Raf self control part 1 - RAF Cosford Air Show

Dressed for the first time in our new KD shirts and shorts we set out for the cookhouse in the main part of the camp. Most of the buildings we passed were of single storey white rendered construction with very small windows. The large barrack blocks were similar but each had a tall pitched roof covering four rooms, each of twenty beds. The impressive diameter of the rainwater drain pipes suggested that although rain might be an occasional commodity hereabouts its rarity might be expected to be offset by its volume. The familiar smell of greasy bacon attracted us to the correct building, but on entering we were shocked to be greeted with a huge roar of "Moon-men, moon-men, moon-men" from those breakfasters already assembled, followed by a chorus of wolf-whistles and offers of immediate over-intimate friendship. We quickly understood that this was no more than the usual El Adem greeting to newcomers, so returned the saucy banter with suitable negative rejoinders in the same style and then we were allowed to enjoy the worldwide standard RAF breakfast of tinned tomatoes and polyurethane fried egg.

Flying was generally very interesting and demanding.  Working with various units of the Army, we transported troops in the cabin and had them exit by landing, low hovering, abseiling and parachuting.  We flew military and civilian casevac flights into such hospitals as Stoke Mandeville.  We flew all kinds of underslung loads ranging from rations to small field guns.  On one occasion at Gillingham I had a rubber inflatable boat as a slung load.  The thing went berserk over 30 knots!  We dropped dummy mines with large rubber skirts to slow their descent.  As a twist on this we had a platform fastened to the side of the helicopter with a drop down ramp.  We had to fly slowly with the end of the ramp touching the ground as mines were fed from the cabin onto the platform to slide down the ramp onto the ground. Exercises took place in all the military areas on Salisbury Plain, Brecon, Somerset, etc.  Some took place in Northern Ireland and even on the mainland of Europe.  We also practiced winching survivors.  Navigation was by eyeball and topographical map, quite difficult when the right hand cannot release the stick as, with full servo powered controls, it would just fall by gravity in whichever direction it was taken, with the main rotor and thus the helicopter following suit.  It was possible to apply the friction lock to the lever.  This was sensible in the case of the Mark 10 with its computer controlled rotor speed.  In the case of the piston engined aircraft one had to lock the throttle as well but doing this had its disadvantages and even dangers.  So essentially, the Whirlwind, like the Sycamore, was a handful with no free hand to read a map and the necessity to “fly” the aircraft continually without let up, a helicopter, unlike an aeroplane being both dynamically and statically unstable.  These military machines had no automatic stabilisation system.  No Whirlwind, except perhaps those of Queens Flight, had any form of heating or cooling for the pilot or the passengers!

RAF Self Control Part 1RAF Self Control Part 1RAF Self Control Part 1RAF Self Control Part 1