CAT Europe Editor Chris Long, and MS&T Europe Editor Dim Jones served in the RAF for 19 and 44 years respectively, and have many stories to tell of their time in the skies, but what to do with them? Thankfully, Chris and Dim, along with their old friend and colleague Ian Cowie, solved the problem by creating the very popular series: ‘Out of the Blue: The Sometimes Scary and Often Funny World of Flying in the Royal Air Force, as Told by Some of Those Who Were There.’
Chris recalls that: “while Dim, Ian and I joined the RAF together in March 1966 and have been friends ever since, our careers took us in different directions so that we didn’t see or hear from each other for many years. But during a convivial evening at my home in the south of France back in the Noughties, sipping wine and reminiscing about days gone by, we realised that we, along with our mates, had got stories to tell. This was an opportunity to recount some of those tales; we could put them in a book and sell them to raise money for military charities,"
Over the next two years, the three pilots collected the stories for the first book, greatly assisted in their task by Halldale, who published it pro bono, and by aviation companies CAE and BAE SYSTEMS, who sponsored it. Its unexpected success demanded both a reprint and a sequel, and Books 2 and 3 – ‘Out Of The Blue Too’ and ‘Out Of The Blue – The Final Landing’ followed at three-year intervals, both in print and in e-book format. The ‘Gang of Three’ freely admit that they could not have done it without the tremendous support of the Halldale staff and their distributors, Flostream. The venture has thus far raised over £90,000 for a range of military charities, and the magic goal of £100,000 is by no means beyond reach..
You can hear Chris, Ian and Dim discuss some of those stories in the latest edition of the Out Of The Blue podcast or watch the short teaser trailer below.
Sometimes terrifying, occasionally outrageous, and frequently funny, the stories show that the business of flying military aircraft sporadically throws up challenges that even the most capable of aviators struggle to meet. Without exception, the stories are related with a refreshing candour which acknowledges the failures as well as the triumphs on each author's part. Equally importantly, they are presented in a way that anyone can enjoy, regardless of whether they have any knowledge of flying or military life. Many of the events recounted here happened during the Cold War, when the surreal world of potential nuclear conflict was the backdrop to day-to-day operations, and nearly all the stories appear in print for the first time. Indeed, it is true to say that, from an aviation perspective, they are frequently more remarkable for the fact that the protagonist got away with it rather than demonstrated great flying skill.
Chris and Dim recently discussed the latest release with the RAF and you can watch the interviews below.