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computer, the plotter on the fighter screen in the Hippo, and the clerk who maintained a log of all calls made between the aircraft and me. Another lad, next to me on the heights screen, would then also endeavour to pick up the same aircraft on the Type 13 and confirm their altitude. I, or the NCO i/c cabin crew, would inform the Chief Controller that I had the aircraft under control.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesThrough my single earphone I could hear the R/T calls from the aircraft. Through my uncovered ear I could hear information over the squawk box, or the voices of the Craig computer plotter and height reader. I spoke to the aircraft via a snakes-head microphone in front of me on the radar console. Voices were kept clear but low. Information was passed between us, and (by me) to the aircraft, in a well rehearsed, standardised manner. Otherwise, unless another controller and his team were working aircraft in the same dimly lit control vehicle, all would be quiet except for the hum of electricity and faint buzz of the equipment cooling fans.5
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesWhen I had aircraft under control it was my responsibility to make the pilots aware of their position by informing them at regular intervals of 'Pigeons to Base', this being the course they had to steer to get to, and the distance from, their parent airfield. This was also done at the end of a session under control, just before they were advised to change to their airfield control VHF channel.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesJust four days after qualifying, during a night flying session (evening watch) I was allocated 2 Meteor NF11s and controlled them for five quarter attack PIs. They alternated between being fighter and target. On one run I put the fighter ahead of the target and another ended up as a tail chase. The other three runs were moderately successful. It was a 35 minute session and not an auspicious start. Later the same evening I was given a further pair of NF11s but, in the 11 minutes I had them under control, they only had time for one successful 90° quarter attack. All these PIs were at 30,000 feet.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesTwo more short sessions took place on the 29th of June. The first was when I had, for just 11 minutes, two pairs of F84 Thunderjets under control for one PI. Then, for only 9 minutes, I did a single PI with a pair of Meteor NF11s.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesThat same day I was allocated a pair of Hunters at 41,000 feet. This was no ordinary practice PI session. A brand new Comet II with the Secretary of State for Air and an entourage of Senior RAF Officers and civil servants on board was returning from the Moscow International Air Show. It was being escorted by a number of Mig 15 Russian fighters when I picked it up on the radar. These were scheduled to break off on approaching the East-West German frontier. It was my job to position my Hunters so as, as quickly as possible, without creating a border violation, to intercept and escort the Comet westwards across Germany. Time was tight because the Hunters were scrambled and handed over to me a little late. Nevertheless, by doing a parallel head-on interception (my first) I was able to position my Hunters at the Comet's side. They radioed to say that they had seen the Migs break away in the distance. This session lasted 41 minutes, during which other Fighter Controllers on my watch were watching and listening from the unused control positions.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesThe following Monday I succeeded in carrying out 4 successful PIs with two pairs of NF11s in conditions of moderate to severe R/T jamming. The next day, July 3rd, I took over control, from another GCI, of 4 Hunters already escorting a Comet en route to Moscow at 38,000 feet. I turned them back at the frontier, by which time they were low on fuel so I diverted them for a landing at RAF Wunstorf, to which place I gave them Pigeons and instructed them to change to VHF channel 'Charlie'.   [Click to see 4 Sqn's Report in their Squadron Operations Record Book F640.]   [Click to see fuller report under 4 Sqn stories].
During the rest of July I carried out a total of 19 PIs, all at night, in 6 sessions with Meteor NF11s.
5 It was not often that we worked two cabin crews in the same vehicle. It usually only occurred during an exercise.
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