Steve (Nick) Boulton - My Story.
(Unfortunately Steve passed away on 13th August 2007 and will be missed by all who knew him)
Passing out from RAF Halton Aircraft Apprentice School as an Engine Fitter, on 28th March 1956, I aimed for the sky and ended up at the bottom of the sea.
Malaysia and My Time with No. 155 Squadron.
No. 155 squadron was equipped with Whirlwind helicopters. The crewman part of this took me all over the country, as the emergency was still in force, and we had to lift the ground troops in and out of the jungle on a daily basis. We also had to bring out the dead (mainly the terrorists) and wounded and keep the troops supplied with food and armaments on a regular basis.
It also meant detachments when operations were concentrated in a particular area so spent three months at RAF Seletar on Singapore Island in support of operations in the south of Malaysia and also three months at an army base with the REME at Ipoh which is north of Kuala Lumpur.
We also had plenty of sport and some great leave periods, mainly in Singapore so can truthfully claim this to be the best time of my life, being footloose and fancy free at the time. You can appreciate the down turn on returning to the UK and being posted to RAF Manby.
Flight Engineer Training. Then Disapointment.
I left the RAF in 1964 on a medical discharge. My ambition in the RAF was to be a Flight Engineer and I was accepted for training in late 1963. I had just completed all the ground training when I developed a rash which could not be diagnosed but which downgraded my aircrew medical standard so I was given the choice to return to unit or leave the RAF.
Return to Barrow-in-Furness and Vickers Shipbuilders.
It was no contest really so I returned to my home town of Barrow-In-Furness and joined Vickers Shipbuilders as a fitter, initially on supertankers and then on nuclear submarines. I got promoted to the Quality Control Department as an Inspector on the nuclear-submarine programme and then to Quality Engineer, which entailed writing inspection and acceptance procedures for the submarine progamme and other specialist projects.
I Become a Pilot of a Pisces Deep Diving Submersible Vehicle and Travel the World.
At this time, Vickers were interested in deep diving submersible vehicles and formed a department called Vickers Oceanics for which I wrote several procedures for the welding of deep diving pressure hulls. Vickers then purchased a submersible called Pisces from a Canadian company and I was invited to join the operations team as a pilot of the craft which I did for several years in locations world wide.
Pisces in the News.
You may recall that the Pisces was involved in an Incident off Ireland when one got stuck on the bottom for three days and was only recovered with very little life support left for the two man crew.
Fortunately I was not diving that craft at the time as I am not sure I could have handled the situation as well as they did.
Three Years at Slingsby Aviation.
I then spent three years at Slingby Aviation Ltd. in North Yorkshire as the Vickers on site representative, who built four deep diving submersibles, three with diver lockout capability. You may also recall one of these as it is operated by the Royal Navy, with the capability of locking onto a stricken Navy submarine to transfer personnel to the surface in case of an accident, and which was offered to assist the Russians when they had their submarine stuck on the bottom a few years ago, and although the submersible went to Russia, was not used by them with the result that no one was rescued from the submarine.
I formed a company with two other colleagues to operate one man submersibles
In 1979, I formed a company with two other colleagues to operate one man submersibles made by an English Company in Great Yarmouth. We quickly had to modify these vehicles to be remote controlled and also to develop out own range of unmanned vehicles as there was a large groundswell of opinion at that time that it was too dangerous to keep men operating in the water and they had to be removed (The start of the Nanny State?) We kept control of the company for seven years and eventually sold it on to a company called British Underwater Engineering and although it has changed hands again since that time, is still a working company to this day.
Back to Slingsby Aviation.
I then joined Slingsby Aviation again, this time to try and sort our their Hovercarft Programme which was in trouble worldwide. This was really not too big a problem as although I knew nothing of hovercarft at the time, they really are quite simple machines and the problem was not so much technical but that they could not find anyone willing to spend the time abroad to try and put things right.
An Offer I Couldn't Refuse in Thailand.
I remained with Slingsby until my 66th birthday when I supposedly retired but was made an offer I could not refuse to build hovercraft in Thailand where I stayed for over two years and finally I actually retired on the 31st of January 2005 for the last time.
Steve (Nick) Boulton (74th).
26th October, 2006
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