Aircraft types with RAF Air Engineers/Flight Engineers as crew members

The recent poll to decide the inscription on the Stone 2 Plaque prompted many of our members to reflect on the history of the branch.  Whilst the chosen inscription provides an accurate precis of our history it doesn't list all of the aircraft on which Air Engineers and Flight Engineers flew.  To that end Dave Mort has kindly provided the following list.  This list will, in due course, form the outline of part of the "History" section which will be included on the website.
Aircraft with Air Engineer/Flight Engineer
Argosy    B-17 Fortress    B-24 Liberator    B-29 Washington    B.707(NATO)    Belfast    Beverley    Britannia    Catalina    Comet
C-54 Skymaster    E-3D Sentry    Halifax    Hastings    Hercules    Lancaster    Lancastrian    Lincoln    Manchester    Neptune
Nimrod    Shackleton    Stirling    Sunderland    TriStar    VC 10    Whitley VII    York
Many other types carried an Air Engineer/Flight Engineer over the past 76 years, carrying out other flying duties such as Observer, Crewman, Air Refuelling operator, Flight Instructor, Pilots assistant, Loadmaster, Cabin supervisor etc..........
A few of these fixed and rotary types are listed below. Additions to either list will be welcome for the sake of posterity!
Varsity   Dominie (HS-125)    BAC 1-11    Chinook    Belvedere    Voyager    Chipmunk ! (BRIXMIS)

Happy Birthday Mr Carrie


Sgt Peter Carrie Celebrates his 100th Birthday at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea 


Peter Carrie was born on the 18th February 1915 near Dundee, Scotland. King George V was on the throne and Herbert Asquith was the Prime Minister. The Gallipoli Campaign had just started during WW1. The most amazing fact of 1915 was that Sheffield Utd beat Chelsea in the FA Cup final.

Peter is older than the entire history of the RAF. The first raiding Zeppelin was shot down over London in this year. The first flying Victoria Cross was awarded to 2nd Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse of 2 Sqn, RFC in 1915.

Peter joined the British Army in 1934, surviving the North West Frontier Campaign initially as an Infantryman then in tanks in Afghanistan. On the commencement of hostilities with Germany in 1939, Peter joined the British Expeditionary Force defending the Low Countries from Hitler. During this period he was injured at Dunkirk and medevac’d back to a UK hospital. Whilst recovering from his injuries he was told he would be discharged from the Army. This was the beginning of Chapter 2 of Peters military career. During his convalescence, a New Zealand Air Force Officer was searching the hospital wards for suitable candidates for Aircrew training. With his background as a mechanical engineer he was highlighted as suitable for Flight Engineer on the Heavy’s. Once discharged Peter transferred to the RAF and began 18 months of training before flying 18 missions over Germany on Lancaster Bombers.

During WW2, 112,000 Aircrew flew sorties, 55,000 men lost their lives with 21,000 Flight Engineers never coming home. 

It is truly remarkable that a man who survived Afghanistan, Dunkirk and as Aircrew in Bomber Command during WW2 has reached his 100th Birthday. His telegram from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was presented to Peter by Governor of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, General Sir Redmond-Watt KCB KCVO CBE DL, framed for posterity by the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.  Peter was also presented a statue of a Chelsea Pensioner to mark this famous day. Sir Steven Hillier KCB CBE DFC RAF also made a presentation on behalf of the RAF.

A moving message was read out from Sgt Glen Turner, 75 Sqn Association, RNZAF thanking Peter for his time flying for them during WWII. A representation will visit him from New Zealand during the third week of May 2015.

Mr Mike Moxon represented the RAF Flight Engineer and Air Engineer Association to pass on the best wishes of the members of the FEAEA. He spent the afternoon chatting with Peter about flying, Lancaster’s and tanks!

Peter is the oldest member of the FEAEA and holds the only Life Membership. After the formalities, all enjoyed a sip of beer and a very pleasant tea of sandwiches and cakes.  Peter was heard to say, “I used to drink a gallon but I can only manage a half these days”. 

The celebrations ended with a chorus of Happy Birthday, sung enthusiastically by all in attendance.

Major P D Shannon, Captain of Invalids thanked all for attending and making it a very special day for all at the Hospital. 





