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had served in the SAS, following his father into an army career. However, a serious parachuting accident led to him being discharged on medical grounds. Using his disability allowance he trained for a private pilot's licence, the launch-pad for what was to become an amazing flying career. He eventually owned a DH Tiger Moth, a Russian Yak 50 and an RV-9 touring aircraft. These were all kept and maintained in a hangar alongside his airstrip at his home in the Meon Valley. Ralph had a general dislike of ‘the Authorities’. When living in London in the 1960s he was outraged when the local council introduced parking meters, installing one just outside his flat. Under the cover of darkness he and two friends, who were reservist riflemen, lifted the meter out of the ground before the concrete had set. The following weekend they were in the Brecon Beacons on exercise. The offending meter was duly marched into the hills to the top of Pen Y Fan and cemented into the ground near the summit, much to the consternation of hill-walkers


ZA150 OPEN DAY T


he third open day for the Museum’s Vickers VC10 K3 at Dunsfold took place on 15th


July. The preparation for this event started a few weeks before with a cleaning team from Jetwash descending onto the aircraft. This was badly needed as over the previous winter the fuselage and wings had turned a deep shade of green! Unfortunately the hottest day of the year was chosen for this exercise and as it was a ‘dry cleaning’ process the fuselage became too hot and the work had to be abandoned. It was completed a week later.


At the same time the team of volunteers who


are dedicated to looking after ZA150 serviced the aircraft. The hydraulics and engine oils were topped up, tyre pressures adjusted and all four engines run to exercise the flaps and slats and generally blow the cobwebs away. On the day, which luckily turned out to be fine and warm, the volunteers assembled at 9.00am to prepare for the taxy runs that were going to take place before visitors were welcomed on board. Power was established and the various checks carried out, mainly on the flight-deck. For this open day the pilot was our ex-East African Airways Captain Jerry Sirley and in the P2 position was ex-East African Airways ground engineer and Project Leader Bob Cooper. Deputy Project Leader Paul Robinson was in the flight


46


engineer’s position. Bob and Paul interchanged positions after the first run. Jerry carried out a briefing to ensure that the flight-deck and ground-crew knew exactly what was going to happen. On this occasion, as Deputy Project Leader, I was in charge of ground operations to ensure a smooth ‘departure and arrival’. The demonstration runs were a great success and went like clockwork. As usual ZA150 performed flawlessly with two high-powered passes up and down the runway. The aircraft was then parked and doors, engine cowlings and various other panels opened. Approximately 90


and the Army. It may well still be there today. Always keen to try something new, Ralph founded the Short Field Squadron with like- minded aviators. The mission was to land in the most ridiculously short fields safely and without incident. It provided regular challenges and, with them, improvements in judgement and skills. Another keen interest of Ralph’s was the St Moritz Tobogganing Club which he joined in 1998. He always rode the Cresta on a traditional toboggan, dressed in old-style plus-twos, eschew- ing modern fashion. He qualified to ride from the top in 2000 and rode every year. Sadly, his final run this year was to prove fatal. Ralph had the reputation of being a bit of a wild


card, occasionally flying too close to the sun. He had little time for convention and cared not for ticking boxes. His life was powered by the adrenaline of speed and the magic of flight, ennobled by his artistic flair and his irrepressible sense of fun. He will be greatly missed.


Simon Ames News The VC10 on its run (Steve Pomroy).


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