& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


For portfolio management, ShareScope is invaluable, for two months' free trial sign up here

Brize 2010 Reds 3

By psmiddy, Aug 3 2020 03:01PM

The Intelligence & Security Committee of Parliament worked diligently on its report into Russian interference in UK affairs. The Prime Minister sat on the report for months, before it was finally published on July 21. Even in heavily redacted form it underlined the corrosive influence Russians already exert on our democratic institutions.

Less than a fortnight later, last Friday, the new elevations to the House of Lords were announced, which include a Russian owner of UK media, son of a KGB agent to boot. Could one ask for a better example of the obduracy of our tin-eared leader? What, for heaven's sake, are the benefits to the UK electorate of such a move.

In the words of Lord Acton: "All power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely." One pities HM the Queen having to sign off that largely ignoble list of new nobles!

If employment of a former Chancellor is to be a rite of passage to the Lords, I can offer Mr. Javid (or perhaps in due course Mr Sunak) a few hours of gardening work each week....

By psmiddy, Jul 19 2020 06:00PM

The Royal International Air Tattoo has been run virtually this weekend, and the Farnborough AirShow is also destined to run online soon. But I went to the season's first proper airshow yesterday - at Old Warden - and it was magical to see the Shuttleworth Collection's amazing aircraft in action. Prize for 'biggest balls of the evening' go, in my view, to the pilot of the Eon primary glider who took an aerotow up to 3000' or so. Magic.

By psmiddy, Jul 10 2020 04:20AM

Last night Channel 5 finished a 3-part documentary on the Battle of Britain (which officially started 80 years ago today). It was hosted by Dan Snow and Kate Humble, and made excellent use of filming of the ‘Balbos’ at Duxford last year to give the impression of combat between throngs of Spitfires, Hurricanes and Me109s. The strength of the series was in unearthing some witnesses to, and participants in, the Battle, who have not been seen before.

The negatives? Tabloid-esque narration: Snow describing documents (such as combat reports and Operational Record Books) as “secret”, or “rarely seen” – no they are not, these are accessed multiple times a year in the National Archives. Humble had a rather shrieky “Oh my God” style of narration; for example when she took off from Duxford in a Spitfire “It’s so noisy”! No it isn’t. I have flown in the exact same airframe (PV202), and the only downside of flying in a Spitfire, is that you do not hear or enjoy the music of the Merlin’s exhausts. It is remarkably quiet – just a muffled roar of 1000hp at your command. Perhaps she forgot to turn on her noise cancelling headset? Or was just exaggerating for effect?

Kate Humble’s aviation pedigree was not mentioned. Her father, Bill Humble, was a notable test pilot at Hawker, and aided the development of the Typhoon and Fury.