A Dambusters' Family Remembers

A Dambuster’s Family Remembers

Having left the Royal Air Force last year, I started my new job with Northern Rail and this story relates to a chance encounter, meeting the grandson of a Sgt William (Bill) Radcliffe (FE).  Like all good mess rooms and crew rooms there is a healthy degree of banter, wit and groaning and my new job was no exception making it a great place to absorb the railway and learn the odd snippet - even as a new boy of 46 years of age.  “Have a chat with Dave he was in the air force” came the shout. Here we go I thought - do you know Bloggs - he was in the air force? Now I know the RAF is getting smaller and by the latest count, you can get the entire force into St Mary’s Stadium, but I knew the answer to this one, or so I thought.  A fellow train driver, Mr Bill Bailey introduced himself and starting asking me about Flight Engineers and more particularly his grandfather. He promptly produced the well-known book Bomber Boys written by Kevin Wilson, pointing to the cover photo of a bomber command crew and a certain Sergeant Flight Engineer - William Radcliffe alongside George “Johnny” Johnson, Don MacLean, Ron Batson, Joe McCarthy and Len Eaton. 

The story went that Bill’s mother Dorothy was only 7 years old when her father died in a tragic accident in 1952 having survived two operational tours throughout World War Two and sadly she knew little of his wartime service. Dorothy had seen the BBMF Lancaster fly before and was present when “Vera” KB726 visited these shores in the summer of 2014, yet one of her lifetime wishes was still to be realised. She had never had the opportunity to clamber aboard and see the inside of a Lancaster bomber, the place where her young father had spent over 800 flying hours as “Big Joe McCarthy’s” Flight Engineer. 

This human interest story had me hooked and now the challenge was on to help the daughter of a decorated fellow flight engineer and more importantly, the honour to host his extended family.

The BBMF Hangar 

On Monday the 13th April we had arranged to meet the family in the visitors car park of BBMF. Bill had travelled with his mother Dorothy and his three sisters; Angela, Jacqueline and Juliette. Flt Lt Jim Stokes had agreed to set up the visit and host the party, which included Nick Nicholls, Brian May and myself from the association.

Starting with the obligatory cuppa in the crew-room and the privilege of looking through his flying logbook pages, we got to know a little more about the exploits of Bill Radcliffe, his crew and some of the operational missions he had been involved with and most notably, involvement in the Dambusters raids. Their target was the Sorpe Dam, which they had attacked on the night of 16th/17th May 1943. 


This sortie became known as the “just one more trip” given that the crew had already completed their first operational tour and with this transfer to 617 Squadron they embarked on their second tour where they were to make history as the crews of the dambusters raids.

As on every other flight there was a “stowaway” on board a certain Mr Chuck Chuck. The small stuffed black and white Panda Bear was tucked into Bill’s flying boot and serving as the crew’s mascot. It obviously did the trick getting them all safely through all their Ops and survives to this day as a family heirloom, doubtless of immeasurable value. 

Now for those of you that know Stokesy, he's certainly never short of a few words but when it comes to BBMF facts and figures we needed Mr Roger Evans a “professional” BBMF visitor host and long-time friend of Brian and his wife, who volunteered to help us out on one of his days off. 

Roger was superb. He hosted the family with the perfect degree of reverence, showcasing the aircraft and stories of the visitor centre whilst engaging with the family and hearing Bill Radcliffe’s story - as much as they knew of it.

 Whilst taking a break back in the crew-room we were fortunate enough to stumble upon a flying display practice of the Spitfire and Typhoon combo, a fantastic sight spanning a heritage of over 70 years of RAF aviation. Even Brian got excited by the prospect of meeting up with the original Spitfire LFXVI TE311 which used to be RAF Tangmere’s Gate Guardian in 1959 evoking memories of his youth clambering all over her as a kid.  The next bit was a little more difficult, Lancaster PA474 was not quite put back together, following its out of season overhaul and we understood that it was very rare to get an inside look at the old girl.

Enter stage left Stokesy! 

As only he can do, a quick chat with the ground crew and a raised eyebrow played down with his own inimitable Hoylake charm and he had secured a look inside once we had de-fodded our pockets, God forbid we left anything behind.

