RAF Abingdon 14 June 1968

31 Jet provosts flying the Queens cipher 14 June 1968

As part of the RAF's 50th anniversary celebrations, 31 Jet Provosts flew the Queens Cipher in formation. The Jet Provosts were all flown by QFI's ( Qualified Flying Instructors ) from 4 UK airbases.

The "official" show/formation was flown twice on 14 June 1968. Firstly for H.M. Queen & then again for the public.

The "E" consisted of pilots/planes from 1 FTS based in Linton-On-Ouse.
The "II" 's consisted of pilots/planes from 2 FTS based in Syerston & 3 FTS based in Leeming ( I don't know which "I" was flown by which group )
The "R" consisted of pilots/planes from 6 FTS based in Acklington.

The first training flight for the "E" was on 6 May 1968. The first full "cipher" was flown on 11 May 1968. A number of "E" & full training flights took place in May, total flying time about 5 hrs 45 mins. I assume that the I's & R's were also practiced by each RAF base, but I don't have any Info on this ( yet )

The Linton-On-Ouse pilots were a mixture of RAF & Naval Instructors, these were nicknamed "Sids Mob", after Squadron Leader Sid Edwards who lead them.

Here are "Sids Mob" ( Al Colesky is not pictured ) :-
Click on the picture for new window containing a larger version.
Sid Mob pilots from Linton-On-Ouse

A local Yorkshire newspaper printed the following article mentioning 4 of the Linton based pilots that took part.
EIIR pilots from Yorkshire

On the 4 June 1968, "Sids Mob" flew to RAF Gaydon for a 10 day detachment. The "E" was practiced on 5 June & the full cipher was practiced 8 times in the remaining days, each of these flights lasting about 1 hr. The total flying time for these practices was about 7 hrs 15 mins.

As stated above, the "official" show/formation was flown twice on 14 June 1968. Firstly for H.M. Queen & then again for the public.

If you count the pilots in "Sids Mob" & then the planes in the "E", you'll notice there is a difference. There was obviously some backup planning done just in case a plane had a technical problem or a pilot became ill. According to Dave Waddington's logbooks he practiced solo ( ie without passenger ) everytime, but for the public show he has Flt.Lt. Mackenzie as a passenger.
"Mac" MacKenzie-Crooks was reserve. He wrote:-
"I was one of the reserves for the E11R as it was thought that being a GIN member I could slot in if someone was ill . ...... I didn't complain because it was much more fun zooming around about."
For safety reasons, some planes always flew with 2 crew. Whilst the pilot formated on a plane, the "passenger" ( also a QFI ) was checking in other directions.

As well as trying to identify the pilots & the position they flew in, I'd like to identify the planes. Some Info has come directly from pilots log books, some from other websites on the internet & some from period magazines.

"E" flown by 1FTS "I" flown by 2FTS "I" flown by 3FTS "R" flown by 6FTS
XR657/37 Ken XP641/34 Ken XS220/47 Ken XP634/40 Ken
XR665/38 Ken XP664/42 Ken XR654/51 Ken XP585/45 Ken
XP626/39 Logbook XP620/43 Ken XP663/59 Ken XR674/46 Ken
XP627/40 Logbook & Ken XP628/47 Ken XP687/60 Ken XR644/51 Ken & Scramble
XP633/41 Ken ???   ???   XR656/54 Scramble
XP637/42 Ken         XS180/61 Ken
XR700/46 Logbook         XR706/62 Ken
XP681/53 Logbook         ???  
XP581/?? Logbook         ???  
???           ???  

Ken posts on the The Aviation Forum forum under the name Alertken. He sent me most of the above with the explanation "I was then a member both of Air Britain and of Blackbushe BARG, whose Military Aviation News and SE Air Review carried display lists. I have kept only those that were new to me."

Scramble is the internet website => www.scramble.nl

I have seen various photos of the formation, some showing a couple of planes not quite in position, but this picture, which hung on a wall in our house for over 35 years, shows them in full glory.

If you click on the picture below, a new window will open up showing a larger version of this photo.
If you then move the cursor over each plane, a small popup will appear, showing the information known to me.
31 Jet provosts flying the Queens cipher 14 June 1968

Much of the information on this page has come from Sid Edwards, Al Colesky, Melvyn Jenkins & "Alertken". I would like to thank them for that !

There must have been loads of pictures taken of the formation. Does anyone out there have any more ?
If you have anything you can add ( I'd particularly like to name all the cipher pilots in their positions ), please feel free to E-mail me Information.

For more information on the Open day ( 15 June 1968 ) including plenty of photos, you should visit :- Peter Goodearl's Website

This page was last updated on 21 March 2010