I was rather annoyed at the job of pumping fuel into aircraft, mainly 104s and other visiting NATO Aircraft. After all, I was a highly-trained avionics technician.

on the ground so the snow never melted. For those who recall the Flying Boxcar, perhaps you can tell me how the cargo compartment was heated. Luckily I was wearing my winter gear. The fl ight on the Convair 640 from RCAF base Namao, Edmonton, Alberta, to RCAF Trenton, Ontario, was interesting as I worried the whole fl ight because I saw oil running out of the cowling and over the wing. Apparently this was normal and we safely landed in Trenton. We boarded a Yukon (the Canadian version of the Britannia) and after a long fl ight we landed in the green of France between Christmas and New Year’s Eve 1964. A huge change from the freezing cold of Canada. I was soon assigned to the fl ight

line. I was rather annoyed at the job of pumping fuel into aircraft, mainly 104s and other visiting NATO aircraft. After all, I was a highly- trained avionics technician. This work taught me a useful lesson about how dangerous the fl ight line could be. I was shell shocked for a few weeks as I found the active fl ight line was busy. There were weapons on the allied aircraft, however, none were on our base 104s. Both 439 and 441 squadrons were photo reconnaissance squadrons and carried only cameras. I found it interesting that our aircraft had no cannons. Being

raised on ‘Battle of Britain’ stories, I was perplexed. Someone told me dogfi ghting was old fashioned and therefore we had no need of cannons. During the Vietnam war this was found to be false and cannons were added to American fi ghters. German and French aircraft had cannons so not everyone fell into the idea that missiles were all you needed. The RCAF later went back to cannons as well.

The 104 had razor-sharp leading edges and I had to learn not to cut my hands or head. Explosives, fuel, ejection seats, oxygen and many moving vehicles and aircraft was quite intimidating at fi rst. However, as time passed and I became more skilled and experienced, the fear dissipated. It just became exciting. Throughout my previous articles,

I have avoided using names because many of the people with whom I worked during those years went onto senior ranks and careers in military, business and politics. I don’t wish to embarrass anyone other than myself so the persons involved shall remain nameless. I recall one pilot who was launched in his 104 during a scramble and at 30,000 feet he noticed the safety pin was still in his ejection seat. Pilots were supposed to show ground crew the fl ag and pin. Luckily, the aircraft was serviceable and he had no need to eject. He became a lieutenant

general later in his career. Aircraft also went through the last chance inspection point by armorers who were to pull the tip tanks and other tank pins before fl ight. I have seen a few 104s roaring down the runway in full afterburner with the safety pins still in. Another interesting event took place during takeoff of a Luftwaff e 104 dual seater, the backseat canopy came loose and went into the engine inlet. I recall the Luftwaff e taking the aircraft home on a fl at bed truck. Sometimes, we had brake and/or drag chute failures and the tailhook was used to stop the 104. This would drag a very large, heavy chain out onto the runway and close the runway for a while. The ‘Tiger Meets’ were always fun as each air force had a Tiger Squadron. There was a great deal of real competition in aerial matters and on the ground. Trying to keep the sortie rate up was always a challenge for us ground crews. It was hard work as well as some play. Tagging other countries aircraft with squadron emblems, etc., was always a top choice of activities. A few exciting events occurred close to me as well. One of several that I recall was when I was starting two F-105 Thunder Chiefs and one blew all the drop tanks on the concrete. We always parked aircraft on circular pads called revetments,

18 | mar 2018

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