1985 – 89 Part 2


January to March 26th:

Believe it or not I did absolutely no spotting from the 1st of January until the 27th of March 1987.

March 27th:

I arrived a London-Gatwick airport courtesy of a friend of mine called Dorothy George (RIP); Dorothy was a Sister at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow, Essex. We had become friends over a number of years as a result of my work as a Traffic Police Officer and hers in the Casualty Department at the hospital.

Goodbyes and thank you said I went into the Terminal and checked-in for my first flight of many to come! Having checked-in I then went through security with my hand luggage and it’ll probably come as no surprise that I did a bit of spotting! From my ‘airside vantage point I could see two aircraft of interest to me, one a Canadian Armed Forces / Air Force Boeing CC-137 serial 13701 and a Canadian Armed Forces / Air Force Lockheed C-130 serial 130328, that in my book is a good start.

My flight was called and I made my way to the appropriate gate; I boarded N604US a Boeing 747-151 of Northwest Orient airlines flight number NW 49, I was finally on my way to Boston, Massachusetts, USA. It had been seven long years since my first visit there back in October 1980. This time I was with a different group of aviation enthusiasts. Take off from Gatwick for this flight was 18:35 local time, so I settled back to enjoy the flight. But we knew when we took off that we would not make out connecting flight due to our flight leaving so late in the day due to the weather this side of the Atlantic Ocean; still that was not my worry for the next few hours and reclined my seat as far as possible and got some sleep.

We arrived at Boston Logan International airport at 01:30 UK time or 20:30 Eastern Time / local. During the delay at Gatwick the tour organiser had been able to secure accommodation for the group at a hotel at Boston Logan Airport (BOS) so none of us delayed in getting straight into bed!

The next day our flight was really early leaving as it did at 07:45 which for us meant being there at least an hour beforehand for check-in and security etc. This flight was aboard a Boeing 727-200 registration N206US also of Northwest Orient down to Washington DC (DCA) Take off by some miracle of science, physics and chemistry was at 07:45 and we landed one hour twenty minutes later at 09:05 ET

Having put our luggage on our bus we were driven towards our first base for a visit at Andrews AFB/NAS. On route to Andrews we passed Anacostia Naval Yard where there was a Gate Guard in the guise of a T-28B Trojan BuNo 137796, this was the first of many numbers  to come!

Our first authorised base tour began at NAS Andrews, MD with a good few of the then based McDD F-4S Phantom II’s coded MG of VMFA-321. There were three C-9C Nightingales and a Lockheed P-3B Orion BuNo 152735 which notes reveal the aircraft went to NASA as N426NA parked together with another ten or so P-3 Orion’s of VP-68. Also on the USN/USMC ramp at the time of the visit were a number of other US Navy and Marines aerial assets such as four F/A-18A Hornets of VFA-15, a TA-4 Skyhawk of TW-3, a T-34C of TW-5, an EA-6 of VAQ-134 and two A-7E’s of VA-48, so a very good start to our visit.

Over to the 58th MAS which was ‘Guarded’ by a F-105D Thunderchief 61-0041 in what I’ve called ANG markings. Also on display as a VC-140B which wore the serial ‘89001’ which is as far as I can determine is a false serial as this aircraft never actually served with the USAF. A further preserved aircraft was a Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star, which I now find is preserved at Washington-Dulles International Airport (KIAD). Other preserved aircraft at Andrews included an F-106B serial 57-2523 which I see now (March 2023) is preserved at Atlantic City IAP, NJ. A Bell UH-1B Huey serial 62-12554, which is now stored at the Fort Rucker Museum AL, USA was also on display. Finally for now there was a Grumman F6F5 Hellcat serial 77722 coded 22.

On this ramp there were a good number of the based McDD F-4D Phantom II’s of the 121st TFS DC ANG all coded DC on the tails of the aircraft.

Visiting was an RF-4C 64-1055 coded BH which was from the 106th TRS Alabama ANG together with another RF-4C 66-0410 coded SW of the 363rd TFW based at Shaw AFB SC. Sitting alongside these was an F-111D 68-0133 coded CC which indicated it came from the 27th TFW at Cannon AFB NM. Also visiting on the day of our visit was a Belgian Air Force (BLu) C-130H Hercules serial CH-08, I did not make a note of the Squadron. Another Belgian visitor was CB-02 a Boeing 727. Not far along the Visitors Ramp was a Boeing KC-137 (Boeing 707-345C) serial 2401 of 2/2 GT Brazilian AF.

Leaving Andrews AFB / NAS we headed towards Bolling AFB in the District of Columbia; here the Gate Guardian was and still is to date (03/2023) a Republic F-105D Thunderchief serial 61-0138 coded RU on its tail.

Our next stop that day was at the National Air & Space Museum (Smithsonian) on Washington Mall, DC. This is a well-documented museum so I will not begin to list the aircraft seen during our visit there. Suffice to say our day ended there on a very high note which entailed a lot of cross checking amongst us to see if we had got the serials, codes etc. all correct, don’t forget 1987 was well before the days of the like of Google!

Early the following day the 29th we were at Washington National Airport [DCA] for our very early flight to Detroit MI. Our flight that day was on a former Republic Airlines, now Northwest Orient Boeing 757-2S7 registration N602RC flight number NW341. Departure was at 07:35 ET and we landed at DTW one hour later at 08:35 ET. We then had a couple of hours wait at DTW before boarding a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31 registration N958N flight number NW160 for our short flight to Toronto Pearson International [YYZ]. Take off was at 10:35 landing forty minutes later at YYZ at 11:15 local time.

Together with our luggage we were then given a tour of the ramps at Toronto International, of interest to me were only a few aircraft one of which was a Cubana Tupolov Tu-154 registration CU-T1227. Others that interested me were a former USMC C-117D now wearing Canadian AF markings and serial of 12420, marked 6C-055, a CC-109 Cosmopolitan and two CL-41 Tutors. I’m pretty sure that the civilian minded in our group came away from there with a lot more registrations than I did!

Later in the day and again as a group we went to the waterfront close to Toronto Island airport where there was an AVRO Lancaster serial FM104 (British RAF serial) preserved on what enthusiasts call a ‘pole’ which is normally a large concrete or steel structure to support the weight of the aircraft.

At 20:50 the same evening we departed YYZ on another DC9-31 this time registration N9337 flight number NW185 back to DTW landing back there at 20:40 local time! At 22:50 that same evening we left DTW aboard yet another DC9-31 this time registration N960N bound for Milwaukee Wisconsin [MKE] where we arrived at 22:35 local time (Central Time) but having taken only forty five minutes in doing so. To say the least, it had been a long but none the less rewarding day.


We went from the overnight hotel by road (Bus) to Milwaukee General Mitchel Field which at the time of my visit was home to the 126th ARS using the KC-135 Stratotanker, seven of these were noted. Also located on the same base were the C-130 Hercules’ of the 95th TAS, AFRES[1], five of which were noted. Visitors noted on the day were a T-38 serial 67-14853 coded 3, and an O-2A coded JG – 1096 of the JSDF

Moving on from there our next stop was at L J Timmerman Field where there was nothing of interest to me as it was all civil light aviation, such as Cessna’s and Pipers.

Moving on further we came to Oshkosh Wittman Field famous for the EAA shows held over the post war[2] period

Wittman Field is ‘Guarded’ by an North American F-86H serial 52-1993 coded FU-993. As well as being an active airfield there is a large museum located here and we were fortunate to see no less than ten DC-3/C-47s four of which formerly with the French Air Force, the first one of theses that I saw was wearing an American civil registration N48406 it had also been N95BF and its FrAF serial was No. 6! Needless to say this was a very interesting visit and one that I have yet to repeat.

Having been bused to Appleton airport (ATW) we boarded our next flight. This time it was a little bit different as the aircraft had two propellers! The aircraft was a Convair CV.880 registration N4085C of Northwest Orient operation flight NW949 to Minneapolis-St Paul International MSP MN/Minnesota. Take off was at 19:25 local time arriving at MSP at 20:15 local time. We then had a couple of hours wait for our next flight to GFK/Grand Forks ND.

Departing from MSP to GFK at 22:00 local time we landed at GFK fifty minutes later at 22:50 and from there delivered by bus to our overnight hotel. Overnight is stretching the imagination a fair bit as we had a very busy day the following day.


Today had yet another treat instore for us as we were going to Grand Forks AFB ND; on the gate here were three preserved airframes. The first was an RF-86D serial 53-0719, then an A-26 serial 44-35493 but wearing ‘43-4420‘ and finally a UH-1F Huey serial 65-7561 which were very welcome.

On the 37th ARRS {Aerospace Rescue & Recovery Squadron] line were five of their HH-1H Huey helicopters.

On the 319th BW [Bomb Wing) there were ten of their KC-135A and KC-135E Stratotankers one of which, 58-0110 our group were permitted to board and have a good look around.

From Grand Forks AFB, ND we were then driven to our next base visit at via Interstate I-29 at Fargo – Hector Field home of the 178th FIS (Fighter Interceptor Squadron) ANG, The Happy Hooligans, using the F-4D Phantom II’s.

This base was ‘guarded’ by an F-89J serial 53-2465, an F-102A serial shown as 55-3532 and a F-101 again serial shown as 58-0341, all of which were  ex 178th FIS. Also on the Wrecks & Relics side of things we saw an F-101B serial 58-0311 and an A-26 serial shown as 44-35523 and lastly a DC-3/C-47 marked 9301 coded ‘37’.

We saw fifteen of the F-4D’s, three of which I had seen previously when they were assigned to the 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath in England, U.K. The 178th F-4D’s wore a red fin band that was outlined in black with ‘The Happy Hooligans’ in white on the red of the fin band.

