RAF re-rank? Astonishingly it seems the Royal Air Force has stealthily introduced an entirely new commissioned rank system. According to nephew Steve Reeves, the plan leaked out in a recent US Air Force "Aim Points" story: "Eight British Tornado F3s were preparing for flight Friday at Holloman Air Force Base. The fighter jets, outfitted with an array of weaponry, had the unmistakable air of air superiority. ‘Lookin' good's one thing. Fightin' good's another,' said RAF Flight Attendant Darren Scales, whose rank equates to an USAF captain." "What next?" asks Air Commodore Hamish "Looney" McLewis (retired). "Pilot hostess, steward leader, C-in-C check in, galley commander? Wouldn't have happened in my day...mutter...mutter..." (that's enough old codgers. Ed)

Phantabulous (Found under the "some people have all the fun" section). A former ex-RAF F-4 Phantom II navigator (thankfully in pre-Flight Attendant rank days – see above) tells about a last ferry flight of a "J-bird" to Laarbruch from Wattisham. His briefing was suitably vague: "The CO said ‘do what you like – just don't crash, don't run out of fuel and don't divert'." Having fun on the flight they pulled 10.2g in a snap pull-up, among other things. "The g-meter in the front cockpit only went up to 9.2. We verified the loading using the recorder in the nose gear bay which showed 10.2!" he says with a wide grin. He adds the J took it with no trouble at all – "nothing fell off". Quite, and you thought the wingtip dihedral on that gate-guardian was part of the original design.

Cookie cutter Rex Stocks: "Why is Boeing moving so quickly into wholesale composites?" A H Hawker: "So when they step up production it'll be easier to make carbon copies."

Technical squark According to a Reuters report from China, the bird-scaring staff at Beijing airport have been encountering translation problems with their new US-made "scream machine", which is designed to scare the birds away. The machine came with pre-recorded screams of American birds or their predators. But when the sounds were played to their Chinese counterparts they didn't budge. "Local birds did not understand the foreign language," said the Beijing Evening News. The bird crew decided to test the distress calls of local birds and are hoping for better results soon!

Source: Flight International