This bit was a little emotional, especially for Dorothy, waiting all these years to be able to see her dad’s wartime ‘office’. It was so different to a flying display, being up close, to smell and feel the conditions and of course with none of the hardships such as the terrors of flak and night fighters to contend with. Plenty of photographs were taken to add to their scrapbooks. This included a very special one in which a proud grandson dons his grandfather’s original best blue jacket, flanked by his mother and sisters. The family were delighted with the time spent in the hangar and particularly the knowledge, care and interest shown by our host - well done Roger! 



After the hangar visit we were able to spend some time in the visitor centre before heading to Woodhall Spa to see the Dambusters’ Memorial and it was interesting to note the number of crew commemorated who had originated from Canada - the country of Bill Radcliffe’s birth.




Now for those of you that know the area well, we were within striking distance of a rather special hotel so we decided to adjourn, with Bill’s family and take lunch in the Terrace Bar of the Petwood Hotel. Aside from the quality of food and service which was exceptional, the Petwood is home to the original 617 Sqn Officers’ Mess with all of its important history and artefacts. Sure enough, within about 10 minutes the grandchildren soon spotted their grandad on two of the squadron photographs of the era which was a rather nice close to a wonderful day out. In addition one of Dorothy’s daughters, whose partner is a chef, managed to be photographed with ‘The Hairy Bikers’ who coincidentally were lunching at an adjacent table!



(The Petwood is well worth a visit and for those members of the FEAEA, I can confirm that at the time of going to print we have secured the Hotel as our 2016 Formal Dinner Venue, the irony being, it will be held on the anniversary of Sgt Bill Radcliffes birth - 24th September).


Now I'm hoping that the story doesn't end here for Dorothy. Her father died when she was only 7 years of age and she would love to be able to talk to anyone that knew and worked with her father, especially during his wartime years with 97 and 617 Squadrons. As a crew member of Big Joe McCarthy’s crew she would love to be able to meet “Johnny” Johnson and learn anything about her father, perhaps even some of the stuff only another crew member knows.


It was a pleasure and privilege meeting Bill Radcliffe’s family and learning about the life, operations and legacy of a fellow flight engineer. As Chairman of the FEAEA I was honoured and delighted to be able to take part in this very special day, alongside Nick Nicholls and Brian May. Particular praise and thanks must go to Mr Roger Evans and Flt Lt Jim Stokes who went the extra mile to remember our “Engineer” heritage. 


Dave Kildea (FE Retired) 


Sgt Bill Radcliffe was a Lancaster Flight Engineer who served with 617 Squadron during the second world war and operated ED825/G on the famous Sorpe Dam bombing raid on 16th/17th May 1943. He was commissioned in November 1943, and awarded the DFC in June 1944.

For more information on Sgt William Radcliffe visit the dam buster blog site;


The Joys Of Ex-Pat DC 10 Ops In An Eastern Airline

The Joys Of Ex-Pat DC 10 Ops In An Eastern Airline


Biman Bangladesh Airlines Flight BG035 Approach and Landing to Runway

34C, Jeddah

5 December 2004, 1405LT, DC10-30, S2-ACO, SOB 197 

This started as a specific report upon an incident that occurred on approach to the airport detailed above. 


It has developed into not only a report on that topic but on several other topics raised and observed by me during my one-year contract with Biman Bangladesh Airlines. 


I draw upon the incidents detailed and make a personal conclusion at the end based upon no more than observation, and intuition and a measure of fear for the future given the trends I have observed. 


I believe that my background and experience in diverse flight operations and qualification as an instructor in a flight, simulator and ground disciplines allows me to observe and report.  


Brian W May 



FO X was carrying out the landing under supervision of Captain XX who is a training captain. This was on his line experience training as I am told he must be monitored for the first 200 hours by training staff before he is allowed to land the aircraft without supervision. He is an ex Airbus A310 first officer converting to the DC10 within the Company – this is Biman’s normal career progression. At the time of the incident he had approximately 100 hours time on the DC10. 


35º flap landing was briefed. 


Radar vectoring to the ILS resulted in us being too close at about 3000 feet plus (cleared to 2000 to establish initially then cleared for the approach) and 7 miles. 


On visually sighting the runway, it became immediately obvious due to visual aspect that we were too high and I suggested we should do a Go Around (GA). This was ignored. 


