Members of the Branch Speak About Their Service History

Mike Strange J0689040 RAF 1963 to 1977

I joined the Royal Air Force from my home in Merton, London at the age of 15½ in 1963 and trained at No 1 Radio School, RAF Locking, Weston-super-Mare for three years into the intricacies of navigation radar. My trade was L.Fitt. GR (Nav) and I left as a Junior Technician with one year's advance promotion to Corporal so must have done something right. In May of 1966 I arrived on my first posting, RAF Labuan, a small island of the coast of Borneo. It was very near to the conclusion of the Malaysian confrontation with the Indonesians; the airfield radar (ACR7) and navigation beacon (Eureka Mk VII) were in constant use with significant number of air traffic movements.

After exactly one year I was back in England and in the wilds of Norfolk to work on the maintenance of the Ground Control Approach radar (GCA/AN-CPN4) which replaced by the Precision Approach Radar (PAR SLA.3C). In 1969 I was posted to RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire for a nine month course on the Bloodhound Missile and 2nd Line servicing MOTE (Missile Overall Test Equipment). In 1970 it was back to RAF West Raynham but this time to the other side of the airfield and the Bloodhound site that was to take on the identity of 41 Squadron; after all each missile did have an F700!

My last posting started in 1973 and finished with my demob. as Sergeant, qualified Chief Technician, in 1977. This was with CSDE (Central Servicing Development Establishment) RAF Swanton Morley, Norfolk but I was based for the full duration at Hawker Siddeley Dynamics, Hatfield, Hertfordshire on a project team supporting the introduction of the Skyflash air-to-air guided missile into service on Phantom aircraft and later on MRCA-Tornado. The theory as to why I should move from a ground system to air was simply that both missiles used semi-active radar and proportional navigation systems!

My broad spectrum of work placed me in a good position for a relatively easy transition from RAF service to civilian life for my second career with British Aerospace Dynamics in Stevenage; but that is another story. My personal web site can be found here.