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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 fashion!
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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