FO attempted to acquire the glideslope visually, resulting in coarse pitch changes as the PAPIs were clearly visible. This resulted in an increase in IAS to about 200 knots. At this point the captain had selected 50º flap, some 30 knots above limiting speed (this is an area we disagree on, he said the speed was not that high when he selected flap although he acknowledged selecting it well above Placard speed. I definitely saw the lever in the 50º degree detent and an IAS of 200 knots we were however attacking the glideslope at a considerable ROD at this time). I called this and was ignored again. I then called once more for a GA without effect.


I was attempting to monitor this approach and achieve the Landing Checks (which were never finished). I called again for a GA and was again ignored – after 30+ years as a qualified Flight Engineer it is disturbing to know that one’s professional judgement is so poorly regarded. I was trained to understand that if ANY of the 3-man flight deck felt unhappy enough to call for GA, then it was carried out FIRST, and a wash-up carried out once downwind again. 


Below 1000’ agl, the EGPWS warning of ‘Sink Rate’ sounded at least three times, the last being at 200’ Radio with a ROD of 1500’ min. When it sounded the FO shouted ‘Disregard’! 


Since no comment or action was made by the captain I can only assume he endorsed the copilot’s behaviour. Company guidance indicates that approximately 300’ ROD was normal for 3º glideslope. 


Over the threshold, we had 40º flap as the Flap Relief System had blown back the flap to prevent structural damage. A check of the Flap Load Relief schedule will indicate the threshold speed that 40º flap relates to. The actual touchdown whilst too fast was smooth and the aircraft was turned off the runway safely. The runway at Jeddah is LONG, fortunately.


Considering that this approach was monitored by a Training Captain and author of an ‘enhanced’ SOP, the conduct of this approach and landing was nothing short of criminal. SOP’s and guides to safe approach, checklist and good airmanship were totally ignored in the interests of pride (author’s assessment – later the captain agreed, in his enhanced SOP he describes that ‘courage’ is required to initiate a GA). 


A safe GA could have been easily achieved and we had the visibility to carry out a safe visual circuit or another ILS. Fuel state was around 17 tonnes (Riyadh was the diversion reporting good weather – 10k plus and scattered at 4000,). 


Even with an experienced DC10 pilot flying this approach was not achievable within existing guidelines and SOP. The aircraft was not safely flown, nor was it in the correct briefed configuration. The pilots then attempted to convince me that their actions were justified which I did NOT accept (nor do I still). 


The problem was initiated by ATC and then fully endorsed by the Flight Deck crew who made a poor vectoring infinitely worse. At no time were my comments regarding the safety of continuing the approach sustained – wholly unacceptable for a company who has operated the 3 man flight deck for 20 years. 


The CRM and Airmanship displayed on this vital phase of flight was non- existent and totally consistent with the actions that were carried out. 


The FO’s attitude afterwards was one of bravado and ‘achievement’, he had ‘pulled it off despite being put in that bad position’. He is currently attempting to acquire a JAA ATPL.


This was without doubt the worst approach I’ve been involved with on the DC10 or L1011 – aircraft with a lot of inertia and certainly not cleared for such RODs this close to the ground. It was most unprofessional, displaying total disregard that required safety margins had been grossly eroded. 


As an ex-military Flight Safety Officer and someone who has lectured in flight safety aspects I am appalled by ‘being involved’ in this incident AND my inability to report it to a chain of management who would DO something about it. 


My background was as a qualified Flight, Simulator and Ground Instructor with a high Training Category training not only RAF but also Foreign Air Force crews, I also was an instructor for British Aerospace in Engines and Performance ‘A’. I am acutely aware of what a ‘poor performance on the flight deck’ looks like. 


I am unable to report this incident via the Company system as it suffers ‘political pressure and filtering’ and this (very) senior captain would almost certainly be ‘protected’. 


As an ex-patriot contractor, ranks would close against anything I have to say and nothing constructive would be achieved, except my dismissal. I can report it because my contract expires imminently. 


Biman talk safety but do NOT practise it. They should remember that ‘pride comes before an accident’. In my time with them (12 months) they have had one Airbus 310 run off the runway at Dhaka and an F28 overrun at Sylhet. Fortunately neither of these incidents has caused serious injury. 


As a post script to this incident I spoke to the captain on the return sector expressing my severe disquiet over this incident. 


He then read me a report that he’d been writing in a personal notebook which he keeps. Whilst there were minor pieces of data I disagree with, in essence his and my recollection of the incident are identical. 