An interesting sighting to me was a C-130A serial 56-487 that was formerly with the DC ANG and now (at the time of the visit) wearing ND ANG markings. Also of interest were two Lockheed T-33A’s of the 178th FIS one of which I confirmed as serial 53-5326 but the second I could only see the last two digits which I recorded as ‘68’ but possibly ‘88’. I still need to do some more research on airframes from nearly forty years ago!

That same afternoon we boarded a Boeing 757-251 of Northwest registration N502US flight number NW 514 as we were bound for Minneapolis – St Paul (MSP), Minnesota (MN). We departed at 16:15 local time and landed at 16:50 local at MSP.

We were fortunate to see a mixture of seven AFRes and ANG C-130D & E Hercules on the ramps.

A few hours later we once again boarded another Boeing 757-251, this time the registration was N517US also Northwest flight number NW 515 bound for KMCI/Kansas City MO. Departure was at 19:40 local time and arrival some fifty five minutes later at 20:35 local time.


As with all these ‘spotters’ trip there was another early start to the first day of April; once aboard the bus it was off to I29 south to I635 and finally I70 to our first destination of the day Forbes Field, Topeka, KS

Preserved on the base were the following aircraft; a North American F-84 which wore a serial of 52-6458 whether that is a fictitious serial or not I do not know as I cannot find it listed anywhere. There was also a preserved Martin EB-57E serial 55-4260, not too far from it was a Bell UH-1H serial 64-13569.

Forbes Field in 1987 was home to the 117th ARS, Kansas ANG using the KC-135E Stratotanker. We saw seven of their tankers on the ramps, also seen was a Convair C-131B serial 53-7821.

Not too far from the active ANG ramps was the Combat Air Museum which as it is another well documented museum so I will not go into too much details as to its exhibits. Needless to say there were some very interesting exhibits like the remains of a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina which wore a civilian registration N4760C and was previously a BuNo of 33993, a DHC L-20A/U-6A Beaver serial number (0-)58-2063 which later went onto a civil registration of N734Q and as far as I’m aware ended up flying in Alaska (AK).

From Forbes Field we were driven down I70 to our next stop of the day which was Richards-Gebaur AFB, MO (Missouri) which at the time of our visit was the home of the 303rd TFS using the Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II with the tail code of KC. We were fortunate to see eighteen of these A-10A’s which included access to two hangars. Also seen on the visit were the remains of a Lockheed C-130A Hercules serial number 56-0512 which I understand was scrapped on site.

From Richards-Gebaur AFB we were driven back to KMCI/MCI Kansas City MO for the next leg of our journey, this would be to fly back to KMSP/MSP/Minneapolis St-Paul. The flight this time was on a McDonnell-Douglas DC9-50 registration N772NC flight number NW 226; flight times were 19:35 to 20:35.

From Minneapolis St-Paul/MSP we flew on a DC-30 registration N9333 flight number NW 408 bound for St Louis MO / KSTL. Flight times were 22:05 to 23:10 and I have to assume they were both local times!

The following morning April 2nd 1987 we were afforded the privilege of visit what was then the McDonnell-Douglas now Boeing facility situated at Lambert Field, St Louis and given a full tour.

At the time this facility was “guarded” by an F-100A Super Sabre and marked as ‘53-1667’ which research shows was supplied under the US Military Aid Programme (MAP) in May 1960 to ROCAF / Republic of China Air Force aka Taiwan. Quite where this aircraft is today is a mystery to me as I can find no record of it!

During the visit we were able to see twenty two of the 110th TFS, 131st TFW ANG McDonnell-Douglas F-4E’s coded SL and an RF-4C coded SW identifying it to come from Shaw AFB SC which later went to the ROCAF/ Taiwan wearing the same serial number of 64-1009.

There were also four Lockheed T-33A Shooting Stars one of which (56-1652) went to the Ecuadorian AF as serial number FAC 607. There were three other T-33A’s serials 56-1740, 57-0707 and 57-0716. 1740 and 0716 remained with the 110th TFS while 0707 went to the Uruguayan AF as serial 209.

Further along the lines of aircraft were two AV-8Bs both destined for VMAT-203 USMC coded KD 34 & KD 35, which I strongly believe are BuNo’s 163686 & 163201 respectively.

Moving a bit further down the ramp were five EF/A-18A & 18B’s destined for the Ejercito Del Aire [Spanish Air Force] of which three were the EF-18A’s, a lone EF/18B and one totally unreadable.

Also seen but never identified were the remains of a McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom and the wreck of a McDonnell-Douglas AV-8 with the word NASA thereon.

At 19:35 that evening our DC-9-50 N772NC took off from KSTL towards our destination of KMEM / Memphis TN where we landed at 20:15 local. Thirty minutes later we took off from KMEM towards our next destination and night stop of KLAS / Las Vegas NV. Our flight was on a Boeing 727-200 flight number NW 857 leaving Memphis at 20:45 and landing at 23:50 in Las Vegas, NV.

As was the standard for this trip the next day the 3rd was yet another early start our base visit this time was Nellis AFB NV. My log book for the visit shows some seven pages of serials and BuNo’s, therefore at 22 lines per page that was approximately one hundred and fifty six numbers that we could actually read off, let alone the hundred plus that we couldn’t! Needless to say I am still picking up bit of information in regard to this ‘Flag’ exercise to this very day.

All too soon it was time to head back to Las Vegas McCarran airport / KLAS for our next flight sector. This time our flight was on and MD-80 of PSA registration N926PS for the trip to San Francisco / KSFO; take off to touchdown was 15:20 to 16:25 PST, flight number PS 1887. We had a thirty five minute technical stop at KSFO before taking off on the same aircraft with same flight number for our goal that afternoon of Seattle / KSEA WA. Departure was at 17:00 local and touchdown was 18:35 where we had an early night for a change!

April 4th: the day started really early as we were at our first base Snohomish County Airport at 07:20. Here we were to see nine Boeing CH-47B’s of the 215th Aviation Company Army National Guard / ArNG and the 92nd Avn Co. ArNG. Also at this location were two Piasecki HH-21 Workhorse/Shawnee helicopters serials 53-4323 & 53-4334, also seen was a US ArNG UH-1 serial 66-16298 along with a DC-3/C-47 with no Military history wearing the registration N91314.

Moving on from there our next visit was to Boeing Field King County / KBFI at 09:25 PST!

The highlights here were a mixture of one Saudi Air Force E-3A [Srl. 1805] six and KE-3A AWACS [1811, 1813, 1815, 1816, 1817 and 1818 all parked in a line on the delivery ramp. These were an excellent start to our visit here and were welcome additions to the Saudi AF aircraft that I had previously seen. Another nice sighting was the JE-3C [AWACS] Boeing test aircraft serial number 73-1674.

At the time of our visit there were very few assets at Boeing’s Museum of Flight, but they di include the following,

51-7066 a Martin WB-57E, 59-4987 a Northrop YF-5A, 131232 a Grumman F9-F8 Cougar, and 53-4329 an HH-21B that was also registered N6794 and a North American P-51D wearing a serial 44-74600

Also seen were the following N60659 a Boeing 747SP in primer with Rolls-Royce engine fitted, and the Boeing 757 prototype N757A.

A short drive later we were deposited back at KSEA / Seattle International Airport in good time for our next flight. This was from KSEA back to KSFO; this flight was aboard an MD-80 registration N932PS and our flight number was PS 1784. We took off at 13:15 and 1 hour 35 minutes later landed back at KSFO at 14:50 local time. The only aircraft to warrant my attention was a USCG [Unite States Coast Guard] HH-3F Pelican 1480.

Our next scheduled flight was not until the following day so I and a couple of others headed down to Fisherman’s Wharf. I and the others then had a five minute flight from 17:05 to 17:10 in a Bell 206 Jet Ranger registration N57416 from the Wharf down towards the Golden Gate Bridge then back in via Alcatraz the legendary prison in San Francisco harbour. The rest of the day we spent on the ground sightseeing and eating!

April 5th:

A reasonable start to the day as our flight wasn’t until 12:30 so at least it gave us time for breakfast and a much needed cup of coffee! We arrived in good time so that the civil enthusiast amongst us could make good use of their time at KSFO. This flight was another ‘first’ for me in that it was to Honolulu HI, the aircraft was a McDonnell-Douglas DC10-40 registration N148US flight number NW 061. Take off was spot on 12:30 and we headed off across the Pacific Ocean towards the Hawaiian Islands. Four hours fifty five minutes later at 17:25 local time we landed at KHNL / Honolulu International Airport which shares the runway with Hickam AFB HI.

According to my notebook our visit to Hickam AFB was not long after we landed. There was a mixture of KC, EC and a C-135C either on the ramps or in the case of the C-135C in a hangar. As luck would have it I had previously seen the C-135C but I did ‘make’ a KC-135A and two EC-135J’s of the 9th ACCS. There was also a KC-135A of the New Hampshire ANG serial number 58-0078, a KC-10A of the 22nd ARW serial 79-1949.

I was able to see seven of the based 15th ABW Lockheed T-33A’s while on the visit, all of which from research shows the went to the Royal Thai AF later in their lives.

A very welcome visitor to Hickam AFB for me was Canadian AF Bombardier Challenger serial 144613 which I had not seen previously.

Other aircraft seen prior to the conclusion of our visit were as follow; A Douglas A-26C Invader serial 44-35596 coded BC-596, a North American F-86E serial 50-0653 coded FU-653, a McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II serial 63-7540 of the 199th FIS and an OV-10A of the 22nd TASS serial 67-14636, this I have learnt went to the Philippines

6th April:

Our first visit of the day was to Wheeler Army Base; the Gate was ‘guarded’ by a replica Curtiss P-40E Kittyhawk wearing serial 39111 and a Cessna O-2A[3] Skymaster serial 68-11144. Also seen on base during the visit was a McDonnell F-101A Voodoo serial 58-0324.

