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CF-100 squadron shenanigans page 2

StorIES by charles alexander and DICK BENTHAM

Nothing remained but to sit back and enjoy the image of two excited airmen, rushing toward their commander with the good news, while he in turn was rushing toward them with a sheaf of signals in his hand, the three of them inevitably to be confronted by an empty gun bay! The honour of the Porcupine was, and remained, intact. (Charles Alexander)

Just for a little postscript, here is the other side of the story: My nav, Bob Burnie, and I were the ones who pinched the porcupine and departed the scene of the crime with some considerable glee. We did indeed stop at YQT, and the fuel truck did obscure our view of the tarmac while we had a coffee.

On arrival at Comox, a small group of admiring onlookers gathered to view our coup. When the gun bay door was lowered and revealed its contents to be only our overnight bags, about all you could hear in the hush was our jaws thudding on the concrete.

It was a brilliant counter-strike by 433 and deserved kudos for its perfect execution. Of course, the indignant messages were ignored for what they were and life went on. (Dick Bentham)

Remembering GARY RICHARDS – Charles Alexander
F/O Gary Richards was probably the most colourful character on 433 Squadron during my time. He was unorthodox, cheerful, capable and unpredictable. One of his passions in life was low flying, authorized or not. He was caught at it so often that eventually the Squadron Commander held me personally responsible for Gary’s actions, since he was my pilot and wouldn’t listen to anyone else. I managed to hold him in check for nearly five months, which was a significant achievement, but eventually temptation triumphed–he beat up Trout Lake, within the Control Zone of the tower. Naturally I had advised him to refrain when his intention became apparent, but he declined to reply and pressed on anyway.

Strangely enough not much came of it. Reports of low flying had flooded the Ops desk, but when we got down, all that happened was that Hermie Hermanson, the Flight Commander, delivered a fatherly lecture to Gary about waking up babies from their afternoon naps. I also awaited the expected dressing down with a certain stoicism, but nothing resulted. Clearly, my failure was viewed more with sorrow than with anger.

Nevertheless, Gary did not escape totally unscathed, for one low flying incident took place, the whimsy of whose consequences eventually appealed to him, and still do.

Returning from a routine exercise flight, but not short of fuel, about ten miles east of the runway, Gary found what he thought was an unoccupied shack in the bush. Unable to resist, he bore down on it and reefed back on the stick. As the aircraft was light on fuel, even the old CF-100 went just about straight up in the air directly over the shack whose tin chimney could not resist the proximate power of two Orenda engines. The little old lady inhabitant immediately phoned Squadron Commander W/C John Gillmore, advising him of the loss of one chimney to a supposedly friendly aircraft. We landed no more than three minutes later and went to the crewroom.

W/C Gillmore invited Gary into his office and explained that he was asking all pilots to submit a memo detailing all their actions that day. Somewhat perplexed, Gary prepared the memo, omitting nothing, and, for that matter, knowing nothing of the fallen chimney. W/C Gillmore read it, commended him on his frankness and said that he really hadn’t asked any of the other pilots to submit a memo.

The Wing Commander’s reputation as the “Silver Fox” was well deserved. One Friday night in the mess I enquired how it was that nothing escaped his attention. “I listen a lot.” End of conversation. |

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