A typ­i­cal cadet


To prove my the­sis re­gard­ing just how many pi­lots started their ca­reers in a TX Mk.3 I spoke to sev­eral em­i­nent avi­a­tors of my ac­quain­tance. It soon be­came ap­par­ent that if they were ‘air­men of a cer­tain age’ then the first air­craft they ever soloed was al­most al­ways a T31. They ranged from a cou­ple of Air Mar­shals, sev­eral high-time jet­liner cap­tains, to club CFIS and myr­iad sport pi­lots. In fact there were so many that we could fill this is­sue with their rem­i­nis­cences!

Oc­ca­sional cam­era­ship pi­lot Al Munro’s fly­ing life started with a week’s fly­ing in Cadet TX Mk.3s, and he shares his mem­o­ries of fly­ing with the air cadets, and his sub­se­quent ca­reer here.

“It was a Mon­day morn­ing in late July1958 when a bunch of raw cadets as­sem­bled in the 614 Glid­ing School hangar at the fa­mous Bat­tle of Bri­tain sta­tion RAF Hornchurch, long since a hous­ing es­tate. The course was a week long, with twenty-some­thing dual flights in the T21 and T31, to be fol­lowed, if suc­cess­ful, with three solo flights in the T31 and then a BGA ‘B’ cer­tifi­cate.

“The in­struc­tors were a mixed bunch, with berib­boned ex-wartime pi­lots in­clud­ing the sta­tion com­man­der, na­tional ser­vice pi­lots and a cou­ple of civil­ians. Their pa­tience was al­most in­ex­haustible.

“The glid­ers were com­par­a­tively new, but the winch had seen bet­ter days as a twin-drum bar­rage bal­loon launcher. It had a man­ual gear shift and 1,100ft was about the max­i­mum height for a T21 winch launch, the T31 mak­ing about 900ft. You can imag­ine that lessons were quite rushed and spins were never more than a 270° turn. How­ever, with spare bod­ies on the ground to re­trieve glid­ers, turn­around was fast and we prob­a­bly made eighty or more launches ev­ery day.

“The T21 was the ‘hot ship’, while the T31 was re­garded as a ret­ro­grade step. Down­wind, the wis­dom was ‘Now stick

your hand out at 45 de­grees lad, and make sure that it’s point­ing in­side the air­field. And if it isn’t then fly straight to the air­field and land.’

“We all com­pleted our three so­los with fly­ing to spare, so it was dealer’s choice. One cadet opted for an en­durance flight and his in­struc­tor kept the T21 air­borne over the Hornchurch sewage works by sniff­ing out a ther­mal. My an­swer was ‘aer­o­bat­ics please Sir’, so that meant the CO, one Flt Lt Bill Ver­ling. We did two loops in a T21 start­ing at 1,000 feet and end­ing pretty low. That was the day my blue touch-pa­per was lit, and it’s never re­ally gone out. Af­ter the glid­ing came a fly­ing schol­ar­ship at Fairoaks on the Tiger Moth (thirty hours and a PPL), then off to Im­pe­rial Col­lege for an aero en­gi­neer­ing de­gree. That meant about 150 hours Chip­munk fly­ing at White Waltham.

“I joined the RAF in 1964 and, af­ter ba­sic train­ing in the Jet Provost T.4 at Ack­ling­ton and ad­vanced train­ing in the Gnat T.1 at Val­ley, I got my first taste of a fighter (the Gloster Javelin) in 1966. My first op­er­a­tional post­ing was on Javelins with 60 Sqd at RAF Tengah in Sin­ga­pore. Af­ter that, and a pe­riod in­struct­ing naval pi­lots at Lin­ton-onOuse on the Jet Provost, I flew Phantoms with sev­eral squadrons be­fore be­com­ing an in­struc­tor with 228 (the Phan­tom OCU) at Con­ingsby.

“I fin­ished my mil­i­tary ca­reer as a Tornado in­struc­tor, and af­ter leav­ing the RAF flew A320s with Ex­cal­ibur and Tran­sair, in­structed at Le­ices­ter Aero Club, and flew air ex­pe­ri­ence flights for the ATC on the Chip­munk at New­ton.

“I cur­rently fly sailplanes and the Euro­fox tug with the BGC at Saltby and – to bring this T31 tale to a suit­ably cir­cu­lar con­clu­sion – on 1 Au­gust 2018 I flew with Dave in WT900, sixty years to the day since my solo in an iden­ti­cal TX Mk.3.”

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