We were fortunate to see eleven NA/Rockwell OV-10A Broncos of the 22nd TASS all coded ‘WH’ indication that they were from Wheeler Army Base, Oahu, HI.

Next stop was at Barbers Point Naval Air Station & Coast Guard Station, which had a McDonnel-Douglas F-4N Phantom II BuNo 152291 coded 101 as the Gate Guard.

The predominance of aircraft here were the Lockheed P-3B and P-3C Orion’s of VP-2 & VP-4 of which we saw nineteen.

There were nine Boeing CH-47C’s of the 147th Aviation Company US Army also present.

Also seen were limited numbers of aircraft like the Lockheed EC-130Q of VQ-4, a number of Kaman SH-2 Seasprite helicopters, five McDonnell-Douglas TA-4J’s Skyhawk’s of VC-1, three Sikorsky CH-53A Sea Stallions, two Douglas EA-3B Skywarrior’s of VQ-1 and a lone Beechcraft T-34A Mentor.

Over at the USCG site there were two Lockheed HC-130H Hercules consecutively numbered 1601 and 1602 together with three consecutively numbered Sikorsky HH-52A helicopters serials of 1355, 1356 & 1357.

Our next stop of the day was at a facility called AVMAT which if memory serves me well was very close to Honolulu International Airport (KHNL) and was a storage come reclamation yard. The contents of the yard included three Cessna O-2A Skymaster’s, three Lockheed T-33A Shooting Stars, and a Convair C-131 Samaritan which all these years later I have still not identified!

From there it was a short hop to Hickam AFB; here there was an eclectic mix of Cargo and Fighter aircraft.

I suppose at the time the ‘highlight’ was probably an Australian AF Boeing 707-338C serial A20-624, this is basically what the USAF KC-135 was derived from. There were eight Lockheed C-141 Starlifters, two Lockheed WC-130E Hercules of the 54th WRS [Weather Reconnaissance Squadron] The aircraft would be sent to fly into the eye of a hurricane; not the sort of flight I’d like to undertake then or now! There was also a Lockheed C-5A Galaxy, one Boeing KC-135A of the 68th ARG and one Boeing EC-135K of the 8th TDCS. The other ‘prize’ for the day thus far were three McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II’s and three US Navy A-3 Skywarrior’s.

Moving swiftly on our penultimate stop of the day was at MCAS [Marine Corps Air Station] Kaneohe Bay, which was guarded by an LTV [Ling Tempo Vought] F-8K BuNo 146973 coded WT-10.

This was helicopter heaven for us ‘spotters’, there must have been in excess of forty  Boeing-Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight’s, twenty plus Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallions of HMH-463, four Bell UH-1s, about thirty McDD F-4 Phantom II’s of VMFA 212 & VMFA 232 and just four McDonnell-Douglas A-4 Skyhawk’s of H&MS-24.

Unfortunately the visit was marred by one of the visitors (us) when we were on a hangar tour of the F-4 Phantoms. We were told in no uncertain terms that photography in the hangar was strictly forbidden; well it seems that someone in our group didn’t understand the forbidden bit. As a direct consequence we ALL had to hand our film in to the base security and the visit came to a very swift end. Needless to say we never saw our films again, which for us was very disappointing and very annoying.

From MCAS Kaneohe it was back to KHNL for the return flight to the mainland, our flight was scheduled for 15:45. In the event we’d arrived in plenty of time to do a bit more spotting before boarding the flight to Los Angeles [KLAX]

I was delighted that while waiting six General Dynamic F-16C Fighting Falcons / Vipers landed at KHNL, it transpires that the six aircraft were a delivery flight to the 432nd TFW [Tactical Fighter Wing] Misawa Air Base in Japan. These F-16s were being tanked across the Pacific Ocean by a McDonnell Douglas KC-10A serial 79-1947 of the 452nd ARW [Air Refuelling Wing] for me after the earlier incident at Kaneohe that was a fabulous end to my visit to Oahu, HI

The flight from KHNL to KLAX was aboard an American Airline McDonnell-Douglas DC10-30 registration N141AA. Take off was at 15:55 local time and landing was four hours forty five minutes later at KLAX at 20:40 local time. Bed was a very welcome sight that night!

April 9th:

After a leisurely start, in ‘spotters terms’ to the day we set off back to KLAX for the next part of our journey. We were bound for Phoenix AZ; this time the flight was on an MD-80 registration N948PS which was on the Californian airline PSA and the flight number was PS 1712. Take off was at 12:45 local time and landing was at 13:55 local at PHX [Phoenix Sky Harbor, AZ]

From the airport terminal we were able to see six Boeing KC-135s of the Arizona Air National Guard (ANG) two of which I noted had been seen previously, presumably in the U.K.

There were four Gate Guards which included a Republic F-84F, a North American F-86, North American F-100 and a Lockheed F-104C Starfighter but wearing a West German Air Force serial of 40+75, its true identity being 56-0892.

We were then driven by all the flight lines passing by as we did a Flight Systems Incorporated NA F-100 Super Sabre registration N80FS, a US Navy T-2A Buckeye, four McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II’s of the 35th TTW coded GA, two Bell UH-1’s coded LA and a lone T-38A.

There were fifty (50) plus McDonnell Douglas F-15s Strike Eagles and sixty (60) plus General Dynamics F-16A/B/C/D Fight Falcons / Vipers. Amongst the Eagles and Vipers there were six more 35th TFW F-4E’s one of which (67-0229) had two MiG kills accredited to it.

I can only say; what a visit and a privilege!

On the way back to our hotel we stopped off at Goodyear – Chandler airfield, where there were only three visible aircraft they being a Douglas DC-7 N777EA, a Douglas DC-3 N5000E and lastly a Caravelle N1000U, the last two of which were owned and operated by Goodyear Aerospace.

April 10th:

Yes, another early start as we were at Falcon Field, Mesa, AZ by 08:40! Here was a good selection of aircraft that had been withdrawn from service, stored and relatively new aircraft. I guess here the ‘highlight’ for some of us were eight Grumman S-2F-1 Trackers that had formerly been in US Navy service but were on their way to the Japanese Maritime Self Defence Force [JMSDF].  Another particular ‘highlight’ for me was seeing three AH-64A Apaches, serials were 83-23359 / PV.05, 83-23822 / PV.47 and 82-23824 / PV.49 all fresh off the production lines at the Mesa facility.

Other types seen were six Sikorsky HH-19 helicopters, a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress and four Douglas C-54/DC-4s all of which had been retired from US Navy service.

Next on the day’s itinerary was a visit to Williams AFB; Gate Guard was a NA F-86E Sabre wearing serial 22844 and coded FU-844, full serial was 52-2844.

If MCAS Kaneohe Bay HI had been helicopter heaven this was the Northrop T-38 Talon and Cessna T-37 Tweety Bird equivalent with a smattering of Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighters. In total there were over one hundred and thirty of these three types on base! Alas the emulsion on my colour slides and colour prints has deteriorated over the years and it has not been possible to save any for use within this article.

A couple of ‘unusual’ sightings at Williams were a deHavilland DHC UV-18 Twin Otter wearing a civilian registration N70465, a Canadian CT-114 Tutor serial 114175, a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star and finally two Northrop A-10s of the 23rd TFW. All things considered this was another excellent visit.

To finish off the day in the greater Phoenix area we stopped off at Chandler Memorial airport which was at the time home to a number of whole and parts of Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw helicopters. There was a Royal Australian AF [RAAF] C-130A Hercules that had been assigned the civil registration of N4469P. Another early mark of C-130 was 57-0518 wearing a MASDC[4] park code of CK-013 and a good number of wrecks and relics that defied identification; can’t win them all!

Our Greyline a subsidiary of Greyhound bus (actually a single deck coach) took us from Phoenix along Interstate 10 (I10) from Phoenix towards Tucson AZ. We had a brief stop on the way close to Tucson known then as Pinal Air Park, Marana AZ where Evergreen International had a small museum on site; we were privileged to have been allowed to go onto the airfield and into the museum. According to my log book we arrived at 16:30 local time and spent a good hour there.

My immediate attention was drawn to a NASA Convair CV-990-30 serial 710 / N710NA from the Ames Research Centre. This aircraft was re-serialed N810NA in the 1990s, there was a Bell UH-1 simply marked ‘96’, a C-130A Hercules wearing a civil registration of N3226B and also wore the MASDC park code CF-012 which made it serial 57-0517. Also there were two deHavilland Vampires wearing civilian registrations N77087 which was a T.11 and former British Royal Air Force aircraft serial XD538 & N4861K which was a T.55 formerly with the Irish Air Corps serial number 186. Also wearing a civil registration N33CC was a North American SNJ-5 which was a former US Navy aircraft with BuNo 27780 and was coded 780. Today this aircraft is part of the Evergreen Museum collection at McMinnville OR. There were two aircraft that still defy identification, one a Boeing B-17 and the other a Sikorsky H-54/S-64 Tarhe.

From there we were driven to our hotel which I believe was a Motel 6 just off the Interstate (I10) in an area called Benson in Tucson.

April 11th

This was a very early start (06:45) when we were at Tucson International airport at the 152nd Tactical Fighter Training Squadron [TFTS] of the Arizona Air National Guard. This facility was ‘guarded’ by an F-100 serial 56-3055 and an F-102 serial 56-1134, both of which had seen service with the 152nd ANG.

