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The Buccaneer at Red Flag with Ken Norman

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Ken Norman chats about flying the Buccaneer at Red Flag in the 1970's. Watch our full interview with Ken Norman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvFzP6zwp0Y
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Text Comments (143)
Charlie Dobbie (22 days ago)
Wonderful story, very interesting stuff! Thank you for posting this. And thanks, Ken!
Nimrod Quimbus (1 month ago)
A worm burner
RustiSwordz (2 months ago)
I used to know a guy years ago who said he knew of some RAF Jaguars that took part at Red Flag and shot down the US AWACS aircraft. The pilots flew on the deck until they were directly underneath the AWACS, pulled up then Sidewinder the AWACS. The escort fighters couldn't respond in time. A couple of beaten up Jags defeated the most sensitive piece of equipment the US had and their super advanced fighter escorts at the time. The US were livid that their prize AWACS was taken out of the tournament. :D
Tom Hay (1 month ago)
The “US were livid?” Was this a Brit vs Americans “tournament?” Lol. The Americans run the Red Air side as well.
dumbo7429 (2 months ago)
BBC should have been more strictly censored in Falklands
Farmer ned 6 (2 months ago)
we should have had a full sized carriers with Buccaneers & Gannets in 1982 , either the Falkland would have never been invaded , or Bucc's would have sunk their entire Navy, and Gannets would have saved our Ships with advanced warning
richard oakley (2 months ago)
well they had to come upto 20 feet...there Balls were dragging on the ground at 10
Michael (2 months ago)
“...so we climbed up to 20 feet so we wouldn’t leave dust trails...” Gigantic Titanium Balls.
Wade French (2 months ago)
Buccaneer is a beautiful plane.
tectorama (2 months ago)
Interesting video, but I struggled to understand what he was saying/
Jonathan Vogel (3 months ago)
I like the way he talks about it ..nothing seems set in stone , but theres a plan.. best way :-)
Jimbob Jones (3 months ago)
Buccaneers had windscreen wipers?
foo bar (3 months ago)
what language is he speaking?
logicbomb007 (3 months ago)
Where is the story about how all the low level hot dogging got all the tornados in Iraq shot out of the sky by a bunch of yahoos with 50 year old aa.
PHDarren (3 months ago)
Low Buccaneer pass - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cK6V4Kt_Ejw&feature=youtu.be&t=37
Richard Peck (3 months ago)
Is this the "red flag"@ Nellis?
Richard Peck (3 months ago)
+Aircrew Interview Cool. Attended with HMA-369 in '86.
Aircrew Interview (3 months ago)
It is.
John Murrell (3 months ago)
I remember sailing in a yacht in the Minch in Scotland when we wer 'attacked' by a pair of Bucaneers - I think they had to climb to clear our 40' mast ! We were too busy ducking to worry too much !
Pete Conrad (3 months ago)
The RAF took some Hawks to Red Flag a few years later. They explained to the gathered crews that although it was small, subsonic and lightly armed, it was very small and hard to see. The USAF crews laughed. Until 2 F15s got gun killed by a pair of Hawks they hadn’t seen.
John Hill (1 month ago)
Proof that it isn't the tool, it is the guy using it.
SvenTviking (1 month ago)
The Sea Harriers killed Eagles 10/1 before the Falklands.
Socratease 1 (3 months ago)
Wonderful interview. ,
Googly Pops (3 months ago)
I do like this bit of jingoism and how us brits are so bad ass and clever etc etc etc... tell me how the Argentines managed to hit our fudging ships with IRON BOMBS like something out of WW2. All the money, training and toys thrown at the military for decades and the Argentines managed to hit our ships not with two hundred grand sea skimming cruise missiles but PLAIN, DUMB, UNGUIDED IRONBOMBS.
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
It is still flying. At least during this video: https://youtu.be/30OJ_uIgQAk Bruntingthorpe Airfield, Cold War Jets
nobby roberts (3 months ago)
WOW. !!!
incogneto (3 months ago)
Worst looking aeroplane ever
incogneto (3 months ago)
+Covenant Messenger Man Ok I get it you like the Meryl Streep type of planes. I like the Harrier and jaguar Raquel Welsh type.
