Saturday, 30 March 2013

Gulf War Pilots Reunited

Andy Kellet (left) & Sid Buxton reunited with XL231
Andy Kellet was the last Captain to qualify on the Victor K2, he was also a Captain on XL231.  He visited by prior arrangement on Thursday 28th March and brought along former Victor K2 Co-pilot Sid Buxton.  Both are currently airline pilots flying for British Airways; Andy on the Airbus A320 and Sid on the Boeing 777.

Andy qualified as a K2 Captain at the young age of 26.  Both Andy and Sid operated the Victor through the Gulf War of 1991 and up to the end of operations in late 1993.  Sid had the honour of carrying the Standard of No55 Sqn at the Disbandment parade of the last Victor squadron.

Sid back in his familiar seat
Sid Buxton's flying career has been varied and interesting. He flew Douglas DC-3 Dakota's with the Rhodesian Airforce before joining the RAF and moving onto the Jet Provost and the Victor. Both subsequently flew the VC-10 at RAF Brize Norton before leaving the RAF.

Despite almost 20 years passing since both had been inside a Victor it was apparent that the memories were very clear and the flightdeck was becoming familiar again after an hour or so sat in there with the aircraft powered up. They said it was just the same, smelt the same but inside is too clean "bloody hell it's clean in here, they were never this clean, you must have a vacuum in here!!" - that spring clean last weekend certainly didn't go un-noticed!  Many tales were recalled and the day passed very pleasantly.

Andy back in the Captains seat
In August 1993 Andy had landed XL231 with one of the refuelling hoses stuck in 'trail' ie fully extended!  We looked at the entry in his Logbook and I then cross-referenced it with XL231's log book (MOD Form 700) and was able to enter Andy's name in as the Captain. It was only one entry for many in the aircraft's history but, it was gratifying to personalise that particular one.  Both Andy and Sid's names appear in the Form 700 records reporting many minor issues through 1990-93.

I am sure Andy and Sid will be back for another visit soon and may even do a guest article for the blog! Hopefully we will be able to share their Operation Granby tales in a later post. It is always an honour meeting ex-Victor crew; it really does make all the hard work worthwhile.

Please do get in touch if you served on Victor's we would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Breaking News!!!!

We are pleased to announce that we will be taxying XL231 'Lusty Lindy' in May 2013.

This is intended to happen on Sunday May 12th during the annual 'Wheels and Wings' (Battle Group North) event

The event will include the Military Vehicle Trust and various WW2 and Military re-enactment groups and is one of the largest and well attended events of this nature in the UK.  For the first time in many years this event will be mainly sited on Elvington Airfield although as usual activities will also be taking place on the Yorkshire Air Museum site.

We are still seeking sponsorship and donations towards the cost of fuel as we are currently around £750 off our £4000 target.

Any donations would be very gratefully received so please

See you there! 

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Me and my favourite V-Bomber!
Hi everyone!

So, this is my second guest blog for Handley Page Victor XL231 Lusty Lindy!

First of all, I would just like to thank Andre and his team for the warm (I say warm… It was extremely cold and snowy on Sunday!) welcome and generosity throughout the day!

I woke up, opened my presents, got ready and set off to Yorkshire Air Museum, or as most of us call it, Elvington. I live relatively close to Elvington; about an hour, hour and half away. For those who don’t know, you can see Lindy as you’re driving down Halifax Way… Now, I screamed my entire way down said road. I was extremely giddy; it had been 10 years since I’d last visited Lindy, so I was pretty excited about finally seeing her again.

