Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Ides of March: U2 Brute?

Et te, Brute? You too? It was a big day for Julius Caesar who was in Control at the time. It did not end well for him

On another day, much later, another chap was in control in a place not far distant when another cry of "U2" went up.

A U2 of the USAF was taking off at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus when disaster struck and it crashed into the control tower.

Flying is dangerous.

At 0630 local time on 7 December 1977 a U2 taking off from Akrotiri, Cyprus, veered off the runway and demolished the Air Traffic Control  Centre. As well as the pilot, the Senior Meteorological Officer and four locally employed met assistants were killed. A number of RAF and civilian personnel also suffered injuries.
The Times, Friday, Dec 09, 1977;
Britons injured in Cyprus plane crash are named
Nicosia Dec 8 - The British military authorities today released the names of the five Britons injured yesterday when a United States Air Force U2 reconnaissance aircraft crashed just after taking off from Akrotiri base. The pilot Captain Robert Henderson, aged 32 who came from California, and four Greek-Cypriot civilians were killed.
Mr. Jack Flawn, aged 55, a senior scientific officer from Woking, Surrey, was very seriously injured. He was working in the meteorological office which took the full brunt of the crash impact.
Less seriously injured were four Royal Air Force personnel: Flight Lieutenent B. J. M. Limb aged 41, of Eversham, Worcestershire; Senior Aircraftman M. G. Watt aged 20, of Aberdeen: Senior Aircraftman A.H. Ratcliff, aged 21 of Birmingham; and Senior Aircraftwoman J. M. Battye aged 21 of Leeds. All were suffering from burns. - Reuter and AP
The Times, Friday, Dec 10, 1977
Injured Briton dies
Nicosia Dec 9.-
Mr. Jack Flawn, a 55-year-old meteorologist from Woking, Surrey, has died from injuries he received when a United States Air Force U2 reconnaissance aircraft crashed here
The Times, Tuesday, Jul 25, 1978;
Bravey awards
Flight-Lieutenant B. J. M. Limb has been awarded the Queen's Gallanty Medal, and Senior Aircraftsman M.G. Watt the Queen's Commendation for Brave Conduct for Bravery after an air crash at RAF Akrotiri Cyprus.
The U2 is a splendid steed. But quite different from most. It has wheels in the centreline and has to be pursued down the runway by a vehicle which puts a wheel on a flexible stick under the wing tips. It is said to be one of the hardest aircraft to land. 

The width of the wings is notable too. A narrow space is not the sort of place you would want to land in.

Yet...... they have been known to land on an aircraft carrier.

That, of course, was impossible. But as someone said once "the impossible takes a little longer".

To all my pilot friends..... y'all be careful, ya'hear.

And all of you in Control Towers too.

And not just in March.


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