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ARK ROYAL

ARK ROYAL

Sea Vixen (809 Sqdn) Approaching for recovery.

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Lovely shot. Always nice to see pics of Sea Vixens, next to Sea Furies, my favourite RN aircraft. My best view of one was on Ashanti and not expecting it, so didn't have a camera with me. We were working with Victorious, 65 in the Indian Ocean if I remember correctly and I was doing some maintenance on the helo comms on the flyco pad, just for'ard of the flight deck, when a Vixen came in at sea level, showing off I believe, and just skimmed over us. I was right underneath it and as it was only a few feet above us, I had a fabulous view of it's belly, also felt the heat and power of it's burners. It was so unexpected I almost drowned in my own diarrhoea but a memorable sight.
 

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My everlasting memory of the Sea Vixen came from the Beira Blockade. A Lt, USN joined us in Mombasa for some cross-service time. He was immediately christened "Hank" and was every Brits idea of the Ugly American navy flyer, Red flight suit, covered from head to toe it seemed with sew on badges, always had an unlit Cuban between his teeth. Was assigned to fly right seat in 890 Sqdn. At the time we were flying AEW Gannets during the day, plotting the positions of all ships between Madagascar and the mainland. We would then fly off two-three Vixens towards evening, again first thing in morning, to go round and visually take names and details of all ships on the plot.
At about 9am a Vixen landed on and taxied into Fly One where the ground crew prodeeded to help the pilot out, the lid on the right seat however, never opened. they were banging on the fuselage, but no response, eventually crew chief used the emergency hatch release and they virtually dragged "Hank" out of there with a rank odour and a large and spreading stain on the seat of his lovely red flight suit.
Apparently, during the course of checking the ships ID's while flying past 20-30 feet above the sea, he happened to look across to the pilots side and see that his pilot was holding the stick between his knees while he used binoculars to check the ships name. He flatly refused to fly with those crazy Brit bar-stewards and was sent on his way to the RFA on the high-wire at our next RAS. When asked why they didnt just fly him over in the ships chopper, it was suggested that he may as well have one final exciting trip over the water courtesy of the RN.
 

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