HOW I BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE GROUP

 

Bio: Mike Birt


TBAG job: Pilot Buccaneer XX894


Fulltime job: Pilot Boeing 747 for British Airways


How I came to work on Buccaneer’s:

I started attending Cold War Jets Days at Bruntigthorpe following the arrival of Vulcan XH558 back in the 1990's. I always enjoyed seeing and hearing the jets undertake their fast taxi runs as it was so much better than seeing aircraft in a cold static museum. I became a commercial pilot in 2004 on the Shorts SD3-60, progressed onto the Boeing 737 in 2007 and then the Boeing 747 in 2011.


In late 2010 I got to know the then owner of XX894 who offered me the opportunity of piloting his aircraft as the current pilot had moved abroad. I performed my first fast taxi run for the public in XX894 at Cold War Jets Open Day in May 2011. It gives me a massive thrill to pilot this historic aircraft and to have a taste of what it must have been like for those who operated her in service. 

 

Bio: Flt Lt Ollie Suckling


TBAG job: Pilot Buccaneer XW544


Fulltime Job: Joined the RAF in 2007 and currently fly the Hawk T1 from RAF Valley with 208 Squadron


How I came to work on Buccaneer’s:

I have been involved in historic aircraft since I was 15 on both the Handley Page Victor at Elvington, where I am still a keen volunteer, and also at Bruntingthorpe with The Buccaneer Aviation Group since 2010. I  enjoy the engineering side of historic aviation, and can often be found with dirty hands working on/breaking the jet!

 

Bio: Francis Wallace

 

TBAG Job: XX894 Crew Chief

 

Full Time Job: Technical Services Manager

Refrigeration, Heat transfer and Control Systems


How I came to be working on Buccaneer’s etc:

Being an engineer by trade and having a lifelong interest in aircraft, a friend suggested that I visit Bruntingthorpe to meet the then owner of Buccaneer XX894 Guy Hulme.


Guy was actively looking for someone to start restoring the electrics on XX894 which ranged from carefully disconnected to savagely chopped through.

I had previously only visited Bruntingthorpe as a visitor to the taxi days and so the prospect of getting up close and personal with the aircraft from the other side of the fence was very appealing.


No sooner had I started getting to grips with XX894’s electrics then XW544 arrived. The prospect of lending a hand on a second Buccaneer was a mouth watering one to say the least!


Over eight years later and with my personal skills now expanded to include engines and hydraulics, I can honestly say there has never been a dull moment. The thrill of seeing and hearing both Buccaneers roar in to life makes all the effort so worth it and is testament to the dedication of individuals that make up The Buccaneer Aviation Group. 

 

Bio: Julian Warren

 

TBAG Job: XW544 Crew Chief

 

Full Time Job: uPVC Fabricator


How I came to be working on Buccaneer’s etc:

In the 30+ years in preserving and restoring vintage aircraft, mainly jets I've worked on the following types

Spitfires (2), Catalina G-BLSC, Vulcan's (6), Victor, Lightnings (7), Canberra’s (3), Hunter’s (2), Shackletons (2), Sea Vixen, Jet Provost and Buccaneer’s.


I specifically came to The Buccaneer Aviation Group as I was helping at the Aeropark at East Midlands Airport on Buccaneer XV350 and was always dropping in to Bruntingthorpe. I then started working with Guy Hulme and Francis Wallace on XX894 and XW544 at Bruntingthorpe, when Dave and Andy Webber ask me to be crew chief for XW544 to get her in to the condition she's now in. 

 

Bio: Graham Pool


TBAG Job: Treasurer and Engine Specialist


Full Time Job: Retired Chartered Engineer


How I came to be working on Buccaneer’s:

Following an engineering apprenticeship with Rolls Royce and 2 years as engineer in the merchant navy I returned to RR to work on after sales support of Tyne and Spey engines . Became deputy service manager for military Spey engines and saw them into service with Buccaneer, Phantom and Nimrod aircraft . Became service manager for Adour engines setting up and running all after sales services for the engines in Jaguar and Hawk aircraft . Transferred to sales and successively was responsible for Africa , Middle East and finally the Far East region.

On a visit to a Bruntingthorpe Open Day in 2005 or 2006 I met Guy Hulme who owned XX 984 and was invited to join his team to help Francis solve the engine problems 

Bio: Stuart James Goughan


TBAG Job: As one of the junior member's of the team, I get to listen mostly. When the group was formed, I found myself doing anything & not making much progress with anything. So it was decided that I would take on the responsibility for the ground equipment.


