back to article French general accused of nicking fast jet for weekend trips to the Sun

A French general stands accused of using military fast jets for weekend commutes to his country pile in Provence on the country’s sunny south coast. French Army minister Florence Parly has ordered an investigation, following the allegations about General Richard Reboul’s travel arrangements by investigative and satirical ( …

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  1. Holtsmark
    Black Helicopters

    Before everybody goes all judgemental, it COULD be that he flew the jets on his free time in order to keep current on fast jets while spending all his professional time flying a desk at headquarters.

    Compared to frontline jets, a jet trainer has relatively low flight costs. Arranging the refueling stops on a training mission to coincide with something pleasurable is an old international airforce tradition. It is all a matter of avoiding excesses.

    The helicopter? Well.. it is on a training mission to Isle of Wight

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Exactly, when I was going through training one of the instructors had permission to take a helicopter to another base for the weekend, that base being near where he lived. The hours flown came out of his staff continuation training, basically flying hours to keep the instructors current at actually flying the aircraft rather than telling the student what to do. The hours had to be flown anyway so why not do something useful with them rather than just flying circles in the sky.

      The base commanders main bone of contention was that said instructor kept managing to arrange it so his trips coincided with a weather front passing through making it impossible to fly back until the Tuesday rather than the Monday morning.

    2. 2460 Something

      Can't we have perks with jobs any more :(

      I'd much prefer they went after the fraudsters in the banking sector than some army folk keeping his flying hours up.

      1. Dan 10

        Perks indeed. When I was in the RAF (based at Honington in Suffolk), we had a week's firing practice arranged in Altcar barracks in Liverpool. I was seeing a girl in Liverpool at the time, and my parents home was in Manchester, a short trip away. At the end of the week, I planned to depart the barracks to do my own thing locally for the weekend before travelling back to Honington on Sunday night. This was refused on the basis that the unit should always travel as one, to preserve the integrity and morale of the squadron, and to not be seen as affording any perks. Thus I had to travel the 235 miles back on the coach, only to have another 235 miles to travel back again, then a third time before Monday morning (I simply postponed that visit).

    3. werdsmith Silver badge

      He went for a jolly in an Alpha Jet?

      Good ol' boy!

      Exactly what I would do if I could.

    4. mwnci

      Surely a French Senior Officer using a jet to visit his mistress would be grounds for promotion in the French Military? Pretty sure you get issued a Mistress if you don't have one?

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    There is a venerable tradition here

    A friend of mine went to ask for the hand of his future bride in his army "vehicle".

    As you might expect when the question is asked with a T72 parked on the street in front of your house with the gun pointed at it, the answer was a resounding "Yes of course".

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Coat

      Re: There is a venerable tradition here

      Ooh la-la! Is that a 105mm gun in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?

      Your proposal was wonderful. Tanks for the memories.

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: There is a venerable tradition here

        "Panzer? I 'ardly knew 'er..."

      2. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: There is a venerable tradition here

        I thought Smirnoff was a Russian tank commander untill I saw the stag party....

      3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: There is a venerable tradition here

        Presumably, on receiving a positive answer, he raised the barrel to maximum elevation?

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: There is a venerable tradition here

      We are quite sure nobody in the Soviet/Russian press would complain about someone with enough authority to use a tank for his personal use...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There is a venerable tradition here

      "A friend of mine went to ask for the hand of his future bride in his army "vehicle"."

      I was told of a lad who was so proud of passing his test to drive Scorpions that he took one out of the base and drove it home to show Mum.

      He was duly court-martialled, and sentenced to 28 days in Army nick, which the CO then commuted to a week on fatigues because he had "shown the right spirit".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: There is a venerable tradition here

        Used to test drive these (Scorpions) and once overtook a porsche on a dual carriageway. To say the driver looked shocked is an understatement :-)

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: There is a venerable tradition here

          "Used to test drive these (Scorpions) and once overtook a porsche on a dual carriageway."

