The Flamingo Magazine 1991

By the time you read this month's magazine I shall be enjoying my disembarkation leave in the UK and watching my tan fade before my eyes! I know it has been said many times but it really is true: a tour in Cyprus is gone before you know it.

However, if you've made the most of it, you will be left with some Great memories. I for one will always look back on Cyprus and Akrotiri with great affection. There are the obvious things that you look forward to inti ally, like the sunshine, and then, once you're here, you discover the hospitality of the local people and a more relaxed pace of life. I would like to say a public thank you to all at the Education centre but particularly Stella, Francis and Costas for all their help;

Education Officers come and go, but they remain, and they remain cheerful. Also my thanks go to Cpl 'Sully' O'Sullivan of the PEd Fit for the 'No Stress' fitness sessions that he has run for so long and which continue to feature as a part of station life - the 'jelly belly' still needs a bit of work I'm afraid, but I'm getting there! I could go on indefinitely but, instead, I would simply like to ask that you give my successor, Fit Lt Gerry Botton, the support that I have been given.
By the way, apologies to some of our re ular contributors whose articles were 'dropped' from last month's magazine. I regret to say it was arbitary decision on the Printer s part which, hopefully, will not happen again.
Bye! Bye!


The end of Op Haven saw the return of all the POOHS who had graced the Ivory Tower with their combined presence. Our thanks go to those six intrepid young(?) fellows, and remem­ber girlies, next time you go floating out to sea on your air bed, Taff Evans won't be there to save you!! In no time at all we were back to good old Akrotiri half days. People could plan their weekends safe in the knowledge that they would be off duty, and all was sweetness and light.

Then suddenly in the best traditions of the British Military, came the cry, "It's all changed lads - back to 24 hr operations".

Once again the Tower was full of bemused strangers, some of whom had been plucked from the bosom of their family just a few hours before. Only some of these strangers looked vaguely familiar. It was, indeed, the return of the 'Nasher'. Just when you thought it was safe for your daughter to go to the Youth Club along came Fg Off Richard Nash - veteran of Desert Shield and ATC's answer to Tom Cruise. Also making a welcome return is SAC Richard Merry (the man with the voice of an angel) last seen on APC. The other two prisoners of Op Yarra, or POOYS, are Fg Off Gerry Nicholas, (he might be called Nicholas but he ain't no saint) from Coltishall, and SACW Andrea Wood from Cranwell who originally went to Air Ops but agreed to come to ATC if we installed a couple of vending machines in the Rest Room. These provide her with enough coffee and fags to see her through a shift.

More permanent arrivals include Fit Lt Ron Smith, not to be confused with the LATE Ron Spence, no CHARGE for the name check Ron ­and Marilyn and Jason Ariss. Welcome one and all, to the land of sun, sea and Japanese cars.

One of the highlights of recent weeks was 84 Sqn Families Day, which saw dozens of the 'little darlings' using up their energy on the Tower's fittings, and fighting over the binoculars and
f flare pistols. Bless 'em! Still Sqn Ldr Pierce . kindly agreed to pay for the replacement radar : screens provided we release the kiddies from , the dungeon.

The Ops Wg Cricket team were victorious in the CO's Cup, no doubt helped by the inclusion in the team of the ex Northamptonshire Colt, Mick West. However, the use of 'professionals' in Station Cricket is bound to cause controversy on a scale not seen since Mike Gatting's tour of South Africa.



The Royal Air Force (Cyprus) Swimming & Water Polo Championships were held at the Ak­rotiri Pool on Thursday 5 September. The weather was perfect, the water was crystal clear, and everything was set for a good competition. The Championships started with the Water Polo, and the combined Joint Logistics Units (JLU) and TPM Hospital (TPMH) team proved too strong for the opposition finishing clear winners of the Competition.

During the afternoon both the Men's and Ladies Swimming Competitions were held. The WRAF /PMRAFNS events were dominated by the team from the JLU & TPMH. From the first event this strong team pulled away from the op­position, with Fit Lt Roddie and SACW Williams achieving excellent results. SACW Roseman, representing Episkopi, produced some out­standing individual performances winning both the Freestyle and Breaststroke events, but this was not enough. At the close the JLU & TPMH team won by 34 clear points.
The RAF swimming events were fiercely contested, and the final result hung in the balance until the last race. Fit Lt Cobley gave Akrotiri a good start by winning the 1aam Frees­tyle, however, despite good performances from the Akrotiri team the JLU & TPMH team drew to within one point with wins by SAC Ridley in the Butterfly and SAC Redgrift in the Backstroke. Unfortunately, in both the Butterfly and the Back­stroke events the 34 Sqn RAF Regt swimmers were disqualified for incorrect turns. Not to be dismayed SAC Moore won the next race, the 200m Freestyle, to keep 34 Sqn RAF Regt in the race for the title. The 100m Breastroke was won by Cpl Berry, representing 33SU. The Individual Medley was won by SAC Ridley for the JLU & TPMH team, and with this victory the lead was snatched from Akrotiri. The Next event, the Medley Relay, provided the closest finish of the afternoon, with one second separating first and second place; 34 Sqn RAF Regt took the honours, with JLU & TPMH second, and Akrotiri third. With just seven points separating the top three teams everything rested on the final event, the 6 man Freestyle Relay. Disappointingly, 34 Sqn RAF Regt were unable to enter a scoring team, so it was a straight fight between the teams from JLU & TPMH and Akrotiri to decide the winners of this year's Championships. Right up to the end Akrotiri pushed for victory, but the JLU & TPMH team had strength in depth and finished ahead of fellow title challengers to make them the RAF Swimming Champions for 1991.
Congratulations go to all the JLU & TPMH teams who achieved a clean sweep at this year's Championships. A vote of thanks goes to Gp Capt P Johnson, Station Commander RAF Akrotiri, for allowing the Championships to be held at his Station and for presenting the prizes. A special vote of thanks goes to all competitors, the Physical Education staff, officials and back­room staff who made the Championships pos­sible, and to Elite Motors of Limassol for sponsoring the event.


