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Summer 1954.

1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesWhit weekend stand-down began the day after I returned from Meppen. On catching up with the latest events at Jever I found that the Queen's Birthday Parade was being rehearsed regularly and that there had been a collision between two Squadron aircraft on the runway, fortunately without injury to the pilots. [Click to see report in F540.] I was also told that we would be going on another detachment to RAF Sylt in September and that our runway was due for extending at the same time. After catching up with the recent notices and SROs, and deciding that there was nothing urgent in need of my attention, I settled to a relaxed weekend and viewed a batch of developed films returned to me from Kodak which were waiting for me in the letter rack.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesIt turned out that in June I did very little flying compared with the amount I did in May. I flew first as soon as Whitsuntide was over. It was a 1 hour and 5 minutes sortie involving no less than 30 minutes instrument flying done climbing and descending through a thick turbulent mass of cloud to find clear air above for my briefed aerobatics exercise. In these circumstances the much-practised radio let-down and QGH was a necessity. The IF was useful practice as I was soon to have to take an Instrument Rating Test to renew my White Card rating.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesNext day, the 9th of June, there was another parade practice. The day after was the Queen's Official Birthday, the day of the actual Parade. The large number of spectators watching that day included visiting dignitaries and a good turnout of wives and families from the married patch.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesI flew again on the Saturday morning on a very similar sortie to that earlier in the week. On the following Tuesday, and the Friday afterwards I flew again. All five flights were dual in the Meteor T7, with Plt.Off. Don Exley as 1st pilot while I polished up my instrument flying, mostly under two stage amber, in preparation for my forthcoming examination. My dislike of the Meteor, its sliding throttles, greenhouse canopy, and lack of pressurisation did not help my performance. I found it difficult, too, to recite all vital actions out loud as was required whenever flying any dual aircraft. It wasn't that I didn't know them, of course I did - and used them - it was the actual saying of them after having flown so many solo flights that I found difficult. This became as big a point of practice as the instrument flying itself. In all, those five flights lasted a total of 4 hours and 35 minutes with 4 hours 15 minutes IF, 1 hour of which was 'actual' rather than under the amber with the blue goggles on. As it turned out, through no fault of mine, it would not be until the end of July before I could take the actual test.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesIf June was a famine as far as flying hours were concerned, other events made up for it. The two highlights were, the Queen's Birthday Parade apart, firstly, my promotion to Flying Officer on Friday the 18th and, secondly, my 21st birthday on the 22nd which was duly celebrated in the Mess on the evening of Saturday the 26th. Of the two I rated my 21st to be the more important because my promotion was automatic, based on time served as a Pilot Officer, and my having a clean record. At least I wasn't a 'sprog' pilot any more, and I got a pay increase.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesPlt.Off. Gerry Busby and I shared our party as his 21st was within a day or two of mine. We asked for permission for our Mess bills to be allowed to exceed the maximum allowed for our rank - and got it. That done, we arranged for special snacks to be available in the bar that evening. An open invitation was given to all Mess members and wives to our 'drinks on us' party. About three quarters of them actually turned up for at least part of the evening. As can be imagined much liquor
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