An admission…and this may shock you…
I want to own up to something.
And it came as a result of a conversation in a mobile phone shop yesterday as I was buying a new phone.
We were chatting as we went through setting up the contract and such and when the shiny new phone came out of the box I said “It looks just lovely, doesn’t it?”
The salesman replied “Yeah, I guess…” It wasn’t the most enthusiastic answer.
“Do you have one? I bet you do.” said my Girlfriend.
Again, the salesman looked sheepish. “I have to admit,” he said “And this may surprise you, but I am not really into phones. I do this job cos I like people and I like selling, and, well, it pays the bills…” He looked down and was slightly embarrassed.
Here’s my admission.
I am not into aircraft.
I am in the RAF and I am not bothered about airshows, aircraft, and all the hardware that goes with them.
Does that make me a bad airman?
I have to qualify the statement that I am not into aircraft though. I know enough about them for my job, and I keep an awareness enough to be up to date on what is going on. I can identify and name aircraft as required, albeit to say…that’s an F-18, or that’s a C-130 Hercules…but I couldn’t identify a mark or what variant a particular aircraft is.
I have an interest in historical aircraft – particularly the RAF’s aircraft of World War 2, but it is more out of respect and reverence than anything else.
I have to point out here I have nothing against people who DO find aircraft interesting. It’s all part of life’s pageant isn’t it? People who are interested in aircraft and trains and cars and books and anything else that people are interested in is all just another thread of the rich tapestry of our island story. What interests you, is what interests you. What interests me, is what interests me.
It’s just that aircraft don’t really interest me that much! I don’t mind watching a display by a jet or helicopter, as long as it is doing something interesting! Often they are quite pretty to look at (saaaaaaaay a Typhoon) or do something interesting in the air (like maybe a Chinook), or sounds amazing (like a Merlin engined Spitfire). But they are just a passing interest.
You see, I have spent 23 years in the RAF. Of which, I spent 12 years or so working directly on Tornado F3′s in one way or another. And I guess a bit of familiarity has bred a bit of contempt. They are a job of work. They are just a machine that I had to crawl over, around and under to work on. Getting covered in oil, coolanol, fuel and all sorts of stuff…well, that takes the shine of doesn’t it.
When you come back in and you smell really, really bad cos you have had hydraulic oil poured over you from a leaking pipe…it dulls the experience doesn’t it? I once had hot aviation fuel (direct from a vent of the engine) splashed into my eye. I had an opinion of aircraft after that, I can tell you…
I am proud of being in the RAF. I am proud of what we do. I am proud of the equipment and the people we have in it. But I am just not that interested in the aircraft in them. As I said, I keep up to date, so I know what we have, and what is going on. What the implications of their introduction and maintenance mean. The roles they play and the tasks they have. But that, to me is work stuff. It’s not really something that I want in my personal time…
But I need to put in a disclaimer though. As I hinted at earlier…I do love old aircraft. Particularly World War 2 RAF aircraft. But it is more to do with the impact of them on history. When I hear a piston engined aircraft at any time, I check my hearing to make sure it is a vintage aircraft. I’ll make a point of going outside if it is a Merlin or Griffen engine. And when I go out and see a Spitfire, or Hurricane, or the Lancaster fly past, I get that sense of pride…pride in what those aircraft did, what they stand for, what they mean…And a sense of pride that I am part of an organisation and that the equipment, and more importantly, the people work constantly to ensure that tradition is maintained and that history is upheld…I guess the modern aircraft are as much a symbol of that as the vintage ones, but, to me the older ones mean a lot more to me and the modern ones are, just well, work…
This is a shocking revelation isn’t it? I just ask that you don’t judge me too harshly as a result of it…