Full Time Job: Electrician


How I came to be working on Buccaneer’s:

My involvement came via Graham Pool. We were both working on the quicksilver project (an attempt on the world water speed record) and Graham asked me if I would be interested in working on the Buccanneer. I jumped @ the chance, as a youngster, I had always liked aircraft. The opportunity to work on the real thing was to good to miss. Initially, I was working on 894, but as the group has grown so has our involvement with other aircraft on the site

 

Bio: Harry Robinson


TBAG Job: Website engineering and creation


Full Time Job: Retired Mainframe, Mini, PC Hardware and software engineer


How I came to be working on Buccaneer’s:

My involvement came via my son visiting Bruntingthorpe on the August Cold War Jets day in 2011. At that time it became apparent that the group wanted a new website where they could post the very latest updates on all the different engineering aspects of keeps two Buccaneers in full running order. The rest as they say is history.

Bio: Dave Webber


TBAG job: Chairman


Fulltime Job: Fireman


How I came to work on Buccaneer’s:

Following a 15 year carer in the RAF as a Fireman where I was lucky enough to get posted to 3 Buccaneer units. First off was Honington which had 12 Sqn, 208 Sqn 809 Sqn and 237 OCU so I had a very busy time there. My next posting was St Athan which was where they did all the Major servicing for the Buccaneer's so the test flights following a major service could be quite exciting for us let alone the pilot and nav!


From there I went to Laarbruch which had 15 Sqn and 16 Sqn Buccaneer's so by now I was beginning to love this aircraft. Then on 7/2/80 XV 345 crashed in USA and all things Buccaneer stopped on 11/2/80 and that's when I really got to work on the history of all 209 Buccaneer's built. Finally on the 28/7/80 the order was given to launch the Buccaneer's and two of them took to the Sky's, little did I know that as I watched the two aircraft get airborne I would get to know the second one so well, XW 544.


Following my 3 years at Laarbruch I was posted to St Mawgan which was one of the Forward Operations Base for the Buccaneer fleet so I get to see them from time to time.


Once out of the RAF I went to all the air shows I could to see the Buccaneer's do their display, and then in March 94 it all came to an end with the early retirement of the whole fleet.


An old RAF mate then said lets go to Bruntingthorpe as they have lots of aircraft there that taxi, so off we went to a Rolling Thunder Day and it was great.

Buccaneer XX 900 was on static following a fast taxi run so I had to go over and say hello. The crew chief was next to the XX 900 so I had a chat with him and he said that if I was free on Sundays I could come along and help maintain it.

After some time working on XX 900 I then went on to work on XX 894 at Kemble and helped get that up to taxing standard.


Then in Jan 01 I started work on XW 544, which was very slow to start with as it was on its belly in a transport yard and we had no money. Once we had got the £2,000 sorted for the road move it was all go to get the outer wings off and the nose removed. When XW 544 got to Bruntingthorpe I thought we would just have a complete airframe with all systems working except the engines. It would seem that fate had other ideas and low and behold two engines became available and we now have a near perfect example of a Buccaneer.


I am proud to say that I am the only one in the team that has worked on XW 544 from the very start, and I hope I will be working on her for a good few years yet. Over the last 11 years people have come and gone for all sorts of reasons but every one of them has helped in some small way to get XW 544 where she is now

 

Bio: Andy King


TBAG job: Team (tame) Armourer and ground crew member. Also the team medic


Fulltime Job: Joined the Royal Air Force in 1996 and currently serving on 5131(Bomb Disposal) Sqn at RAF Wittering


How I came to work on Buccaneer’s:

I have been involved in historic aircraft restoration for over twenty years, first starting out at the Yorkshire Air Museum at Elvington near York which is where I’m originally from. I still work there as well as at Bruntingthorpe and am the Crew Chief on HP Victor XL231 which is resident at Elvington. I joined the RAF sixteen years ago as an armourer and have been fortunate enough to have served on some very fine squadrons throughout my career including 54(F) Sqn at RAF Coltishall flying the Jaguar aircraft, and also IV(AC) Sqn at RAF Laarbruch (Germany) and RAF Cottesmore flying the Harrier GR7/9 aircraft. During my time in the RAF I have served in a number of locations worldwide including Oman, Kuwait, America, Canada, most countries in Europe, Iraq and Afghanistan. These include operational tours covering the No-Fly zones over Bosnia and Iraq, participation in the second Gulf War, and an operational bomb disposal tour in Iraq. I have also spent in excess of a year of my Harrier Force career embarked at sea on board all three of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers sailing the world (something not envisaged having joined the RAF and not the Navy...) My current role is that of bomb disposal (both conventional and counter terrorist) at 5131(BD) Sqn based at RAF Wittering where I have been working for the past 6 years. My work at Bruntingthorpe reminds me that I am still an aircraft engineer at heart and keeps me sane!

