Flt Lt Mac McLauchlan

Ferry to Kemble

‘Mac’ McLauchlan served as an FGA.9 and FR.10 pilot on 8 Squadron from 1961 to 1963.

In the latter half of his tour, he was detailed to lead three squadron FGA.9s back to the UK for refurbishment and as was the norm for these long flights, the ferry was not without incident. Mac would be flying XF455-T while Dave Edmonston and Pete Loveday were assigned XJ687-E and XE651-M respectively.

All went well until we passed the point of no return over the Libyan desert, en-route for El Adem. We had used up the fuel in the outboard 100-gallon drop tanks and were cruising steadily at altitude when Dave ‘Loddy’ Edmonston, who was flying XJ687-E, called on the radio to say that fuel was not flowing from one of his 230s. Without it, he would not make El Adem and would have had to eject once his fuel ran out. After a quick look at the Pilot’s Notes and brief discussion between the three of us, we decided that one option was to try and release the fuel flow valve by giving it a jolt and one way of doing that was to blow the outboard tanks. Loddy duly dumped the tanks and the vibration from the release unjammed the valve and the fuel started to flow; he was now OK.

The fun was not quite over, however, for on breaking for our landing at El Adem the undercarriage on my aircraft, XF455-T, failed to come down. Having tried pulling negative and positive ‘g’ in an effort to release it, and failed, I resorted to blowing the undercart down using the emergency air bottle and landed without further trouble. Being stuck at El Adem to await the fitting of a pair of outers on one aircraft and retraction tests on a second was definitely not part of our itinerary.”

Mac provided a record of the ferry trip with this unique series of photographs.

Pictured over Khartoum from a hand-held camera while en-route to the UK is XJ687-E on 06-12-62

Mac held his own aircraft steady by clamping the control column between his knees while taking the photograph.

The Blue Nile flowing through Khartoum from the starboard side of Mac's Hunter

The view from the port side; XJ687 can just be made out in the centre of the photograph

Over Khartoum at the confluence of the Blue and Whtie Nile rivers.

Anything missing? Photograph taken by Mac of Dave Edmonston's Hunter over the Libyan desert minus the outboard drop tanks, 06-12-62

Skirting Gozo island on the approach into Luqa with Dave Edmonston in XJ687-E leading Pete Loveday in XE651-M on 09-12-62

Three relieved pilots, Mac McLauchlan, Dave Edmonston and Pete Loveday, after landing at Luqa, 09-12-62

Mac walks out to XF455 to begin the next stage of the ferry flight to the UK

Mac climbing into the cockpit of XF455

XJ687 and XE651 producing vapour trails as they fly high over the Alps .....

..... and lower down over the Pyrenees

A French Air Force Mustere takes off from one of the en-route stations

By coincidence, Queens Flight Heron XM296 was on the pan at Ystres when the trio made their final stop-over

Long day ahead; dawn departure from one of the bases en-route

Up country with the Army

Every so often, Hunter pilots would undertake a detachment with the Army and join them on the their patrols up country. “In 1962, I was OC a convoy of mixed FRA (ex-APL) and 3rd Dragoon Guards as I was senior to the cavalry subaltern. Naturally as a GD/P I had little experience of commanding army convoys, and neither did the young subaltern. In the best RAF tradition I took the advice of his senior sergeant, and all was well.” The following sequence of photographs were taken by Mac during that patrol which took place along the Beihan to Nuqub road, not far from the Yemen border.

Having been flown into Beihan by 84 Sqn Beverley, Mac captures XM109 as it takes off .....

..... and heads back to Khormaksar

Looking back along the dusty road towards the accompanying Scout Car soon after setting off from Beihan.

Mac alongside his trusty Land Rover and local tribesmen

Having successfully 'thumbed a lift', a local tribesman climbs into the Land Rover

A group of tribesmen are encountered tending their goats.

An FRA soldier sits on the wall beside three tribesmen, one of whom proudly bears his Janbiya