THE RIGHT JOB AT LAST
I was deeply impressed by Nick Betts-Green’s article, “An Armourer’s Tale” in the excellent Remembrance Issue of The Haltonian in Dec 2014. It seems as though many of us go to Halton and strive to do well, work hard, graduate and find ourselves in highly skilled jobs that we can do, but for which we are not really suited. I graduated one wing low because I failed my Guns qualification. Maybe I should have been re-coursed to the 79th. I later made up for the failure by attending a Fitter-Guns course, and then going on to Bomber Command Armament School to do a course that I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about, even now. Which, amazingly, I passed. However, I never was a happy technician; I wanted to drive things, and while at Wittering, applied three times for aircrew, eventually being accepted for Air Signaller training. But I couldn’t cope with morse code so I failed again. I was sent to be re-assigned at the Aircrew Selection Centre. There I suggested to the review board that I wanted to be re-selected as a pilot. All three officers on the board were pilots and they seemed affronted by my cheekl However, a few weeks later, I was posted as an Acting Sergeant to No. 6 Flying Training School at Royal Air Force Acklington, where again, I failed! Being over 6 feet tall I was just to big for the cockpit of the Piston Provost Ti. I was deeply into the depths of despair when my instructor saved the day by suggesting I try the new jet provost. Bingo! I could sit in one of those ‘sleek’ machines and stir the stick without cracking my knees and was awarded my wings on the ides of March 1963.
The following 30 years were not all plain sailing, but I was at last doing what came naturally to me-flying as a pilot. I flew helicopters mainly, and I never failed to feel a buzz of excitement as I walked towards one of those strange beasts in all of the years that followed. I counted up the other day: there were twenty different types between the Bristol Sycamore 14 and the Sikorsky S61N.
Oh, and like Nick Betts-Green — in my case after my professional life had ended — I also took a MA degree because I finally returned to a boyhood love of Shakespeare, of all things!
Mike Teare-Williams 78th