My first operational Station was RAF Thorney Island - situated on the south coast. A lovely sunny station with sea all around and sandy beaches. Home to Andover aircraft and Air Sea Rescue helicopters.

I served there from 1970 to 1973, and worked in Supply Control and Accounting Flight.

When Transport Command departed on 31/10/75, the only remaining occupants were the SAR Squadron who eventually left in January 1976. On 31/3/76 the airfield was officially closed. Plans for use by the Navy,and later,as a general aviation field for Portsmouth both fell through. For a couple of years Britten-Norman rented hangar space to store Islanders, but there was no further use of the airfield. In August 1982 the Royal Artillery took over and they continue to use the base today.
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In 1973 I was posted to RAF Hendon to work on the AEI 1010. Although I had been trained as an RAF Supplier I now had to become a computer operator - quiet a daunting task in those days!

The 1010 was quite an impressive machine for its time and was one of the first to be used for what was called Data Processing. AEI secured an order for a twin 1010 installation for stores management at RAF Hendon, a major system for its time.

I worked on the huge machine for worldwide stores control. Input was by punch paper tapes from around the world; the printer was a new Xerox machine that was fed with newsprint.

The AEI 1010 was a first generation parallel computer that used early transistors and a core store. A single register for this computer required about 30 discrete components, four power supplies, and took more than 20 square inches of printed circuit. All this for what is now classed as one bit of memory. Data was sorted by magnetic tape on decks.

The RAF Supply Control Centre's £2.5 million computer was the largest stock control system in Europe at that time.

On 5 April 1976 I arrived at RAF Odiham, "Home of the Battlefield Helicopters". It was here that both Jane and I had the pleasure of flying in the first RAF Chinook helicopters to enter service in the RAF, this one was flown by a Boeing pilot.

I had my first detachment to RAF Kai-Tak in Hong Kong from Thorney Island.

Four of us went out to help pack and return all the Whirlwind helicopter spares to the UK.

Sadly it's no longer there, but you can see where it used to be!



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Copyright 2007 Alan Hutchings All rights reserved.