Aviation

Aviation and an interest in aircraft for me was at an early age, the first such experience was being taken to an airshow somewhere north of Dundee, so long ago that I can't rightly recall the name of the base could have been HMS Condor. Anyway this seems to be the first recollection. Years passed and at age 26 in 1971 I enlisted in the RAF and took the trade of Aircraft Electrician, serving for 22 years.

The first aircraft I worked on was the Shackleton MR2 Phase3 of 8 Squadron the forerunner of the Nimrod Submarine Hunter, I was based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland. A great aircraft to learn the basics of my trade, it also was the first opportunity to venture abroad with the squadron taking part in a NATO exercise to RAF Luqa, Malta this was in 1974. 

5 squadron crest                                    Shackleton Mk2 Phase3  AEW  

Forward to 1976 and a posting to RAF Laarbruch, I was working in ASF a large hangar where we serviced Buccaneer aircraft of the resident station squadrons 15 and 16. This was an upgrade from 4 griffon piston engines to a machine which had 2 Rolls Royce Spey engines. Newer technology meant modern components and in my opinion easier to maintain. 3 years working at Laarbruch and one of my best postings as with the extra overseas allowance we managed to save a sizable deposit for buying a house on return to UK. Early on in this posting, the new Sepecat Jaguar aircraft arrived in our hangar ahead of the newly trained engineers, so we had to assist the aircraft servicing chief in doing general maintenance and several modifications.

Buccaneer    Buccaneer

Back home to RAF Binbrook in 1979 and allocated to 5 Squadron who flew the English Electric Lightnings Mk3 Mk5 and 6's. I worked in No2 hangar on second line servicing mainly, with 1st line support if required, as we had flight line mechanics to deal with the flying side of things. Absolutely over the moon to be working with the legendary aircraft. by now showing their age and which meant keeping them in the air was quite a task. Had some interesting detachments with 5 squadron on the 3 years with them, RAF Akrotiri Cyprus, Danish Air Force Aalborg, RAF Valley to name a few.

Managed 3 years on 5 Sqdn before being promoted to Sgt and was lucky enough to do another 3 years on the Lightning Training Flight, managed to get another Cyprus detachment as a swap with a guy on 5, but detachments on LTF were only to RAF Valley on Anglesey in Wales. I enjoyed my time here as electrical trade manager, good experience for sure.

5 squadron Lightning Mk6
A 5 Squadron Mk6 Lightning with a borrowed LTF intake blank

As far as my Aviation experience goes, this was the best posting I had in the RAF, the lads and team mates elsewhere, never lived up to those at RAF Binbrook which as many of you know closed down as a military base in 1988. I had 2 more postings, but none to a flying base, so that is where my own experience came to an end. I finally left the RAF from RAF Swanton Morley in 1993 having completed 22 years service.

The years after demob my interest of things aviation dwindled, with only a handful of  Airshows visited, mainly RAF Waddington, but watching was not the same as hands on experiences and as the price of Waddington airshow tickets increased, I stopped going altogether. Skip a few years and having settled down in Louth, bought a house or two then finally settled in a bungalow as the kids had up and gone, although not far, my son to Market Rasen and Daughter in Louth, 2009 I happened to bump into an old 5 squadron pal who lived in Louth also, he asked if I was interested in keeping two Lightnings in ground running condition, to which I said, "you mean they still have serviceable Lightnings" yes was the answer, and he proceeded to tell me about Bruntingthorpe airfield, Leicestershire where for quite a few years the Norris brothers who bid to MOD for the chance to buy a Lightning was successful and then of course came a second Lightning.

To cut a long story short, my pal took me down to visit the Lightning Preservation Group at Bruntingthorpe and that was me well and truly hooked on my old jets once more. It also inspired me to get my camera out of retirement and since then have captured many a photograph of our two old ladies on most visits.

Bruntigthorpe Q shed, pic by John Shearer  Bruntingthorpe

Twilight runs a Michelle Middleton pic

Unfortunately early this year Bruntingthorpe airfield was leased to a car storage company who are erecting a fence round their property, this property encroaches on the Q shed pan area by a few metres and will prevent the aircraft from being able to fast taxi on the runway, so not only are fokls in quarantine over this covid 19 virus, it looks like the aircraft are also quarantined. The Lightning Q shed and the area directly behind the fence belong to one of the airfield owners, and the intention is to build a Cold War Museum in the area behind, so not all is lost. I may still get some more photographs in 2021 if the virus crisis has died down.

One other Aviation airshow visit to RAF Scampton was an invite from a  friend Bryan Nimmo who is a member of the red arrows association in June 2019, the invite came initially from another member Ray Kennedy who was a Binbrook and ex Lightning man, he had already used up his guest allocation so Brian stepped in and invited me. It was a lovely summers day good lighting and we had an exclusive double event airshow just for the association members. We had our photos taken with the Reds after the displays which were brilliant. A barbecue lunch was also provided and paid for by Brian. It was most unexpected to have been invited, and I will remember it as a special treat.

Me and others with the reds 2019

the reds line up for start of display

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