Air Chief Marshal Sir Richard Johns was commissioned at the RAF College Cranwell in 1959 after completing flying training on Piston Provost and Meteor aircraft. Following nine years service as an operational fast-jet pilot flying Javelins and Hunters he became a qualified flying instructor during which time he taught The Prince of Wales to wings standard. Returning to the front line he commanded a Harrier squadron and later the Harrier Force in Germany. A succession of national and NATO senior posts followed culminating in his appointment as Chief of the Air Staff and ADC to the Queen. On retirement in April 2000, he became Constable and Governor of Windsor Castle. A past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the RAF Museum, he is now president of the RAF Historical Society. His illustrious career gave him the privilege of a rare, if not singular, perspective of the RAF, its sister services and national defence matters, witnessing a steady decline in the combat power of the UK’s armed forces as financial management took precedence over identifying strategic priorities and maintaining the vital skill-sets of service personnel. His views are forensic and forthright, balanced and thought-provoking and this autobiography should be essential reading for anyone interested in the development of Allied air power over the last fifty years and its contribution to operations in the Middle East and the Balkans.
We Seek the Highest has been the motto of the thousands of Officer Cadets who, over ten decades, have passed through the rigorous training regime at the Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, Lincolnshire. The words embody the College ethos: to strive to reach the tough standards demanded by the RAF, in the air and on the ground.
This book tells the 100-year story from the point of view of the Officer Cadets themselves. The College was founded in 1919 – some eighteen months after the birth of the RAF itself – with the aim of providing a cadre of disciplined, highly-trained officers, ready to lead the service through the uncertain post-war and post-Empire times to come. Since then, it has responded continuously to the UK’s political, economic and military requirements.
The RAF Officer Cadets’ world has thus been one of change. The author documents these changes from 1919 to today, overlaying the historical and social scene with the candidly related airborne and ground-based exploits of three-score ex-cadets.
The core narrative is based on the three years at Cranwell of 81 Entry of Flight Cadets, who graduated in July 1962 with thirty-seven jet pilots and eight navigators, having launched a curriculum-changing experiment in degree-level studies.
With a Foreword from an Air Chief Marshal former cadet, 130 illustrations, and a full index, the whole offers a cadets’ tribute to a world-famous military academy on its centenary.
From Blue to Grey is a book about the RAF with a difference. It is an anthology of stories and anecdotes contributed by former cadets at the RAF College, Cranwell. The stories are entertaining and evocative, concerning the writers’ lives from their time as cadets, back in 1949 to 1951, during their subsequent service in the RAF, and after they had retired and moved into civilian life. The book is much more than a collection of reminiscences. It is a fascinating snap-shot of the history of the RAF, which has changed a great deal since the writers joined the RAF more than half century ago. Many of the stories in this book are of a world that will not return, of a time when the RAF still had many bases across the globe, of an RAF with operational commands with the evocative titles of Near East Air Force, Middle East Air Force, and Far East Air Force. The writers of this book had the good fortune to be in the RAF at a time of rapid technological change and to fly a great variety of types spanning the end of the age of the piston-engine fighter through the developing jet age to the 1970s. Their accounts of often hair-raising flying experiences are revealing and amusing. They are particularly interesting to those accustomed to flying the more sophisticated aircraft of today in a much more regulated environment. The book also gives us a glimpse of the social history of the UK in the post-war period though the eyes of those who lived and served through the withdrawal from Empire and changes from post-war austerity to modern Britain.
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During the Falklands war Jerry Pook, a pilot in No. 1(F) Squadron RAF, flew air interdiction, armed recce, close-air-support and airfield attack as well as pure photo-recce missions. Most weapons were delivered from extreme low-level attacks because of the lack of navigation aids and in the absence of Smart weapons. The only way he could achieve results was to get low down and close-in to the targets and, if necessary, carry out re-attacks to destroy high-value targets. Apart from brief carrier trials carried out many years previously there had been no RAF Harriers deployed at sea. The RAF pilots were treated with ill-disguised contempt by their naval masters, their professional opinions ignored in spite of the fact that the RN knew next to nothing about ground-attack and recce operations. Very soon after starting operations from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes the squadron realised that they were considered as more or less expendable ordnance. The Harriers lacked the most basic self-protection aids and were up against 10,000 well-armed troops who put up an impressive weight of fire whenever attacked.
During a twenty-five year flying career in the RAF, Jerry Pook has flown Hunter Fighter/Ground Attack aircraft in the Gulf, Harriers in West Germany, the supersonic Starfighter with the Dutch Air Force, the Harrier in Belize, Central America and the Tornado bomber at the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment where he trained German and Italian pilots and navigators.Jerry had a long relationship with the Harrier Fighter/Ground Attack vertical take-off aircraft. This he flew in West Germany at the height of the Cold War operating from Wildenrath and off-base operations with Field Wing operations based in the fields and woods of the German countryside. Jerry saw action during the Falklands War when based on HMS Hermes and flying one of the few RAF Harriers in the Ground Attack role in support of the troops fighting ashore. He then enjoyed flying the American-built Starfighter RF 104G during a 3 year exchange tour with the Dutch Air Force—he describes the Starfighter as ' beautiful to fly, smooth and sophisticated, supremely fast and powerful—if you took liberties with it you knew it would kill you in an instant.' After 3 years with No 1(Fighter) Squadron and again flying the Harrier he moved to the then new Tornado, flying in its bomber role. This he continued to fly operationally and in the instructional role for 13 years until grounded from military flying for medical reasons.
FROM OUR OWN AUTHORS
A fast-moving fictional novel about an Argentine fighter pilot, whose brother was killed in the attack by a British submarine on the Battleship Belgrano. He resolves to avenge his brother's death by attacking the British Royal Family whilst they are at sea.
Chris Coville 91C
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