          You disabled the governor, didn't you?

          When the carrier of one of them broke down on the way to an exhibition in Belgium, the crew just dismounted it, took off the governor and proceeded to the exhibition. They were stopped by the police, of course, showed the insurance and licence for road use, and merrily continued on their way at 74mph.

          Apparently nobody tried to stop them when they wanted to move out into the overtaking lane.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: There is a venerable tradition here

            I remember seeing a guy on telly who'd bought one in the late 80s. He lived in central London. So a Scorpion (painted bright yellow naturally) was apparently the perfect vehicle. One advantage being, the new clamps didn't fit it.

            Cue inevitable joke: Where did he park it? Anywhere he bloody well wanted...

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There is a venerable tradition here

              A MF Sysop was working over the weekend at a FTSE100 and parked his personal one tonner in the MDs parking spot as it was empty. Monday morning and the MD was not pleased. So the truck was moved, to the front steps of the head office while he got the MF going again. A great piece of kit that could go anywhere.

              The MD did see the funny side and apologised. Good fellas both.

  3. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    I've no problem with this if the general was fulfilling required flight hours...

    to maintain his necessary flight status, and the plane was sufficiently available for military purposes.

    However, I wasn't aware that Bordeaux was some kind of pit, compared to Provence.

    Of course, I can't get onboard if mon general was just abusing his rank and the availability of public assets for his private interests.

    1. thegroucho
      Black Helicopters

      Re: I've no problem with this if the general was fulfilling required flight hours...

      Unless the said general is current in a flying instructor position, I fail to see the need for him to keep himself current.

      He is just a pen-pusher/manager.

      It isn't likely he will be spearheading the next Nato intervention from the cockpit of his Mirage.

      It is not like the Duke of Edinburgh and the First Sea Lord practice A.S.W., the Chief of Air Staff goes on strafing runs with an Apache or the Chief of the General Staff goes for sniper practice.

      I hope he gets Court Martial followed by an excursion to the Brig.

      Chances are he will just retire on fat pension we can only dream of.

      P.S. Helicopter icon ... because there isn't an aircraft one.

      1. SkippyBing Silver badge

        Re: I've no problem with this if the general was fulfilling required flight hours...

        'The Chief of Air Staff goes on strafing runs with an Apache'

        Well no, because they're an Army asset so he'd be more likely to want a go in a Tornado. Or more realistically a Hawk, because they're cheaper.

        There is an argument for keeping desk bound aircrew current in flying, in that as you get older it becomes harder to regain currency after say a two year break if you haven't touched an aircraft. With a fast jet trainer like the Alpha Jet there's a good compromise between the performance levels you'd expect and the cost of operating a military aircraft. Anecdotally age doesn't seem to be an issue for aircrew who stay in regular practice, although their reaction times may become marginally longer their accumulated experience more than makes up for it. So it depends what kind of General* he is and what the French Air Force rules are, it may be that everything he's done is legitimate, if a bit pointless if he's never going back to a flying appointment.

        *If he's a junior Major General he may find himself in charge of an air base as his next job and might be expected to do a certain amount of flying.

        1. thegroucho

          Re: I've no problem with this if the general was fulfilling required flight hours...

          I see your point here - about keeping staff current and flying.

          I don't know the practice in real life.

          I would expect Mid-level officers (the air equivalent ranks of Colonel, Major, etc)(can't be bothered to go to Wikipedia to check the exact ranks in the Airforce) to be still flying.

          General however, doubt it.

          But what do I know.

          The Apache ... was just an example.

      2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        P.S. Helicopter icon ... because there isn't an aircraft one.

        That's plane to see

      3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: I've no problem with this if the general was fulfilling required flight hours...

        "It is not like the Duke of Edinburgh and the First Sea Lord practice A.S.W., the Chief of Air Staff goes on strafing runs with an Apache or the Chief of the General Staff goes for sniper practice."

        Just wait until after the next British defense review! :)

        (Icon shows future CoGS in his dress uni!)

