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CREW ROOM

A place for stories and memories of 'Buccaneering!'


The following is a piece written by Simon van Garderen.
He Instructed on Harvards and also flew Buccaneers with 24 Sqn SAAF
based at AFB Waterkloof near Pretoria.

It has been translated from Afrikaans,
so Simon, I trust I have done a lekker job?

In my opinion, this is a wonderful piece of work,
it describes a Pilots' first solo in the awesome Buccaneer... Read this and ENJOY...

NB All of the following material is the sole copyright of Simon van Garderen
and must not be reproduced in any way!

Their bodies have a dull-blue shine in the winter sun.
They stand there: sharply silhouetted with the promise of brute strength
and catlike agility hidden in the streamlined fuselages;
the pride of 24 Squadron: THE BUCCANEERS!

Your helmet rests under your left arm, where you walk next to your instructor.
He doesn't talk either, because this is your day.
Only wrinkles of joy dance around his eyes, because he also remembers such a day...

You strap in. You grin like a royal monkey.
The ground crew member gives you a funny look when he helps you strap in - maybe he thinks you're a bit crazy...
You don't care, because you're the most privileged lunatic in the world!

Your helmet is passed to you, and as you pull it over your ears, the outside noises are shut out.
Just like the past week in the simulator you do the cabin inspection from left to right:
old friends are touched, adjusted, tested.
You put your hand in the air, and make a circular motion with you finger.
The technician pushes a switch and the jet-driven Palouste starter explodes into a hysterical, bubbling life at 25 500 rpm.

"Ready for port engine, major," you hear over the intercom.

"Roger Sarge," you say, opening the cover above the starter switch and pushing the port engine's button.
The Palouste is shouting murder now at 34 500 rpm, but then the left Spey wakes up with a deep, growling roar,
and when its life-flame starts a controlled hellfire of 500 degrees Celsius,
its powerful rumble smothers the hysterical screaming of the Palouste.

"Ready for starboard engine, major."

The process repeats and there the Buccaneer stands: alive, eager, shivering like a racehorse.
The ground crew rummages like broody nurses under the reborn machine
to disconnect all the umbilical cords of the power supply, to the starter and the intercom;
they experience your hurriedness of you and your machine to get in the air...

You taxi out on the taxi strip. The powerful machine wobbles dignified on its short, thick legs to the runway.
You do the takeoff checks. "Canopy closed, cabin temperature set..." the last piece goes.

On the runway you push open the twin throttles;
the engines' rumble gradually becomes a powerful rage
and in the rear-view mirror you see how the black paraffin fumes
are bewilderdly thrown about in the tornado storming from the engines.

"Release brakes. Full power," you say to yourself.

The Buccaneer storms down the runway with the gaping mouths of the Rolls-Royce Speys greedily slurping up the air,
mixing it with fire and spitting it out the blackened jet-pipes as thousands of galloping horsepower -
thrust that pushes twenty metric tons of metal into the air;
hungry-greedy like a thirst-racked animal storms to water...

"Undercarriage up. Flaps up; aileron and elevator moving in unison," you affirm to your navigator.
The dull but definitive "CLUNK" of the main wheels locking in the bays, goes like a shiver through the fuselage
and it feels as if the Buccaneer is shaking its feathers as it makes itself at home in its natural environment - THE SKY.

You keep him near the ground. "Throttle back, cruising power," you mutter to the navigator.
The thunder of the Speys fade to a restless murmur, almost like a sigh of pleasure and satisfaction;
at last the three of us are back again where we feel at home: in the air!

The terrain flashed by at seven nautical miles a minute: trees, windmills, grasslands, hills, a dam...
and wrinkles of pleasure dance around your eyes - pure pleasure - you are home again!

24 Sqn SAAF
Per Noctem Per Diem
Through night, Through Day
 

 

 

 

 





24 Sqn SAAF
Per Noctem Per Diem
Through night, Through Day
 

'Lank lewe die herinnering van die Buccaneer'

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