Wednesday 25 Sep 91 saw a momentous if somewhat unscheduled occasion at RAF Akrotiri. Jacki Mann the oldest western hostage held in Beirut was released on Tue 24 Sep 91 and flew into Britain to a hero's welcome after 865 days of confinement. Unfortunately the VC 10 aircraft carrying Jacki and his wife Sunni developed a minor technical problem soon after it had taken off from Damas­cus and as a precautionary measure the pilot, Wg Cdr Barry Neal OC 241 OCU decided to divert to RAF Akrotiri to get the fault rectified. Jacki's plane touched down early Wednesday morning at Akrotiri and was met by the Stn Cdr, Gp Capt Peter Johnson and CO TPMH, Gp Capt Warwick Pike. Looking frail but in good spirits Jacki and his wife Sunni were escorted to TPMH where they took time to rest in the Red Cross Welfare Department before continuing on their journey. During their short stay Jacki and Sunni were offered breakfast and the opportunity to sleep and freshen up. Prior to their departure Sunni, a lover of flowers, was presented with a bouquet by Gp Capt Pike and remarked that it was the best gift she could have received, second of course to Jacki. Despite the short stop over, those people involved 'at RAF Akrotiri felt honoured to have played a small part in the release of one of Britain's Heroes and no doubt in years to come a story will be told to many grandchildren as to what actually happened at RAF Akrotiri on Wednesday 25 September 1991.


"BE YOUR OWN FORECASTER" in the' September issue of the "Flamingo" gave a list of gales that are supposed to affect the Eastern Mediter­ranean, and the dates on which they should occur.

This list has been given wide publicity since it was circulated in November 1969 by a Flight Lieutenant serving with the Joint Services Port Unit then at Famagusta. I do not know ex­actly where he found it, but it seems likely that it came from an Arab almanac. It has been said that it was "compiled over thousands of years of sailing and trading across the seas by the sailors of Arabia", and perhaps it was. Certainly the last gale on the list, the "Khamseen", is a well documented wind (also spelt camsin, khamsin or khamasseen), and it is indeed sand-laden, occurring most frequently between April and June.

Full gales in the Eastern Mediterranean are mercifully rare, but they do occur and are of­ten referred to as Coptic or Koran Gales. Any method of forecasting them months in advance would be invaluable, but does this list do the job? At the Met Office we have ana lysed ten years of continuous wind data to see if it holds true for Akrotiri.
The short answer is no, it doesn't. We normally have just two or three gales each winter and there are thirteen on the list, so it has to be wrong more often than not. Moreover the gales are supposed to blow for three days on average and that hasn't happened at all.
A true gale (force 8 on the Beaufort scale), is a wind averaging 34 knots or more or gusting over 42 knots. An Arab dhow skipper might not know that, so to be fair we have looked to see if
the days on the list were at least fairly windy. We decided to accept as a "success. a wind
averaging 20 knots or more, or gusting to at I least 30 knots. It should last for 5 hours or more (rather than three days), and occur within 48 hours of the day. Pretty generous really; a mere force 5 (fresh breeze), within a five day period I would qualify!
Even so, the results are not impressive:

1. The first two "gales" on the list never occurred.

2. The overall success rate was just 33 per cent. It was wrong twice as often as it was right!

3. We tried the same analysis for dates half-way between those on the list, presumably the least I likely times for a "gale". The success rate was the same!

4. Finally, for the month of January when three "gales" should occur, we waded through more than seven thousand hours of data to calculate the success rate if the day was chosen totally at random. It turned out to be marginally better, so a simple guess would actually be more ac­curate!
I think we can safely say that however use­ful the folklore may be in other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean, it is no good at all for Akrotiri. If you want to know if it is going to be windy try asking us instead (military extension 6570 - 24 hours a day). We can't forecast the wind months ahead but I think we can promise more than 33 per cent accuracy for the next day or two.

As part of her 'tour' of RAF Akrotiri on 6 August, Lady Harding visited TPMH. Our picture shows Lady Harding at the Maternity Ward, accompanied by the Stn Cdr's wife, Mrs Jill Johnson; the Matron of the Hospital, Wg Cdr Maggie Pedder; and one of the Ward Nursing Sisters, Fit Lt Lorraine Britton.

During his visit to RAF Akrotiri on 6 August, the Chief of The Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Peter Harding, was present by the Stn Cdr with a cheque to the RAF Benevolent Fund for 20,000. This represented a year of island-wide fundraising activities by personnel of all 3 Services and their families. Events included guessing the number of bullets in a Phantom gun pod, a raffle for a car and a winching exercise organized and run by the wives of 84 Sqn.