      4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: I've no problem with this if the general was fulfilling required flight hours...

        Unless the said general is current in a flying instructor position, I fail to see the need for him to keep himself current.

        Want to tell it to this guy?. He happens to be a president of NATO country and is still flying up to the required limit for a fighter pilot.

        Not on alpha jets either - he uses the board number 29 - the one seen banking out of formation on the photo and can fly it like probably only a handful of people can. Officially Mig-29 cannot do the Pugachev Cobra or a Bell. Unofficially, if you have an outright nutter at the controls - it can. So I suggest you convince him to push a pen as he should as he has been a "pen pusher" according to your definitions since 2000 (last 17 years).

        It is not like the Duke of Edinburgh and the First Sea Lord practice A.S.W., the Chief of Air Staff goes on strafing runs with an Apache or the Chief of the General Staff goes for sniper practice.

        Maybe that is the problem in the first place.

  4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

    On the story of the Spitfire I remember the mighty Eric Brown talking about having fun with an unidentified one of those. He flew it under the Fourth Bridge. As you do. I think it was about 1942.

    Many people complained to the local police (which I find suprising in wartime). And they apparently spent quite a lot of time shouting at the local RAF bases, whose officers I'm sure then spent a lot of time shouting at each other. But the culprit could not be found.

    Nobody asked Brown, as nobody knew the Navy had any Spitfires, so the police didn't bother asking them.

    Although I still have to say my favourite story about him is that he subsidised his motorcycle while still at school by doing the Wall of Death at weekends. And one performed this stunt in a motorcyle and sidecar, with a lion sitting in the sidecar. History does not record just exactly how pissed off the lion was about this...

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "History does not record just exactly how pissed off the lion was about this..."

      Maybe someone should have looked in the bottom of the sidecar to find out.

      The better trick would have been to have the lion ride pillion...

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        The better trick would have been to have the lion ride pillion...

        Better for whom?

      2. phuzz Silver badge

        How about having the lion on the handlebars? (Ok, a baby one)

    2. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re - low-flying complaints

      "Many people complained to the local police (which I find surprising in wartime)."

      Read Paul Brickhill's The Dambusters. Gibson (as squadron CO) and Cochrane (as Group Commander) were inundated with complaints from the public regarding the low-flying training for Chastise.

    3. druck

      Seafires!

    4. notowenwilson

      " Many people complained to the local police (which I find suprising in wartime). "

      Just because there's a war on doesn't mean that the NIMBY's suddenly shut up.

  5. thegroucho

    not-so-personal use

    A few years ago at the Shoreham Air show (years before the fatal crash) I was watching a Typhoon doing the aerobatics for the crowds.

    When it was finished it headed westwards, presumably towards the airbase.

    Out of the blue the jet did corkscrew turn a few times over the sea.

    The pilot must have been thinking "f**k it, this is boring flying in a straight line, I might as well keep myself entertained".

  6. wolfetone Silver badge

    You can't be doing that!

    That plane is meant for killing people. NOT for use as a taxi!!!

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Well, *training* people to kill people, or provide assistance thereby.

      But to be honest, I'd rather it were used as a taxi than for it's design intention.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Completely agree.

      2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        I'm pretty sure there's a combat version of the Alphajet. Or if not yet, there's one in design. It's supposed to be a cheap close air support plane.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The 301 statute mile flight might take about an hour, including a margin for time spent routing through airways,"

    He's unlikely to have been flying IFR.

    "loitering in holding patterns, and so forth."

    See above (a holding pattern is an IFR procedure), but in any case holding patterns are a thing of the past in Europe (London excepted), as traffic is regulated according to forecast capacity by the CFMU, an operational unit located in Brussels. If it is known or expected (e.g., based on weather forecasts) that your destination (or more rarely, en-route) will be over capacity then you are made to wait on the ground at your departure airport, which saves fuel and costs and is also safer.

