“Hundreds of people are expected to attend Mr Allingham’s funeral in Brighton, which will be followed by a flypast of five replica WWI aircraft.”
One of Britain’s last World War I veterans will be buried later with military honours. Henry Allingham, who was in the Royal Naval Air Service in the war and later with the RAF, was the world’s oldest man when he died 12 days ago aged 113.
Since his death, the last WWI veteran in Britain, Harry Patch, has also died. Hundreds of people are expected to attend Mr Allingham’s funeral in Brighton, which will be followed by a flypast of five replica WWI aircraft.
Love him or hate him our Michael is thriving. Those that slim down, cut costs and innovate survive recessions and emerge fit to fight with the field clear of cowboys and fly by nights. That’s the theory at least and O’Leary is clearly a believer.
‘Old model’ carriers are struggling to survive the vanishing of their premium cabin customers with their staff used to feeding on the the pickings from the glory days. Cargo is predictable having the same problems under the squeeze. Lufthansa, KLM, Air France and the rest are in pain and suffering potentially crippling losses. Will they come back? Perhaps but not in the way they have done before is what the realists are saying, the pessimists are planning a wake.
BA is restructuring its offering to its short haul customers, not quite following the spartan low cost model but removing meal services is a start I suppose. Was there ever any logic in feeding people a meal on a flight lasting less than a couple of hours? Well if you follow the full service ethic I suppose there is but … they don’t want to pay for that so why provide it? Airline catering costs a fortune to get through the service door so why bother? Save the money, pass on the benefit and pressurise the catering companies. O’Leary understands …
He also grasps that the point of maximum uncertainty is the time to cut the best deals with aircraft manufacturers and service providers. Risky of course but as the economists say, “We always come out of recession in the end.” Michael is gambling on when and fortune favors the brave.
The French Foreign Legion used to say, “March or Die.” Airline bosses are applying the same stark but essential message to change. Still, few Unions are listening.
Like The Leaning Tower of Pisa and its little problem with inclination, is there a theoretical point at which no amount of money, effort or energy will stop a company failing? The banks don’t think so and demonstrably they are right, but then they already have our money. Remember the businessman in the dentists chair? He grabs the dentist by the nuts and says, “we aren’t going to hurt each other now, are we?” Airlines don’t have that exquisite position or grip.
What an interesting year 2010 is going to be, always assuming of course we are all there to welcome it.
Linton has history, it was major station for Bomber Command during the Second World War and played a significant role in the bloodiest chapters of the bomber offensive against the German cities. As an operational bomber crew member your odds of living through a tour of operations (thirty trips) were at one stage short to non existent. There was no way to predict who would make it and who wouldn’t, the reaper was remarkably even handed when it came to experience and ‘time in’. Some crews, very few admittedly, did several tours.Group Captain Leonard Cheshire,a truly remarkable man completed four.
The station in 1973 looked much as it had done during the war, the hangars, messing and accommodation had changed little, neither had the runway or the taxiway system. A late night walk could produce goosebumps on those with an active imagination and a sense of history.
I remember the time as late summer on the turn towards the Autumn when they arrived. There was plenty of white hair and the odd walking stick between them but generally they seemed a fit bunch of fifty-somethings, still young by todays standards I suppose.
They swept sedately through the main gate aboard two coaches, a sprinkling of the surviving flight crew from405 (Canadian) Pathfinder Squadronaccompanied by their wives, lovers and the odd family member. The coaches came to a halt in front of the guard room where the Station Commander and his Wing Commander (Flying) both of whom would have commenced their service within recent echos of the war climbed aboard them in turn to formally welcome them back to the station before whisking them away for drinks and a good lunch in the Mess.
This was followed by tours taking in corners of the base they would be familiar with. The station cinema, barrack blocks, briefing rooms as were and the engineering areas. Naturally the station’s then (and present) role in the larger scheme of things featured. 1 FTS along with Leeming and Cranwell was tasked at the time with training the RAF’s pilots and this would have interested the still aeronautically inclined.
