Play / pause Leaving the Ranks

Leaving the Ranks

  • Graham Grice
  • Interview by: Ewan Burnett


I was a cartographer for around about four years

and it was during that final year

as I was serving in Germany working on the low flying charts

that we had a new boss posted in, a navigator,

his name was Crispin Williams.

And he was at that time the world ballooning champion.

Which I found quite fascinating

so I discussed this with him for a little bit.

And we talked about how you become the ballooning champion.

Now, I'd always imagined in my simple mind,

that in a balloon you go up, the wind blows you along

and you come back down.

And he said, "No, no, it's much more complicated than that

"and you have to fly around a course

"and drop flour bombs on targets."

I said, "But how on Earth?

"The wind's gonna blow you wherever it will blow you."

He said, "No, there's wind blowing different directions

"at different altitudes and you fly the balloon thus."

So I thought, very clever.

But then he got round to turning the conversation

to me and he said, "Well what do you plan to do

"with your life in the Air Force?"

And I said, "Well really I was thinking about

"the possibility of commissioning."

And he said, "And when do you think you'll do this?"

And I said, "Well probably in two or three or four years

"time when I've got a little bit more experience."

And he asked me how old I was.

He said, "You don't have time to wait two or three

"or four years, you need to apply now."

So very much with his chivying I ended up leaving the ranks

and becoming a commissioned officer.

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