Covenant Messenger Man (3 months ago)
+incogneto .....beauty in the eye of the beholder I suppose....her prowess probably makes her sexy for me...woohooo....
incogneto (3 months ago)
+Covenant Messenger Man So you think that`s a good looking plane ?
Covenant Messenger Man (3 months ago)
Aah ...its miserable ol' Stevie Wonder again is it ?
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
No. Anyway.
vnewarp9 (3 months ago)
Very enjoyable these crew interviews.
Adam W (3 months ago)
Buccaneer was a classic example of an aircraft designed with a specific role in mind. Pilots who were also specialists and trained for certain missions. This meant a lethal platform that would triumph over newer but multi role aircraft.
D0csavage1 (3 months ago)
The year was 1982. A group of us were up a mountain near Loch Doon, Scotland during a nice sunny day. We heard jet engines echo through the valley where the Loch is located, and turned away from the mountain to see two Buccaneers passing through below us! I mean how often does one get the opportunity to watch aircraft fly below whilst you are standing on terra firma?
Tony Haynes (3 months ago)
Go stand in Snowdonia.
M Fuller (3 months ago)
10ft at 550 knots, jesus !
Tony Haynes (3 months ago)
9 miles a minute.
Robert Lassiter (3 months ago)
I was at Red Flag in the late 70’s . I was in aircraft maintenance, with the 27TFS of the 1st TFW out of Langley AFB , Virginia. In the hanger across from us was the RAF with these planes. I went over to see them and talk with some of the people and they were the best group of people one could ask for. I had never seen a Buccaneer before and asked what it was. Well he told me and I couldn’t understand him so I asked him to repeat it and I still couldn’t understand him so I asked him to repeat it slowly and he finally said, bloody hell yank it’s a Buc-can-eer. I’ve never forgotten that these 40 years now. I wonder if this was the same time this gentleman was there? I was around the RAF another time in 1980 in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada.They were there with Harriers. One day they taxied down to where we were parked and put on a show for us. Seven Harriers all in unison lifted up and hovered and then did different maneuvers and when they were finished they did a bow and sat back down and taxied back to where they were. To say I was impressed was a great understatement. I met several of them in the base club and I really liked them. Tried my best to trade for a Beret but couldn’t get one. If you want to know what we thought of the RAF I’ll tell you. We thought they were a great group of people and respected them. These memories are still fresh in my mind. God bless the RAF and the USAF!
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
+Robert Lassiter Thank you. My problem with aviation is time and money. Not too much income and a small wooden sailing yacht. Life is making choices... And I know gliding since the time I was a kid, because my father was a glider pilot for all his life. The link to the Airforce is funny, he was in the army (retired now) and in the sixties he and his collegues learned how to contact the airforce for ground support. And what he enjoyed the most, was his first and only passenger flight in a fighter jet. Years later I heard the story of another father. His son was F16 instructor. And he had loved to show his old father his flying office. But he simply got no permission. Sometimes politicians and other vips get a medical check and an expensive sightseeing tour. But this father was denied, and he did not like the reason. It was not "Sorry, we have rules and we don't allow family flights." It was his age and the risk of medical problems, not even a medical test. There was not a doctor telling him there's a problem, that would be easier to accept. And he and his son were so disappointed. Maybe it's just for safety, one evasive maneuver, how much G can this father endure, you don't want your father unconscious in the back. But man, this son has been a F16 flight instructor for years, would it really be that dangerous? It's not a sixties Starfighter. And I started learning to fly a glider, when I was fourteen. In the army I should have gone to the airfield, but somehow I didn't. Then some ten years later I started again, there's lots of aeroclubs in Europe with gliders too. That way it's affordable for beginners. But then I came across the other passion, water, and sometimes I think I should have walked along the boats. What I liked about gliding, is the struggling to gain altitude. When you manage to stay up, while it's hard to keep yourself in a weak thermal, that feels great. That first weak thermal is the difference between landing after 10 minutes, and a longer flight. I've not been flying long enough for longer trips. It was al local flight, and that's interesting enough. Those modern planes can get pretty far upwind, keeping the airfield within reach. That's the practical rule, always get back. But if that's impossible, it happens to the best, relax and please land in some field. Plenty of choice here. And I'm cautious enough, I always made it back to the four white plastic buckets (90x90 feet) in the grass. The beautiful flights are the ones with birds. Find some buzzards below, go there, after a while they reach your altitude, that's fantastic. And now there are some sea eagles around, you could meet them in the air. At another altitude please. And what you wrote about courage, it didn't even occur to me, that landing is a one chance happening. You simply do it, sometimes the weather is easy, sometimes rough. I've landed some tailplanes, taking care to keep it on track. My country has no mountains, and some hills, if you look good for them. And flying in mountains takes courage and wisdom. The weather can turn dangerous. Turbulence can crash you in certain places. Flying very close to a mountainside, passing ridges into next valleys, the lack of emergency landing spots, watch out on runways, it's starting downhill and landing uphill. So everything is different from home. For me, it was the challenge to stay in the air. Sometimes impossible, a winch start at a pretty random time is lots of 10 minutes flights. It's always different.
