Low Flying in France

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FD2
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Low Flying in France

#1 Post by FD2 » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:46 pm

'Forced him to land safely'

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-56113518

French military jets cut off village's power supply by flying low

Two French military planes that flew very close to the ground have struck electrical lines and cut the power supply to a village in the south of France.

The incident happened on Wednesday afternoon in the small village of Le Castellet, near Manosque.

The two Rafale aircraft had taken off from a nearby air base on a low-altitude training flight, reports say.

An investigation has been opened into the "rare incident".

"It went so low that it made a hell of a din, I then looked up and saw the second aircraft," the village's mayor told local news outlet France Bleu (in French).

"It was so low that I said to myself: it went under the power lines," Benoît Gouin, who was driving at the time, said.

Further down the road, he says he came across sectioned electric cables hanging on the ground: "One of the planes hit the line and cut it. I immediately called the emergency services and the Enedis [electricity company] team."

The fall of the cables caused a fire which was quickly brought under control, La Provence newspaper reports.


The village remained without power for a few hours, while the access road to it was also barred for security reasons.

"There were no casualties. This in-flight incident forced the pilot of the aircraft to land safely at 14:11 [13:11 GMT]" at the Orange air base, a French air force spokesperson told La Provence newspaper. They "deplore this extremely rare incident".

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Re: Low Flying in France

#2 Post by G-CPTN » Thu Feb 18, 2021 7:56 pm

This in-flight incident forced the pilot of the aircraft to land safely.

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Re: Low Flying in France

#3 Post by ian16th » Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:48 pm

Escadron de Chasse 2/5 still operate from Orange-Caritat.
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Re: Low Flying in France

#4 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:04 pm

Runway 21 at Stapleford has high tension pylons running across final. Safety altitude over the pylons is 700 feet. Some years back a chap flew a Grumman Cougar between the top earth wire and the live cables severing part of the tail fin. He managed to land safely but the aircraft was a write-off!

Some years later a Mooney flew straight into the wires killing the pilot and the passengers. It is impossible to see the wires in the sunlight on winter afternoons with the sun low in the sky!
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Re: Low Flying in France

#5 Post by CharlieOneSix » Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:03 pm

TheGreenGoblin wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 10:04 pm
.......Some years later a Mooney flew straight into the wires killing the pilot and the passengers. It is impossible to see the wires in the sunlight on winter afternoons with the sun low in the sky!
Sound as though Marker Balls are needed on that line........
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Re: Low Flying in France

#6 Post by G~Man » Fri Feb 19, 2021 1:06 am

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:03 pm
Sound as though Marker Balls are needed on that line........
We do ours by harness or skychair here in Norcal:
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Incidentally C16, my father was born & raised somewhat near you up in the tenements of Aberdeen.
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Re: Low Flying in France

#7 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Fri Feb 19, 2021 5:01 am

CharlieOneSix wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:03 pm
Sound as though Marker Balls are needed on that line........
Cannot think why that was not done after the first accident C16.

I would also like to post corrections to the aircraft type, in one case, and the sequence of the accidents I reported in my earlier post (amazing how one's memory mangles these things, as I was flying from there throughout this period)...

1st Accident (fatal) - Robin (not Mooney) occurred during an air race.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... _03-95.pdf


2nd Accident (non-fatal) - Gulfstream GA7 (Grumman Cougar). If I remember correctly the pilot was a German chap who knew the field well.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.u ... _04-07.pdf

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Re: Low Flying in France

#8 Post by ian16th » Fri Feb 19, 2021 6:08 pm

ian16th wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:48 pm
Escadron de Chasse 2/5 still operate from Orange-Caritat.
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For completion, the badge of Escadron de Chasse 2/5 with the RAFLP badge.

I had to dig around for it, but it was 63 years ago.

We had a very good relationship with their Crew Room.
Their bar was open during working hours. Ours was open at lunch time and after 17:00.
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Re: Low Flying in France

#9 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Feb 20, 2021 4:06 am

ian16th wrote:
Fri Feb 19, 2021 6:08 pm
ian16th wrote:
Thu Feb 18, 2021 8:48 pm
Escadron de Chasse 2/5 still operate from Orange-Caritat.
For completion, the badge of Escadron de Chasse 2/5 with the RAFLP badge.

I had to dig around for it, but it was 63 years ago.

We had a very good relationship with their Crew Room.
Their bar was open during working hours. Ours was open at lunch time and after 17:00.
ian16th, you often talk of your time in the RAF, at Istres. I sense you enjoyed your time there, and I also sense a certain wistfulness about that time too, although maybe I go too far! My folks, moved to France, when they left South Africa, and settled in the countryside outside Bergerac in the South West, and I have a soft spot for the country, so maybe I am transferring my sentiment onto you. :)

Why the RAF in France? I don't understand the full historical context. I assume this was all pre-1966 and thus NATO related. It would be interesting to hear your comments on that period and what you folks did out there, or is it a case of, if you told me, you would have to shoot me?
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Re: Low Flying in France

#10 Post by Pontius Navigator » Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:32 pm

TGG, not just 1066. We have had an on off relationship with the old enemy. Before Tornado was the AFVG. Then the Jaguar with an RAF party at Merignac. The FAF has a close liason with the UK and NATO AEW Forces.

