Welcome. The idea was floated that a ‘talk amongst yourselves’ blog would be a good addition to for the Non-Facebook Crowd. Here it is.
I hopped a C-141 from Rhein-Main and had exactly 7 days to see London. Well, 5 days including transportation.
Which, of course, was not enough time.
But I hope to convey a bit of a sense of the period – 39 years ago…
If you have ever been to #10 Downing St, the PM’s residence, you are surprised at how small it seems.
And traditionally with one policeman guarding it, I wonder how they dealt with the IRA during this time.
…around Buckingham Palace
Royal Navy Headquarters
BTW I acquired my taste for Newcastle Brown Ale during this week
Wandering around my scanned slides, and knowing our own HogdayAfternoon is a Londoner, I thought he (& you) would get a kick out of some of these pictures. These photos were made in Dec 1974, just a few weeks before I was to be discharged.
And admittedly I saw only a tiny sliver of Britain, London, Greenwich (where all that Zulu stuff comes from ) – think I took a tour or 2 out in the country.
Only had a week so I really had to see things the tourist way.
Being a Spec/4 making the sum of $400/month I still managed to find a place to stay in London – someone’s home (is there a Victoria area of London HD?)
As I recall the house was a bit on the dirty side but huge breakfasts – a typical British breakfast bangers (sausage – bacon, etc) – then each day I decided what to see.
What I did see made me want to come back and see more – 39 years and counting
One of the highlights was – like a trip to Manhattan in 2005 – I had to see a play on the west end. And looking back I happened to pick one of the memorable plays – by a memorable cast – in West End history.
Pygmalion, with Diana Rigg.
And being a lowly Spec/4 (that’s Corporal to the rest of the world) and being in jeans -not appropriate for the theater at the time – I managed to get Standing Room Only for 3 pounds.
If there is a quintessential British play on any short list would be G.B. Shaw’s (Britain and America are 2 countries separated by a common language) Pygmalion, about a professor’s bet that he could turn a poor London street girl, Eliza Doolittle, into a proper British lady speaking the Queen’s English.
Anyway, I hopped an Air Force C141 from Rhein-Main with a promise to the Sgt and CO that I would be pack in precisely 7 days.
There’s a funny story about how that turned out which I’ll tell in a later installment.
Anyway I’ll make this into 2-3 installments & try to only upload the pics that give you a sense of London – 39 years ago.
Hope you enjoy it.
…the train station by R.A.F. Mildenhall
On the way in, stopped at Cambridge..
Victoria Station, of course!
That is Diana to the left – sure my picture was against theater rules but I am sure the statute of limitations has arrived.
Or if not do you know a good barrister HD? Is Rumpole still around?
I’ll show some more tomorrow – will try to leave out the overtly tourist things and give you a flavor, er, flavour, of London nearly 40 years ago.
What we have here . . . is a failure to communicate.
You wouldn't think it would be so hard for crewmembers to communicate in flight--we have the technology; interphone, PA system, headsets and handsets--even our oxygen masks on the flight deck are wired for sound.
Nonetheless, once the cockpit door is closed, communication dies a slow, miserable death and as captain--it's YOU taking the Cool Hand Luke beating from the Road Boss.
We were assigned the yo-yo tanker for the early morning wasex (war at sea) launch. We being me and Joe.
One might ask what the heck is a yo-yo tanker? Well, a yo-yo tanker is either a good deal or a bad deal, depending on the viewpoint one wants to adopt.
A yo-yo tanker is usually the first jet launched off the carrier, in this case the USS Constellation. The tanker has a full load of jet fuel, climbs to on station, and awaits the strike force which will launch after the tanker.
The tanker quickly passes all the fuel he can to the fighters and bombers and sends them on their merry way to whatever target or adversary is out there and is the subject wanting the attention of so many of the Navy’s finest.
Once all the fuel the tanker can afford to give away is gone, the tanker goes right back down to the pattern and traps on the ship. Then the tanker hot pumps (is refueled on deck while still running), taxis to the nearest catapult, and is launched again to be available to the returning fighters and bombers who have burned up all of Uncle Sam’s precious fuel–being the purveyors of destruction and fast flight that they are.
The good deal part of all this is the tanker crew gets to bag two cat shots and two traps whilst the other mortals on the same launch get just one apiece.
The bad deal part of all this is the tanker crew is just that, a tanker crew. The other planes have left on a mission, they are going to practice dropping ordinance on some target and chasing bad guys around the pretend hostile sky. Droning around with a fuel hose out the back end is not the epitome of coolness. You have to adopt an attitude that works for you.
On this day Joe and I punched off the pointy end of the ship in our KA-6D while it was still dark. There was a pinkish edge to the horizon, which was an absolute bonus thing to see as the tanker accelerated off the bow into what could have been the deepest of dark black places in the sky. You take all the help offered, a horizon is always good for the soul.
Joe and I climbed up to about 20,000′ in the direction of the target and took up a left orbit. Soon the fighters showed up and one by one they sucked up all the fuel we could give for the moment. Calculating how much fuel to give away is an art and a survival tactic. The art part comes with giving away as much as you possibly can to those who will really need the fuel to accomplish the mission. Typically the fighter guys, F-14′s in this case, will take every ounce a tanker will give. If it weren’t for safeguards on the tanker the turkeys could suck out all the fuel the tanker owns and leave it in a flameout. The survival part is conniving as best as one can the anticipated time the tanker will land back on the ship. Give away as much fuel as possible but still have enough to loiter around until the ship has a clear landing area. Miscalculating and being too conservative means the strike force leaves with not as much fuel as they thought they would have. Being a liberal with the fuel give away might up the pucker factor greatly when the ship relays that it won’t be ready to recover aircraft when you thought it would.
On this occasion the ship let us know that it would at least 20 minutes or so longer than we anticipated before we could recover. And they let us know before we gave away that 20 minutes extra fuel. Nice.
So there we were, droning around in the sky all our own. Everybody else had left. Joe and I were simply enjoying the quiet interlude as we waited for the deck to be ready.
The pinkish twinge on the horizon turned to a bit of orange, and then a glorious burst of orange, Joe and I got to watch a spectacular sunrise at sea. The rim of the sun came out of the sea and mist with all the majesty Our Creator can muster. As sunrises go, this one was a lollapalooza. Just flat awesome. Aviation gives us bonuses once in a while.
Joe remarked that we had just seen one heck of a sunrise, he wished he could see it again.
Sometimes you get a request you can grant.
I rolled the jet over, pulled the nose down, and we dropped about 15,000′ or so quickly, then started a climb. Our descent had put us below the horizon relative to the sun.
As we climbed upward we got to watch the beautiful sunrise all over again.
Remembering that morning still makes me smile.
When I got to my second duty station, a NATO radar bunker about equidistant from Trier and Bernkastel on the Moselle River (but east – picture a triangle) we had 24 hours on duty and 24 off.
So most of my trips were day trips -
One day, I just hopped on a regional train with the idea of seeing Luxembourg. Got off the train and started walking.
Didn’t know what to expect, but after seeing boulevards named after FDR and General George Patton, I knew value these people put in America during the battle of Dec, 1944.
You can discover it in the same sequence I did.
My caption for the above photo says “Main Boulevard and Embassy Row”
…General Patton’s grave is “front and center”, reviewing his men