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Thread: Runway caravans

  1. #1
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    Default Runway caravans

    I noticed there is a thread on these so as a former runway controller I thought Id start one.

    When I joined up the bantam was still the only runway caravan in service. Then in the early eighties the mk2 reared its ugly head. Wehn they were first built they weighed something like 3 and a half tons. The powers that be raised their voices in horror when they realised this meant runway controllers would hav e to have HGV licences, so the firm who made them (I think it might have been Marshalls) were told to reduce the weight of the vehicle. As the vehicle had a high centre of gravity it meant they were absolute pigs to drive. They also were limited to no more than 30 mph on a bend, altoough on the runway at Cranwell I got 60 out of it!

    Because the vans did only about 5 miles a day the engines didnt really get warmed up, the noise they used to make had to be heard. In fact I got a superb backfire one day at Barkston. And on the subject of Barkston anyone know the high dyke rd from Cranwell to Ancaster? That is an old roman rd and has been built up on over the years, and there is quite a camber on it. When taking the van out to Barkston it actually felt like the van was going to topple, in fact if we could we would drive in the middle of the road. And as for the hill from Ancaster to Barkston you would be constantly going from seconf to third to second all the time you were going up the hill. The engine would be labouring so youd change down, 10 seconds later it would be racing so you change up. And itd be like that all the way up the hill!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    C: Have you seen the thread on "Mobile Control Towers"?

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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    A mobile control tower and a runway caravan are not the same thing, runway caravans are a lot smaller and also unique to the RAF.

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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    Then there are a huge number of posts on "Mobile Control Towers" that need to be transferred to your new thread!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    A runway caravan wouldnt normally be used as a control twer, much too low to see whats going on in the circuit. I suppose in extremis it could be used as a tower.

    From what I read of the "mobile control towers" thread none of them referred to runway caravans.

    And one day at Cranwell I had 11(yes eleven) Tucanos on the runway lined up for a flypast, try attempting to control aircraft with all that noise in the background!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    The 'Runway caravan' as i understand it is 'an extention' of control regarding the safety of aircraft movments on the airfield. It used to have a direct telephone link to the Tower.
    Caravan was there to look out for anything that shouldn't be, not to control the airspace around the airfield site

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    I would agree with canberra and Able mabel.

    The first pic in the "Portable Control Tower" thread, as posted by REF, is just that, a mobile/portable control tower, but not a runway caravan, as I knew them at least.

    The "Runway Caravan" and it's controller (usually an NCO assistant), were "an extention" of the Local controllers arm, and indeed eyes, at some but not all, RAF airfields. My brief experience was at Brawdy with the Hawks.

    Happy days

    Chris

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    The job of the runway controller was first of all to stop aircvraft landing with their wheels up, secondly to perform what are called "last look checks" ie make sure theres nothing wrong with the aircraft.
    At one time every airfield in the RAF had a runway controller and caravan, but in the late seventies it went over to only having them at fast jet bases and training bases. Thats why Marham has one but Brize doesnt.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Runway caravans

    Two at Brooklands, 8 Aug 2010.

    Bedford something-or-other


    Black and White chequered trailer type something-or-other

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Runway caravans

    Yes the red and white checked one is a former RAF (not sure if the FAA had them) runway caravan, based on a Bedford TK. No doubt someone will be able to tell which airfield it was based at.

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