Mum drove us to the museum, us being me, my sister, and my dad… and obviously mum, we parked up and I ran... I was however redirected to the hangar by my dad and sister; I think it’s fair to say that I was stunned by every aircraft in that hangar, especially the Lightning and the Buccaneers. I’d not seen Lindy yet, so I was still awaiting to be blown away by her, after running around the hangar for a good 20 minutes, we finally wandered over to Lindy.
Oh my goodness. I really had forgotten how beautiful Victors actually are. I walked over to the blue rope, where I was greeted by Andre and some of his other team members. I wasn’t sure what to say and honestly, I couldn’t get my head around Lindy. As peculiar as that sounds, it’s true and difficult to explain. I’d not felt that taken back by an aircraft in quite some time. I spoke to Andre, and I handed him a bag which had a box full of flapjack and some chocolates I’d brought back from a short trip to Belgium…

Andre popped over to Lindy’s cockpit and returned with a card and a lovely print of Lindy. The card was filled with lovely birthday messages which were from the wonderful TwitterVforce… Team Victor, Andy 617, Siobhan and Graeme, Jo (my adoptive mummy!), everyone from Hangar 3 (represeeeenttt!!!), Rod, and of course, Dave! The card really means a lot to me, it does… So thank you! Not forgetting that print of Lindy, blimey! It’s stunning and I love it. Thank you, Andre!

Lindy from the co-pilots seat of XV250
Andre said to me that Team Nimrod had offered to take me up into (Hawker Siddeley Nimrod) XV250 and show me around the aircraft. I just thought we’d just get to have little look around, but we got a full tour and I even got to sit in the co-pilots seat and experience stall alert; which was both exciting and hilarious! The tour was extremely informative, and really made my birthday quite special, so thank you, Team Nimrod!

I also got another gift, something that I’d always wanted to do, and something that made my day; if not my year. I won’t lie… I love Victors, Valiants, and Vulcans very much. Vulcans more than Valiants, and Victors more than both Vulcans and Valiants, I don’t often admit that, slightly due to the fact that I work with a Vulcan, more specifically, the last flying Vulcan. There’s something about Victors, I’ve always said it’s the way they look, and I think everyone has the same opinion. They look menacing, skeletal, and evil, however they are beautiful.

Anyways, onto this ‘gift’, after I’d left XV250, I’d walked back over to Andre and Team Victor, and I was asked if I’d like to go up into the cockpit… Now, my friends probably won’t be reading this… But if you are, me being asked if I want to go inside a Handley Page Victor’s cockpit is the equivalent to you being asked if you wanted to meet your idol. I couldn’t really believe what had just been offered to me!

After getting a warm, we walked back over to Lindy for a third time… This time, we headed up into the cockpit. Now, first thing that came to my mind was “how the hell do I get inside…” I’m quite short and I’ve only ever stepped foot into a plane via stairs, that are in someway attached to said plane. I’m not saying that Lindy is insanely difficult to get into but when you’re as short as I am, it can be a little tricky. There’s a set of stairs… and they are kind of attached to Lindy. The way we (we being me, dad and the kind gentleman who led us up into the cockpit) did it, was to climb so far up the steps, then crawl in. So now I’m standing inside a Handley Page Victor, and whilst I’m standing in there, I’m trying not to explode with excitement, and believe me, it was very difficult.

First thoughts, other than the incredible amount of exciting ‘feels’, from inside the cockpit were, ‘could it get any smaller?!’ I feel sorry for people who are slightly taller, that have to work in there! Like I said, I’m short. I’m 5ft 2, and I stood as far back as you can get inside the cockpit, and I was hunched over, quite far. Any who, I was told to go forward a little, a little bit more, and slightly further more, and plonk myself down in the co-pilots seat. Now, I don’t know if everyone who has been invited into Lindy’s cockpit has been allowed to do that, but for me, it was quite the moment. I had always wanted to just stand in there, but to actually be allowed to sit in her co-pilots seat… Well, that was just the cherry on top, and the sprinkles, and the whipped cream, and the chocolate sauce, and more. I really couldn’t believe where I was sitting, I’ll admit I wanted to press every button, flick every switch, and pretend I was bombing it down the runway, who wouldn’t want to! Obviously, I didn’t and it’s fair to say that I am quite jealous of Team Victor and what they get to do!

We were sat inside the cockpit for about 10-15 minutes, but it felt like a decade, it was amazing! We climbed into Lindy whilst she was up on the jack, and she was released whilst we were sat down in the front of the cockpit. I think someone said she was only about 6 inches up… When we dropped it felt more like 50ft!

