Military History

14 Nov 08 One Comment

I was going to write a long post about the different types of Air Traffic Service Units in the UK but I got distracted by the Internet. Somehow I’ve ended up spending hours reading about military planes from the past – important research if you want to discuss the difference between A/G Radio and ATC services, to be sure!

First I watched this great clip on YouTube. The 526th Fighter Interceptor Squadron made this video in Germany in the 1950s:

Then I found myself on the Royal Air Force site, looking at an astounding collection of photographs in the RAF Timeline starting from the 1st of April 1918 when the Royal Air Force and Women’s Royal Air Force were formed. How can I resist bits of trivia like this:

6 Sep 1939 – South Africa declares war on Germany. Also on this day is the Battle of Barking Creek, when a error in identification in the Chain Home Radar system led to RAF aircraft engaging each other over the Thames Estuary. Blenheims, Hurricanes and Spitfires, not physically unlike the German Ju 88 and Bf 109, reported seeing enemy aircraft and several claims were made.

And photographs like this:

I might have managed to get something done but a so-called “friend” chose that moment to send me a link to a recent Popular Mechanics special: The 6 Most Lethal Aircraft in History

The article includes photographs and descriptions of amazing fighter planes: Fokker Eindecker, A6M Zero, B-29 Superfortress, AC-130 Spectre, A-10 Thunderbolt, and the AH-64 Apache. And another half an hour was gone.

In an attempt to get back on track, I scanned through the Professional Pilots Rumour Network and found a thread in their private flying forum entitled Don’t call mayday over the radio…! with some responses that had me laughing out loud:

Actually I have long thought that the mayday call would be much more pithy as:

“F**K, F**K, F**K”!! Summarises the situation when the donk has quit at 100 feet quite nicely I think.

The Pan call could similarly be replaced by:

“Bugg*r, Bugg*r, Bugg*r”, as it carries a degree of irritation without quite as much immediate concern as the former.

On my first night circuit in a Wessex 5 helicopter some 30 years ago, we suffered a hydraulic failure, a “land asap, running landing” emergency.

I called “(Callsign) Wessex, PAN PAN PAN, hydraulic failure downwind, request priority running landing on the runway” (rather than a hover landing on the normal helicopter T night landing spots inside the runway) .

ATC said: “Stand by – I have a simulated engine failure joining shortly”.

My instructor said on the radio: “He didn’t say “Practice PAN…’s a real one”.

ATC: Oh, er…Ooops sorry, clear land on the runway.

And this informative post from a marine point of view:

I was taught by the RNLI that:-
Mayday (3times) should be used to declare an emergency which endangers the vessel and/or its passengers/crew.
Pan Pan (3 times) should be used to indicate an urgent transmission, taking precedence over everything except Mayday calls to report a threat to life or major problem short of a threat to the entire hull. (Note it is NOT a Pan call – it is a Pan-Pan call)
ie,One of 2 engines out in flight is a threat to the hull therefore a Mayday (even if you can continue on one engine since loss of the remaining engine could be a bad thing! just ask Ryanair) a heart attack passenger is regretable but no threat to the hull therefore a Pan Pan call if you want to off load them at the nearest airport.

Of passing interest – until about the mid 80s a man overboard (marine style) was just a Pan Pan and not a Mayday since there was no threat to the hull!!

The next thing I knew, it was dinner time and I had forgotten to put the roast in the oven! Luckily, I live with an understanding man who is happy to take me out for a quick Chinese meal … I hope!

I’ll be more organised next week…

Category: Fun Stuff,

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