But the truth was that this trip was a return, a return to a crucible from their earlier lives. Our rain swept, sun blessed corner of Yorkshire was the last place on earth they had stood before climbing aboard their Lancasters to join the bomber streams from all over the southern UK to set course for Germany. A return to this atmospheric and hugely important place in their collective lives was long overdue for most of them.
The coaches were evident across the afternoon during our working day, picking their way around the station slowly, the figures inside pointing or gesturing where some feature or moment returned to cause focus or hilarity. They seemed to be doing a lot of laughing, their wives didn’t look bored, the jokes and the joy of active participants made its way through the windows. Perhaps as a squadron association they had remained close across the years even though they must have come from across the UK and Canada?
The day was coming to a close when they rolled up to the control tower. The flying program had ceased, the flight line clear of aircraft except for one remaining Jet Provost standing alone with a starter crew preparing it for flight. The sun was beginning to make its way towards the horizon lengthening the shadows and removing the last vestiges of heat from the day. The veterans climbed from their coaches and were shown towards stadium style seating that had been erected in front of the tower to provide a grandstand view of the airfield and the airspace above it. As they seated Wing Commander Flying stood before them describing what was the final show of the day, an aerobatic display by Flt Lt John Cheyne, the school’s display pilot.
The peace was disturbed by the whine of a starter motor and the crackle of high energy igniters as the JP cranked then lit with a whump. Post start checks gave way to chocks being waved away and the little jet taxied past the small assembled crowd.
The sky was clear though streaked with high level cloud lit orange by now by the setting sun. The orb itself was obscured which would have made Johns display just that little bit easier to execute. He lifted of with a muted roar, half the crowd waved him away as he climbed to altitude.
The display was a great success, the maneuvers crisply executed and imaginatively linked to engage the crowd. After around fifteen minutes John concluded his display with a low pass and break into the circuit to land. The crowd were delighted and returned John’s salute again as he taxied past us with the canopy open. He quickly vanished between the hangers, the wail of the Viper gas turbine diminished to a dying whine then ceased.
As silence returned to the airfield and the wives started to shuffle expectantly and gather their belongings. The station commander stood to face the audience; politely they became silent. “Ladies and gentlemen, I wonder if I could ask you to remain seated for just a short while. We have a final item this evening which may take a few minutes to bring before you.” Without further comment he returned to his seat.
I suspect many of us over the years have had mixed experiences with companies that offer pilot recruitment services. We have seen these agencies cut a lucrative position for themselves by sitting between the employer and the pilot. This was particularly the case at one stage in the Middle East.
Additionally there has (in the UK at least) grown a mini industry that takes newly minted aviators and matches them (after a little training) to an airline. The airline is happy because it recruits a screened ‘product’ and doesn’t pay a lot for it, the agency makes a return from the individual in a form of tax from the pilot’s new salary.
Given that starting salaries are not spectacular and the additional training costs incurred add to their already cumbersome debt load, I wonder who this arrangement suits best and where the opportunity for exploitation lies?
We must not tar them all with the same brush but the whole idea leaves a bad taste in my mouth; the jobs were always going to be there anyway and someone pays for convenience – guess who. It is easy to see how the middle men floated to the surface and got their proposition swallowed. Though they probably take some finding, not all ‘Employment Executives’ wear pencil line mustaches, have sharp suits and speak far to quickly whilst leading you by the elbow to the contract. Caution and reading the small print is a valuable skill in aviation like everywhere else.
With the pilot job market tightening with recessional pressure the position of those who have invested in training can become precarious. The overall effect on the profession can hardly be positive as desperation forces the conditions of an ‘employment opportunity’ through the floor for the new arrival onto the flight deck. With employers cutting back on training and veterans retiring things will change with a vengeance when and if the market turns around as has happened in the past. The question remains… when?
