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December 4, 2015

UK begins airstrikes against IS in Syria

UK begins airstrikes against IS in Syria

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Friday, December 4, 2015

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The government of the United Kingdom has said Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers began airstrikes yesterday against Islamic State targets in Syria. The bombings follow British Members of Parliament (MPs) voted to support action against IS in Syria on Wednesday.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, from file.
Image: Chatham House.

RAF Tornado bombers based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus attacked oilfields in Syria which are controlled by and fund IS. UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the airstrikes were designed to deliver “a very real blow on the oil and revenue” of IS.

A Ministry of Defence statement said six “elements of the oilfield infrastructure were targeted” by the Tornados with support from other aircraft. It said sensors on the aircraft determined the targets were clear of non-combatants.

On Wednesday, MPs held a ten-hour debate on air strikes against IS, during which UK Prime Minister David Cameron urged them to support the action. They voted 397 to 223 to join the United States and France who are already bombing IS targets in Syria.

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the UK’s opposition Labour Party, voted against airstrikes, arguing the need for bombings “did not stack up”. Mr Cameron also failed to get support from the Scottish National Party (SNP), almost all of whose MPs voted against taking action in Syria.

Following the airstrikes, Prime Minister Cameron said they had been “good for the country” and indicated “patience” would be needed in fighting IS. Mr Fallon said the UK are due to bomb more IS targets in Syria “in the next few days and weeks”.

Six Typhoon warplanes along with an Airbus A400M carrying engineers, ground crew and supplies left RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland yesterday to travel to Cyprus. Two further Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk, England are to join the planes based in Cyprus.



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Ministry of Defence statement regarding airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria

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August 23, 2015

Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Air Show in England

Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Air Show in England

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Aviation

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The crashed aircraft, pictured in 2013 during a display.
Image: Alan Wilson.

Police warn more bodies may remain to be found after yesterday’s crash of a vintage jet killed at least seven people. The Hawker Hunter crashed into a busy road during the Shoreham Air Show in England.

The plane failed to pull out of a large loop at around 1:20p.m. It hit the nearby A27 road, erupting into a fireball and leaving cars burned out and heavily damaged. The scene in West Sussex is near the town of Shoreham.

Pilot Andy Hill is presently alive but critically injured in hospital. He has previously flown with British Airways and the Royal Air Force. Two of the dead are Worthing United FC football players, Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, who were on their way to a match.

Also killed was Matt Jones, 24, who worked as a personal trainer. He came from Littlehampton and was giving a friend a lift. A vintage Daimler wedding limousine on its way to collect a bride was also caught up in the crash, but its owner Chariot Chauffeurs say they are unclear on if the driver was a fatality.

Sussex Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are investigating. Police Superintendent Jane Derrick said last night “”At this time we are continuing to search[…] It is possible that tonight and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene.” She said it is believed all casualties except the pilot were road users. At least fourteen were injured.

A Hawker Hunter displaying at last year’s show.
Image: John5199.

The pilot did not eject. Hill was experienced, with years of display flying under his belt and a military career that included flying Harrier jump-jets. David Wildridge, another pilot who took part yesterday, said Hill is “well-known and well-loved”, “very professional”, and that his Harrier experience made him “the best of the best.”

The 1950s jet was decommissioned from military service in 1996 and sold at auction. In 2012 English entrepreneur Graham Peacock bought it for around £65,000. It is a regular at airshows.

Tina Tilley, head of the local chamber of commerce, was at the show ans said “From where we were we could see the jet came down very low and looked like it was going to scoop up – but it didn’t. There were flames and we knew it was right on the A27. Everyone was horrified and there were people crying.” Motorist Dom Lawson, whose car was narrowly missed, said “It was like something out of Die Hard.” The road closure left thousands trapped at the scene as they could not remove their cars.

In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron sent “his heartfelt condolences to the families of the people who were so tragically killed… [his] thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.” The airshow is cancelled today.

Earlier this year a pilot was killed when his plane crashed during an aerial display a CarFest in England. In 2007 a Shoreham Air Show display recreating the Battle of Britain ended with a pilot dead following a crash.



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Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England

Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

The crashed aircraft, pictured in 2013 during a display.
Image: Alan Wilson.

Police warn more bodies may remain to be found after yesterday’s crash of a vintage jet killed at least seven people. The Hawker Hunter crashed into a busy road during the Shoreham Airshow in England.

