The Tower Bridge Incident

On 5 April 1968, Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock, a flight commander in No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron RAF, was displeased with a shifting emphasis from manned aircraft towards guided missiles and the fact that that no aerial displays had been planned to mark the RAF's 50th anniversary.

Pollock decided on his own initiative to mark the occasion of the RAF anniversary with an unauthorized display.

His flight left the soon-to-be-closed RAF Tangmere in Sussex to return to RAF West Raynham in Norfolk; a route that took them over London. Immediately after takeoff, Pollock left the flight and flew low level. Having "beaten up" Dunsfold Aerodrome (Hawker's home airfield), he then took his Hawker Hunter FGA.9, over London at low level, circled the Houses of Parliament three times as a demonstration against Prime Minister Harold Wilson's government, dipped his wings over the Royal Air Force Memorial on the Embankment, and finally flew under the top span of Tower Bridge.



Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock later wrote of the decision to fly through Tower Bridge: "Until this very instant I'd had absolutely no idea that, of course, Tower Bridge would be there. It was easy enough to fly over it, but the idea of flying through the spans suddenly struck me. I had just ten seconds to grapple with the seductive proposition which few ground attack pilots of any nationality could have resisted. My brain started racing to reach a decision. Years of fast low-level strike flying made the decision simple . . ."

Knowing that he was likely to be stripped of his flying status as a result of this display, he proceeded to "beat up" several airfields (Wattisham, Lakenheath and Marham) in inverted flight at an altitude of about 200 feet en route to his base at RAF West Raychem, where, within the hour, he was formally arrested.

 


2 comments


  • James K Kunkle

    A Piece of Cake, Old Boy. Well Done


  • Nick Ireland

    West Raychem is new to me! A secret poison gas facility perhaps?


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