At the time of our visit the ANG were using the LTV A-7D Corsair II aircraft all coded AZ and with the Arizona State flag on their tail fins. We saw a grand total of twenty three of these aircraft as well as eight General Dynamic F-16A Fighting Falcon / Vipers of the 195th TFTS.

From there we were driven to the main entrance of MASDC and for the next six hours we were in aircraft heaven as there were over five thousand (5,000) extant airframes languishing in the five thousand acres of the desert storage area in the desert sun. For this facility I had taken with me a small pocket tape recorder, but even so it meant an awful lot of ‘logging up’ in the forthcoming evenings. In those days the tour bus was permitted to make frequent stops while doing the tour of this vast facility, we were permitted to get off the bus regularly and literally run amongst the stored aircraft to get their tail numbers. We were always very mindful not to leave the dirt roadways as Rattle Snakes were known to inhabit the shaded parts close to or in the aircraft! We left Davis Monthan AFB via the Swann Road gate and were fortunate to see several aircraft in Warrior Park which included an F-4C 64-0829 coded FG, an F-105 61-0335* coded DM and a U-2C 56-6716 (*not 100% sure this is not a fake serial)

As well as spending the six hours in MASDC we also managed to squeeze in a visit to the Pima Air & Space Museum [PASM] a stone’s throw from MASDC. For every type of aircraft in MASDC there was an example of it in PASM; they say that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun, we were not exception to that rule that day!  The evening was predictably spent ‘logging up’ and a few Bud’s to assist!

April 12th

Today was our last day in the USA so we had a reasonably early start to the day with a quick visit to the southern ramps of Tucson International airport (KTUS). This rewarded us with several interesting airframes such as a VC-118 Liftmaster BuNo 128427 in full US Marines colours and markings but wearing a civilian registration of N427D, four C-130 Hercules, two C-123B/T Provider one of which serial 56-4357 was scheduled to be delivered under MAP to the Royal Thai AF, but this never took place. The other was a C-123K which I noted wore AFRES markings.

The icing on the cake though was two Argentine Navy/Armada T.28B/T.6 serial numbers 3-A-331 & 3-A-332. There were other aircraft such as the remains of two B-26s and the remains of an F-86 of the Iowa ANG. Not forgetting on our way to the airport a KC-97L Stratocruiser / Freighter wearing civil registration N1175K making the serial for this 52-2718

All good things come to an end and it was time to check-in and start the long haul back to England but not before we’d had a day in and around Detroit MI. Our flight was just after midday when the outside air temperatures (OAT’s) were at their highest the bad news for us was that with our luggage the aircraft would be ‘too heavy’ to take off! So with a little trepidation we left our luggage in the safe hands of the Northwest check-in and handling agents and boarded our aircraft! This was a DC9-51 registration N924N flight number NW602 from TUS to Minneapolis St Paul / MSP; take off was at 12:25 local time arriving at MSP at 15:00 local time.

At Minneapolis MN / MSP we were fortunate to see nine of the AFRES Lockheed C-130E Hercules on the ramp.

We then had a three hour wait for our next flight to Detroit / DTW. This was on a DC-10-40 of Northwest registration N160US as flight NW 745. Departure was at 18:15 local arriving at Detroit at 19:35 local.

After our night stop we headed off to the Yankee Museum at Willow Run MI. Here there was a small collection of aircraft amongst which were a Boeing B-52D serial 55-0677, McDonnell NF-101B Voodoo, a Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star and a Douglas TC-47B serial 44-76716.

We had a full tour at Selfridge ANGB which gave us a very diverse and interesting look around the base and hangars. Aircraft seen ranged from Bell UH-1s, to McDD F-4 Phantoms, Lockheed T-33A’s and LTV A-7 serving with the 107th TFS ANG. There were seven P-3B Orion’s of VP-93 seen and logged and three Sikorsky HH-52A’s of the USCG.

We were due to fly from DTW to Boston / BOS MA with Northwest where we would change and board our flight scheduled to be a Boeing 747 to London-Gatwick. However comma all did not go to plan; we had boarded the Northwest DC-10-40 registration N158US flight number NW 48. I was in a seat just forward of the starboard wing and I could see an awful lot of activity around the engine hung on that wing. After about twenty minutes of feverous movement an announcement came across the aircraft tannoy system that out flight was cancelled due to ‘technical problems’!

Having de-planed it was explained that we were still going to get away that evening but not with Northwest as planned but with British Airways. We all had to recheck-in at the BAW desk and be assigned our seats not to London-Gatwick but to London-Heathrow via Toronto (CYYZ). I found that mildly amusing but other amongst the group I was travelling with didn’t.

Our aircraft for this flight was a Boeing 747-136 registration G-AWNP and flight number was BA 072; take off from DTW was at 18:35 local time arriving just thirty five minutes later at Toronto 19:10 local. Having boarded more passengers for the next sector we took off at 20:40 local from CYYZ and head out towards the north and the Atlantic Ocean for the crossing.

The BA cabin crew really looked after us plying us with alcoholic beverages on a very regular basis for the duration of the flight, hic hic. I got talking to one of the cabin crew members and it transpired that she used to be cabin crew with Air Anglia who used to fly out of Stansted airport as well as their home base of Norwich in Norfolk. The flight was some six hours twenty five minutes in duration landing back at 08:05 local (BST) time equivalent of 03:05 US Eastern time; it had been a bloody long day but it was far from over.

From London Heathrow I then had to take a National Express bus back to London-Gatwick where hopefully my friend Dorothy was waiting for me to take me home. Eventually later the same morning we did meet up at Gatwick and she did drive me home. I honestly can’t remember much if anything about the journey home (laughs out loud).

A couple of statistics: in the seventeen days I had been away I had flown quite a few thousand miles / kilometres, I’d had my backside strapped to an aircraft seat for 45.9 hours, eaten food the like of which I’d not eaten before and drank a few pints of Budweiser amongst other alcoholic beverages and filled no less than three log books full of military serials and BuNo’s. That was also the only flying I did in 1987 …………. My log book has an entry from me that simply says “And so ends USA ’87! What more can I say, and that’s that”

It certainly wasn’t the end of my ‘spotting’ though; the next entry in my log book was for Stansted airport on 28th April and why they were there I have no idea but there were two Harrier GR.3s of 223 OCU, a Jaguar GR.1 of 41 Sqn, a BAe Hawk T.1A, a Blackburn Buccaneer S.2 of 12 Sqn, a Tornado GR.1 of 27 Sqn, a Sea King of NAS 810, a Lynx of NAS 829, a Hawker Hart, and an English Electric Canberra T.17A of 360 Sqn.

April 30th: I was back at RAF Northolt where I saw eight Bell UH-1D of the German Heeresfleigertruppen / Heer, a Belgian AF Dassault Falcon 20, two US Army C-12D’s and a US Navy UC-12.

May 15th

Fifteen days later I was once again back at RAF Northolt; I saw one USAR C-12 which belonged to 56th Aviation Company, a US Navy UC-12 out of the Navy Detachment at RAF Mildenhall and a Lockheed C-130B of the USAF.

May 24th:

It was time for the annual Air Fete at RAF Mildenhall and it goes without saying that it was an excellent day out. After the show I also made my way home via RAF Lakenheath which gave me a few extra serials for my log book.


7th June:

I had to venture to Stansted airport to see just one aircraft a French MS-892 Paris serial number 78 (which is also its construction number) coded 65-LU of ET2/65 of the French AF.

That same evening I drove with an old friend of mine Jim Burton down to the north bank of the River Thames opposite Greenwich as HMS Ark Royal (R07) was at anchor there. On the flight deck there was a Single Harrier FRS.1 of NAS 801, three Sea King AEW.2s of NAS 849 and two Westland Lynx HAS.5s from NAS 820.

8th June:

I was back at Greenwich at 19:30 awaiting a flypast of Royal Navy rotary and fixed wing assets. I was not disappointed; four Harrier FRS.1s, two Aerospatiale Gazelles, a Westland Lynx, Sea King HAS.5, Swordfish and Firefly.

13th June:

Up to RAF Waddington; here there was one NATO E-3B LX-N50447, seven Nimrod AEW.3s, three Blackburn Buccaneers and two Hawker Hunters.

I then made my way across to RAF Coningsby for an air show. There must have been every serviceable Tornado F.2/3 out on display or in the hangars open to the public. There were also assets from the Netherlands, Belgium and the USAF as well as the Royal Navy and Army Air Corps. Another great show that provided many hitherto not seen serial numbers!

My next excursion was to RAF Fairford for the International Air Tattoo [IAT] held over the weekend of 18th & 19th July where once again I was a volunteer driver for about ten days. I feel certain that I would have arrived at RAF Fairford around the 13th and stayed until the 21st. It was yet another excellent air show and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting up with old friends and some of the new volunteers on the Transport Team.

July 21st:

I was on my way home and as always it was rude not to go by RAF Northolt to do so; I was rewarded for my efforts with a C-160NG Transall serial F213 coded 64-GM of ET.64 French Air Force.


I actually went to work, please note I didn’t say I worked and I didn’t go spotting!


15th: together with a friend and his girlfriend we set off from my home in Harlow in her car for a short break in France, to be exact it was in the area of France known as St. George’s De Didonne, which sits on the eastern side of the Gironde River off the Bay of Biscay.

At the start of the holiday the camp & caravan site we were staying at was overflown by an Alouette 3 of the French Navy serial 1997; not a particularly good start!

During the stay I did attempt to do a bit of plane spotting ‘over the fence’ at Tours, but the French weren’t known for their ‘understanding’ about plane spotters so only saw one Dassault Alpha Jet there which was serial 314 coded 513-TM of GE-314.

We had about ten days there before making the long slog home again.

