Thank you to Brian Spurway for this fascinating article highlighting the fact that Air Eng training wasn’t just carried out at St Athan, Topcliffe, Finningley and Cranwell but Newton as well!!
I’ll start off with this one to prove that life existed before 1967 and the commencement of Air Engineer training at Topcliffe. We were No. 26 Course at St Athan from 6th May to 18th Aug 1965 and then Course No 6/65 at Newton from 1st Sep to 22 Dec 1965. Because of the stringent trade qualifications and age limitations needed to become Air Engs in those days we were all experienced aircraft tradesmen, just three were Cpls and the rest of us all substantive Sgts – unlike later when all student Air Engs were given three stripes and had their own Mess we messed throughout the ground school course in the ranks we held; a great pity as it meant that we Sgts saw little of Ron,Freddie and Lofty other than in the classroom.
Once at an OCU the Cpls were given acting Sgt rank but it was only after completion of the course that brevets were awarded and we all became substantive SNCOs – I put it that way because some were almost immediately (or shortly afterwards) given their crowns as they were past their 28th birthdays; I only had to wait a year!! (Probably a little known fact nowadays is that back then airmen aircrew were promoted by age – 28th for FS and 35th for Master!!)
Ginge Hosie joined BOAC a long time back but sadly he too passed away whilst there; other than the fact that he had a heart attack I have no more details. After Topcliffe Chuck and I were posted straight on to the Hastings OCU at Thorney Island and then Colerne; my memory thinks he also went to 24 Sqn, but I can’t be sure. Lofty and most of the others went onto the then ‘shiny’, but also quite maligned, Argosy – nowadays it’s just he and I that meet up at our AGMs.
Lofty and I, although on different types, have stalked each other over the years, sharing offices at both Topcliffe and Finningley for a couple of years when instructing with 6 FTS. Chuck Knight was also instructing with us at Finningley at one stage – sadly he passed away with Cancer many years ago. I met up with Ron Ibbotson occasionally at Lyneham when he was on Brits and also with Freddie Fox who (I think) may also have been on Brits before joining the Hercules.