How refreshing then to see the start of a fight back. A website where employers can post their opportunities and prospective employees can see what’s available and make their pitch. If this enterprising website can do the legwork and tug together the pieces of string that connect employers to prospective flight crew, they might just have us queuing up.
Perhaps adding value for the guys on each end of the string is the tough nut to crack as it introduces costs – but good luck! If you need a job… try;
I guess any kid fascinated by aviation who grew up around the time I did would be drawn to the exploits of the RAF during the ‘last war’. The veterans were plentiful in our community, we had one lovely, calm man that worked in our local hardware store who had suffered terrible burns across his face and hands. I never heard him mention the war or his injuries, he seemed to focus on making the youngsters around him laugh at his silly stories. Berlin and months in German hospitals fighting for life were to him just something that happened long ago. Keep calm, carry on seems to have been the quiet mantra of his generation.
We have seen many books about the Bomber offensive against Germany written by those who took part, occasional one stands out as exceptional like Australian Don Charlwood’s – No Moon Tonight. A superb personal history that moved me to visit the the village that bears his name on the outskirts of Gatwick airport. The church is beautiful, his ancestors sleep there still.
Bomber Boys is a very different being a documentary history rather than a personal story, but there is a connection with the characters in the conflict which for me applies colour (often missing) from books of this sort. Despite it being a sobering read I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. Patrick Bishop is a superb writer with a real grasp of his history. He perfectly captures the essence of the conflict and the post war fallout.
We live in a cynical world where money seems to define our value to society. Where the amount you can swindle in the most outrageous fashion from your employer, the government or your customers applies a sheen of cleverness buffeted only by the tenacious press and their vain calls for an accounting.
What of the soldier? Recent conflicts have seen him reviled for carrying out the mission directed by his political masters, blamed for excesses metered out by the frightened or as is becoming increasingly apparent, the darkly directed.
When the fighting is over and the players on all sides quietly leave the stage, it is those who took part who are left to deal with their injuries, both visible and hidden. Mercifully time heals most, but certainly not all. In unguarded moments the wounds of the Somme could be seen written across the faces of those gallent centenarians as they talked to the camera, the last of whom has now rejoined his friends.
Sleep well after 113 years of life Henry Allingham, the last founder member of the Royal Air Force. The man who in realising his ability to make a statement that would echo around the World decided to ask that as a species we never again visit the misery on ourselves that he and his friends had to deal with.
What currency can possibly have value when a nation wants to honour the warrior and mark sacrifice?
Not that I want to intrude on personal grief from history or anything… Not that we would wish history re-written, certainly not!
On a serious note, misery and grief isn’t something I would wish on anyone, even our Richard and certainly not his dependents.
It does make fascinating watching though to observe a self styled Sky Hero ‘get a little practice in.’
RB is no stranger to mishaps and disasters, but then – he has had plenty of practice.
On an upbeat note, if you sit in your armchair watching a computer screen you can avoid such things. At lest he gets out and does stuff… hopefully he will continue to do so. You can fool some of the people some of the time… but the reaper gets you in the end.
Stealth technology developed by the Third Reich? That might be stretching the imagination but their aerodynamic research and design capability still inspires wonder. The Germans still pour money and energy into aerodynamics both through Airbus and the glider research and manufacture industry. They are acknowledged masters in the field.
National Geographic clearly love the subject… so do I.
24-hours observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to about 2 minutes.
This is a 24-hours observation of all of the large aircraft flights in the world, condensed down to about 2 minutes. From space, we look like a bee-hive of activity! You could tell it was summer time in the north by the sun’s footprint over the planet. You could see that it didn’t quite set in the extreme north and it didn’t quite rise in the extreme south. Here is where it came from. Best quality here.
Just weeks after announcing profits, Virgin Atlantic staff finds themselves staring down the shotgun barrel with capacity cuts that mean almost 10% of its workforce could soon be out of a job. So much for profitability!
This article displays a foresight missing from a number of commentators. How does it go? The truth will out eventually despite bluster and misinformation.