Monday, June 1, 2015

Show Someone You Care

Have you ever had that feeling, retained past lunchtime from the first time about ten seconds after you woke up?  The urgent desire. The absolute need to tell the Government to 'shove it'?

There is such a demand these days. Twas ever thus, but perhaps never before have so many wanted to do so much to so few as today.

And they are 'few'.  It only takes the taking down of a few to send all the minions running.

And what can we do?

I am reminded of Pollock.

Young Alan had a wonderful adventure.

He woke up thoroughly 'annoyed' one day and I was reminded of his epic 'shove it' while leafing through some old diaries. By lunchtime he was really annoyed.

The Hawker Hunter Tower Bridge incident 

occurred on 5 April 1968 when an RAF Hawker Hunter pilot performed unauthorised low flying through Tower Bridge, London, and others, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Air Force and as a demonstration against MOD (Air) for not recognising it.

It IS a very tasty target, after all, and 'demos' are so boring these days.
In the 1960s, the British defence industry saw a shifting emphasis from manned aircraft towards guided missiles, originating from the 1957 Defence White Paper by British Defence Minister Duncan Sandys. The British aircraft industry had slipped into general decline and morale in the aerial services of the British armed forces was low. 

Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock, a flight commander in No. 1(F) Squadron RAF, was further displeased that no aerial displays had been planned to mark the RAF's fiftieth anniversary.

On 1 April 1968, Pollock and other members of No. 1 Sqn took part in anniversary leaflet raids on other RAF stations and on 4 April visited Tangmere, where they performed a display.

On 5 April 1968 Pollock decided on his own initiative to mark the occasion of the RAF anniversary with an unauthorised display. His flight left the soon-to-be-closed RAF Tangmere, Sussex to return to RAF West Raynham in Norfolk; a route that took them over London. 

Immediately after take-off,Pollock left the flight and flew low level. Having "beaten up" Dunsfold Aerodrome (Hawker's home airfield), he then took his Hawker Hunter FGA.9 (XF442) ground-attack, single-seater jet fighter over London at low level, circled the Houses of Parliament three times as a demonstration against Prime Minister Harold Wilson's government, dipped his wings over the Royal Air Force Memorial on the Embankment and finally flew under the top span of Tower Bridge

He later wrote of the decision to fly through Tower Bridge:
Until this very instant I'd had absolutely no idea that, of course, Tower Bridge would be there. It was easy enough to fly over it, but the idea of flying through the spans suddenly struck me. I had just ten seconds to grapple with the seductive proposition which few ground attack pilots of any nationality could have resisted. My brain started racing to reach a decision. Years of fast low-level strike flying made the decision simple . . .
Knowing that he was likely to be stripped of his flying status as a result of this display, he proceeded to "beat up" several airfields (Wattisham, Lakenheath and Marham) in inverted flight at an altitude of about 200 feet en route to his base at RAF West Raynham, where, within the hour, he was formally arrested by one Flying Officer Roger Gilpin.

Although other pilots had flown under the upper span of Tower Bridge, Pollock was the first to do so in a jet aircraft.

By the Lord Harry, you have to like the lad.

In the immediate aftermath of the incident his unit was posted to North Africa without him while he remained on a charge. He was subsequently invalided out of the RAF on medical grounds. This avoided a court martial and the embarrassment to the government of Pollock giving a reason for his stunt and garnering public support.

Others, too have noted his almost unique achievement .... This from

In 1968 it was the RAF's 50th birthday, yet the top brass did not see fit to mark this with any flypast, choosing instead for mere parades on the ground. Many RAF personnel were less than impressed and one Flt Lt Alan Pollock of 1(F) Squadron decided to mark the occasion in style - first with toilet-roll bombing missions against rival squadrons, and then on April 5th, while suffering from the beginnings of pneumonia which no doubt had some affect on his decision making processes, he flew his Hunter over London and at the last second decided to fly under the top span of Tower Bridge! 

Knowing of the consequences of his unauthorised trip, he proceeded to beat up several airfields and landed to meet his fate. It would be the end of his RAF career (he went on to run a successful exporting company), with political influences making sure he was treated incredibly unfairly - thrown out of the RAF with no right to appeal, no court martial at which he could present his case, medical evidence ignored, unable to meet with his superiors, etc. 

It took until 1982 for his case to be fully heard, and only then was he exonerated. 
Coincidentally, that same year the Hunter he had flown (XF442, which had been sold to the Chilean Air Force) was written off in an accident.

I don't have a handy Hunter. Neither do you more's the like. But we must find our ways to show the buggers just how far they have pushed us. 

And 'demos' by people with decent haircuts are called-for.

Paxfully, of course.

After a few pints of Grace. .... to keep the pneumonia away.


  1. That would have been quite a sight to see for anyone who happened to be passing by at the time, or for anyone sitting on the terrace outside parliament ;-)

    1. I understand it caused quite a stir.

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