This Section is for anyone who have worked on the Jet Provost aircraft so they can share their memories and pictures
with everyone. If you would like to add your
memories or write a plea for help in finding lost RAF personel please email me
from the contacts section below
My days at RAF Syerston. Geoff Jacobs.
Posted into RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire, in June 1966 from RAF Gan; just in time to see the England football team
beat Germany in the final, what a fantastic homecoming.
As a Junior Tech Propulsion Fitter, I was posted onto First Line with the Jet Provost Mk.3. for training pilots
from many countries, with the Yanks being most demanding about getting the ‘bugs off the windshield’. “Is it true, we share the same language?”
Days comprised getting the aircraft out of the hanger and in line, on the pan. Then the instructors appeared with
the students, we strapped them in and saw them off.
Thirty minutes or so and back they came, navigating along the River Trent, weather permitting. Marshall the J.P.
back on line, see both pilots out, having made the ‘bang seats’ safe and then carry out turn-round servicing and replenishing, with the other tradesmen. Mainly riggers, (airframes) plumbers
(armourers) and sparks (electricians). Rarely did we need the fairies for radio and comms.
From First to Second Line for Minor and Major servicing, in the hangers. I teamed with David Shone and
Pauline Fenner-Smith, two SAC’s and we made a great team, setting record times for servicing.
Next, the aircraft was towed to the ground-run pan where I would test the engine. When satisfactory back into the
Hanger, sign Form 700 and wait for the next available UTP (Unit Test Pilot) to take the aircraft for air test.
On many occasions, I flew with the UTP. Very exciting as he put the aircraft through its paces. Especially when he
would stop-cock, to make certain the engine would relight through the glow-plug, fitted in the exhaust. Always a heart-stopping few seconds. When you’re up there, it focuses the mind to make
certain the aircraft is very safe and you know the other tradesmen are just as diligent. (RAF training, second to none).
That led to me being invited to fly with the ‘Vipers’ display team, which I did for two summers. Weather permitting
we would fly to the airfield, approach in formation and land. We three ground crew would leave the aircraft, make the number two seat safe, do a quick visual check then the three aircraft would take
off, for their display.
Display over, they land, we replenish, uncover number 2 seat, climb back in and off we went in formation back to
RAF Syerston. Fantastic experience, wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Had one emergency, when the landing gear would not lock down. 3 greens – 3 reds – 3 greens – 3 reds.
During my time at RAF Syerston, we lost two trainee pilots who crashed away from camp. One was buried in a local
church, the other where his parents lived. That drives home the need for certainty.
My time at Syerston was made even more memorable when I was invited to transfer to The Queens Flight, which I
declined. Then asked if I would consider applying to the selection Board for officer training. I seriously regret not pursuing that opportunity. Finally, I was awarded accelerated promotion to
Corporal Technician after being a J.T. for only eighteen months.
My two Hanger flight officers were PO Pete Norris and FO Richard Jones. The aircraft, the people, the camp, the
experiences, without doubt, my best ever posting.
I am searching for
Robert (Rab) Findlay, who was posted to Church
Fenton in January 1964.
He was an Air Wireless
Mechanic, working as a member of the ground crew, servicing Jet Provosts at 7 FTS.
with Rab in 1962 / 63 but have since lost contact with him.
I have settled
in Belgium and would appreciate
any help regarding his present whereabouts, as well as any details of his subsequent postings or family points of contact, please.
Sqn Ldr Dickie Lees flew the Jet Provost as an instructor and as an examiner on CFS Exam Wing Basic Squadron. He
completed the CFS course at Little Rissington in 1960, flying the Piston Provost and Jet Provost 3. He was then posted to RAF College Cranwell in December 1960 and started instructing on the
first Cranwell Jet Provost course, operating from Barkston Heath and Cranwell. At the end of January 1962 he was posted to 3 FTS Leeming as an A2 instructor (along with others) to provide
a core of experience at the newly formed FTS. At the end of 1962 he was posted to a P staff job at Shinfield Park, Flying Training Command HQ. After this ground tour he flew Canberras in
Germany (RAF Wildenrath), then 231 OCU Bassingbourn. After another ground tour at Henlow he returned to 231OCU at Cottesmore. In January 1974 he was promoted to Sqn Ldr and posted to No 1 FTS at
Linton on Ouse to command 3Sqn and later Standards Sqn. Having obtained his A1 Instructor category he was then posted to CFS Exam Wing at Cranwell in February 1977 to command Basic Sqn, transferring
to Leeming in November 1977. In May 1980 another ground tour at Cranwell and then onto the new Tornado simulators at Cottesmore. In November 1985 he returned to the Jet Provost (now specialist
aircrew) and was posted to 3 Sqn at RAF College Cranwell. In March 1988 he returned to Cottesmore to finish his air force career in October 1993, having served over 42 years.
It was April 1976 and I was OC Standards Sqn at No 1 FTS Linton-on-Ouse. A suggestion had been made, I do not
know from whom, that basic training aircraft should be able to do a land away sortie to RAF Germany. As OC Stds I was given the job of checking the feasability of a JP 5A flying direct from
Linton-on-Ouse to RAF Wildenrath. Command had ruled that the shortest oversea route should be taken, and that immersion suits were to be worn. My first job was to visit the Met man to check
normal prevailing winds at I believe around 25,000ft. A direct flight from Linton-on-Ouse to overhead Manston and then to Wildenrath would be feasible if the winds were favourable. If not we
could land at Manston to refuel. Immersion suits had arrived and I then discovered that our Station Commander, Gp Capt Bannard, was to fly with me, taking the left hand seat. As we got into the
cockpit we realised that two average size pilots in immersion suits made the cockpit suddenly seem smaller and more "intimate".
On Friday 23 April 1976 we left for Wildenrath in good weather and had an uneventful sortie. Obviously on
route regular fuel consumption checks were made and the winds were favourable so overhead Manston we headed for Germany and had no problems in reaching our destination. Gp Capt Bannard had been
flying the aircraft and I had been responsible for the navigation. We let down to make a visual arrival with a "run and break", as we were half way over the airfield Gp Capt Bannard realised it
was a RIGHT-HAND CIRCUIT so what does a senior officer do, pass control to his deputy !! So cramped in an immersion suit I was given control to fly a right hand break and landing - luckily I
did not disgrace myself and we landed safely. The return flight on Monday 26 April 1976 was done in two flights as we had to clear customs at Manston. Overall it had been an interesting
exercise but I am not sure how often it was repeated by aircraft from a basic FTS. The moral from the tale is "be prepared" particularly when flying with a senior officer.