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132nd Entry RAF Halton
Newsletter 2

Entry news from 1 September 2001 onwards

Bob Simmons on the run

Bob ran the Windsor half marathon again this year, finishing 409th of the 5,000 odd starters, in a running time of 1:35:06. Just 13 minutes faster than last year. Next time he competes as a veteran !!

Anybody else interested in a little light exercise during October next year?

Pete Eynon turns up in Scotland

Typical isn't it. The day before the reunion, Pete phones in from Scotland. I suppose that's what you get for leaving messages on answer phones scattered around Bodmin!

Pete has been out of uniform for a decade, but is still keeping Nimrods in the air for a living. He couldn't make the reunion, but says hello to one and all.

All change at the CAA.

Neil Peacock joined the CAA at the beginning of September as an Airworthiness Surveyor. On completion of his training, he will be posted to the Luton Regional Office. Neil wil be involved in a wide range of activities including Aircarft Certification, Manufacturing, Maintenance, Operations and Engineer Licencing.

Iain Higgins is taking up a position as an Assistant Design Liaison Surveyor after around a year in the Applications and Certification Section. He will be getting closely involved in Light Aircarft Certification and Continued Airworthiness activities.

Meanwhile Bob Simmons has resigned his position of Airworthiness Surveyor after 7 years with the regulator to set up his own business in the field of Aviation Safety and Requirements consulting and training. Bob spent 5 years at the Heathrow Regional Office, and more recently had responsibility for Policy and Requirements related to the oversight of Commercial Operators, based at the Gatwick Head Office.

Mick Turner gets another CAA License

Congratulations to Mick on passing his C (Turbine Engines) examination to add the rating to his CAA Engineers Licence.

Electrics next apparently! Is there no stopping this man?

Paul Duvall reports on his jump.

It all started in a pub. Doesn't it always? One of the Scout Leaders said, "Why don't we do something different to raise cash for the group?" The Leader's meeting had just been drawing to a close, programs had been presented and agreed, girls accepted into the Cub and Scout sections and we were all looking to finish our drinks and go home.

Anyway, after another hour and a few more drinks it was agreed that the leader team would go all out to raise cash for the Group by leaping out of perfectly serviceable aircraft. It was also agreed that, in order to gain greater support for the project, we should halve the proceeds with another children's charity, namely Cancer and Leukaemia in Children (CLIC) which had offices in Bristol. Blimey, I'm nearly 40, and nearly old enough to know better. Nearly!

It has to be said that there was much surprise when the one leader associated with aircraft admitted that he'd never leapt before. In my defence, I pointed out that, very early in my RAF career I learnt that aircraft had a retractable AND EXTENDABLE tripod mechanism, known as the undercarriage, onto which aircraft are designed to make a cushioned return to terra firma within a specified period after leaving it, and there is, in fact, no sensible reason to want to leap out of an aircraft once armed with this knowledge. I acknowledged that we in the RAF may have forgotten to tell the Parachute Regiment this, but that this was only a little joke that they hadn't got yet!

Anyway.. Come the day, about 4000 pledged, and the aircraft ready and waiting it was time to don the jump suits. The plane was small. Four people sat on the floor and a pilot on his seat and it's full. However, I felt safe. After all, if it all went pooey, I had a parachute strapped to my instructor and I was strapped to him so, provided we got off the ground we could bale out and no worries!

The aircraft took off with my foot hanging out of the plane, which was a little bizarre, and we climbed to 2000ft before we decided to enjoy the half-hour flight to 10,000ft with the door shut! Yes, that's 1/2 hr - it was a small plane; I think Mountfield Lawnmowers manufactured the engine. The views were great; flying in circles over Taunton we saw both the north Devon coast as well as the south coast, not to mention the ever-smaller airfield at Dunkeswell below. At 8,000ft we donned the masks and got the straps tightened between instructor and student. The door was opened at about 9500ft and we heard the engine drop (the noise that is!) as we lined up on the drop-zone. My partner went first and I was able to watch as she and her instructor did a forward roll before disappearing out of sight.

Then it was my turn. Shuffle on my backside across the floor, sit on the edge and put my feet under the aircraft's fuselage, cross my arms and grip my shoulder straps, and look up! Rocked once, twice by the instructor and then.. WOW!!!!!!!

Everything happened at once: there's the ground, the plane, the ground, ooh there's the plane again and then the ground. There was a brief sensation of falling as we accelerated to a terminal velocity of about 125mph before we settled into the free fall position and enjoyed the plummet. I can only liken the experience to that of going through a tunnel, with the lights going out of your peripheral vision left and right as you pass them except, in this case, the lights are the fields leaving your vision as you get nearer to the ground. It was exhilarating in the extreme. All too soon it was over, after 45 seconds and around 4500ft the chute was deployed, and we decelerated smoothly to a more sedate speed and I was able to enter into conversation with the instructor. Lee was an army Lance Corporal and a member of the Red Devils (a busman's holiday, or what?) and, once the rush of the wind had stopped, we were able to chat on the merits of plunging to earth. Fun was one word and exhilaration (again) another, danger wasn't mentioned until my feet hit the floor some minutes later! The parachuting was pleasant if not quite as exciting as the free fall. The benefits of being strapped tightly were now beginning to take their toll however. Pins and needles were setting in and when Lee called "legs up", ready for landing, there was nothing happening below the waist (there's a joke in there but you can think it yourself!). Consequently, our controlled landing was marred by my feet hitting the ground first and carrying Lee (who was smaller than me, unbelievably) down to the ground in a heap!

Looking back, I would do it again and am glad I have a great memory and story to relate for the future. The money raising was hard but has been worth it. We, the Leaders, hope to get the money collected by early autumn and get the money into the relevant funds soon after. Clearly I shall be last as my money has been pledged by people who I will not see until early October (6/7 Oct to be precise), i.e. the 132 apprentices reunion.

Finally, may I remind those that did pledge money not only to bring a full wallet, but to expect me to pester you sometime BEFORE you've gambled it away courtesy of Neil (the appo formally known as Ted!). You can rest assured it will be money well spent on kids. Thanks very much for your kind support. See you all in a month, older, greyer but definitely not wiser or more mature!

Paul Duvall

British Parachute Association

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