In a strange quirk of my memory I find that for all my trips with 14 I have much better recall of the RAF staged phases than of anything else.
Well in February 1973 we embarked on a Britannia from Brize Norton to Gander in Newfoundland where we were to overnight. I recall that a group of four of us started a game of cards I think it was 'Chase the lady' anyway it involved keeping score and we decided that we would keep the game going through the journey and run the score on. I cannot remember who the other players were but they might recall and confirm the 'tale' anyway more of that later.
We duly took off and landed at Gander safely and were taken to our Hotel, being adventurous young soldiers we went out to discover the local brew (Buffalo/Bison beer) and the night life.
I have a vague memory that Roger Treverton was involved but that could from another time.
Anyway we returned to the hotel at 4AM and just as I dozed off the phone rang for our early call at 4:30! We trudged down to breakfast and hence on to the airport to find that the plane’s wings were frozen and were taking time to defrost – just about all day – so we continued the card school.
By now I/we were feeling distinctly queasy and were relieved to finally take off – then as we gained height I found that my internal gas was at a much higher pressure than that of the cabin – unfortunately I wasn't the only one – it turned out that there was a problem with maintaining the cabin pressure and the results were obvious and odorous. Off course the recirculating air system didn't help and we were all relieved when we stopped in Bermuda to refuel.
The rest of the journey was largely uneventful though we did post some of the highest card scores in history!
Even though it was in the APRIL of 1972 when we first deployed to Belize (then British Honduras) when we arrived in Gander Newfoundland it was freezing cold and very icy. I remember the Herc sliding all over the place when we landed and were taxing to a holding area.
The overnight stay was in the appropriately named Gander Hotel. A fairly basic establishment that even Davey Crocket would of found it difficult to get comfy in.
We were fed fairly soon after arrival, moose steaks judging by the size of them but being young by the time the evening came around I was starving. I decided to venture out and soon found a local store. Having a good look round I noticed that most of the packaging was in French so I presumed that this area was mainly French Canadian. I stocked up on several packets of chocolate chip cookies to last the rest of the journey which was at least another 12 hours.
It was only later after our arrival in Belize when I was cleaning out my rubbish that I realised that if I had read the back of the packets it was all printed in English. I had spent the past couple of days finishing off my three packets of doggie treats. Woof woof.
I can’t remember all the replacements flying down to Belize but I will have a go, feel sure it will get corrected in due course. Myself, Steve Firth, Ian Lennard, John Gorst, John Bainbridge, Mo Farquhar, Pete Skillern, I think.
Well off we moved to RAF Lynham where we took the VC10 flight to Washington via Montreal. I think we dropped off some families at Montreal and moved straight off the Washington. We then had to catch a bus to get us to Dulles Airport for our connecting flight to Miami.
This was my first long haul flight and a VC10 fully loaded is pretty damned uncomfortable, little was I to know about how uncomfortable the return flight was going to be 6 months later. We got to Dulles just in time to pick up the Eastern Airlines flight to Miami.
Now at this time I was a pretty young thrusting randy male and what did they have the air hostesses dressed in. “HOT PANTS” There were more things falling on the floor on that flight than I have ever seen, then or since, but it sure was a very pleasant flight. Oh yes we also got free drinks, Shangri La!!
We stopped over at Miami in the airport hotel (I believe) I know there was a night club in there and we just carried on the drinking motion. I think we ate something at sometime.
Next Morning it was off to the airport and a TAN flight into the steam sub continent which is Belize, I think it ws on their 2nd BAC 111.