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Red Eric

  • Dicky Patounas
  • Interview by: Ewan Burnett


A scenario was set and it would normally start occurring

a few weeks before you deployed

where the intelligence officer would start setting a scene

and it was about Russian activity up north

and NATO's northern flank, thank you,

and they, and things were hotting up

and getting more intense.

They weren't.

It was a completely false scenario.

And so vessels were seen

or aircraft activity was occurring.

And everyone in the squadron,

apart from the junior pilot knew it was complete rubbish,

but the junior pilot was egging, oh my god,

this is, we're goin' up north

and the Russians are gonna be there

and it's getting a bit tense.

So you would deploy and then in the deployment

early doors you'd do a few sorties,

cuz they considered this safe activity

in, you know, let the junior pilot at least fly a few times.

But the scenario was developing

and it got to the point where it was set up

that the boss was the formation leader

and the number two was the junior pilot

and things got particularly tense

and now no duff he had to go, right,

that it's happening boys you're launching and it's you two.

And, right, the boss was in

and so he would, he took the brief,

right this is what we're gonna do

and this is it

and the little junior pilot was genuinely thinking

oh my god this is it.

I'm going against the Russians right now

with the squadron boss, oh my god.

And it was designed that the aircraft wouldn't

and couldn't get airborne.

Faults were put in with it that it wouldn't start

or whatever it would be.

and the whole squadron was in on it.

And the aim of it was that the boss would go

and brief and start and taxi and the poor junior pilot

no matter what he tried to do wouldn't be able to start

or wouldn't be able to taxi

and the boss would get on right with him on the radio

and he would have to go for the spare aircraft

which equally couldn't work with the end result being

that he had let the squadron down

and he couldn't airborne because he was rubbish.

And you're not supposed to be finding it as a funny as it

and then at the end of it he would come in

with his head hung low thinking he just let the world down

and what's he done.

And the boss would debrief him and chew him out

and he was gutted and then all the squadron were there

and they'd laugh at him and it was all very amusing.

And I probably haven't reflected

on it as well as others have,

but it was definitely a lot of fun

and every time the JP always took it in good faith.

And they then made sure that they were involved

in the next one who came and it's just a thing

that 421 squadron did.

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