ACA Woking News by Bill Bawden, PRO

18 March 2014

The V-Force and the Cold War


Bill Turnill

After three lunchtime meetings during the winter period, the AirCrew Association resumed its monthly evening schedule in March at Fairoaks Airport.

The guest speaker this month was Bill Turnill, a former RAF pilot, who gave an enthralling and highly informative illustrated account of the history of the Valiant, Victor and Vulcan bombers that formed Britain’s nuclear deterrent during the middle period of the Cold War.


Vulcan XH588

Having flown night fighters and Valiant photographic reconnaissance aircraft, Bill then became a captain, and later a flight commander, in squadrons operating the iconic delta-wing Vulcan.  He described the system of dispersal and Quick Reaction Alert readiness that was a feature of this time, particularly during the Cuban missile crisis of late 1962.

But there were also more pleasurable occasions to be enjoyed including a round-the-world trip that took Bill to perform airshow demonstration flights in New Zealand and visit many other places where the Vulcan inevitably became the centre of attention.


Visit to Swanwick Air Traffic Centre

Earlier this month members of the ACA, some accompanied by their wives, were given a tour of the London Air Traffic Control Centre (Military) at the Swanwick complex near Southampton.  The visit had been arranged by the Association’s entertainments officer, Eric Smith GM.

The party was given a briefing on the services provided by both the civil and military in controlling and integrating air traffic over the United Kingdom and then, divided into smaller groups, conducted to see the operations in progress at some of the sections including Area Control and the Distress and Diversion cell.

The visitors, whose aviation experiences generally ended many years before the building of the Swanwick Centre, were very impressed by the modern equipment and efficiency of the systems now in use and by the skill and dedication of the controllers.  They expressed their graitude to the personnel of LATCC (Mil) for their guidance and hospitality during their stay.

Back to top of page