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the radio – but he cannot talk the Harrier is airborne and on its aircraft safely on and off a
of the fi re can be controlled,
with the fl ight deck. sortie. fl ight deck is, only about half
● Fire by night... (above) the gas-fuelled fi re-fi ghting trainer at
as can its location on the mock
Predannack burns furiously in the dark while (below) Fred is
Hands form an ‘A’,
And there we wait until we’re an aircraft handler’s six-month
fuselages. You want a wheel
hauled to safety
immediately followed by a
ushered in to land. This bit isn’t course is spent dealing with, er,
fi re? No problem. Just the port
big circular movement of
quite as realistic as the ‘take- handling aircraft.
engine? Piece of cake. Or you
the right arm: Switch on
off’. There’s no ‘sideways slide’, The rest is devoted to
can have Dante’s inferno.
auxiliary power.
no drop to the deck, no bounce emergency rescue and fi re-
Another press of a button and
of the undercarriage as the fi ghting – and at wind-swept
Hand pointing at the
the fl ames die – providing the
Harrier touches down. Predannack there’s a 120-acre
Harrier intake, followed by
fi re crews are dealing with the
No, it’s a bit more trundling site to play with.
a big circular movement
blaze properly. If not, the gas –
– with all the requisite signals A dozen or so ‘dead ducks’
of the right arm: Start the
and fl ames – keep coming.
from the handlers – and then a are scattered around the
You cannot, of course, turn off
slicing motion across the neck. satellite airfi eld for crash teams
a real fi re. So a few yards away
Arms raised, fi sts clenched:
Cut the engine. to practise extricating Fred, the
there’s a tangled lump of metal
On brakes.
Now you Royal Navy’s
which is turned into a raging
could do all this
You get the real
Arms lowered, hands and
confl agration courtesy of fuel,
on a simulator prone dummy.
thumbs facing out: Out
(and a lot of it is
thing here – the
not gas.
No two ways about it, it’s more
– see later).
heat, the noise,
who’s had the
authentic. The gas-powered
Arms raised, fi sts un-
There’s a ‘pleasure’ of
blaze gives you fl ames and heat,
clenched: Off brakes. Both
‘but’ coming…
the smell of the
pulling Fred
but it doesn’t give you smoke.
arms beckoning forwards:
“You don’t out of the
get the heat, exhaust fumes, that
Set Avcat alight and pungent
drink will know
black smoke rolls across the
Arm moved across body:
the noise, the
burning sensation
he’s a heavy
airfi eld; it’s visible from a mile
Passing you over to
smell of the and unwieldy
another director.
exhaust fumes,
in your eyes.
It’s good for training. It’s not
that burning
– Eggy Eggleston
Now try
so good for the environment –
Right arm then left arm sensation in freeing him
Predannack is a Site of Special
aligns us with centre line of your eyes,” says from the
Scientifi c Interest – so the fuel
the fl ight deck. Eggy. “You get the real thing smoke-fi lled cockpit of a
fi re is used sparingly (and the
Arms raised, fi sts clenched:
here – that’s why it’s a cracking Canberra bomber where there’s
school’s ‘carbon footprint’ is
piece of kit, so realistic. very little ‘wriggle room’ with
offset before the green lobby
“It makes people realise that a which to play.
Arms lowered and crossed
start any fi nger-pointing).
fl ight deck is bloody dangerous “It’s real grit training – or sweat
in front of the body. Don’t
“This is pretty much how the
– but if you make a mistake here, and snot as I prefer to call it,”
real thing is,” explains WO(AH)
all you do is run on to some says Lt Cdr Simon Dunkley, the
Bob Holborn, the school’s fi re
All eyes now on the captain
grass.” school’s Commanding Offi cer.
training offi cer.
of the fl ight deck. Red fl ag
There’s no fi re on the dead
“The only major difference is
on his head: Stand-by,
THE dummy deck is the jewel ducks: believe it or not unwanted
that a real fi re incident is much
power-up engine.
in the crown of the School of airframes are hard to come by.
more protracted – it can drag on
Flight Deck Operations. But But there’s plenty of fi re a
‘Captain’ looks up and
for four or fi ve hours.
it’s not the only gem – and few yards away at three fi re-
down the fl ight deck to
“As long as the guys use the
shunting Harriers, Merlins and fi ghting trainers – one mock-up
check clear and safe for
right techniques, ask the right
Sea Kings around a mock deck of a propeller-driven aircraft (the
launch. Red fl ag lowered,
questions, think about contacting
barely scratches the surface ‘wide-body trainer’), another of a
green fl ag raised. We’re off.
the correct authorities, that’s
of the school’s output. helicopter fuselage, and fi nally a
what we’re looking for.”
I say ‘we’re off’, but with the No, another vital nugget lies tangled mass of metal. The fi rst
There is no substitute for
throttle restricted, the best we half a dozen miles to the south at two are gas-powered, the last
fi re-fi ghting than real fl ames
can do is trundle. And trundle Predannack, Culdrose’s satellite devours Avcat.
(although trainees also spend
we do around a short track to a airfi eld. The gas trainers are easily
time in the laboratories of the
holding area which signifi es that As important as guiding turn off and onable: the scale
marina Continued on page 18
present-day pictures: la(phot) jenny lodge; historic images: geoff wakeham, rnas culdrose tower
0016-018_NN_Jan.indd 216-018_NN_Jan.indd 2 88/12/09 15:51:26/12/09 15:51:26
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