That concluded my spotting for 1987, but to be honest I think I had a few thousand serials and BuNo’s to keep me occupied during the forthcoming winter months.


My first trip out in 1988 was to RAF Mildenhall on 18th of February and by the look of the writing in my log book I was not alone, I believe it was therefore with my then current partner.

There was an excellent mix of Lockheed C-130 Hercules, one of which was from the Turkish Air Force, Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, Lockheed C-141 Starlifters, with two civilian registered aircraft, a Douglas DC-8 of Zantop, registered as N8102A and a Northwest Boeing 747 registration N601US, both these aircraft were in all probability involved in the movement of military personnel.

From Mildenhall we drove across to RAF Lakenheath where we saw two McDonnell-Douglas F-4F Phantom II’s of the WGAF serials 37+58 and 38+62, both from JbG-35 together with two BAe Hawk T.1s of 151 Squadron RAF.

From Lakenheath it was a bit of a drive then across to RAF Marham in Norfolk to see only three aircraft that I had previously seen.

From there it was a relatively short drive to RAF Coltishall home to three RAF SEPECAT Jaguar Squadrons, numbers 6, 41 and 54. 202 Squadron had a Westland Sea King based there for Search and Rescue (SAR) duties on this occasion it was XZ599 coded S. Also visiting Coltishall on this afternoon were four Hunting Jet Provost aircraft, three from 7 Flying Training School [FTS] and one from the Royal Air Force College at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire. Also present was a Handley Page Victor from 55 Squadron at RAF Marham.

From Coltishall, I am guessing that it was route one for goal (home) and well deserved tea and medals.


4th; found me alone back at RAF Mildenhall where there was a good mix of Lockheed C-130 Hercules, Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, Lockheed C-141 Starlifters and three McDonnell Douglas KC-10A’s Extenders

I moved across the RAF Lakenheath where the ‘prizes for this day were a German Navy Tornado of MFG-1 and two more Tornados from JbG-33 of the West German AF. I am pleased to say that I not seen any of these aircraft previously.

From Lakenheath I drove the relatively short distance to RAF Honington, Suffolk where the TWCU[5] was based, TWCU were using the Tornado GR.1, and seven aircraft were visible this day.

Following on from Honington I drove across to RAF Wattisham where only two McDonnell-Douglas FGR.2 Phantoms were visible, those two aircraft were XV433 which wore no code or markings but was formerly with 29 Squadron. The other was XV469 coded T and belonged to 56 ‘Firebirds’ Squadron, their squadron emblem being a Phoenix rising from the ashes.

Moving further east my next stop off point was at RAF Woodbridge (Suffolk) where due to the limited visibility I was only able to see three of their Northrop A-10A ‘Warthogs’ of the 81st TFW. Fortunately I had much better luck at RAF Bentwaters the sister station of the 81st TFW where I saw twenty one of their A-10A’s. Also there were two 10th MAS C-23A Sherpas and an F-111F from the 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath. On my return journey I called by Woodbridge again and added four more A-10A’s to my log book. At 15:00 I called it a day and headed for home.


Just eleven days later I was off out on my travels again, this time in company once more with MAF. The first two stops of RAF Wyton and RAF Alconbury drew a blank at each. By 07:30 I was looking over the fences at RAF Wittering where I saw nine Hawker / BAe Harrier GR.3s four easily identifiable as from 233 OCU and from the remaining five I only identified one of 1 Squadron.

Twenty five minutes later I was at RAF Cottesmore home of the TTTE – Tornado Tri-National Training Establishment comprise of Britain (U.K) Germany and Italy. Of the twenty four Tornados seen I ‘made’ the sum total of none, having seen them all previously! However there was a small bonus in that there was a German C-160D Transall from LTG-62 and there were three JbG-33 Tornados also from the German AF

By 09:00 I was at RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire; I logged 21 of the RAFC Jet Provost T.5 aircraft as well as three Hawker Hunters that were being used as training aids on another part of the airfield.

Twenty minutes later I pulled up at RAF Waddington (Waddo to most spotters) where there were two 16 Sqn Tornado GR.1s, two Nimrod AEW’s and one Northrop A-10A of the 81st TFW that had a grey fin tip band.

Just forty minutes later I arrived at RAF Coningsby where I was greeted by the sight of twenty Tornado F.3s of 229 OCU, the TOEU[6] and 5 Sqn, four BAe Hawks from 1 TWU, four Sea Harrier FRS.1 of NAS 801 and a lone F-111E serial 68-0023 coded UH from the 79th TFS 20th TFW at RAF Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire.

From here it was on the road again and this time my goal was RAF Binbrook former home of the English Electric Lightning. As we approached Binbrook the weather closed right in and it was difficult driving in the mist / fog let alone read of serial of aircraft. We only managed to read off three of the Lightnings before giving up and heading for our next destination of RAF Scampton.

Here too it was quite difficult to see much and we made only four Jet Provosts of the CFS / Central Flying School, one BAe Hawk of 4 FTS but in Red Arrows colours and markings and another 4 FTS Hawk.

Disappointed by the weather we started to move back to the south and home but not before stopping off at RAF Waddington on the way and I’m pleased that we did. On the flight line were four Royal Danish AF SAAB Drakens from Esk. 725, a lone 16 squadron Tornado, a Nimrod MR.2 from St Mawgan in Cornwall and a Nimrod AEW.3 which we‘d both seen previously.

For some reason better known to ourselves that afternoon we decided to go back to Coningsby where we saw only two additional BAeS Tornado F.3s. This time we decided it was really time to head back down south.

We headed down the A1 towards the general direction of the south then cut across country to RAF Lakenheath where there were only four of the based F-111F’s out, three from the 492nd TFS and one from the 493rd TFS.

By 17:20 we were at RAF Mildenhall looking at the usual haul of Lockheed C-130 Hercules, Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, Lockheed C-141B Starlifters and a lone RC-135V which was partially hangared; we left there and travelled for the next hour back home to Harlow. That was another long tiring day but also very rewarding.


My next outing was on the 6th of this month stopping off first at RAF Mildenhall (08:25) where I saw a number of KC-135 Stratotankers, a KC-10A Extender, several C-130E Hercules and  a lone VMGR-234 KC-130T BuNo. 162786 and for me the prizes of the day were a pair of Boeing E-3C Sentry’s (AWACS) of 552nd AW/CD tail numbers 82-007 and 80-0139 neither of which I’d seen before.

From Mildenhall I drove across to RAF Lakenheath where there was a pair of 180th ARS NJ ANG Boeing KC-135E’s Stratotankers.

Continuing my journey towards the northwest my next stop was at RAF Coltishall which is fairly close to the County town, Norwich in Norfolk. Here I saw a good selection of SEPECAT Jaguar GR.1s of the three resident Squadrons being 6, 41 and 54 as well as a lone Sea King of 202 Sqn. However there were four rather unexpected surprises awaiting me in the guise of three AMD Mirage F-1CE’s and a lone AMD Mirage F-1EE of the Spanish Air Force Squadron (Escuadrón) 142

Leaving RAF Coltishall I drove across country to RAF Marham where I have to say I was rather disappointed at there were only two aircraft outside. These were a Nimrod MR.2 from the St. Mawgan and Kinloss Wings.

Making my way towards home it would have been rude of me not to call by RAF Lakenheath, where to my surprise there were two RNLAF General Dynamics F-16A’s serial numbers J-243 and J-256 of 332 Sqn and a lone MFG[7]-2 Panavia Tornado serial 45+[8]67

I stopped off at RAF Mildenhall on my way home and saw pretty much all I had seen on the way up that morning, with the exception of the two detached Lockheed SR-71A Blackbirds of the 9th SRW Det.4s. Now it was time to go home!

True to form the next day (7th) I was back on the road again, this time I had company in the form of my then current partner, or it rather looks like her handwriting in my log book!

Our first and only stop was RAF Mildenhall where there were very few changes to the day before save for four A-10A Thunderbolt II’s also known as Warthogs / Hogs amongst the spotting fraternity. Quite what we did for the rest of the day will forever remain a mystery!

The 26th was my next outing; RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath were the first two stops of the day. From the latter it was a cross country and county trip across to RAF Marham where there was an excellent selection of RAF Nimrods, Handley Page Victor Tankers and Tornado GR.1s of number 27 and 617 (Dambuster Squadron)

Prizes of the day for me were four McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II’s of the Spanish AF serials and codes as follow; C.12-14 / 122-07, C.12-16 / 12-12, C.12-18 / 12-14 and C.1237 / 12-29 all from Escuadrón 12

Moving on via the A47 my next stop was RAF Sculthorpe (Norfolk) where I had another surprise, two USAR C-12s of the 207th Avn. Co USAR EUR, two C-21A (Gates LearJet) of 1401st MAS, three Lockheed MC-130s of the 7th SOS and three Lockheed C-130E’s of the 435th MAW

I began heading back towards home but of course I stopped off at RAF Lakenheath on the way back and I am really pleased that I did as during my absence four West German Air Force [WGAF] McDonnell-Douglas RF-4E Phantom II’s had arrived. Serials were 35+02, 35+18, 35+77 and 35+84 all of AkG 52 Squadron

RAF Mildenhall was once again pretty much the same as it had been that morning so once again it was time to head for home.

Just two days later I was off out on the road again, first stop was RAF Mildenhall where the only thing of slight interest was a Turkish AF Lockheed C-130E that I had seen on a previous visit. Over at RAF Lakenheath it was a bit of an Aardvark festival with numerous [23] General Dynamics F-111E’s of the resident squadrons out and about the airfield. One small ‘highlight’ was a low approach and over shoot by a Lockheed U-2S/TR.1 call sign High fly 32. This aircraft was on detachment to the incumbent TRS [Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron] at RAF Alconbury. The home of this aircraft and other U-2 / TR.1s was Beale AFB in California USA.