The plane failed to pull out of a large loop at around 1:20p.m. It hit the nearby A27 road, erupting into a fireball and leaving cars burned out and heavily damaged. The scene in West Sussex is near the town of Shoreham.

Pilot Andy Hill is presently alive but critically injured in hospital. He has previously flown with British Airways and the Royal Air Force. Two of the dead are Worthing United FC football players, Matthew Grimstone and Jacob Schilt, who were on their way to a match.

Also killed was Matt Jones, 24, who worked as a personal trainer. He came from Littlehampton and was giving a friend a lift. A vintage Daimler wedding limousine on its way to collect a bride was also caught up in the crash, but its owner Chariot Chauffeurs say they are unclear on if the driver was a fatality.

Sussex Police and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch are investigating. Police Superintendent Jane Derrick said last night, “At this time we are continuing to search[…] It is possible that tonight and tomorrow we are going to find more bodies at the scene.” She said it is believed all casualties except the pilot were road users. At least fourteen were injured.

A Hawker Hunter displaying at last year’s show.
Image: John5199.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry today said eleven people are “highly likely to have died in this tragedy”, based upon “our initial work at the site” and “inquiries following calls to the emergency services from worried families and friends”. He said officers currently remain at the “incredibly large” scene. There are plans to remove plane wreckage using a crane tomorrow.

The pilot, Hill, was experienced, with years of display flying under his belt and a military career that included flying Harrier jump-jets. David Wildridge, another pilot who took part yesterday, said Hill is “well-known and well-loved”, “very professional”, and that his Harrier experience made him “the best of the best.”

The 1950s jet was decommissioned from military service in 1996 and sold at auction. In 2012 English entrepreneur Graham Peacock bought it for around £65,000. It is a regular at airshows.

Tina Tilley, head of the local chamber of commerce, was at the show ans said “From where we were we could see the jet came down very low and looked like it was going to scoop up — but it didn’t. There were flames and we knew it was right on the A27. Everyone was horrified and there were people crying.” Motorist Dom Lawson, whose car was narrowly missed, said “It was like something out of Die Hard“. The road closure left thousands trapped at the scene as they could not remove their cars.

In a statement, Prime Minister David Cameron sent “his heartfelt condolences to the families of the people who were so tragically killed […] [his] thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.” The airshow is cancelled today.

It is one of three deadly European airshow crash in four days. On Thursday two planes carrying parachutists collided and crashed in West Slovakia. At least seven were killed. They had been practising for an airshow due to be held this weekend. Today two small planes collided during an airshow in Dittingen, Switzerland. One of the pilots escaped but the other was killed.

Earlier this year a pilot was killed when his plane crashed during an aerial display at CarFest in England. In 2007 a Shoreham Airshow display recreating the Battle of Britain ended with a pilot dead following a crash.

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March 14, 2014

Labour politician Tony Benn dies aged 88

Labour politician Tony Benn dies aged 88

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Friday, March 14, 2014

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Tony Benn in 2007.
Image: Isujosh.

Tony Benn, British Labour Party politician and left-wing campaigner, died this morning at his home in west London at age 88. Benn’s health had been declining since a stroke left him hospitalized in 2012.

Benn’s father and both grandfathers were MPs (Members of Parliament) in the Liberal party; his father defected to Labour and became a Cabinet Minister. Benn grew up in London and was a pupil at Westminster School before studying politics, philosophy and economics at New College, Oxford. During World War II, he served in the Royal Air Force for two years, then went back to Oxford to finish his studies. He worked as a BBC radio producer.

Tony Benn became an MP in November of 1950 and was a member of the cabinets of Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. In 1981, Benn ran for deputy leadership of the Labour Party but lost. He also had a role in shaping the 1983 Labour manifesto. He went on to become a diarist and speaker, as well as joining in the anti-war movement and speaking out strongly against the Iraq war. The Sun newspaper once referred to him as “the most dangerous man in Britain” because of his strong left-wing political views.

Benn’s son Hilary also joined Labour and is an MP for Leeds Central. He distanced himself from his father’s views by saying he was “a Benn, not a Bennite”.

Benn’s children released a statement following his passing: “We would like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the NHS [National Health Service] staff and carers who have looked after him with such kindness in hospital and at home. We will miss above all his love which has sustained us throughout our lives. But we are comforted by the memory of his long, full and inspiring life and so proud of his devotion to helping others as he sought to change the world for the better.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband said Benn was an “iconic figure of our age”, “a champion of the powerless, a great parliamentarian and a conviction politician”. David Cameron said on Twitter: “Tony Benn was a magnificent writer, speaker and campaigner. There was never a dull moment listening to him, even if you disagreed with him.”