In his narrative, he acknowledged that it should have been a GA with that being carried out early. He explained his reasoning. It is, in my opinion and within the Bangladesh culture, a brave thing to do as he accepted responsibility for the approach – which is correct. He is the one WITH the authority. 


Whilst I respect the captain for being this self-examining, it does not excuse the fact that this approach was UNSAFE from a very early stage. Prevention would have been SO easy. 


Not a lot can be achieved after the event when the aircraft is damaged and passengers injured or killed because an approach was continued in direct contravention of SOPs, FCOM and a crewmember calling for a GA, not once but three times. My question is: if THIS approach was not worthy of a GA, what would constitute reason enough? 


Biman pilots on the DC10 fleet (the only one I can comment upon from experience) are in severe danger due to the levels of complacency and disbelief that ‘it can happen to them’. The authority gradient across the flight deck is very steep. Also there is a culture of ‘keeping it quiet’ thus incidents of this nature are smothered and nothing is learned, there is no/very little system for publicising errors so that everyone can learn, stimulate discussion, re examine procedures – it just doesn’t happen.


If this incident were a one-off, I would be less disturbed. However I have been involved in two Go Arounds in Biman – both were carried out with Land Flap and Gear Down. The captains were highly experienced. The first incident was (I believe) Captain on 21 Jan 04 S2-ACP, Jeddah. The second was Captain who is a Training captain, it was 28 Sep 04 S2-ACS. 


Another incident occurred on a flight to Hong Kong from Dhaka. Date 19 Jul 04, S2-ACR, Captain YYY, FO ZZZ Having pointed out visually and warned the captain, we flew under the anvil (i.e. downwind) of a CB over southern China, TAT+1, SAT-35º C, visible moisture hitting the windscreen (i.e. supercooled water droplets). I immediately selected Continuous Ignition and Engine Inlet Anti Icing. I was then ORDERED by the captain to turn if OFF as it was ‘too cold for icing’.


I argued but in the end had to turn it OFF (by that time we were just about clear of the CuNim. I left the flight deck for 40 minutes as it took that long to calm down in the presence of this VERY ignorant man. 


The whole company knows about this man and nothing is done. I am told he was in the ‘Resistance’ in Bangladesh’s struggle for freedom and has very powerful political friends. 


I hope that they will all attend his funeral if he finally manages to bring to fruition his ‘affaire with calamity’. He continues to operate in this manner with complete impunity and (apparently) immunity. His ‘piece de resistance’ is non- standard, high speed approaches. One must ask that IF he does get involved in an accident due to his intransigent attitude, how many innocent Biman customers will be involved too, and how seriously? This pre-supposes that non-planned ground contact will miss anything important on the ground. 


Now this report is written I frankly do not know what to do with it as I’m not sure there is an organisation in Bangladesh which would take it seriously. 


Biman as a company, do NOT wish to hear these observations. They have been flying this aircraft for 20 years and there’s nothing they need to learn about it and its operation. I truly hope that they are correct. If they are wrong, I fear it won’t be long before deaths result. 


I will be forwarding a copy of this report to Captain AAA an Ops Inspector with the Bangladesh CAA. 


We travelled to UK together as I was returning at the end of the contract. He asked me about my experiences with Biman and I told him. 


He has requested a copy of this report, but he already KNEW what I was telling him. What this ‘outside’ view provides him with that he doesn’t already have is unknown.


My only choice as I see it, is to approach the UK CAA through their reporting chain as Biman operates into UK and JAA airspace several times per week.


I question their commitment to and practice of CRM, there is very little sign of it full stop. There are some outstanding crew members both captains and first officers (I am unable to comment on the flight engineers), but they are few, they are already practising CRM, they already listen. Sadly nobody (in authority) listens to them. 


19th January 2005. 


I have heard nothing from the CAAB so I am now submitting this report. I think it IS relevant because this airline operates into UK and I have little confidence in their ability to handle a problem outside the simulator (GECAT, Gatwick – where they EXPECT problems). 




BW May

Flight Engineer

CAA Licence No. FE/327984G Bangladesh Licence No. FE/49 20 December 2004


Approximately 6 months later, the Chief of Flight Safety crashed a DC10 at Chittagong, touching down partly off the runway.  It was put down to pilot error.  Lack of CRM was a contributory cause.