The very next day I was back at RAF Lakenheath where there had been an influx of aircraft of the USAF stationed in Europe. There were a mixture of F-16s from the 313rd TFS out of Hahn AB, the 52nd TFW sent their F-16s from Spangdahlem and the 526th TFW with their GD F-16s from Ramstein AB, West Germany and the 32nd TFS sent a few of their F-15C Eagles from the base of Soesterberg coded CR, in the Netherlands and F-15C’s from the 36th TFW based at Bitburg AB, West Germany. Also there were F-16s from Torrejon AB near Madrid, and McDD RF-4C’s from the 25th TRW based at Zaragoza, Spain. Well worth going out for the day.

Saturday the 30th: on the road again and todays goal was RAF Waddington (Waddo) up in Lincolnshire where it appears there were other participants in the exercise involving the USAF and other NATO allies or there was a small air show (can’t find any details of a ‘show’ though).

The Royal Danish AF sent three SAAB Drakens, the RCAF sent three CF-188 (F/A-18 to anyone else) The RNLAF an NF-5A Freedom Fighter, USAF Europe an F-15 from 57th FIS (Iceland), the Belgians sent an F-16B Fighting Falcon / Viper and the USAF sent an A-10A coded WR of 81st TFW and an F-111F coded UH 55th TFS/AMU. The RAF sent the following

McDD Phantom FGR.2 from 43 and 111 Squadrons and 228 OCU

41 and 54 Sqn, Jaguar GR.1

Two English Electric Canberra’s

Hawker Hunter

English Electric Lightning F.6

Jet Provost from RAFC

Tornado GR.1 from 617 Sqn

Scottish Aviation Bulldog T.1 from the Central Flying School / CFS

Chipmunk T.10 from EFTS

Hawk T.1 from the Red Arrows

Tornado F.3 from 5 Sqn and 229 OCU

Gloster Meteor

Handley Page Victor from 55 Sqn

Hawker Harrier GR.3 from the OCU

Embraer Tucano in civil markings

Blackburn Buccaneer from British Aerospace

There were the two Gate Guards; XL189 a Handley Page Victor and XM607 an AVRO Vulcan

Following on from this I ventured across to RAF Coningsby where I saw four more CF-188s of 409 and 421 RCAF Squadrons which were detached based at Baden-Solingen, West Germany.

As was customary on the way home I called in at RAF Mildenhall where as was normal there was a mixture of Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, three Lockheed C-141 Starlifters and a lone McDonnell-Douglas KC-10A Extender together with eight Lockheed C-130E Hercules. It had been a long but rewarding day and home yet again called. It was also a great way to end a few days off.


The fifth (5th) was the first trip of this month, it commenced with a whistle stop visit to RAF Northolt where the only thing of interest to me was a GAC C-20B serial 86-0204 which was then from the 99th AS 89th MAW out of Andrews AFB, MD, USA. AS = Airlift Squadron, MAW – Military Airlift Wing

The next stop after hurtling down the A40 was RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire where there was nothing of interest to me, when I say that there were a number of aircraft there but looking back I had seen all of them on previous occasions.

A slightly slower drive due to the nature of the roads to RAF Fairford aka Fairy Fjord where the interest lay with four Boeing B-52G Stratofortress [BUFF[9]] of the 42nd Bomb Wing (B Wg) from Maxwell AFB Alabama (AL). With them were four KC-135A’s from various Bombardment Wings and a sole KC-10A Extender from the 68th Bomb Wing. On this occasion I ‘made’ as in I hadn’t seen them previously all four of the B-52s. My research shows that all four of the BUFF’s have since been scrapped or RTP[10] at AMARG / 309th AMARG [correct as of May 2023] I also made one of the KC-135 Stratotankers and the KC-10A. Not a bad start to the day.

I moved on across country then to RAF Upper Heyford, Oxfordshire home of the 20th Tactical Fighter Wing / TFW using the General Dynamics F-111E Aardvark, here I managed to see twenty two but only ‘made’ three!

Visiting the 20th TFW were an AkG-52 RF-4E Phantom II of the West German Air Force / WGAF together with a JbG-38 Tornado IDS also from the WGAF.

So the days mission completed it was route one for home.


This was the day of the then yearly RAF Mildenhall Air Fete, together with my partner Sharon, her Daughter Keeley, friend Martin / MAF and fellow colleague Chris Booth and his wife Penny we’d set off early from home to attend the show. We were one of the first through the gates and got prime parking spots close to the crowd line. Breakfast if I remember correctly would have been a ‘wet’ burger and an ice cold Budweiser, all before eight o’clock in the morning! The ‘wet’ for the burger would be swimming in BBQ sauce! The food and beverages on sale at the annual RAF Mildenhall Air Fete had been flown in from the USA.

Breakfast over it was time to walk around the static aircraft and obtain the best possible photos one could without too many other ‘spotters’ or enthusiasts getting into your shots! Alas over the years all my ‘prints that I have taken have suffered due to poor storage conditions causing the emulsions to fade sometimes to irreparable condition hence no photos appear in this chapter or further chapters up to the introduction of the digital era. Having taken what photos were possible it was time to scour the various stands and retail stalls offering aviation themed goodies, such as scarves, cloth Unit / Squadron patches and prints and most importantly then genuine Squadron / Unit baseball caps and teeshirts. Even if I say so myself I have an impressive collection of both, some of which are still to this day unopened and therefore unworn.

All the ‘operational’ and display aircraft were parked / assembled on the southern side of the airfield. In case of an ‘urgent requirement’ the Air Fete would be halted while the required aircraft was launched to wherever required.

At this Air Fete the French Aerobatic Display team the Patrouille de France had their ten Dassault / Dornier Alpha Jets parked up on the Southside, distinctive in their blue, white and red colour scheme.

Clearly visible if you knew where to look were the two 9SRW Det. 4 SR-71A Blackbirds, alas on this occasion they didn’t fly.

The participants for the Air Fetes would include many off the USAF U.K. and European based aircraft, European countries such as Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark all sent aerial assets to this particular show. A comprehensive list is available for perusal on the Dutch Aviation website www.scramble.nl under ‘Show Reports’

It was normal for me / us to wait until the last aircraft had flown before even contemplating trying to leave the base, often as not it took far longer to get off the base than it did to get into it in the morning. Once off the base instead of heading for home we all headed over to RAF Lakenheath as I’d been told by a friend I met at the Air Fete that there were three ‘very interesting helicopters over at the Heath. He was not wrong; three of HMX-1 the US Presidential Sikorsky VH-3D Sea Kings were all neatly parked up, their BuNo’s were 159356, 159359 and 159360, a very nice bonus to the day out. Time then to turn towards home, I’d had a really great day out with friends, my partner and her daughter.



After a very cramped minibus ride and ferry crossing across the English Channel and a long drive across France, Belgium and Germany we arrived at our first destination of Hohn at 05:05 local time and despite a sign which clearly said NO Entry we saw what we went there to see a long line of Transall C-160D aircraft or to be more precise fourteen of them from LTG’s 61, 62 and 63, also there were four FIAT G-91R-3s all wearing special ‘test’ serials and with lots of dayglow paint on them! The Gate Guard for this base was a Noratlas serial 255 marked up as ‘5355’

Next stop at 07:00 was Husum AB; this was the home base for the AkG-52 RF-4E McDonnell-Douglas Phantom II’s. I logged seventeen of these and only four (4) of them I had seen previously. There was a ‘station hack’ a Dornier Do.28 and on the visitors ramp was a Tornado IDS of the West German AF. An hour later we arrived at Eggebeck another refuge for AkG-52, there being another nine on the ramps here. On the visitors ramp often referred to in the U.K as the VASS ramp = Visiting Aircraft Servicing Section were two MFG-1  Tornados and one Tornado from JbG-34. The Gate Guards at this base were a Sea Hawk marked up as RB+363 and an F-104G as 23+09

I’m not sure what time we arrived at Schleswig-Jagel, my logbook shows that it was for an air show or open day as there were participants from all over Europe, European based USAF and the U.K. once again a comprehensive list of participants can be found on the www.scramble.nl website under ‘show reports’.

I saw a total of thirty five Tornados from MFG-1 and twenty one from MFG-2, there was also a TTTE Tornado wearing the British insignia, two, Tornado F.3s from the U.K. 229 OCU, two from JbG-33 and one from JbG-34 making a grand total of sixty two (62) in just a few hours. That was and still is the most Tornados I have seen in one air show to date!

Having spent a good number of hours at Schleswig-Jagel, we made our way to the base at Alhorn to see the Gate Guard a Nord N.2501 GAF serial 53+56 and a Bristol Mk.52 Sycamore (helicopter) serial number 78+23. From there we made our way to the hotel at Osnabruck.


It was as is usual on these ‘spotting’ trips an early start from the hotel and a bit of a drive to our first destination of Hopsten where we arrived at 09:35 local time. At the time of the visit in 1988 Hopsten was home to the McDonnell-Douglas F-4F Phantom II of JbG-36 of which we were able to see thirteen and an RF-4E Phantom II of AkG-51. While we were on base we were able to see two Dassault – Dornier Alpha Jets of JbG-43, two NF-5A’s Freedom Fighters from the RNLAF 314 Sqn, a RAF Tornado GR.1 of 9 Sqn, three Sikorsky CH-53s overfly the base, a lone Heeresflieger Alouette II, and another lone aircraft type was the Bolkow Bo.105P of the Heeresflieger and finally an F-104G Starfighter from the German Air Force Test Unit at Manching. Not a bad start to our day, but there was no time to waste!

