The Tower Bridge Incident

On 5 April 1968, Flight Lieutenant Alan Pollock, a flight commander in No. 1 (Fighter) Squadron RAF, was most displeased with a shifting emphasis from manned aircraft towards guided missiles,  concurrently,  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 impromptu unauthorized display.

His flight of four Hawker Hunter FGA.9 Royal Air Force fighters had departed the soon-to-be-closed RAF Tangmere in Sussex, to return to RAF West Raynham in Norfolk; a route that took them directly over London...

Immediately after takeoff, Pollock broke from the flight and dropped his Hawker Hunter to lower altitude. Having "beaten up" Dunsfold Aerodrome (Hawker's home airfield), he then directed his Hawker Hunter FGA.9, over London at low level, circling the Houses of Parliament three times as a demonstration against Prime Minister Harold Wilson's government, then a solitary ceremonial salute over the Royal Air Force Memorial, and finally flew that jet directly 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.





  • Nick Ireland

    The lead photograph is nothing to do with the RAF, Tower Bridge or Flt Lt Pollock. It is of a Hunter doing a low pass down the pan at RAFO Thumrait in Oman

  • William Krings

    Arrested isn’t the end, but just the beginning… hang tough, write, write, write.

  • AJ Folger

    Well done, Commander Pollock !

  • Michael

    I’d buy more shirts if you only had more size options.

  • Keith Martin

    What a way to go out
    In style
    Worth a few beers back at base

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