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Last updated on 22 November, 2021 at 6:36 PM

84th Entry

84th Entry blazer badge. RAF Roundel. Apprentice Wheel. Also used for Boy Entrants. RAF Roundel. 84th Entry blazer badge. Apprentice Wheel. Also used for Boy Entrants.

The Life and Times of Aircraft Apprentice Dave Brett

What follows is how I remembered it but may be mixed with myth and hearsay so if anyone can gainsay it speak out.

After Locking, I was posted to RAF Scampton of Dambusters fame. On arrival I was pointed in the direction of the airfield and told to report to the Electronics Centre. After what I then thought as a long walk I drew near to the Electronics Centre and stopped to watch a Vulcan take off. To my surprise as it took off its nose wheel together with part of the oleo leg was left behind. I duly reported to the Electronics Centre and told them of my observation. I was then sent to the Comms Bay to start my career in keeping aircraft airborne. After a short time everyone went outside to see that Vulcan land. Fire engines and other vehicles were rushing hither and thither but the Vulcan landed on its main undercarriage and slowed down to what seemed to be walking pace before the nose oleo leg hit the runway with sparks flying. It came to a standstill and everyone cheered. I don’t think I have seen such a competent piece of airmanship again. I enjoyed my time in the Electronics Centre and travelled to Yatesbury a few times to find out about the equipment actually fitted to Vulcans.

In 1961 I married Mary in our home town. Harvey and Stan came to the wedding but apparently could not understand the natives of Durham. Mary and I found a small flat in Lincoln but after a couple of months we decided to buy a caravan and move to a site adjacent to Scampton (my first financial mistake).

In 1962 I was seconded to RAF Swanton Morley. “They need an air radio corporal that understands Vulcans to fill in for a couple of weeks”. So off I went only to find when I got there that it would be for at least nine months and it was to plan day servicing for Valiant.

So the caravan moved into the vicarage grounds in East Dereham and Mary and I spent a very happy time in Norfolk. Early in 1963 we returned to RAF Scampton only to find out that I was to be posted to Germany.

In June 1963 I arrived at RAF Bruggen and Mary joined me two months later. At first I worked in RSF where I learned about Decca Navigator and was reunited with equipment from our Locking era (GEE 3 etc). From RSF I moved to 80 Sqdn and began a friendly relationship with the Canberra PR7. I enjoyed work and Mary and I both enjoyed Germany. Steven was born September 1963 and eventually we earned enough points to get a married quarter on camp.

In 1966 we were due to return to the UK so I applied for a last posting to RAF Leeming which was approved. Unfortunately, after all our boxes had been dispatched to Yorkshire, I was told to report to 214 Sqdn, RAF Marham. Mary’s friends were horrified as they described Marham as ‘Aden with grass’. We must have Arab blood as we both enjoyed our time at Marham.

Between 1966 and 1970 I spent a lot of time visiting RAF stations around the world as part of the ground crew for the Victor tankers. Goose bay in Canada, Gan and Penang as well as Cyprus and Malta. Our second son Sean was born in Sep 1966 at RAF Ely. As my 12 year spell came to a close I applied for jobs throughout the UK. In the end it was a choice between becoming a computer technician at Manchester or Wembley, an instrument system technician in Middlesborough or a technical author in Derby.

I choose to become a technical author; I had prepared by taking the C&G Technical Authorship course. I joined Rolls-Royce & Associates and was soon writing technical manuals on nuclear submarines. It was a culture shock. Back to mag amp technology and from pumps the size of a dinner plate to those taller than I was. Eventually I progressed through section leader, group leader to manager of technical publications. In 1998 I was able to get a retirement package and took to a life of relative ease.

We enjoy the company of our children and grandchildren as well as the local community. When I first retired I did a little writing but over the past few years I have become interested in genealogy.

Dave Brett