Robert Lassiter (3 months ago)
Voor Naam So did I and I too am sorry for overreacting. I wish you the very best and very kind regards. I love all things aviation, especially military aviation. I was a passenger in a glider once about 20 years ago. I liked the flight but prefer powered flight more. Good luck with your endeavors and if possible I would gladly shake your hand. Any time you want to let the hot air out of me, please feel free. I promise not to be so thin skinned. Yours Truly , Robert from Alabama, US.
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
+Robert Lassiter Oops, sorry, now I was angry. I deleted my stupid reactions, and even reported your response as intimidating. And now I see your friendly reply. Very sorry I was so rude. And you have a point, I don't know that much of the airforce. At the local airfield, some enthusiasts are setting up a Cold War Museum. I wish I had time to work in that team. There's a F104 Starfighter and a Mig23 being restored for static display. And more, but those jets is serious business. Buying, transport, finding documentation, the restauration itself, it's specialized work. And if I did something like that, I had a say here. Now it's not much more than watching history. And that's interesting enough, you never know if something relevant pops up. Again, I had a bad day, and I overreacted.
Robert Lassiter (3 months ago)
Voor Naam Well, if the truth be told we use to make the same joke on TFW ourselves. No more squabbling and it’s nice to meet you! Glider pilot, well you’ve got more balls than I do. Where did you do your flying?
Robert Lassiter (3 months ago)
Voor Naam You come here and insult people who have a common love of their time in their respective Air Forces and who share their experiences with one another. You have nothing to contribute so you make what you think are clever little remarks about something you know nothing about and you then proceed to talk about enlightenment. Enlighten us with your experiences and maybe talk about something constructive. Maybe you might even find it enjoyable.
theymusthatetesla (3 months ago)
....I've seen footage of one of these exercises....the Americans couldn't believe it when they got them on camera....flying at virtually zero feet over sand hills! (Can't seem to find that footage any more, though)
t vo (2 months ago)
yes I remember it too, with some American operator asking 'who are these guys?' as the buccs hid behind the sand dunes.
David Parsons (3 months ago)
I'm glad someone else remembers that footage, thought I'd dreamt it, it was shown on my regional news channel waaaaay back in the day .
Chris Richards (3 months ago)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lteL18wd15Y ... not Red Flag but some pretty cool stuff anyway
TJ USMC (3 months ago)
"Great Airmanship" "Semper-Fi"
XXYY YYXX (4 months ago)
Very enjoyable but shouldn't the Buccaneer have a starboard wing?????
George Cockburn (3 months ago)
No.They decided it would get in the way of trees
Tony Haynes (3 months ago)
No need. The JAFO just stuck his arm out and used that instead.
mark bailey (6 months ago)
As I child we lived opposite the village church and to this day I can clearly remember two buccaneers at low level either side of the tower on their way into the Holbeach ranges this would around 1975
Mikey Meatball (6 months ago)
10 feet at 550 knots? How do you fit in the cockpit with balls that big?