I became involved with the team around eighteen months ago when Ollie asked if I’d like to come down and meet the team and see the jets. Needless to say I was hooked instantly and since then have never looked back. The team have welcomed me into the fold (either that or they just can’t get rid of me) and I’m now a key member of the team helping out every spare second I can. I do my best to keep the team amused with my ‘unique’ sense of humour and provide them with spiritual guidance as I am also an ordained member of the clergy. I also own the team mascot – black Labrador ‘Guinness’ who is the saddest dog in NATO. My wife Carolynn and I live close to the airfield so are there whenever we can be. My children have also been pressganged into the team with my two youngest daughters Jessica and Emily already in training as groundcrew. Thanks must go to my long suffering wife Carolynn for putting up with yet more aircraft parts appearing in the house and me spending countless hours at the airfield. She is a very patient lady!

 

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Bio: Andrew Webber


TBAG Job: Secretary to the Chairman and the ability to do almost anything!


Full Time Job: HGV Driver


How I came to be working on Buccaneer’s:

I've been dragged up around or within ear shot of Buccaneers and its kind of somehow developed into a massive part of my life (thanks mr Chairman) preserving our aircraft for future generations. I remember looking out of the classroom window a lot watching the Buccs in the pattern at Laarbruch in the early eighties and maybe even saw XW544 at the time.I don't remember seeing them at St Mawgan or Brize Norton but its all a bit of a blur now !

My forced relationship with the Buccaneer after we came back from Germany was largely at air shows where we always stayed until the Buccaneer display and then left to "beat the rush" so i missed most of the last hour of most flying displays. I never saw the Reds fly unless it was at the airfield we were based at. Who knows what other gems i missed?

Theres a bit of a theme developing here................


I almost forgot to mention the piles upon piles of stuff, log books and photo's I grew up around as the chairman continued to collect it.


Don't get me wrong I loved living near and around aircraft of all types but looking back on it I think they'd call it "grooming" now


As I left college and had more interest in it dad started taking me to Kemble where XX894 was being slowly brought back from the brink and was lucky enough to see the 3 that went to South Africa being prepped and depart so I got to see possibly the last flight in the UK of a Buccaneer.

A few years in and we started going to Bruntingthorpe to help with XX900.

XX894 followed when she arrived from Farnborough, then 544 became a big part of my life as we started to make plans for her too.


I think in total i've had about 18 years working on the Buccaneer of and on and the past 10 (involving most of the work) have been at times both extremely frustrating and exhilarating too. Seeing 544 fully restored and blasting down the runway always makes me feel proud and puts a lump in my throat. Team members have come and gone each leaving their mark but its been great knowing them all.

The Buccaneer Aviation Group is at the time of writing this about to celebrate its first year in operation and mountains have been moved over the past twelve months, monetarily and physically culminating in where we are as a group today with many mountains ahead (well hills really as the ultimate mountain of flight is just to tall) such as a supply of tires and spare engines. Encouragingly there is still sheds around the country with spares in!


So heres to the future with the TBAG'gers

Bio: Dennis Brooks


Bruntingthorpe Role: Pilot Lightning XS904 & XR728, Buccaneer XX900 & Canberra WT333


Fulltime Job: None now. I am a retired RAF Pilot


How I came to be involved with Bruntingthorpe and Buccaneer’s:

I joined the RAF in 1964 and after Initial Officer Training I went on to Basic Flying Training at RAF Leeming in Yorkshire on the Jet Provost. Following this I completed Advanced Flying Training on the Gnat at RAF Valley in Anglesey. I was then selected to become a qualified flying instructor and after completing the instructor course at RAF Little Rissington was posted to RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire on the Jet Provost.


At the end of this tour I could choose which aircraft I wanted to go to so unsurprisingly I chose the Lightning! I flew the Lightning for 8 years, achieving just under 2,000 hours. I served on 111(F) Squadron at RAF Wattisham, 65(F) Squadron on the Lightning OCU at RAF Coltishall, 56(F) Sqaudron at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus and RAF Wattisham. My last Lightning tour, having been promoted, was as Officer Commanding Lightning Training Flight at RAF Binbrook in Lincolnshire.


Following the Lightning came a complete change as I was posted as Officer Commanding, East Midlands Universities Air Squadron at RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire flying the Bulldog. Then came another complete change as I was posted to the Tri-national Tornado Training Establishment, RAF Cottesmore in Rutland to become an instructor on the Tornado GR1. I then spent the next 18 years on the Tornado amassing over 4.000 hours on the GR1. I had 3 separate tours at Cottesmore, one on 9 Squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk and then at RAF Bruggen in Germany and one on loan service to the Royal Saudi Air Force at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.


It was during one of my tours at Cottesmore that Max Waldron of the Lightning Preservation Group, knowing my Lightning background introduced me to the LPG. I became one of the pilots to do the Lightning runs and since then have become the pilot for runs in Canberra WT333 and Buccaneer XX900.


Following the Tornado I flew the Dominie at RAF Cranwell and after retiring in 2003 I have been flying air cadets as a reservist with No 7 Air Experience Flight at RAF Cranwell on the Grob Tutor.

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