A Gulf Story (Part 1)

Written by : Charlie Brown

Published : January 20, 2021
30 years ago on January 20th 1991 the driver and navigator of an aeroplane that was rented to them good working order was returned to me several hours later in damaged condition.

Actually there’s a bit more to the story than that! But before I get into the bones of the tale, I must (especially for the uninitiated) lay down a few truths about RAF operations.

Aeroplane (hereby referred to as the ‘jet’) these were multi million pound swing wing arrows of death, otherwise known as the Panavia Tornado GR1, they were designed and built by Britain, Germany and Italy to deliver buckets of sunshine to the former Soviet Union. The jet in this particular story was called Dhahran Annie.

Groundcrew own the jet! Not the pilots and certainly not the RAF or the taxpayer. Groundcrew come in different shapes and sizes and have varying degrees of importantness* mainly depending how loud they can shout.

Pilots (hereby to be referred to as ‘driver’) are usually well meaning types, often rather clumsy and adept at pushing the wrong buttons and then denying it or breaking things that they shouldn’t even be touching and dropping pens behind or under ejection seats. Navigators sit in the back of the jet behind the pilot, on a civilian aircraft these are sometimes known as Flight Engineers, but flight engineers help groundcrew by slapping drivers before they can break things, unfortunately navigators are usually too busy looking out of the window to do this. Anybody can be a navigator as long as he can tell his arse from his elbow! (Blackadder was spot on there!) Navigators also break things, but it wasn’t my job to fix their things and sometimes they weren’t really broke anyway, they were just accidentally selected to the O.F.F. mode, which means it’s not actually supposed to work!

Story To Be Continued Tomorrow......

Photos in order; Driver, Navigator and Cuddly Toy (not in that order left to right!) Hardworking Groundcrew (checking tyre pressures) Dhahran Annie
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