Phillip Neal (7 months ago)
Love this story. Great to hear the Navs getting a shout out from one of their pilots. Once again great interview. Keep up the good work guys 😁
Farmer ned 6 (8 months ago)
"we CLIMBED to 20ft, so we didn't leave any dust trails"
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
When I was a soldier in 1985, an exhibition came to our base, and showed a photo pod containing several camera's for the F16. One of the example pictures showed the tail of a running cow. Full frame. Tail up like a happy cat. Talking about low level.
Lee Sayers (7 months ago)
I picked up on that too......Jaw dropping.......
Gimme Shelter (9 months ago)
real British heroes.
Rory Shields (9 months ago)
The darn Fleet Air Wing needs some fighter jets... They need to stand right up next to the RAF and take back their carriers.
ToonandBBfan (9 months ago)
Typical of the lefty BBC to aid our enemy...
M Fuller (3 months ago)
Sloppy very sloppy but dont forget ALL video footage had to be passed by the MOD before broadcast so actully the fuck up is down to the MOD.
TheSnakeGaming (11 months ago)
The Buccaneer flew in the SAAF
tjp353 (1 year ago)
I've always wondered how much a pilot, flying at such low level & high speed over flat terrain, feels ground effect. How much does ground effect help the pilot maintain that ~20ft ground clearance? Given that the huge Soviet Ekranoplan could exploit ground effect, I'm assuming that a more normal aircraft must be affected as much or more so, when flying low enough. A gusty final approach in an airliner seems to become much smoother during the flare, with the wing in ground effect. Does flying in ground effect result in a smoother ride, compared to flying slightly higher?
richard oakley (3 months ago)
The pilot has ball of titanium..and when the feel the first blade of grass they know they need to rise an inch
Danbutch24 (11 months ago)
It's been said that the Buccaneer managed to fly so low and fast by riding its own wake.
sichere (1 year ago)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2rtx40seEM&lc=z22ajhk5fzqotjmxh04t1aokgiw3x4znnxo4pqhrale1rk0h00410
John Warne (1 year ago)
The RAF didn't want this aircraft but when the RN Fleet Air Arm catapult launched aircraft carrier were disbanded the Buccaneer was passed over to the RAF and was beloved by both RN and RAF aircrews !!
SvenTviking (1 month ago)
Same as the USAF and the Phantom.
Dogs Nads (3 months ago)
+Tony Haynes In all truth TSR.2 wouldn't have been as useful as Buccaneer. The need for the nuclear penetration mission had disappeared with the arrival of Polaris. The real loss wasn't TSR.2 as an aircraft, it was the avionics inside. If the UK had put those Avionics in the Buccaneer it would have been a world beater, even better if the small amount of cash needed for the Blackburn P.150 Super Buccaneer had been spent. It would have resulted in no TSR.2, but also no Tornado as it would have outclassed it in all areas. The UK could then have developed ACA earlier (no Tornado F.3) or the P.1216 Harrier replacement. Realistically the UK aviation industry would have been in a far better place today.
Tony Haynes (3 months ago)
Only got it because Labour scrapped the TSR2 programme.
Ton Verkleij (1 year ago)
Brilliant review of a typical red flag sortie, he speaks almost as fast as he was flying, rethinking the mission in his mind and almost unable to keep up with his speech. But I can clearly remember the Buccaneer in the 70's in Germany, in that time they were still able to fly very low and very fast, and they were very noisy afterwards, still you couldn't hear them coming, frighting me numerous times. Oh those halcion days....
SvenTviking (1 month ago)
I have a good book on the B52 and there are a few stories from red flag, like the B52G pilot who was told by an F15 pilot from the defending CAP that he knew the bomber was there when it passed under him, he was at 150 feet but he could no lock on because of the tremendous cloud of dust it was kicking up! In this same sortie, the bomber lost a bottom engine cowl knocking over a simulated SAM truck! Later on they describe an attack on an Iraqi oil refinery during the first gulf war which involved multiple bombers in timed low level laydowns with delayed action bombs from multiple directions. As he flew in he had to make a turn to target at a certain village clock tower but when the navigator told him the course vector to take, he realise the angle of bank would cause the wing to hit the ground!
