Edinburgh University Air Squadron, 1946-1969
Summa Petunt Juvenes
IAIN TULLOCH's LOG
The modesty of my science degree in 1965 owed much to EUAS. After three years of grappling with Prof Feather´s theory of mass, length and time I found solace in meteorology and astronomy. In the end that proved more useful than mathematical physics which remains a mystery to this day. My father had enjoyed a wonderful life in the pre-war RAF, which sounded like a pretty good club. EUAS was very much in the same mould, with Mr B, a veteran tank commander in the 8th Army, doing a splendid job behind the bar.
I had my PPL on the Chipmunk before joining, thanks to a flying scholarship at Scone. Sadly my instructor there, Tom Blyth, had already been killed after engine failure following a PFL. He was the first of six of my instructors who were to die in flying accidents. Happily none of these were in the UAS. However, my subsequent career in aviation has been marked by a keen interest in flight safety and I am still active as a safety auditor for such diverse operations as the British Antarctic Survey and Specsavers.
The immediate past master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators, Judge Tudor Owen, always emphasized how much he had benefitted from the first class training he received in London University UAS. Like many he chose a career outside aviation, but although he married into the legal profession, flying clearly remained a beguiling mistress who was re-visited whenever the opportunity arose! Reading some of the entries in the EUAS log I can see that many ex squadron members feel the same way about the standards that were set by our excellent instructors. Flt Lt. Jack Russell, a well known offshore sailor, was a typical example. His forte was instrument flying. The Chipmunk was hardly a sophisticated instrument platform, but when Jack was flying every instrument was within a needle’s width of where it was meant to be. Flt Lt Pete Curtin, an engaging social animal, was more the fighter pilot, so aerobatics were taught with a bit of dash. Formation flying was Flt Lt Monson’s speciality and they let us get quite close to each other. Flt Lt Angus Clydesdale, later the Duke of Hamilton, had the aristocrat’s ability to seem totally relaxed whatever was going wrong. That would probably have been the case when his flour bombs failed to hit the target of the EU OTC summer camp at Fort Augustus, A four ship EUAS formation mounted a raid from our RAF Kinloss summer camp of 1964. I had Pete Curtin in the back and can still remember the startled look on the faces of some OTC men shaving outside their tent when the flour bombs landed. Sqn Ldr Bell authorized the sortie. He would probably have been court martialled today.
By the time I had my last summer camp at RAF Woodvale I had become a fairly experienced Squadron member. So it fell to me to ferry a Chipmunk to RAF Linton on Ouse for some maintenance. The carrot was a back seat trip in a Meteor which would be returning to Woodvale from Linton. Over the Pennines I encountered some bad weather but undeterred pressed on by descending and threading my way through the valleys. On the other side I began to feel slightly uncertain of position but remembering that water features were a key element in map reading I soon picked up something obvious. In such situations the Water of Leith can be made to resemble the Amazon! Suffice to say that I landed at Leeming instead of Linton having carefully overflown the signals square and seen the letters LI. I was talking to Linton on the radio and could not understand why they did not see me in the circuit and needed to fire a green flare for clearance to land. It was a greaser of a landing, rather spoilt when I looked right and saw RAF Leeming written on the control tower and a fire truck entering the runway in front of me. An irate Squadron Leader tore me off a strip having had to hold two Jet Provost trainers. “For the benefit of idiot UAS students follow the railway south for six minutes and then observe Linton on Ouse on your right which has the designator LO. Now get off my airfield!!” The Meteor pilot was very understanding and I only admitted to being delayed by lousy weather !
After university I headed for the USA where I worked for a year before receiving my draft papers for Vietnam. This did not seem like a good career move, so I returned to do a year of supply teaching before taking up a short service commission in the RAF. This set me up for my subsequent career in civil aviation beginning with offshore helicopters on both sides of the North Sea, through sales and management positions in USA, Belgium and the Middle East, and finally flying and managing business jets including 16 years with Scottish and Newcastle breweries based in Edinburgh. Free beer every month seemed like a return to the convivial atmosphere of Buccleuch Place.
It has been fun reading some of the entries in the log. Bill Goodburn happened to be my grandmother’s solicitor and we would sometimes meet at the curling rink when I was with S&N. I only learnt from the log that Bill Allan had been a EUAS member. I first knew him as headmaster of Robert Gordons College in Aberdeen, and I shall always be grateful to him for the unstinting support he gave to my son James who was severely disabled after a skiing accident. Gordon Copley was on the university golf team and much later we were to take advantage of some corporate golf outings when I was with S&N. Keith has kept in touch over many years, and last year we enjoyed wonderful weather and great company in the beautiful surroundings of Achiltibuie. I hope to be able to attend one of the reunions in future and many thanks to Keith for organizing this interesting and enjoyable website.