nothing seen in that direction. Glancing ahead through the bullet-proof windscreen, I again saw the same aircraft. Relieved and slightly foolish, I realized that it was only a squashed insect on the windscreen.
It was time to go home. I had trouble opening the canopy, but finally got it locked turning final. The long nose began to block my view of the runway as I caught a glimpse of the fire tenders beginning to move. Then came the second unforgettable moment of my flight. Passing the threshold, I closed the throttle and rounded out. To this day I swear it looked nice to me, with my speed was right on 90 knots, a calm day and really, I couldn’t miss… But to my horror the Sea Fury ran out of elevator, bounced heavily into the air and left me with no choice but to go around. Visions of a full power torque roll made me change my mind and I was fortunate to recover with a burst of power and frantic juggling of the stick. After that, all went well, although the aircraft seemed to slow up quickly once the tail was down. Meanwhile the fire tenders on the grass verge had shot past me and must have misjudged my stopping speed, judging from the clods of earth torn up by their skidding wheels as they changed down through a thousand gears. The penny dropped when I realized that after the first bounce I had inadvertently squeezed the brake lever on the control column, landing with the brakes partially on. No wonder the aircraft pulled up faster than anticipated by the fire tenders.
So, that is the end of the story. Well, almost.. A few years later, on November 4th, 1958, I was back at Nowra, this time in Dakota A65-65. I was now a Flight Lieutenant, which is one stripe more than a Sub-Lieutenant. There was a Sea Fury on the tarmac and we weren’t leaving till later that evening. So I walked down the hill to the tarmac and said hello to the Senior Pilot. “ Oh, so you have flown the Fury before?” said the Senior Pilot – a Navy Commander. “Did you enjoy it, old man?” Yes, I loved it I said (lying in my teeth). Any chance of doing a couple of circuits, I added? No problem, said the Man. This time I was offered Sea Fury RAN 893, issued with a bone-dome and briefed by the duty Sub-Lieutenant to use “ Around 105 knots over the fence, seeing it’s your first trip in a Fury for a few years”. 105 knots suited me fine and I told him that my previous mentor had told me to go for 90 knots. This Sub-Lieutenant was shocked and said that it was fortunate that I did not bend the aircraft, because 90 knots was just above the stall and used strictly for carrier landings. Back then, I must have missed page 42, paragraph 6b(d) of my trusty Pilot’s Notes Sea Fury which read “The recommended speed for deck landing is 90-92 knots. It is necessary to pull the control column well back to effect a three-point touch-down.” I am still looking for the first Sub-Lieutenant…
The trip in RAN 893 went off without drama and I enjoyed every minute, greasing the Fury with a tail-high wheel landing. I have flown many different types of aircraft since those days and at the time I first wrote this article was happily poling the delightful Boeing 737 around South Pacific skies. Now, long since retired to the safe job as a flight simulator instructor, I would give the world to be able to renew my acquaintance with a Sea Fury – minus the earlier frights, of course..
Its been a while since I’ve been on PPRuNe in recovery from various ailments, but I’m back in writing mode and keen to review Defence Transformation from an academic perspective.
My my most recent time in the MOD was frustrated by archaic, prescriptive rules on procurement - especially in the COTS and infrastructure arenas. Personnel wise, by the requirement to climb a greasy pole and take assignments unrelated to core expertise. And the parlous care of RAF personnel out with RAF TLB...
The exam question is, I suppose, if you could implement change in the MOD, what are the five things you’d like to see tackled? Regards, Whenurhappy
I am posting this new thread to inquire about the current situation at EVA. I am in a bit of a dilemma. Firstly, let me just say this: I am a westerner, but I was living (and working) in Asia for most of my life. So please don't give me the whole 'Asian culture is rough' talk. I know what it's like in Asia, how to deal with it, and I don't mind it in the slightest.
I am currently an FO at a regional in the US. Sitting at just under 600 121 time in the CRJ, and 2200TT. I am debating whether or not to apply to EVA. I don't want to apply, potentially be selected, and turn it down purely because I didn't think it over well enough. I think there is a potential for messing with later opportunities at EVA if I were to do that.
My wife is from Indonesia, and now that our daughter is starting to get a little bit older, I want to find somewhere where we can settle down, get the daughter ready for school, and begin to build a proper life (most likely, Indonesia, and commuting to work). The US is ridiculously expensive, and I cannot see a long future here, given our situation (No PR, citizenship etc).
I know however, if I stick it out for a little bit longer here, I will hopefully have the opportunity to upgrade to CA, which would be fantastic.
I have no issues at all with my present employer, and I have had an absolute blast in my first 121 career. Having said that, family is also very important to me, and money/current standard of living isn't too attractive for us (wife is unable to work due to immigration law).
What do y'all think? Take the plunge and give it a shot? or stick it out here for a while until I can at least upgrade? I am just asking here in the off-chance that there might be someone who is/has been in the same ship I'm in.
YES, I did read other threads, but most of it seemed full of 'Asian Culture' Issues.
I am also looking at a few other companies, namely Air Japan, and Hong Kong Airlines, however my current stats are still a bit short of their requirements. Thanks All!
I have a copy of W10 which is from a stick i.e. it is not an upgrade of 7 or 8 but a clean install on a new machine. After the last "Update" my 'lock' screen is a varying landscape each time I switch on. Since the update when I press enter to go to the sign on screen the picture blurs. Previously it remained. Am Imissing a setting or is this a "Feature"
I have an assessement beginning of august for Air Arabia Maroc. I couldnt find Information about what I could expect in there like which kind of theoretical test, simulator,etc. Has someone been there recently? Cheers
Now, after some expensive legal spatting, Crapita is confirmed to be running the Defence Fire Service for a twelve year contract ‘worth’ £525 mil..
And Serco gets £ 10 mil, just to shut up.
Given that Capita seems to be making a hash of army recruitment and recently had a ‘defence lands’ contract taken away half way through its term, one wonders what is going on ? Not helped by the infinitely variable and confusing terminology, a raft of questions arise, starting with:
Q 1. Does this contract include the RAF Fire Service that provides heroic airfield fire-fighting and rescue ? Or is this just for the ‘domestic’ non-aeroplane stuff ?
Q 2. Are the 2000-strong Defence Fire Service staff currently members of the armed forces, or are they already MoD civvies ?
British Airways suspends flights to Cairo for seven days -statement
CAIRO, July 20 (Reuters) - British Airways suspended flights to Cairo for seven days starting Saturday as a precaution to allow for an assessment of security there, the airline said in a statement.
“We constantly review our security arrangements at all our airports around the world, and have suspended flights to Cairo for seven days as a precaution to allow for further assessment,” the statement said.