Airborne Tankers streaking across the sky………pt1

As you know the only rule to blogging, if such a thing exists, is to ‘hopefully’ make your posting interesting and hold a reader’s attention. With this in mind my previous posting really does help explain all and stops me repeating everything again 🙂 ….oh and sadly no Brilliant Viewpoint I’m 😀 not 007………. then again…….

Ok let’s begin.

Yes I work for a renowned University as a mechanical Engineer, and yes I was invited to fly as a passenger inside a military refuelling Tanker, owned by the RAF Friday last, a perk of the job so to speak, I’m the small piece in the engineering jigsaw who manufactures specimens from exotic materials so that intelligent people can destroy then decide if they’ll go inside a jet engine.

To put your jittery minds at ease, myself and colleagues take our jobs VERY seriously, and I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act.

We boarded our Airbus Voyager at Brize Norton airforce base in the heart of Oxfordshire, Google photos if you wish but all you really need to know that ‘Brize’ is the United Kingdom’s military Transport hub, with it’s impressive 1960s runways long enough for the Concorde to land (they did) both Tanker planes also airliner size transporters operate 24/7 moving munitions/troops across the Globe. Soldiers fighting in the Falklands conflict, every overseas campaign we’ve been party to have flown from Brize. Only a matter of weeks ago 30,000 refugees were extracted from Afghanistan and flew into Brize………….with it’s sprawling garrison town aside this military installation is important to UK’s defence. When Typhoon fighter jets are scrambled because a Russian long range bomber enter our airspace, Voyager Tankers are swiftly mobilised flying to the potential conflict, there role to transfer tonnes of aviation fuel into thirsty Typhoons. Jets ‘pull alongside’ lock onto trailing pipes suspended from both wings I guess no different to automobiles, before loudly turning away.

A choreographed manoeuvre that’s also unnervingly dangerous, thought of where’s my life jacket do come to mind!

As an aside, Brize Norton was originally, as many were), a grassy bumpy field used to fly spitfires from so they could engage with Hitler’s Luftwaffe over the white cliffs of Dover…………..old Adolf never did invade Britain!

With our band of invited guests now seated at the rear of the Tanker we then taxi rumbled across the runways and made straight for the Outer Hebrides, that’s NE Scotland for you, flying at 540 miles an hour. The around trip took 5 hours in total feeding jets over Northern Island before making our way home to Oxfordshire.

Two hours pass and now in Scottish airspace a staggered procession of Typhoon fighters pulled alongside to take on fuel, id guess one strike aircraft laden with bombs now thirsty for kerosene would lock onto the trailing fuel lines, look at the photos below and in the bottom right and corner you can just make out the corner of a portal window, yes these multi million pound lethal flying hardware was a mere ten metres away, absolutely incredible not forgetting incredibly dangerous at 500 mph. Several minutes later with tanks now full they’d unlock a signal for the next jet to sweep alongside.

I’d guess these pilots were aware guests bristling with digital cameras were photographing them, occasionally the pilots would wave and after refuelling they’d glide the length of the fuselage so we could all could gaze and ‘snap’ this choreographed and much rehearsed stunning view, yes I’d experienced a once in a lifetime experience that very few are privileged to witness, and I must admit more than once I wondered what financial cost to the British taxpayer? With this hi-tech military pantomime happening each and everyday and emergency Tankers on standby…………anyways that’s human beings for you, we’re the reasons for creating conflict, incapable of ending that conflict, and spend Trillions on military hardware maintaining that conflict with never a clue how to bring about that buzz phrase “a lasting piece”………..total utter madness when you stop and think about it?

Anyways before I get carried away with my self importance here’s some photos taken on the day, incidentally the white jet stationary on the runway with the Union Jack tail wing (wait for it!) Is unsurprisingly Boris Johnson’s personal equivalent to Airforce One, owned by the MOD this jet carries our PM with accompanying civil servants as they track the globe on Official business, legend goes he personally requested the Union Jack livery after all this clown has history when it comes to painting vehicles to symbolize his damaging Brexit, remember seeing the photo of a Red Bus travelling around the UK with the slogan (a lie) £350,000,000 a day to our NHS when we leave Europe painted across its side, a sickening cynical Politian lie to hoodwink the public…………..that’s politics for you, a dirty business.

If you’re curious lol, Brize is also home to Britain’s fleet of Apache gunship helicopters also Hercules and Boeing C-17 transporters oh and home to the red berried Parachute Regiment…………..I’d guess there’s a lot more classified goings on the general public are NOT privy to, a cloak of defence secrecy we’re told is good for us!

To be continued in pt2…………………………

A. Shepherdson 2021

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