We had a liason visit by them at Wittering. We were to be quite open with them, telling them nothing, not even seeing, the WE177.

The Martel missile was also a joint French British project. I don't know the precise measurements but it bore a close similarity to the WE177 such that a Secret US Eyes paper suggested we might be cooperating with them over incorporating the bomb with the missile.

On another occasion we had a copy of the parameters of the ****** ***** as provided by them to the ** Air Force. How we got them I don't know.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.

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Re: Low Flying in France

#11 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Feb 20, 2021 2:34 pm

Pontius Navigator wrote:
Sat Feb 20, 2021 1:32 pm
TGG, not just 1066. We have had an on off relationship with the old enemy. Before Tornado was the AFVG. Then the Jaguar with an RAF party at Merignac. The FAF has a close liason with the UK and NATO AEW Forces.

We had a liason visit by them at Wittering. We were to be quite open with them, telling them nothing, not even seeing, the WE177.

The Martel missile was also a joint French British project. I don't know the precise measurements but it bore a close similarity to the WE177 such that a Secret US Eyes paper suggested we might be cooperating with them over incorporating the bomb with the missile.

On another occasion we had a copy of the parameters of the ****** ***** as provided by them to the ** Air Force. How we got them I don't know.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
There is a book here somewhere... ;)))

Thanks for the insight PN.
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Re: Low Flying in France

#12 Post by FD2 » Sat Feb 20, 2021 6:49 pm

A friend pranged an RN Hunter at Istres during a 'land away' from Lossiemouth. I can't remember how badly it was damaged as it was back about 1970. Istres was used because it was so handy for the lovely (then) towns of Provence and some decent wine and cheese etc could be stowed away for the return, the aircraft was safe and turned around by a competent RAF team. I think he was quite senior in the AWI world at the time, so a little embarrassing. :ymblushing:
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Re: Low Flying in France

#13 Post by Pontius Navigator » Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:03 pm

FD2, reminds me, it was the stop before Decci.

