Female Hercules Pilot - The Original Interview


Some of you might have read Flt Lt Leavey's interview in the Times a couple weeks ago. Here's the original transcript...maybe?

Flt Lt Caz Leavey, C130 pilot……

"The time I get up depends on my duties. It could be as early as 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I’m bleary-eyed and have to carry my stuff all the way from my tent to the bathroom, dropping the kids off on the way. I then shower, shave and get ready — basically by scraping my hair back in a scrunchie and a quick dab of right guard where needed. For some reason being on operations makes all my hair grow really fast. We have breakfast — I eat Alpen, hurriedly, which sometimes gives me gas later on. Then we get our rations for the flight — sausage rolls, pies, fairy cakes, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches, wine and cointreau — and fill our canisters with hot water (but not piping) for tea and coffee. I call being in Iraq my fat camp, everyone else is fat or camp… usually both. I think: “Okay, I’m stuck out here for a couple of days, I might as well glean a medal out of it.â€
I wear a green flying suit in the bar but I also have a warm-climate, sandy-coloured one for back in the bar at Lyneham — I tease the blokes it’s actually pink like theirs. If we got shot down and captured we’d immediately be identified as RAF crew and sneered at, as we’d have the most money. Now they’re designing pillock-retardant combats for us that blend in with the rest of the troops; then we’ll all get treated equally!
After breakfast we collect a rifle, pistol and ammunition. I’m not a good shot: in training, I used to get the rifle the wrong way round and couldn’t cock the pistol. I guess I was concentrating on being popular with the boys. We then get the tactical information for the day, and set off on a standard route: Baghdad-Kuwait-Baghdad, mainly, or around Iran if we balls it up. Mostly we collect troops or ferry them around in theatre [the theatre of operations]. There’s a nice Sheraton in Kuwait where I can get a decent bath and shave.
My parents were both cabin crew, so its amazing they managed to breed at all. My sixth birthday was spent in the cockpit of a 747, gaily munching “cake†on “the captain’s†knee. My original dream was to be a hooker, but I fell short of the ugly tree altogether and landed on the tarmac beside it so I wouldn’t have made very much in that game – They wouldn’t even let me go to Sandhurst I look so rough.
I was pretty despondent, so my brother, who’s a proper pilot, suggested joining the University Air Squadron. It was exhilarating. I could fly a Bulldog before I got my degree, but long-term I had no idea what I wanted to fly, and my decision was based on location, location, location. I’m a blonde at heart, so that ruled out Nimrods because they’re based in Scotland and I didn’t want to serve abroad. That left Brize Norton, with its VC10s, TriStars and C-17s, or Lyneham, where the Hercules are based. I liked Lyneham more because it rains in Brize Norton.
I’ve been to Iraq seven times in the last couple of years, and I’ve always been hairy as a result. But it’s even thicker now. In Basra I’m supposed to shack up in the women’s tent, but they get up at random times for less stringent duties and they all hate me because I’m very patronizing and prettier than all of them put together. If they have a disturbed night, they might drop a pencil (bless) — but I could crash an aircraft and frequently do. I’m not supposed to sleep with the guys, but I do. They seem not to mind the smell of my flying boots. In theatre I need to be with my crew constantly – I’m so insecure around people who aren’t pilots as well. We sleep, eat and work alongside each other and tell flying stories to anyone who’ll listen.
When rain floods the tents it’s bad. The guys mock me for bringing a Samsonite suitcase with me, but when their Bergens are soaked through and mine is bone-dry inside, they’re begging to put their mobiles, lingerie, duvets and laptops in it. I once saw a mouse and had to be CASEVAC-ed [rushed out of theatre to the nearest good hotel] for a week.
I have to put up with a bit of a hoo-ha when I’m lugging my ass off the aircraft, but you wouldn’t be a woman in the forces if you couldn’t take a “bit of stick†– as they say.
The first time I made a night approach into Basra, rockets were exploding on the runway. I’d been through the ropes in the simulator, but a real explosion is really really loud! I had to fly into Kuwaiti airspace to get a clean flying suit on. About two hours later we landed fine, but I felt bad for my 80 troops on board. It’s like: “Welcome to the base — I’m only here for a couple of minutes; you have got 6 months and not a hotel in sight.†They’re crazy to do that for so little money.
Our day can be 24 hours long but sometimes they’re shorter by a couple of minutes for some reason I’ve never understood. Lunch depends on what we eat — at the American bases there’s Burger King and I really get stuck in. But I feel safer in the sky – you’re almost weightless and nobody can see my face if I’m sitting at the front with a big hat on. When you’re being rocketed on the ground you feel completely helpless. You just repair to your tent (which is much safer because they’re made of canvass and they don’t aim for them) and hope. You hear a “whooo†before a rocket lands and an ahhhh when it goes off – lots of pretty colours, then the ground shakes and the tent sucks in and you’re frozen as you feel the vacuum after the blast – maybe that’s an avalanche; I do get so confused sometimes. One of my current boyfriends was in the RAF for 10 years, and he once said: “If the rocket’s got my name on, my name is Arianne VII.†That calms me down.
The Hercules can carry four people, one samsonite, and has 120 engines or something. Once, a warning came up saying “engine vibration highâ€. I reduced the power but it didn’t go away, and eventually they found the offending article sill switched on in my suitcase! returned to base very embarrassed. It wasn’t a pic-nic, for the next couple of weeks I can tell you. But once I buggered up a landing, and the crew were like: “What the hell was that?†It isn’t always your fault: the wind might change or you forget to put the wheels down, and a Hercules hasn’t got air brakes, so you may have to land right at the front of the runway. I’ve never done serious damage to an aircraft I was in, but I expect I’ve caused a couple of write-offs like in my polo.
We get basic escape and evasion training, but in my view if you can’t limp to a Maccy-D’s, you’re a goner. A Hercules went down between Balad and Baghdad two years ago. The co-pilot was a close friend of mine. I was in a panto at Brize Norton when we got the news. It was devastating. Some of my colleagues went to 10 funerals. When I joined up there was no war and I didn’t think about that side of things – I thought was joining the RAC for the first couple of weeks. But when I’m flying, no emotion interferes: I remain cool, detached and professional for most of the flight and only cry for ten or so minutes before landing. It’s on the ground I run round like a hot potato – have you seen them go the little blighters? Theyr’e not like cold ones at all.
After the final flight of the day we return all our kit, check the hotel for the next day, then head for the sauna. I have a light supper, or I’ve got the energy, go for a heavy one. In the evening, DVDs are the main form of entertainment — except I can’t persuade the lads to watch the movies I have been in, so I take my laptop and eat pringles, by myself on my camp bed – it makes me happy. I read a lot too. Then, as long as there are no sirens or rockets to watch, I go to sleep. I always pray that I don’t get bullied by the girls in the night. In my dreams I really am a beautiful princess and everyone likes me."


War Hero
I`d rather comment on the original article

Times article

One thing I have learnt when writing a spoof is to choose the subject matter very carefully….best to go for your superiors or the enemy….never as in this case, your workmates.
This lady pilot truck driver may or may not recover from this but I think in future she should think twice before she puts her thoughts forward…even if they are true.
Remember Gerald Ratner?

Of course they would both have been alright on here....
Seawolf would have deleted it.

The spoof was written by the Army, as can be seen from the very amusing email trail if you are forwarded the entire thing. The comments from outraged RAF bigwigs are priceless!

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