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August 5, 2010

RAF UFO encounters may have been covered up by Churchill and Eisenhower

RAF UFO encounters may have been covered up by Churchill and Eisenhower

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Correction — Aug 6, 2010
 

This article is misleading.

  1. Letter(s) written by one member of the public in 1999 claimed that Eisenhower and Churchill discussed and covered up a UFO report. The Cabinet Office (not the MOD) reviewed its records in 1999 and found no records to confirm the claim. There was no investigation in the light of the National Archive publication, and there is no suggestion that there are numerous files that relate to the claim.
  2. There was not a public inquiry. The Ministry of Defence received (and responded to) numerous inquiries and UFO reports from members of the public.
     
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Thursday, August 5, 2010

In light of documents released by the National Archives, The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense has investigated claims that Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower may have orchestrated a cover-up of an Unidentified Flying Object sighting by the Royal Air Force.

Numerous public inquiry files suggest that great concern was had for the proposition that former Prime Minister of The UK, Churchill and then US General Eisenhower, knew of an unknown metalic object approaching RAF aircraft off the British coast during World War II. One inquiry noted a discussion between Churchill and Eisenhower overheard by Churchill’s body guard by the apparent grandson of the body guard (whose name was blacked out).

The inquiry read, “During the discussion with Mr Churchill, a consultant dismissed any possibility that the object had been a missile, since a missile could not suddenly match its speed with a slower aircraft and then accelerate again […] Another person at the meeting raised the possibility of an unidentified flying object, at which point Mr Churchill declared that the incident should be immediately classified for at least 50 years and its status reviewed by a future prime minister”.

Further records showing Churchill’s general interest in UFOs were released alongside many other public inquiry files that concluded any UFO sightings were no threat to British airspace and minutes from a Joint Intelligence Committee meeting in 1959, where UFO sightings were a major theme.

Sightings made by officials and civilians were discussed at the Joint Intelegence meeting and 16 cases were singled out, 10 were identified as technical faults, misinterpretations and hoaxes – while 6 remain unidentified.

The unit of the Ministry of Defence that dealt with UFOs was closed last year.



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  • “Britain’s Ministry of Defence to release UFO files” — Wikinews, May 3, 2007

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November 14, 2009

London Lord Mayor\’s Show draws crowds despite bad weather

London Lord Mayor’s Show draws crowds despite bad weather

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

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The annual Lord Mayor’s Show went ahead today in London, continuing a centuries old tradition. Severe weather forced the cancellation of the fireworks display for the first time in twenty years, but thousands of people turned out to watch the procession.

The newly elected Lord Mayor of the City of London has journeyed through central London every year since 1215. The ceremony has only been cancelled once, in 1852 for the Duke of Wellington’s funeral. Nick Anstee was appointed as the 682nd person to hold the position on Friday.

Saturday’s show was opened by a flypast from the Royal Air Force. Anstee himself is the son of an RAF pilot, and tried to get into the service. On failing the entrance exams, he moved into finance.

Next floats and over 6,000 people began the procession from the City of London to the Royal Courts of Justice. This included 2,000 servicemen and women, as well as the Lord Mayor in the 252-year-old gold State Coach. At the Royal Courts of Justice the Lord Mayor then pledged his allegiance to the Crown.

Anstee described the show as “fantastic”, and stated his intention to help restore trust in the financial services of the City.



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September 8, 2009

Lyneham air base in England given all clear after bomb scare

Lyneham air base in England given all clear after bomb scare

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Map highlighting location of Wiltshire.
Image: Airunp.

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The British Royal Air Force gave the all clear at the Lyneham air base in Wiltshire, England after an earlier bomb scare.

It had earlier been reported that an improvised explosive device (IED) was found inside a vehicle by a bomb sniffing dog. According to BBC News, the vehicle was parked outside the air base’s fence. Officials would not elaborate on what was inside the vehicle, but BBC reports that the vehicle was possibly military and that bomb residue was found on the vehicle.

A Royal Air Force spokesman said a bomb squad was called to the location to investigate the find. “An EOD [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] team are on site and currently working to make the area safe. It is too early to speculate at this stage.” Officials say the reaction was routine and situations like this are treated as if a device had been found. Anytime a dog is alerted to possible explosives, the proper teams are called in to investigate.