I took quite a few pictures, and I really didn’t want to leave but I was just so happy that I’d finally got the chance to sit inside a V-Bomber… My favourite V-Bomber! Honestly, it still doesn’t feel quite real… You know, I bet those who have sat in Victors, and still do (I’m talking about you Team Victor!) probably think that I’ve gone mad, but it’s something I imagined I’d never get the chance to do. So thank you, Andre and Team Victor – You and Team Nimrod made my birthday the best one yet!

My #TwitterVForce Birthday Card
After climbing out of the cockpit, my family and I headed over to the NAAFI to get yet another warm, and a cup of tea. In the NAAFI, I’d finally got the chance to a have a look at the print Andre had given me, in peace without the blistering cold wind trying to rip the gift from my hands. It also gave me a chance to have a look at my birthday card properly. I just really wanted to say a big thank you for the card. I don’t think you lot really know how much it means to me! The print as well, I absolutely adore it.

All of above basically happened because of Twitter. If I wasn’t on Twitter, I wouldn’t know Andre, Team Nimrod, or the beloved TwitterVforce, and this also means that I may have never got the chance to experience sitting in both XL231 and XV250’s co-pilot seats. I’ve gained so many friends through Twitter, and I’ve recently gained some absolutely incredible experiences. I’m very honoured and lucky to have met Andre and some of his team both online and in person.

Back to my visit – I had visited Lindy for a fourth and final time, the museum was getting ready to close and I was getting ready to collapse due the possible frostbite and exhaustion from all the excitement. I’d walked back over with my sister, I was too afraid to cross the blue rope, so I called Andre over to tell him I was leaving and that I’d hope to be back soon. He told me to stay in contact and I had my photo taken with the team.

I didn’t want to leave, as always. Even though I was extremely cold and tired, I could have quite happily stowed myself away somewhere in or around the museum. I felt really rather happy and content there. I cannot wait to go back, hopefully when it’s a little bit warmer.

Once more, I would like to thank Andre and Lusty Lindy’s fabulous team!

Don’t forget – Team Victor is hoping to taxy Lusty Lindy this summer, however… In order to do that they need fuel and jet fuel ain’t cheap! So pleeeeeeeaaaaaseeeee, The Roving Reporter is requesting that you give whatever you can, even if it’s just £5… It’s something.

Also, if you’re visiting Lusty Lindy at Yorkshire Air Museum… Team Victor run on flapjacks, that’s their fuel…

Thank you for reading,


Monday, 11 March 2013

AEO Systems trainer

AEO Procedures Trainer prior to restoration
My latest restoration project is the ex-RAF Marham AEO systems trainer/simulator for the Victor K2. The trainer was donated by RAF Brize Norton in 1994 for use with XL231 but has been in storage for many years.

The Victor AEO's duties are very labour intensive regarding setting up and monitoring the electrical systems and hydraulic systems of the aircraft. The main AC electrical system is synchronised and paralled manually rather than automatically as on some later large aircraft. Post 1985 the AEO also had to handle the Air- to -Air refuelling equipment for receiver aircraft as well as radio communications on both VHF and UHF, as well as HF. As you can see he was a very busy man!

The health of the aircraft apart from the main engine instrumentation was monitored by the AEO and therefore 'synthetic training' was a very necessary part of Victor K2 operations.

All Victor AEO's learnt their 'trade' on this item of equipment and any combination of faults could be simulated as well as currency checking.

In the days of the V Force the AEO also had to handle all forms of ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) in order to jam enemy detection equipment and also the electronic defence of the aircraft. The duties of the AEO were always very specialist and very highly trained.

In order to complete the renovation the following equipment is being sort;

Morse key; Vulcan/Victor
RWR screen (used in a number of RAF aircraft for the ARI 18228 system)
RWR control panel (ARI 18228)
Tacan Indicator (pos. same as Buccaneer?)
1 x Mk20b fuel pod control panel (we have one)
1x angle poise lamp Victor type

John in the AEO's position of XL231

Please drop us a line if you can help out with any of the items and help bring this rare artefact back up to prime condition and you never know you may even see it at a cockpit event near you!

Me at the AEO position in XL231