The Rogue Hawker Hunter Pilot and the Tower Bridge Incident
The day of April 5th, 1968 was supposed to be an important day in British history, being the 50th anniversary of the Royal Air Force. What was to be expected to mark this special date? Fireworks? Grand air shows? Battle of Britain re-enactments? Well as it so happened the British military was undergoing deep cuts in funding, especially the RAF. As a result, in order to save money there were to be no celebratory events.
For Flight Lt. Alan Pollock, the thought of no 50th anniversary celebrations didn’t sit right. Thus the commander of the 1st RAF Fighter Squadron decided he would have his own celebration, which double as a form of protest. On April 5th him and a flight of Hawker Hunter fighter planes took off on a routine patrol. Pollock broke formation against orders and ignoring radio massages went off to execute his own flight plan. First he buzzed his home field, the Dunsford Aerodrome. He then flew to London, where he circled Parliament Building three times at low altitude, causing the entire building to shake and it’s windows to rattle. He then flew over Royal Air Force Memorial, dipping his wings in salute. As he approached the Tower Bridge, a very daring thought entered his head. Later in an interview he stated,
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 …
Throttling up to high speed, in a crazy stunt Pollock passed his jet through the upper and lower span of the Tower Bridge.
Pollock returned to base, buzzing three other airfields on the way. Once he landed he was arrested and taken into custody. He was to be court martialed, however the British Government did not wish to turn the incident into an even greater spectacle. Thus he was relieved of duty and medically discharged from the RAF. Alan Pollock is still alive and living happily. He regrets nothing.
A recent interview with Alan Pollock