By Joanne Wachter illustrated by Ian Newsham
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Additional info for Is It Like Us?
The Flight’s heavily laden Land Rover maintenance vehicles were not suitable for deployment into the field, so if a maintenance crew was to be taken on operations, men and equipment usually had to be flown. It was also difficult to deploy in sufficient strength because the Flight still had to provide scarce manpower for local defence in its sector. Then there were equipment and spares issues. The OC was unstinting in his praise of the ground crew but found the combination of official and unofficial spares systems somewhat unnerving: For example, the maintenance guys would go over and change a radio.
For all tasks accepted, it was also the pilot’s responsibility to determine the best way to carry them out. Exercising these responsibilities called for firmness and tact, as the pilots were usually under the direction of officers of senior rank who were not accustomed to debating their orders with junior officers. There were many other tasks. Air observation post sorties were allocated to either Cessna or Sioux aircraft. For scheduled firing by artillery batteries, the shoot was normally conducted by an artillery officer carried in the aircraft.
3 In the case of the Sioux, a pilot was pleased to leave a heavyset commander behind and take his rat-thin intelligence officer instead. They could not talk with air traffic control or with US aircraft. Eventually, suitable ARC-51BX UHF radios were ‘acquired’ from the Americans and the pilots could operate with greater safety and flexibility. That they achieved most of their operational objectives in the early days without adequate communications is remarkable, and is testimony to the skills of pilots John Guild, Holger von Muenchhausen, Bevan Smith, Neville Pinkham, Don Ettridge, Don Cockerell and Paul Lipscombe.
Is It Like Us? by Joanne Wachter illustrated by Ian Newsham