Tony Haynes (3 months ago)
I was at Holbeach range in '77-'78. Had a flight of four call up for an first run attack, as they had live SNEB and couldn't land in the UK like that. As they pulled up over the sea wall, the American range safety officer (48th TFW Lakenheath) Just stood there with his jaw on the floor totally gobsmacked at what happened. It was worth having to rebuild the target that evening, just to have witnessed such brilliant flying.
John Smith (1 year ago)
Old Red Flag tapes, good for a laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FE55g3SRY0 EDIT: 80s stuff apparently, including some accounts of possible MiG23 aggressor engagements at 01:35...????
Aircrew Interview (1 year ago)
I have seen this before, John. It’s a great little clip.
John Smith (1 year ago)
The Buc in Desert Storm service? I'd pay for that.
TakeDeadAim (1 year ago)
Parabolic bombing...or "toss" bombing. BTW "Area 51" has been a false flag for a couple of decades. Keeps the UFO nuts away from the real testing areas out in Utah and up in Idaho(and some down at Eglin as well).
Anyoldion (1 year ago)
10 feet and 550 knots, like it's no sweat.
edmundscycles1 (3 months ago)
I lived near the Welsh valleys . Often you'd be looking DOWN at the RAF as they flew own the valley at 500knotts plus. Seeing big F4 phantoms getting flicked about to get through the narrow gullies in between each valley.
Star Trek Theory (1 year ago)
What a guy giving it up for the navigators.
the moke (1 year ago)
ive seen talk of an RAF recruiting video used circa 80s that had footage of bucks at red flag, something about the US SAM crews going outside to see the low flying bucks and a tv presenter introducing the bucks at redflag for a news programme .... anybody heard of such a video or know where it could be found? asking RAF perhaps?
Bob White (3 months ago)
Kinda giving our ages away though! :)
Geraint Roberts (3 months ago)
+Bob White I remember that! I was home on leave (RAF) and had a massive grin on my face watching it.
Bob White (3 months ago)
I saw it on Nationwide when it was broadcast, it was a report on Red Flag filmed by a local American TV station. It was unbelievable, one pair flew down a dry riverbed effectively below ground level all you could see was the tail. And the Americans shouting "Jeez get outside if you want to see something amazing guys." and all piling out of a bunker. as these things came in at 20 ft. Sadly that film was lost by the BBC and no one has seen it in years.
Tony Holmes (1 year ago)
Fantastic recollection of the capability of an awesome aircraft and the skillful crews that flew them. Begs the question why there is the need to spend billions of $ on new aircraft that overrun on cost and delayed by years when we can take a proven capable design and build new Buccaneers using modern technology.
Tony Haynes (3 months ago)
It's a case of airframe and engine hours unfortunately. As you can understand the stress that is caused by ultra low level flying and high speed takes it toll.
Twirlyhead (1 year ago)
He just described flipping upside down over the crest of a hill and pulling back on the stick to follow the contour of the hill upside down at low level if I'm not mistaken. That is *amazing* skill from pilot and navigator.
Andy Stone (3 months ago)
+iatsd sorry, did I miss something with that link?, blink and you'll miss it...
iatsd (3 months ago)
+Frode Lund Most air forces around the world train "very low level" as ~100 feet. It's really only the UK, NZ, OZ, and northern Europeans that have always treated vll as meaning less than 50 feet. Even today, if you watch aircraft going through the Mach Loop you'll see that, for example, US aircraft usually go through much higher than RAF aircraft.
iatsd (3 months ago)
Yup. RNZAF version of it involved pushing the aircraft down *into* the crest of the hill in order to get an air compression bounce, and as it started to happen you would flip the aircraft over onto it''s back in order to be able to pull down onto the downward slope. You can see one start the compression roll over a crest (from ~25 feet off the ground) in this YT video https://youtu.be/HMZM17V_GYE
mogzybuster (3 months ago)
+Galf506 It's not that jets can't do negative G, they can, no reason for them not to. Its because even with a G suit , the human body cannot tolerate negative G for as hard or for as long as it can positive G, redout will be experienced far sooner than black out.
