Picture Post – 004 – Bad Vibes!

Vickers Valiant

Vickers Valiant

We have at last another anecdote that warrants an inclusion into our “Picture Post” slot. This time it is from a retired Association navigator, Tom Norcross.

Before arriving in the Transport World, and eventually 24 Squadron, I was in Bomber Command for twelve years, the last six were on Valiants at RAF Marham. On my penultimate Valiant flight, we were skimming along low level at 250 knots over Somerset, en route to drop a practice bomb at Jurby range off the Isle of Man. Suddenly, the aeroplane began to shake violently. The pilots checked all the engine instruments, nothing wrong there. From my side window I could see the wing tip fluttering. That should not happen on a Valiant with a rigid wing and main spar to hold the wings on. The vibrations lasted perhaps a minute or so and stopped as suddenly as they had started. We were flying in silky smooth air, no hint of furbulence.

We crossed the Sevem estuary, coasting in over south Wales, when exactly the same circumstances occurred again. This time we zoomed up to 10.000 feet in case we had to bale out, making a PAN call on the way up. We recovered to Marham directly, landing without any further incident. The aircraft was comprehensively air-tested the next day, and the vibrations could not be reproduced. In few days time I shook the dust of Bomber Command off my flying boots.

I joined the Argosy OCU at RAF Thorney Island and whilst I was in Ground School, A Valiant landed at RAF Gaydon with an enormous crack in the main spar. The flaps were driven by one electric motor, so you couldn’t get asymmetric flap…. but this aeroplane did. The staff pilot was quick off the mark, when landing flap was selected and the aircraft tipped through 90 degrees from the horizontal from the vertical, about to roll onto its back. The pilot immediately retracted the flap and he carried an overweight flapless landing on the 3.000 yard long runway The Valiant fleet were grounded at once. It may be apocryphal, but I was told that the first the Quick Reaction Alert crews heard of the grounding of all the Valiants was via the BBC six o’clock news.!

When the airframes were broken up, extensive internal structural damage was found. ……Enough said….

Tom, many thanks, certainly a good read.





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One Response to “Picture Post – 004 – Bad Vibes!”

  1. Keith Chapman Says:

    Excellent story … told in a low-key, highly effective style. Thanks for sharing this with us, Tom.

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