March 2019

In this month’s issue:

  • Don Lord and Tony Palmer have Memories of Toon Ghose
  • Your editor visits The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton
  • Will your GPS stop working on the 6th April?

Memories of Toon Ghose

Sadly we have to report that local flying legend Toon Ghose, passed away earlier this month.  Toon’s funeral is at Woodvale North Crematorium, Brighton, BN2 3QB, on March 22nd at 14.00  then Shoreham at 16.00.

Don Lord and Tony Palmer remember their time with Toon below:

Toon Ghose and Don Lord standing together, Don's arm around Toon's shoulders.

Toon Ghose and Don Lord at Deanland

I guess like most of us I met Toon by going to Shoreham with the idea of learning to fly.  I went in the late 60s to the Southern Aero Club.  I formed a strong bond with Toon after I had spent ten weeks in India to make a one hour-long film on the many levels of religion there.  I borrowed a copy of the film and invited Toon with his wife and children to my house in Hove to spend an evening to watch the film.  He started to making annual trips to the Nepal to go gliding in an area in which I had filmed, and planned to drive to Germany to buy the latest glider, tow it to Nepal and arrange two-week flying holidays with attempts to get the altitude record.  I was going to go along to make a film of this but some backers pulled out and the project died.  Like many, I feel I have lost a great friend. RIP

Don Lord

Toon at the release of his book “Tiger in the sky” with Pat Jackson(the Author) her son and myself

I first came across Toon when I needed to get my Radio licence. He was living at Truleigh Farm at the time in an attic room on his own. I turned up there for the test and examination and was offered a portion of vegetarian curry, the place honked of it but I declined not being a curry man myself. The radio exam was very “informal” and I remember him saying don’t worry about exactly what you say but say what you want in your own words.

He also took me on my GFT and once he was happy that I had passed, he said now let’s have a bit of fun and we went and did a bit of low flying over the escarpment of the downs just to the East of Ditchling Beacon, over the top at near ground height and diving into the Weald, he was right it was exhilarating compared with flying round and round the circuit at Shoreham!

Another time he gave me a checkout in my Avid with the BMWR100 engine and we were at about 2000’ and we made a power off decent into Truleigh strip for a touch and go but there was not much go after touching down. It vibrated like mad so we put in into a field which was not big enough and smacked a wing on a tree which stopped us quite quickly. (Lesson learned leave some power on or put power on every say 500’ feet i.e. carb icing) We extricated ourselves from the plane with no damage to us, we then tried to get back to Truleigh farm by going under fences, over ditches etc with Toon falling in the ditch and hurting himself a little. It just shows you how dangerous walking is compared with flying.

I cannot remember how it happened but I found out that he was packing up flight training as his medical would run out the next day, so I booked his last ever lesson in the afternoon of his last day just for the hell of it. He used one of his most famous quotes when teaching from scratch, when discussing the height to round out at, he would say “round out at the height of an Indian elephant”. We landed and went to complete the logs in the school and I realised just how bad his eyes were as he couldn’t even read the registration on the spine of the book, that’s when you realise how precious you sight is. He was giving up the thing that was his whole life up until that time.

During the winter Toon would go off to Nepal for a few months for a walking holiday. He was travelling in the middle of nowhere when he collapsed by the roadside with horrendous internal pains. He was lucky that a local passer-by took him to their village and even more lucky that an English doctor was driving through the village and was brought to Toon and who took out his appendix on the spot. He was looked after post op by the villagers until he was strong enough to go home to the UK. After that he felt such a connection with the village that he collected money during the summer here and went back every winter to the village and brought land for the villagers and paid for medical help for them i.e. eye ops for children.

Another time I did a by-annual with him in the winter when Sussex had seen a “monsoon” well it rained a lot, such that most of the Arun flood plain was covered and Pulborough and Arundel were badly hit and I remember filming with my new video camera while Toon pointed the plane.

One more story he told when I got him to spend an evening entertaining the Southern Strut was a man and a woman turned up and asked to be flown and they would sit in the back of the C172. Once they got airborne the guy said “Pilot you will keep your eyes forward until I tell you otherwise” With regard to the movement of the plane the assumption was that they wanted to join the mile high club!! There was much more but I have forgotten it at the moment.

 

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Many thanks to Dave Websdale for the Fly-in pics.

A lovely man and I am proud to have touched his life for a very short time whereas others were much closer to him and knew him longer but might not be around now to have recorded their memories.

Tony Palmer

The Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton

Currently being medically grounded, I’m having to get my aviation fix vicariously these days. The route I frequently travel to Devon takes me past Yeovilton airfield, or HMS Heron, home of the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.  On this occasion I had time in hand, so I called in for a visit to the aviation museum there.  Here’s my brief review:

Whilst many aviation museums place some of their aircraft exhibits in dioramas to give historical context, this museum takes it a stage further.  A very substantial part of the display is given over to recreating the operation of the flight deck on a 1970’s aircraft carrier.

There are four halls, together with additional gallery space.  Hall 1 presents the development of naval aviation from early bi-planes to current jets (but no real F35 Lightning yet!).

 

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Also a number of helicopters used in search and rescue roles.

 

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Hall 2 is devoted to Second World War (with a couple of later aircraft).  It is comparatively cramped, so difficult to photograph there.  The Fairey Swordfish is actually embedded in the mezzanine gallery.

 

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Hall 3 is dedicated to ‘The Aircraft Carrier Experience’.  It is a large hangar, laid out as a carrier flight deck, with a variety of 70/80’s jets parked on it.  You enter through a simulated ride in a helicopter, on to an active deck with launching and recovering jets.  This is simulated by video projected on enormous screens at either end of the hangar.  You are directed to walk to where the action is.  If you are able to suspend disbelief and indulge the artistic licence, it is very effective.  However, the lighting is subdued so I was unable to take photos of the Sea Vixen, Phantom, Buccaneer et al. located there.

After the flight deck, you are directed to ‘The Island’; the structure containing the command infrastructure of the ship: Bridge, Operations Center, Flight Control, Communications Office, etc.  You are guided through the various rooms by a video of a Chief Petty Officer who explains the action.  In the scenario the carrier is engaged in flying activity, while at the same time being visited by ‘Wreckers’; external sailors tasked with testing the readiness of the ship.  Certainly the experience gets across the immense complexity of the task and the training and discipline necessary to execute it.

Finally Hall 4 is a bit more eclectic, with exhibits including the second prototype Concorde, the Hawker P.1127 (prototype of the Harrier), Handley Page HP115 experimental low speed delta jet and the British Aircraft Corporation 221 experimental high speed delta (the last two part of the research that lead to Concorde).

 

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There are also sections dedicated to the Falklands Conflict, operation of the Sea King and ‘Cold War to Kabul’.

All very worth a visit if you are down that way.  Details from: www.fleetairarm.com/

Richard Griffiths

Will your GPS stop working on the 6th April?

There is a ‘millennium-bug’ problem about to hit some GPS kit.  The way weeks are encoded in the system in a 10 bit variable means that every 1024 weeks it must be reset to 0.  The last time this happened was 21st August 1999 and the worry is that this may throw up issues for some GPS receivers.  There is an EASA Safety Information Bulletin on it (how much longer will we be getting those…) at: ad.easa.europa.eu/ad/2019-01R1

Events

The next meeting is a GASCO safety evening at the Swiss Cottage on 6th March 2019.  Tell everyone who would benefit !!

Regular meetings are in the Lounge Bar, The Swiss Cottage, Shoreham, 7:30pm.

For the latest list of events, go to the Events page on the Strut website.

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