At 13:15 local time we arrived at the next airfield Rheine-Bentlage home to Heeresflieger Regiment [HFR] 15. The Gate Guard here was a Sikorsky H-34G II [Sikorsky designated this as an S-58 Choctaw] serial 80+35

On our visit we were able to see twelve of the HFR-15 Sikorsky CH-5G Stallions, three of which went unidentified as they were in a hangar and we were not permitted access to the hangar which was a little disappointing. Also there was a Heeresflieger Bolkow Bo.105 which remains unidentified

An hour or so later we’d crossed from Germany into the Netherlands; our first stop was at Air Base Twenthe. The base Gate Guard was a North American F-86K Sabre, serial Q-283.

The base was home to two squadrons (314 & 315) of F-16A’s Fighting Falcons / Vipers. 314 Sqn. was also transitioning from the NF-5A of which several were noted to the F-16A Fighting Falcons / Vipers.

Also noted visiting was a Marine Luchtvaart Dienst [MLD] P-3C Orion and an Alouette III of the RNLAF [Koninklijke Luchtmacht].  Out on the airfield was a Lockheed F-104G Starfighter serial D-8338 and a unidentified North American F-84 being used as decoys to ‘foreign’ satellites.

En-route to our next destination we stopped briefly outside the Aviadome at Amsterdam – Schiphol airport in order to see a Grumman S-2H Tracker.

Leaving Schiphol we headed towards Valkenburg MLD base where we arrived at 20:35 local time. Here we saw just six of their P-3C Orion’s of the MLD. I am pleased to say that I only ‘dropped’ one of the P-3C’s having seen it elsewhere in Europe prior to this trip.

From Valkenburg it was time to head back to Boulogne for our return ferry crossing to Dover. I’ve never liked the ferry crossings and least of all in the middle of the night! I/we arrived home in the early hours of the 14th and I would have thought that I’d go straight home to bed. However, looking at my logbook it shows that by 10:00 that morning I was once again at RAF Mildenhall; you don’t ‘have’ to be mad to do this hobby but it does help (laughs out loud).


By 08:20, I was back at RAF Mildenhall where there was very little of interest to me so I pushed on to the next stop of RAF Wittering, Cambridgeshire.

RAF Wittering was the home of the Harrier OCU[11], twelve of these aircraft in three variants the GR.3 & GR.5 (single seat) and the T.4 (twin seat) were noted and I made only two, which were the GR.5 variant.

Wittering was hosting the 125th TFS Oklahoma Air National Guard [OK ANG], there were twelve of their LTV (Ling Tempo Vought) A-7D Corsair II’s all of which with a little tenacity I managed to see them all. Of the twelve I made only five, so that was a little disappointing, but making five was a bit of a bonus!

By 13:10 I was back at RAF Marham to see a couple of Boeing B-52G Stratofortresses of the 42nd Bomb Wing and I was pleased to see both. There were also seven St Mawgan Wing Nimrods on the dispersal, all of them I’d previously seen!

I’d had a good few days so perhaps it was time to do some work much as the lure to do more ‘spotting’ was there.


Another early start; first stop was RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire where I arrived at 07:20 local time. Only one aircraft of interest initially to me was a NATO E-3A serial LX-N90451, I say initially as when I checked later I noted that I had seen it previously.

Next stop twenty five minutes later was RAF Fairford, which appeared to have been taken over by Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers of various designations including A, Q and R. The Boeing KC-135A was the original version with the old Pratt & Whitney J57-P-59W turbojet engines that left a decent smoke trail, the KC-135Q and likewise was fitted with the P & W J57-P-59W turbojet engines and was normally assigned to refuelling the SR-71A Blackbird and the KC-135R was re-engined with the P&W TF-33 turbofan engines which were a damn sight quieter and much more fuel efficient. Of the sixteen tankers seen I actually only made five, which was rather disappointing.

A short cross county drive found me next at RAF Upper Heyford (Oxfordshire) but to my surprise there were three Tennessee ANG Boeing KC-135A Stratotankers. Not bad considering this was an F-111 base, only two of which were visible. Leaving there just after 09:00 I made my way back up towards RAF Northolt where I arrived at 11:15.

At Northolt, the ‘prize’ was a West German AF Challenger, a French Navy Embraer Zingu, a French Navy Nord 262 and a Belgian AF Swearingen SA-226-T Merlin IIIA. Of the four aircraft I made only the Belgian AF one!



Kicking off this month was a visit to RAF Lakenheath; here there was a Boeing RC-135, the reconnaissance version of the Boeing C-135, a Lockheed C-141A Starlifter, a Beech C-12 Huron using the callsign SPAR 93, the SPAR translates to Special Priority Air Resource and a Shorts C-23A Sherpa callsign Pokey 73. Alas I didn’t need any of these airframes.

It would be another twenty seven days before I was back at RAF Lakenheath due to my work commitments. July being a time when the majority of us / them chose to take their annual leave!


Started off my day out with a quick visit to RAF Lakenheath; two Lockheed C-141A Starlifters one each from the 63rd MAW and 438th MAW together with an Lockheed C-5A Galaxy from the 436th MAW. Surprisingly I made all three airframes, so it was a good start.

Moving across to RAF Marham I saw six Nimrod MR.2 and eight Handley Page Victor tankers. All bar one of the Nimrods I had seen previously, that was very disappointing.

Driving up to Lincolnshire I went to RAF Coningsby where the ramps were full of Tornado F.3s (I logged seventeen) and Tornado GR.1s (I logged just seven) but even so I made the majority of them. Visiting on this day was an 81st TFW A-10A coded WR denoting it came from either RAF Woodbridge or Bentwaters in Suffolk, and two General Dynamics F-111E’s from Upper Heyford Oxfordshire. Not a bad haul from the time spent there!

On my way towards home I made a brief stop at RAF Wittering where I saw only three of the based Harrier GR.3s of 233 OCU all of which I had seen previously. Home was still a ninety minute or so drive away, time to go home then. What a pleasant way to spend my rest days driving around the U.K. looking at military aircraft. The next couple of weeks would be spent at work driving around the West Essex highways and by-ways.



Having had a few days at work it was time once again to go ‘spotting’ and it will now come as no surprise to the reader to find that yet again I was at the fence of RAF Lakenheath.

There was a pleasing number of aircraft from the USAF(E)[12] and from European air arms, the USAF(E) aircraft comprised assets such as the F-4G Phantom II and F-16A Fighting Falcons from Spangdahlem of the 52nd TFW marked with ‘SP’ on their tail fins, 26th TRW RF-4C Phantoms from Zaragoza, Spain marked with ‘ZR’. Two Canadian CF-188 Hornets from 1 CAG based at Baden Solingen, Germany, one Northrop A-10A from the 81st TFW based at Woodbridge in England tail code of ‘WR’ and two McDD RF-4E’s from AkG-51 of the West German AF. Also seen were two Lockheed C141A Starlifters and a McDonnell-Douglas C-9A Nightingale, which was derived from the McDD DC-9 airframe. That was quite a good start to the day.

I then travelled across country to RAF Alconbury, where there was an Air Show and where again there was a good selection of airframes from the U.K. and Europe, they included the following;

Two F-15C Eagle’s from 525th TFS Bitburg Germany tail coded ‘BT’, a RAF English Electric Canberra PR.9 from nearby RAF Wyton, a Shorts, C-23A Sherpa, a NATO/NAEWF E-3A AWACS, a DHC Twin Otter and Nord 262 of ET.65 French AF, the Twin Otter was the highlight of this show.  The other highlight was seeing two Lockheed TR-1A’s of the 17th SRW[13]. The TR-1A is a derivative of the Lockheed U-2 Dragon Lady manufactured at the Lockheed ‘Skunk Works’ located in Burbank, California. Full details of the participants can be found at www.scramble.nl under ‘Show Reports’

It would be another 13 days until I was able to go ‘spotting again due to work and domestic commitments.


I made a fleeting visit to RAF Bentwaters in Suffolk where I saw a Lockheed TR-1A of the 17th SRW serial number 80-0183 which I had seen at RAF Alconbury two weeks earlier; Murphy’s law! Along with this was a Rockwell CT-39A Sabreliner serial number 62-4453.


Today I was back at RAF Lakenheath with my partner Sharon and her daughter K for another small air show. From memory it was a very pleasant warm and dry day.

If my memory serves me well which very often these days it doesn’t the runway at RAF Mildenhall was having extensive work carried out on it and most if not of all its aerial assets were being based at RAF Lakenheath or RAF Fairford in the case of the Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers.

None the less there were a few pleasant surprises in store for me here; the first was a Rockwell B-1B from the 384th Bomb Wing with its support Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from McConnell AFB, Wichita, Kansas (KS).

It was also pleasant for me to be able to show Sharon and K the Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird that flies in excess of Mach 3 and above 80,000 feet when on its reconnaissance missions, this had its designated KC-135Q Stratotanker carrying the JP7[14] fuel for the SR-71A from the 9th SRW close by. The SR-71 had been flown it from its detachment base just a few miles away at RAF Mildenhall, the detachment was designated as ‘Det. 4’ of the 9th SRW headquarters at Beale AFB California (CA).

At the show there were a number of retail stalls selling various items of clothing, I bought us all a sweat shirt; they read ‘Air Force Husband, toughest job in the Air Force’, Sharon had Wife and K had Brat! [Keeley was far from a Brat]

Today (2023) of course they would not be ‘Politically Correct’ and someone would bound to be ‘offended’ by these sweatshirts!

