RAF Colerne, in 1971
Written by Mike Lees
Arrived from MT Mech course at RAF St Athan. Having successfully swapped with RAF Lowestoffe on the east coast. After settling in. I joined the motor club and started car repairs and sales. In addition to the day job. Having driven the new Bedford TK at Valley. Very comfortable like driving a car I was now maintaining them. They had a 6 cylinder petrol engine. Which didn’t last long as the low grade petrol used wore them out quick. I had the job of changing engines and replacing the cylinder head and valves in the process. Great fun!
I was assigned to a clutch change on a Thornicroft fire engine. The grearbox was huge and weighed a ton there were two clutch plates. having completed that part. The next job the gear selector for the power take drive to the foam producing pump. This was a phosphor bronze casting. Problem was, it kept fowling the gearbox casing as you tried to engage it. They always had this problem with it so I filed down the offending part till it engaged smoothly. On testing and revving the engine with PTO engaged. I could hear this shouting looked to the front and there was foam everywhere in the hanger with a fork lift truck completely covered.
In the Mess one day I got talking to a friend about the Bannerdown gliding club. They had two Mk9 Jaguar cars they used for launching the Gliders in addition to the two winches and both the cars where unserviceable. Would I be able to help out by repairing them as the engines were in bits. Snowed under with work at the motor club. I made time and helped out and we got them going. I was then asked about joining the Gliding club to look after the MT. I agreed and soon got hooked. Problem was I was a member of the Motor club. The Gliding club. and The Aircraft museum. Treating Colerne as something like a fair ground.wanting to be part of all of it.
Then there was the Gliding club Bar. There was no one to run it. What use is a club without a Bar. Eventually I was persuaded to take it on. I had no idea how to run it and I didn’t even drink at the time. Anyway with some help we got it up and running. The profits made from the Bar paid for the fuel for the Jags and winches. Because the bar was closed for some time they ran out of money. No Fuel. No flying. So I had this Idea about arranging a big party night. The women would put on a great display of food and I convinced the treasurer that this was going to be a big success. So I got the funding for the extra beer.
One of the cooks in the Mess played the Guitar and agreed to play for us on the night. We advertised the event all around the camp and it was a complete success an we where running out of beer fast. It was the first time in my life I got very drunk. And the whole place was in a mess. we made enough money and soon back up and flying again. Fantastic!