RAF Lyneham is one of the UK’s largest air bases, and is home to the RAF’s fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft. Many bodies of the soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan are brought to the base from the country.



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June 19, 2009

World War One veteran becomes world\’s oldest man

World War One veteran becomes world’s oldest man

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Henry Allingham in 1916
Image: Public Domain.

Henry Allingham has become the world’s oldest man at the age of 113, after the death of Tomoji Tanabe, a 113 year old man in Japan. Mr Allingham, the only surviving founding member of the RAF and one of only five living World War I veterans, was born on June 6, 1896 in Clapton, London.

Cquote1.svg “It’s fantastic news. He is very frail now but I’m sure he’ll be very pleased to hear it. We are very proud of him.” Cquote2.svg

—Henry Allingham’s nephew, Ronald Cator

Mr Allingham has five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, 14 great-great grandchildren and one great-great-great grandchild. The majority of his family live in the USA, but his nephew still lives in Britain.

He joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1915, before transferring to the RAF at its inception in 1918. Along with being the sole living survivor of the Battle of Jutland, an honorary member of the Royal Naval Association, a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur and a doctorate in engineering from Southampton Solent University, an honorary freeman of Brighton and Hove and the “oldest scout”, Mr Allingham has also published his life story.



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September 2, 2008

UK government sued over deaths in 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan

UK government sued over deaths in 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

This RAF Nimrod MR2 is almost identical to the one involved.

The families of two members of the crew of a United Kingdom RAF Hawker Siddeley Nimrod which crashed almost exactly two years ago during a mission in Afghanistan are suing their government. None of the twelve crew and two other officers on board Royal Air Force Nimrod XV230 survived the midair explosion.

According to a report last year by Assistant Deputy Coroner for Oxford Andrew Walker “The aircraft was in my judgment never airworthy from the first release to service in 1969.” The coroner recommended grounding the entire Nimrod fleet, but this was never done, with the government saying that the aircraft were safe after modifications carried out after the crash.

The final report on the accident blamed the crash on a fuel leak into a dry bay, which ignited after contacting an air pipe that was hot. The jet had undergone midair refueling just minutes previously. The plane was one of a fleet of fifteen that were intended for retirement last decade but still operate, despite having suffered various mechanical problems, including fuel leaks.

A writ was today served on UK Defence Secretary Des Browne by the families of Sergeant Ben Knight, 25, and Flight Lieutenant Steven Swarbrick, 28. The writ accuses the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of failing to minimise risks, negligence and denial of the right to life. This last charge makes it the first time the MoD has faced a legal challenge under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Graham Knight, Ben’s father, claimed that “Nobody has been held accountable for the actual crash. The Government has stood up and said we are sorry. The coroner has said the aircraft was never airworthy but nobody in the RAF or MoD has ever been held accountable for it.” He went on to say he was ‘disappointed’ in the RAF and that My son was proud to be in the RAF and I thought it was full of honourable men. But no one would stand up and take responsibility or resign.”

September 2 will mark the second anniversary of the accident, the biggest loss of UK military lives in a single incident since the war in the Falklands in 1982. It is the last chance for compensation to be sought, as this must be done within two years of the event.



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March 27, 2008

Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract

Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

An existing RAF Tristar aircraft

European Aeronautic Defence & Space NV (EADS), the parent company of European airframer Airbus, has won a £13 billion contract to supply the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) with aerial refueling tankers to replace the nation’s current ageing fleet.

AirTanker Ltd., an EADS-led consortium, have signed a 27-year contract with the Defense Ministry to supply 14 new Airbus A330-200 passenger airliner converted for the task. They will be owned by AirTanker, who retains commercial leasing rights to five which can carry 290 passengers plus cargo, but will fly in RAF livery. They replace existing Lockheed Tristar and Vickers VC-10 aircraft. The first aircraft will be in service by 2011 and all by 2016.

Rolls-Royce, part of the consortium, will supply engines. France’s Thales will supply electronics, Wimborne, UK’s Cobham will manufacture refueling equipment and Southampton, UK’s VT Group will provide service management.

Last month, Northrop Grumman and EADS defeated Boeing to win a massive order for 179 tankers from the United States Air Force. Airbus has also inked recent deals with the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force and the UAE Air Force.



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  • “Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS defeat Boeing for $40 billion US airtanker contract” — Wikinews, March 1, 2008

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