RAF HALTON 1953 - 1956
|(Updated 21 July 2003)|
|Box828 Stn 'A' Nanaimo, B.C., V9R5N2 Canada.
23 April 2001
Alan Styles (ex 75 engine fitter)
I would like to take this opportunity of thanking you for all the sterling work that you have been doing for the 75 Club. I always read with great interest the newsletters, and having just recently been dragged screaming into the world of bytes, surfing, Mhz and the like, I switched onto the web and discovered The 75th Web Site.
Having reviewed the 75 Web Site, I have been inspired to drop a line
and to give you a shortened version of the life of one of the 75th's
engine fitters (self?) and to throw in a couple of old photos that might
stir some memories.
Having left Halton and doing what I was trained to do in St Athans, Glam. I remember the world going a little pear shaped on discovering that the powers that be were going to send all engines back to the manufacturers for major overhaul -we had become redundant. This resulted in my being the first engine fitter to have the dubious distinction of voluntarily changing down to Trade Group 5 (general engineering). This was followed by a stint in Cyprus and then back to the Thor missiles.
In 1962 I eventually gained my ambition and was accepted for pilot training-. Wings in 1963 and shortly after that, due to troubles out in Borneo, helicopter pilots were required. Now, I didn't really want to fly those dangerous looking things, but the military is not known for listening to ones personal desires and so it was off to Tern Hill to discover that helicopters really do fly (after a fashion) if one concentrates hard enough. I then had to go to Odiham and learn to fly two machines in very close formation this was called a Belvedere, an unbelievable piece of gyrating machinery with a rotor at each end.
I then found myself in Singapore and operationally flying in Borneo. My family and I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. Once back in the UK, I was selected for a commission and then to FTS. This new job took me back to Tern Hill to teach others how to cope with the intricacies of helicopter operations, and then onto Odiham with the same type of job with the Puma. Standards Squadron saw me to the end of my military career in August of 1976 as a Flt Lt.
Having been bitten by the flying bug I took up flying with Schreiner Aviation in Iran for four years. You might think that I was a little crazy but all was at peace in that part of the world back in 1976. Life in Iran under the Shah was quite acceptable but then came the Khomeni take over and all hell broke loose. I put up with this situation for about a year and then fled the country just prior to the Iran/Iraq war.
The great outback beckoned and so it was off to Commercial Aviation in Australia. Two excellent years followed before my work visa ran out and so it was decision time again. Abu-Dhabi Aviation came next, working the oil fields off the UAE coastline for four years: then it was off to Canada to try my luck. My patient wife and I immigrated to British Columbia and we ended up in the far north of Alberta where we got the greatest shock of our lives ~- winter temperatures down to minus forty-six degrees Celsius. Three winters later I threw the towel in and moved down to Vancouver to get warm!
With no work available in the south of Canada at the time, I went back to the Middle East only this time to Qatar with Gulf Helicopters. During the next four years I found myself working the oil fields of Qatar, construction work in Oman and oil related work in Yemen.
When that dreaded period arrives, on reaching the age of 60, and by law one is not allowed to fly commercially I found myself back in Canada. Now, as it happens, Canada is the only place that I'm aware of that does not follow this rule and so here we are just coming up to sixty five and flying for Vancouver Island Helicopters during the summer months only and thoroughly enjoying it
Well! That just about sums things up, but if there is one thing to be gained from all this and that is if one wants a quiet life, stay away from the world of helicopters !!
My regards to the staff and all your readers: perhaps, one day I might actually make it back across the 'pond' and attend one of the 75ths social events.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite anyone from the 75th
Entry who may remember me and would wish to compare notes to contact
me at the following e-mail address - firstname.lastname@example.org