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A place for stories and memories of 'Buccaneering!'
Night time adventures with 237 OCU
at RAF Honington.
By Group Captain Tom Eeles
Since we were clearly going nowhere I throttled back.
With the advantage of hindsight, this was a particularly
stupid thing to do. doubtless thinking what a bunch
of idiots we were, announced that they were sending
out a vehicle to see what had happened. It duly approached,
stopped and then rapidly reversed away to a safe distance.
We were then told to shut down but not to unstrap
or attempt to get out until outside help had arrived.
Eventually a team appeared with an extending set of
steps which they gingerly placed by the cockpit and
signaled us, from a distance, to get out. When we
climbed down we saw that the arrestor cable was wrapped
around the nosewheel leg and the whole thing was stretched
tight like a giant catapult; it appeared to be about
to launch our Buccaneer backwards down the runway
towards our Nos 2 and 3. By now the Station Commander,
a man not noted for his tolerance, had arrive on the
scene, breathing fire from his nostrils and wanting
to know precisely who was to blame for this shambles
that had blacked his airfield in such a thoughtless
Of course in the darkness of the night no one had
a clue as to how this had happened or how to extract
the jet from its imminent backwards launch so there
was much argument amongst all parties out there on
the runway. As the finger of suspicion seemed to be
pointing at the acting pilot officer and I we flunk
away unnoticed to the bar.
The answer only became clear the next morning. Lying
in the grass beside the runway was found the mangled
remains of a metal stand that the crash crews used
to hold the arrestor cable about 3 feet above runway
to allow them to move the rubber grommets easily when
rigging the cable into the up position.
Whilst re-rigging the cable after the arrival of the
VlP's Andover the night before, they were hassled
by ATC to hurry up and clear off the runway - as our
formation was taxiing and in their haste they forgot
to remove the stand! I then smote it a mighty blow
- at least it proved I was on the centre-line for
take off - and thus collected the cable around the
nosewheel leg. What might have happened if the Andover,
which was taxiing behind our formation, had been in
front of us does not bear thinking about.
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