Wednesday 16 May 2012: Local Boy Makes Good
300 Blips today so here's one I've been holding back.
During the '70s there was a drive to recruit unsuspecting mugs to the Services. Press Gangs were declassé so a new idea was tried. Take some poor mugs photo and whack it in his local rag, hence "Local Boy Makes Good." They'll then apply to join in their masses. Remember this was the period when Mr McGuinness and Mr Adams, fine upstanding citizens about whom I shall not hear a bad word uttered, as if, were leading their motley crew of dipsticks against the dark forces from across the water. So have your photo taken, have it placed in the local rag and guess what! You will then appear on an IRA intelligence brief. Somebody at a much higher pay grade than me and with more security around him than me thought this a swish, whizzo idea. Anybody who maintains that the pen is mightier than the sword has never has a crazed Mick with an IQ of a dozen eggs blazing away at him.
This was taken in 1976 at the Army Air Corps Centre, Middle Wallop near Andover (Royal Marines pilots and Air Gunners were trained by the Army Air Corps), I was mid-way through my flying training, aged 23 and WE were having the year of our lives. Mrs Booty helped me revise each night, everything from aerodynamics to tank recognition, the brat was 3 and having a great time being a tom-boy. We bought our first little car, an ancient Austin 1100 for £200, life was wonderful. Surfing at Bournemouth every weekend during the summer John Denver belting out of the 8 track stereo, walking in the woods in the cold weather.
I have maintained contact with some of the lads from school. Apparently this image created a bit of a stir when it was published. I had failed maths 'O' level three times, but was bloody good at art and geography. I loved the sciences but they went over my nut, languages were a doddle, ie your typical rugby, hockey, basketball, swimming thicko. Consequently when this appeared in the staff room several heads were shaken, mutterings of "So this is what happened to the Empire," were made. I believe some masters were so surprised they talked to each other in English rather than Latin.
The beast I am posed beside is a Sioux, the very same thing that opened the TV series MASH. Powered by a wonderful sounding turbo-charged 6 cylinder Lycoming engine it was a very forgiving training aircraft, we spent the whole of '76 flying without the doors on, joy unbounded! Unfortunately during the heatwave of '76 the bugs were out in abundance. Many of the engineering staff were young ladies who got really pigged off wiping bugs from the perspex each day. One decided to use an Addis brush, brilliant idea, until we took off and turned into sun; then the world disappeared behind a swirl of nylon scrub marks in the perspex. She had "done" about 5 cockpits by the time she was stopped. Very expensive error.
On completion of training I converted onto the Gazelle, the Ferrari of helicopters. I cannot begin to describe what it was like to go from plodding along at 65 knots at 30 feet as a basic student, to 135 knots at 20 - 30 feet, as a terrified just out of nappies student. The only comparison I know is jumping from a mini into a Ferrari immediately after passing your test. You may have heard me as I belted along, "Yeeeeeeehaaaaaaaar!"
This is from the original movie. Spearchucker has decided he is going to die as he thinks he is impotent. Hawkeye and Trapper decided otherwise. As an aside, "Hawkeye" was the quick user name for anybody calling a helicopter in NI.
Funeral scene MASH 4077th.