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Re: Low Flying in France

#14 Post by ian16th » Sat Feb 20, 2021 7:08 pm

The Royal Air Force Liaison Party
Istres and later Orange-Caratit
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Just my recollections, sorry about the errors.
The Royal Air Force Liaison Party was created under a NATO agreement. Its purpose was to supervise the servicing of transient UK and Commonwealth military aircraft by the personnel of Armée de l’Air. Because of the supervisory mission, virtually all of the RAF technical staff were NCO’s.
The unit was a detachment from RAF Transport Command Head Quarters Unit at RAF Uphaven. This parentage is reflected in the Unit Badge; except for the words ‘Liaison Party’ it is identical to the Transport Command badge.
The unit was initially based at Base Aérienne 125 Istres, northwest of Marseille. About midway between the UK and Malta.
In 1957 the total headcount was 22-23. This included 4 officers. The O.C. a Squadron Leader, the Technical Officer, a Flight Lieutenant, the Operations Officer a Flight Lieutenant Pilot of a ground tour. And a shiny new Pilot Officer as Admin.
We had a Cpl and SAC in Admin. The Cpl had a GCE in French and was an Official Interpreter; he got the same Trade Pay as us Techies!
Operations had a Sgt and a Cpl.
Stores had a Sgt and a Cpl.
Medical was a single Cpl Medical Attendant.
MT was a Sgt Fitter/Driver and an SAC Driver/Mechanic.
For Techies, there was a Flt. Sgt and an AC1 Technical Clerk. The Clerks job was to keep our enormous library of Air Publications up to date. We had AP’s for most of the RAF’s aircraft. We also had a vast stock of aircraft jacks! We could jack up almost any aircraft in service, but had to have wheels flown out from UK.
The rest of us were Aircraft Tradesmen. The Radio Section was a Sgt and 2 Cpls. 1 Radar, 1 Wireless, the Radar guy being me! I had a Eureka Mk II homing beacon to keep going.
We techies operated 2 shifts, an early shift of 08:00 - 13:00, and a late shift of 13:00 - till whenever needed.
On Early, Mon, Wed and Friday then off till late shift on Mon.
On Late Mon, Wed and Friday, on call all weekend.
These shifts would be altered as traffic demanded.
Anyone going on leave had a ‘relief’ sent out from Transport Command. So leave had to be planned well ahead.
Duties were Duty Officer, Duty NCO and Cpls did ‘The Bar’!
Accommodation was a floor in Armée de l’Air SNCO’s block. It was convienient that in the Armée de l’Air, Sgt’s wear 2 chevrons 3 chevrons is a Sgt Chef of Chief Sgt. ! So we Cpl’s were refered to as Sgt’s by the French!
Our real Sgt’s had individual rooms, the rest of us were 2 to a good sized room. On our floor we also had ‘the bar’. This was 3 rooms joined, but one of the 3 separated off by the counter and glass shutters. Running the bar for a week was a Cpl’s Duty.
We also had a 16mm cine-projector, supplied by the RAF Cinema crowd that ran the Astra cinemas at regular RAF stations. The projector would be set up to show through the glass shutters, keeping the clatter of the projector from the audience. The gap while reels were changed allowed cinemagoers to recharge their glasses at the side door of the bar.
We also had a room with a snooker table and a darkroom for the ‘Camera Club’, that was dormant until I fired it back up.
For messing, we ate at an Armée de l’Air ‘transit hotel’ on the base. It was rather good, if different to standard RAF fare. We signed a chit on arrival and the RAF was billed.
We had waitress service at tables for 8. 3 each side and 1 at each end. On each table were 2 bottles of water, 2 baskets of bread, a vinegar/olive oil carafe and for lunch & dinner, 2 bottles of wine!
When 4 people were present, you would get served.
If the bread ran out, you asked for more, and it arrived. If the water ran out, you asked for more, and it arrived.
If the wine ran out, you asked for more and it arrived. There was an enormous hogshead or some such barrel, in the kitchen and our bottles were refilled as often as we requested. The wine was ‘ruff red’ from Algeria! But at the price, one got used to it!
In the lobby outside of the dinning room was a bar, its main trade were the dispensing of coffee, aperitifs and digestif’s, though they did sell beer et al.
This brings me to money! We were paid at an exchange rate of 1176f to the £1. So 5f was very roughly 1d.
We single living in type had virtually no LOA. But the married LO guys got an enormous LOA and were very well done by.
In our bar beer was 35f, Gin was 20f and whisky was 30f. Cigarettes were 7s 6d for 200.
Work.
We had no aircraft of our own!
It didn’t matter what trade you were, it was all hands to the deck for handling, re-fuelling and re-oiling.
The 1st a/c I ever marshalled was a Beverley, after that the rest were Dinky Toys.
Didn’t want any overnight visitors, especially if they were carrying pax.
Because of being half way between UK and Luqa, we tended to most traffic at lunchtime. Being known as a god place for lunch with free wine, of course affected the scheduling of knowing Transport Command crews.
We did have some regular scheduled flights. The UCB, UK Cyprus Beverley, the best known. This was a Beverley that left Abingdon every Friday morning, stopped with us for lunch, went on to night stop at Luqa, then onto Nicosia in Saturday, Sunday returned to Luqa, and on Monday had lunch with us and then on back home to Abingdon.
The 1st UCB I saw was the one that I travelled to Istres on, one Friday in Sept 1957.
We also had the regular ‘NAAFI Kite’; this was a monthly scheduled Valletta visitor from Benson. Yes it did bring our NAAFI duty free, but it also carried our stores. This might include Oxygen bottles, which were very heavy and could cause NAAFI stuff to be put off till next month.
We did have an arrangement with the British Consulate in Marseille, and often supplied a case of Duty Free to whoever was caught short.
Our regular traffic were Beverley’s, Hasting’s and Valetta’s. With a selection of fighters that didn’t have the ferry range to get from Luqa to UK. These were Meteors, Vampires and Venoms.
At this time the Hunter Squadrons were doing a 6-week stint at Luqa and there change over day was very hectic. We would have 2 sqdns of Hunters and 2 Beverley’s full of their ground crew, all on the ground at the same time, as well as any other traffic passing through.
We also had Fleet Air Arm a/c passing through, and such thing as Avengers needing 140 octane Avgas still sticks in the memory!
A squadron of Gannets can cause havoc; those Navy types weren’t used to following marshaller’s. On carriers, they just stopped and got out.
I once re-fuelled a Westland Wyvern!
We also saw RCAF F86’s and even Israeli Air Force Meteors. But this was just after Suez!
The Hunters for the Indian Air Force were ferried by the RAF Ferry Flight; we were the 1st stop for them after the 4 x 200 gallon tanks were fitted. They leaked!
Of course Istres was an important base for the Armée de l’Air. It was their equivalent of Boscombe Down and we saw many oddities. The oddest was of course was the Leduc 022. This took off from a rail track alongside of the runway and landed on skids.
The Armée de l’Air had a SAR a/c on standby at Istres. In the evening, the standby crew could normally be contacted on the phone in our bar!
We moved to Orange in May 1958. I was the 1st RAF guy to spend a night there, as I, with a fitting team, installed a Eureka MkVII at Orange, in readiness for the move.
The reason for the move? It was rumoured that the French considered us and our visitors were a security risk to all of the Boscombe Down type work.
It was a tough life but someone had to do it.
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Re: Low Flying in France

#15 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:03 pm

Oh my gosh! Any historian worth his or her salt would be in ecstasy at such fine detail to a question, so well answered. I feel your diligence, and wry humour, deserves more than a mere thank you ian16th! :-bd ^:)^
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Re: Low Flying in France

#16 Post by G-CPTN » Sat Feb 20, 2021 8:04 pm

Entertaining scuttlebutt!

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