Back to the Air Show; not as memorable as the Air Fetes at RAF Mildenhall but still entertaining for aviation enthusiasts and their families and or friends. Personally for me the highlight of this show was a four ship launch of four based F-111F ‘Ardvark’s’ (spelt the American / USAF way) and then a display as much was allowed by ‘non-display’ qualified pilots so the aircraft would have probably only made one pass together and that would have been at around 1,000 feet above ground level [a.g.l] The United States have designated ‘trained’ pilots who are authorised to display flying, unlike the British and other Air Arm systems.

All in all a good day out and we had a souvenir of our attendance that would keep us warm throughout the rest of the year.



It was nearly a week later until I was back at RAF Lakenheath and by the look of my logbook it was another whistle stop visit where I saw two F-16s of the RNLAF, two F16s from USAFE based at Hahn in Germany, two CF.188s from 1 CAG, Germany and two C-141A’s from the 437th & 438th MAW’s.

Two days later (5th Sept.) and for whatever reason I don’t know I was in Central London when a Sea King of MFG-5 serial 89+52 flew down the Thames Heli-route towards RAF Northolt.


The day after I was at Stansted airport where I saw a RAAF / Royal Australian AF Boeing 707 serial number A20-627 which was another ‘first’ for me.


Saw me once again at the fences of RAF Northolt; highlight was a French Aeronavale (Navy) Piper PA-31 Navajo of 11 Flottille which came from the French Naval base at Landivisiau making a what for me was a rare appearance outside of France.

The reason for the whistle stop visit was because I was on my way down to Farnborough Hampshire to go to the Farnborough International Air Show on one of the public accessible days. RAF Northolt in those days was used as the drop-off point for heads of State and Heads of Government using their military versions of business jets such as the C-20A which is derived from the GAC Gulfstream IV.

Meanwhile back at Farnborough there was an eclectic mix of aircraft from the U.K, Europe, Scandinavia, United States of America, the Soviet Union, Turkey, and Canada. I refer you once more to www.scramble.nl for a comprehensive list of aircraft and Air Arms / operators of the aircraft on site on the day of my visit.

Another couple of weeks went by working for my employer aka Essex Police before Sharon, K and I set off for a late break in Cornwall! No visit (well by me) would be complete without visiting RNAS Culdrose or given its proper naval name HMS Seahawk Britain’s largest helicopter base situated near to Helston on the Lizard Peninsular.

On the 26th I managed a couple of hours loggings helicopters such as the Westland Sea King and many if not all of the Royal Navy’s Scottish Aviation Jetstream Navigation training aircraft and the opportunity to catch up with a Naval Aviator (DS) I knew back at RAF Northolt. It goes without saying that he and I ‘downed’ quite a few pints of Guinness in a local Helston hostelry, Sharon having to drive me back to the house we were staying in!!

The 27th was as you’d expect after a night on Guinness was a bit of a blur but I ‘think’ we went to a local theme park for K’s benefit, as I say I think as there are no entries in my logbook for that day.

The next day however was an entirely different matter and it found us all back at the ‘spotting’ enclosure at HMS Seahawk for a few more hours. The rest of the day and the days following we went sightseeing and doing average tourist type things like going to Land’s End and other tourist attractions and historical places of interest.



As they say, all good things come to an end and on the 3rd of October we were on the road home towards Harlow. However and you may have noticed there are many ‘howevers’ in these writings there just happened to be RNAS Yeovilton, HMS Heron was only a few hundred metres off the A303 and its magnetic pull was too strong for me to pass. A short break there for the toilets and some refreshment before carrying on back towards home.

A little more work for Sharon and me and a little bit more schooling for K. I managed to do a quick stop t RAF Lakenheath on the 12th where I recorded only three aircraft; two WGAF Tornado IDS from JbG-33 and a Lockheed SR-71A serial number 61-7971of the 9th SRW Det. 4 over at RAF Mildenhall.

October was quickly coming to an end; on the 26th I went to Stansted airport specifically to see another RAAF Boeing 707 serial number A20-627 and two days later I was on the road again back to RAF Northolt where the only thing of interest to me was a Belgian Air Force Swearingen Merlin III serial CF-04. That pretty much wrapped up 1988; however!


On the 18th I’d travelled down to the London-Gatwick area to meet up with my friend Andy who was now working for a Charter Airline called Air Europe. Air Europe had two dedicated types of aircraft they being the Boeing 737 and the Boeing 757-236, the last three numbers telling me that this aircraft was ordered by and first used by British Arways. The ‘plan’ was that Andy was going to take me flying later that day.

Well the best laid plans went awry, the first flight we were to take was cancelled, as was the second. However all was not lost and thanks to Andy’s tenacity we were able to make the third flight but not until the early hours of the 19th!


Having rested for what remained of the 18th we made our way to what is now the South Terminal albeit I was accompanying Andy, the other Captain on the Flight Stuart Robertson-Fox and the Cabin Crew through the dedicated ‘Crew’ channel at Security. Quite how we worked that I still have no idea but it did save me queuing up with the tourists going to the destination. (Big smile)

Our aircraft was a Boeing 757-236 registration number G-BPGW and our destination was Tenerife South [TFS], our flight number and call sign was AE 672. My assigned seat for the flight was sitting on the port jump-seat behind Captain Robertson-Fox.

Take-off was at 03:25 local time from Gatwick’s runway two four (two four zero / 240 degrees magnetic) climbing initially straight ahead then turning left for a SAMTON – Southampton departure which would take us out over the Bay of Biscay down the Portuguese coast towards the Canary Islands. If I remember correctly it was while we were of the Portuguese coast that a Flight attendant was taken ill and was unable to continue with her work. She was bought to the cockpit and sat in the seat behind Stuart while I moved across to the jump seat behind Andy. I remember Stuart’s words to this poor young member of crew “Young lady if you are going to be sick please make sure it is not down the back of my neck” Luckily for all of us she was not sick on or in the flight deck. We landed three hours forty five minutes after departure at 07:10 local time.

With all the passengers (PAX) disembarked the young flight attendant / cabin crew member was taken to a hastily made bed for her at the back of the aircraft across three seats. At least there her colleagues could pay more attention to her than either, Stuart, Andy or I could give her on the flight deck.

New passengers were embarked, we’d been refuelled and re-catered so we were ready to take off and this occurred at 09:20 local time.

This flight back to Gatwick was not without incident either; off the coast of Portugal a member of the cabin crew came onto the flight deck that a male passenger had had what they thought was a heart attack! Plan whatever it was sung into action, well at least Stuart and Andy did until Stuart asked me if I could read the ‘plates’. The plates are a series of navigational aids, diagrammatic airport layouts and radio and NDB frequencies and a whole host of other very useful information, as luck would have it I was indeed conversant in the use of these plates. Stuart handed me the book containing the plates and told me to look up everything for Nantes in France as this was going to be our diversionary airport. A couple of minutes later Stuart had all the information he and Andy required to make the diversion to hand.

Andy in the meantime had been busy contacting Air Europe Operations via the HF [High Frequency] radio based at Portishead near Bristol in England. The senior cabin crew member updated us that the man with the suspected heart attack had been stabilised by a Doctor who happened to be on board returning home from his holiday.

On landing back at Gatwick on ‘priority clearance’ we landed at 13:10 local time, taxied to the stand where there was an ambulance and Paramedics waiting to attend to the suspected heart attack casualty. Once he had been off-loaded it was time to de-plane everyone else including the young member of the cabin crew who was looking decidedly better than when she was sitting on the flight deck.

I’m not one hundred percent sure that I went back to Andy’s lodging and managed to get some sleep or if I drove home after that adventure and literally fell into bed and slept until sometime on the 20th. What I do know is that they were my only flights of 1988 and what an adventure they had been!

On December 21st 1988 an event happened that changed my life and the lives of many others.

On that date a Pan American Boeing 747-121 registration N739PA flight number PAA103 named Clipper Maid of the Seas was blown out of the sky over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. All two hundred and seventy souls on board were killed by a terrorist bomb.

The aircraft had flown from Frankfurt to London Heathrow; it then departed to fly to New York JFK International airport before continuing from there to Detroit Metropolitan airport, Detroit Michigan. The bomb had either been placed on the aircraft in Germany or at London-Heathrow; we will never know where it was placed or how it was detonated.

The next day I walked into the parade room at the Traffic Garage in Harlow to read on our chalk board that I was being posted on the 6th of January 1989, that was 17 years to the day since I’d joined the ‘Job’, I had but fifteen days left on Traffic.

The only good thing to come out of this at that time was that I was going to be off over Christmas and at least I’d get to spend that with Sharon and K. In the mean time I got on with my work as a Traffic Officer.

December 31st was just like any other last day of the year albeit tinged with a great deal of sadness on my part.

[1] AFRES – Air Force Reserves

[2] Second World War

[3] The O-2 is the military version of the Cessna 337

[4] MASDC was the Military Aircraft Storage & Disposition Centre, later it became AMARC, Aircraft Maintenance And Regeneration Centre and latterly the 309th AMARG – Aircraft Maintenance And Regeneration Group

[5] TWCU = Tornado Weapons Conversion Unit

[6] TOEU = Tornado Operational Evaluation Unit

[7] MFG = Marine Flieger Geschwader, shown as Marinefliegergeschwader in most aviation publications

[8] The plus sign is irrelevant as this is the German Iron Cross; most aviation serial publications still use the ‘plus’ sign to indicated the Iron Cross between the two numbers.

[9] BUFF – Big Ugly Fat F**ker

[10] RTP – Returned To Produced aka Scrapped

[11] OCU = Operational Conversion Unit

[12] USAF(E) = United States Air Force Europe

[13] SRW – Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

[14] JP7 was a low volatility jet fuel mixture, the JP standing Jet Propellant