Wing Commander Kenneth Wallis

Following yesterdays post,  "Made of Different Stuff," we learn from today's Telegraph that we've lost another grand character hewn from different DNA from the rest of us and from a different age. Our world is the poorer with their passing.

Wing Commander Kenneth Wallis was certainly different. Wartime Bomber Command pilot, inventor, engineer, Bond stuntman........ actually he seems to have been somewhere between inspired genius and fully paid up barking mad nutter. 

One interviewer observed that if a screenwriter had invented Wallis, with his air of derring-do and rakish white handlebar moustache, they would have been told to come back with a more realistic character.

You couldn't make this fellow up. Among other achievements, he set a record in 1975 (now superseded) for the longest flight in an autogyro when he flew the entire length of the British Isles (“I’d have gone further, but we ran out of land”).

Enjoy the read. 

An extract from my documentary on Wing Commander Ken Wallis 

Wasted Lives; Wasted Years

 Fall of Singapore

Reflecting on the news that we are going to give a quarter of our pilots under training in the RAF the chop, I'm reminded of the last time we attempted to defend an island without adequate air support, (pre Falklands).

Then, a Mr Edgar Granville stood up in the House in a debate about air support for Singapore and said, "I have given you notice, Mr. Speaker, that I would ask leave to move the Adjournment of House of Commons on a matter of definite and urgent public importance, namely, the sending of adequate air reinforcements for the defence of Singapore, and for the purpose of obtaining assurances from His Majesty's Government to the people of this country, Australia and the British Empire that this is being done."

The aircraft were never sent. What we had were largely destroyed on the ground and after Repulse and the Prince of Wales were sunk momentum lay with the Japanese. With a remarkable and well honed sense of bad timing, Uncle Jack arrived from England on his first posting at the age of 19 just in time for a bit of a scrap before being captured. He then spent the next three and a half years facilitating railway transportation in Burma.

Uncle Jack was one of the lucky ones; he made it home, unlike 9,000 of his comrades who were captured at Singapore and who were murdered on the Railway.

Uncle Jack never really forgave the Japs. He said to me not long before he died, "A lot of good men died.... the best. Bastards; I won't forgive them, coming back at the age of 24 and still a virgin is more than any man should have to bear.........."


Utter Madness


"Gentlemen, you're both missing the essential truth. We're short of 200 pilots, those that we have are tired, strained and all overdue for relief. We're fighting for survival, losing. We don't need a big wing, or a small wing. We need pilots...and a miracle...Good night gentlemen" Battle of Britain film, 1969

For years the RAF have done themselves a disservice by repeatedly turning to "the Few," as their primary argument against cuts. You will see letters to that effect in the papers for the next few days from retired officers. In this case however, it would be plain silly to neglect the overwhelming lesson of the Battle of Britain from the British perspective...... pilots matter more than aircraft.

The defence minister Gerald Howarth said tonight that we needed fewer pilots because we have fewer operational aircraft than earlier anticipated. The passing observer may indeed concur that fewer pilots are the order of the day, then again, he may not. Is not the pragmatic thing to do though, to finish the cycle of long and expensive training that these volunteer airmen undergo so at least they leave the service as qualified pilots and are not just thrown onto the street with the onerous task of finding the large amounts of money required to finish their training and convert to civilian aircraft? There is more value in completion and inviting them to join the reserve rather than pursuing yet more ill thought out insanity. Indeed, make service in the reserve a requirement for those wishing to complete their training. If our most dedicated enemies were putting the current policy together they would be hard pushed to do a better job, it's utter madness and there is absolutely no value proposition here for the weary taxpayer.

I know exactly where this is heading and it won't be in the least amusing..........

Airplane 1980

Elaine Dickinson: There's no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you'll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane? 

Rumack: The life of everyone on board depends upon just one thing: finding someone back there who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner.

"There may well be sand in the engine..." (old AA advert)


New Dust-Safe Jet Aircraft Come into Service With The RAF

Just for once, I find myself on the side of the barricade with HMG and the bloody Met Office. I can't quite believe it but sure enough, there are other people out there even more stupid than the Government.

I know it's a bit dull know, given everyone has an attention span that lasts just long enough until the next pretty girl walks past but the hammed up outrage of the press over the flight ban is not only misplaced and misguided, it's pathetic.

Moreover, to hear the Teresa Villiers, apparently the Shadow Transport Secretary, asking for an enquiry just leaves me fvcking bereft about the chances of the Tories forming a government. Why do you want an enquiry? So a bunch of people can put a load of facts on paper so you can learn what you're job is supposed to be? Listen you cloth eared bint; aeroplanes without engines don't fly, they just drop to the ground in a stomach churning and terror ridden last few minutes. It's a horrible way to die. Any last chance survivors will be burnt to a crisp on impact and guess what - no one; absolutely no one walks away.

This is the thing, you don't fvck around with aircraft safety... thats why every turn of every screw on every aircraft is logged and recorded. The ash is thinner now than it has been but the volcano is still blowing the stuff out. 

 I think the gov has done exactly the right thing and I couldn't care less about chavs stuck in Spain or Camilla & Ranald from Godalming stuck in their Alpine chalet. They're all too stupid and self important to have any sense of their own mortality. If I had my way I would stand down the aircraft again at a moments notice and apologise to no one.

As for that Irish midget muppet Walsh, I'd arrest him for sending 36 aircraft to the UK on Tuesday when the airspace was shut and stick him in a cell with a 6'5'' bloke called Leroy who was feeling a little lonely. Who in the flying fvck does he think he is, making up the rules as he goes along? For good measure, I'd jam that irritating sod O'Leary from Ryan Air in the cell with him and give Leroy a real treat. I'm fed up with all the crying and wailing over some minor inconvenience. It's no more than happens every year with French air traffic control strikes or strikes at BA for that matter.

Can things be done better, for sure; the WSJ points out today how Alaskan Airways operate with dust clouds. Even though they have pretty refined systems however, they still have pretty rigid rules about when to fly and when not.

Now we discover the RAF has canned training flights in Lincolnshire because of dust found in fast jet engines. So, who am I going to listen to, some rent-a-quote career wannabe politician and Walsh, or the RAF?