Galf506 (3 months ago)
It's super cool and skillful, but really it's not made for looks or show of skill, but because jets suck at pulling negative G's. If you don't roll over the jet would refuse to go lower fast enough to follow the hill.
superbike1 (1 year ago)
10 feet at 550 knots is incredible for the 1970s
richard oakley (3 months ago)
There ball were big.. they were hairy.. and they were BRITISH
M Fuller (3 months ago)
Or even now.☺
TheSnakeGaming (11 months ago)
I saw, witnessed this aircraft flying in South Africa, it was sadly cruely destroyed by the liberals, it crashed by British sabotage.
mowbray99 (1 year ago)
A low flying Buccaneer frighted the life out of me when I was driving my HGV truck on the A 68 over Carter Barr in Scotland.
Liam Hemmings (1 year ago)
mowbray99 I was on holiday with my mum and dad in Thurso. We took a drive inland through Sutherland when out of nowhere came two, almost silent, Buccaneers down the road and right over us. They must have been at about 100 ft. Amazing.
Michael Watts (1 year ago)
I recall coming home from school in Worcester in the early '80's on the top deck of a double-decker bus when we were passed by a low level Buccaneer. I swear I was looking down onto the top of the wings.
James Smythe (1 year ago)
10 to 20ft....that I would love to see, might search 'Buccaneers at Red Flag' and see what it throws up. Brilliant interviews keep up the fantastic work.
sichere (1 year ago)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2rtx40seEM
richard scales (1 year ago)
James Smythe scary to even consider at such a low level!
Andrew Fishburn (1 year ago)
Area 51 , the most famous top secret military installation in the world. Somethings wrong with that...😉
Jonathan Vogel (1 year ago)
a friend of mine went to the skunk works , he still doesnt know where it is.
Andrew Fishburn (1 year ago)
Ken Norman It was a simple joke and none of your comments are ironic. You assume to much.
Andrew Fishburn (1 year ago)
logicbomb007 Yeah, right , o.k 😩
logicbomb007 (1 year ago)
Meh maybe, but its not like i didn't pick up on it as a joke just it so meh laughs i rather nerd-gasim about reality of the place in question.
Andrew Fishburn (1 year ago)
logicbomb007 Sarcasm doesn't translate well in text, neither do jokes apparently.
Mike J F (1 year ago)
My Dad used to build this aircraft at former British Aerospace in Brough right near Hull, then he worked on the flight line at Holme Upon Spalding Moor with test pilots before it came into production, myself and my Dad love the Buccaneer, to hear Ken talking about the progression and success of the aircraft makes me proud, and to have the best pilots flying them too, amazing ! Thanks Mike ☺
Andy Hughes (1 year ago)
My father worked at holme on spalding moor on the pre production aircraft back in the 1960s. I think the test pilot was Derek Whitehead.
Big Blue (1 year ago)
I used to work at Brough and Holme on Spalding Moor as well. I had the same affection for the Buccaneer. I have been trying to remember the name of the test pilot who did the first carrier landing. Once say him do an impromptu flying display in a Phantom. The man in the back was from Marconi and they had been out over the North Sea testing some equipment. Anyway when they the pilot decided to put on a display. He came hurtling down one side of the runway, sat the Phantom on its tail and went up and over the runway before levelling out on the other side. When they landed the man from Marconi looked decidedly green.
Christopher Crosby (1 year ago)
Brilliant an ancient yet revered aircraft piloted by the best in the world, RAF pilots, always professional, adaptable and humble yet so totally British! Proud of them and once again, a brilliant insight. another great video!
iatsd (3 months ago)
+logicbomb007 You are wrong in almost every respect. Many aircraft were flying low level missions against various targets. The reason the Brits were flying LL against airfields is because they were the only ones willing to do it out of the three airforces that had aircraft present that were able to load the runway attack munitions specifically being used for the missions.
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
+logicbomb007 Please leave here. You are just annoying everybody. Your insults have nothing to do with aviation. Get out, please.
Voor Naam (3 months ago)
+Jon Mac He is nuts, I guess? I thanked him for his insults, and I get one more. He never stops. What do you think? Just ignore him?
Jon Mac (3 months ago)
+logicbomb007 Where are WHAT now ?
logicbomb007 (3 months ago)
+Voor Naam sook Mie kok wencur!

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