Guy Slocum
Life As A Fighter Pilot
Guy Slocum, president of Auckland Airport Rotary, spoke to us about his former flying career with the Royal Air Force. At the age of sixteen he was their youngest pilot and his career on fighters saw him progress from the Jet Provost to the Folland Gnat, Hawker Hunter, English Electric Lightning, McDonnell Douglas Phantom, and Hawker Harrier.
Low altitude flying in the days before radio altimeters had him judging his height by trees that were considerably shorter than they looked. Nevertheless he kept his aircraft and himself out of the weeds and went on to fly North Sea reconnaissance missions that tested not only his refueling skills but his personal fluid management abilities as well.
Air-to-air refueling had its nail-biting moments, as Guy revealed. The cage at the end of the tanker’s refueling line is susceptible to the standing pressure wave in front of the docking aircraft and is not that easy to hook up with. On one occasion he was down to 30 seconds fuel remaining and missing on his last attempt would have put him in the ocean. Fortunately that was not the case and Guy got to fly another day.
The latter stages of the Cold War saw Guy flying interception missions against Russian Tupolev Tu-95 bombers over the North Sea. On one occasion he was laconically informed by the Russian bomber pilot that his fighter was on fire. Forced to ditch his aircraft Guy’s chances of survival were very slim. However the Russian pilot descended and orbited above Guy’s liferaft for several hours until rescuers arrived.
But that’s not the end of the story. Some years later, while travelling in a cab, Guy told this story to the Russian driver. The incredible reply, “My father was that pilot”, is almost beyond belief. Nevertheless it was true. Guy got to meet his saviour and the two former adversaries became friends.
Guy was thanked by David Hunt for his wonderful presentation which also included great photos of some of the planes that Guy has flown.