    A controller that I knew used to roll off a military cargo plane on his motorcycle every Monday morning. Another one (military controller) co-owned a light aircraft which he would use to commute into his base (allegedly his CO put a stop to that).

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      Having crossed France a couple of times with an IFR flight plan, they seemed very keen to let us route direct as soon as we contacted them on entering their airspace rather than bothering with airways. Mind you that was in a Jetstream, I'm not sure if they do the same with proper airliners.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > Mind you that was in a Jetstream, I'm not sure if they do the same with proper airliners.

        Yes, it's the same for everyone, that's why the whole airspace above (IIRC) FL90 is RNAV. This is part of the performance-based approach adopted by ICAO this century, and has the three main advantages of 1. saving fuel, 2. increasing capacity, 3. being more environmentally friendly.

  8. macjules Silver badge
    Headmaster

    The Sun?

    When you write, "French general accused of nicking fast jet for weekend trips to the Sun" I am hoping you do not mean 'visits to Mr Murdoch's unlimited supply of loo paper" and perhaps mean 'sunshine'?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought....

    ..but I presume he was going from military base to another, so I presume you don't pay landing fees.

    And lets face it, it's cheaper than travelling by train in the UK.

  10. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    52p/litre? Can I put it in my car?

    Also 3 miles to the gallon is pretty impressive (assuming I've worked that out right). Some cars don't do much better than that.

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge

      It's close-ish to diesel but I think it's missing some of the additives needed for a car engine. So it depends how much you value the car.

      1. Vinyl-Junkie

        Re: I think it's missing some of the additives needed for a car engine

        Given some of the low-grade, barely-better-than-fuel-oil stuff which passes for diesel when you are some distance from civilization/the beaten track it would amaze me if you couldn't run a Defender or Land Cruiser on it, as both seem to cope quite adequately with such stuff.

        1. SkippyBing Silver badge

          Re: I think it's missing some of the additives needed for a car engine

          Yes, saying 'some of the additives needed for a car engine' may have been over egging how essential they are! I think it's something to do with lubricants for the injectors which will probably last for ages without it.

          The list of acceptable fuels for the Westland Wasp/Scout was occasionally summarised as anything runny and flammable.

          1. Lord M4x

            Re: I think it's missing some of the additives needed for a car engine

            Jet -A! is mainly kerosene which has additives to lower its freezing point.

            It is generally of a *higher* quality than road diesel fuel.

            You could safely add it to you r diesel mix in winter to achieve a lower waxing (freezing) point in extreme weather.

            That's what I got from 10 years working offshore in petrochemicals, flying to work in all kinds of conditions in helicopters of varying size and power....

            1. SkippyBing Silver badge

              Re: I think it's missing some of the additives needed for a car engine

              Jet B is possibly better for cars as it's a mix of petrol and kerosene, mainly to get the freezing point right down. It's basically intended for use in Arctic and Sub-Arctic regions, I think it might actually be banned in the UK due to the low flash point.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            anything runny and flammable.

            I knew a girl like that once

      2. tedleaf

        Red ex

        Forces personnel that used to use it used to add red ex or similar additives as wel,although one guy insisted that all you realy needed was a few squirts of fairy liquid !!

        I don't remember them having any troubles with short lives on engines,more short lives of vehicles from over-enthusiastic use off road on ranges etc at weekends !!

      3. Mark York 3
        Mushroom

        When I Were A Lad.....

        My first proper job was working at a airport where they serviced DC3's.

        Quite a few of the staff used to suppliment their petrol bill by siphoning off a gallon or three of AVGas (including one foreman known as "Hovis" who was found in the act by a colleague at 3am after returning a late night run of taking urgent parts to Birmingham EM).

        One other young lad decided to run his little moped on it full time draining fuel from a couple of DC'3s parked outside, those of us on 2 wheels used them as covered parking space (Something like a Honda Sky 50), completely knackered his engine.

        I dont think he ran his new machine on it after that

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