Not much of my youth was misspent, although I did for a time go out with Jonny, a trainee pilot at RAF Cranwell. If you want to know what a near-death experience feels like, try riding pillion on a motorbike behind a man who will soon be in command of a jet that can reach 1,100 mph in a little over two minutes from take-off.
Going into a corner, we went so low I could have picked up the cigarette butts lying on the road. I’m not sure what centripetal or gyroscopic forces kept us aloft; I do know that I had complete confidence in the reflexes of my RAF chap. Actually, there weren’t many corners. Just miles of arrow-straight Lincolnshire roads, ideal for Jonny to get some practice breaking the motorbike land-speed record with a squealing blonde in tow.
All of the guys in his Cranwell intake were from the same breed. Truth is, you could probably have picked them out at junior school. They have a different relationship with fear than most mortals – respectful, but undaunted – and their hand-eye co-ordination is second to none. It needed to be. Soon they would be up above the clouds, learning how to eliminate the enemy while creating a sonic boom. Mach the Knife.
Would Jonny and his flying band of brothers be picked to serve their country today? They would still have all the necessary attributes except, that is, two X chromosomes and non-indigenous origins. I guess if Jonny were prepared to say that he self-identified as Joanne and started wearing heels and a frock then he might still make the cut. Trouble is, Jonny and his kind would rather cut off their own balls with a breadknife than pander to such progressive idiocy. Nature’s warriors are physically strong, clear-sighted, usually male and, therefore, unlikely to be badly shaken by the news that the British Armed Forces are “predominantly made up of white men”.
Seriously, who thinks that’s a bad thing? Well, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston for one. Under his command, the RAF disgracefully stands accused of discriminating against 160 white men in an attempt to meet “aspirational diversity targets”. In November 2020, Group Capt Elizabeth Nicholl was placed in charge of recruiting more women and ethnic minorities into the service. She quit after finding “around 160 cases of positive discrimination”. Good for her. When the defence of our nation is actively undermined by the wishful-thinking and woke priorities of Human Resources, you know we are in big trouble. A 5ft 4in female may speak Gujarati and tick a box, but she simply does not have the aerobic capacity or the weight necessary to be a fighter pilot. If you think that’s unfair, take it up with God.
Plus, you don’t give someone an £88.8?million piece of kit to fly because they’ll look diverse in a recruitment poster. In the Oscar-nominated Top Gun: Maverick, the squadron has acquired one female member, Phoenix, but women fighter pilots are still rare. They probably always will be. It is outrageous to try to fix what Sir Mike calls “a woeful gender diversity” problem in the RAF by excluding all the Oscars and Alexanders who have dreamt of being pilots since they were small boys.
On summer evenings, Jonny used to take me on the bike to a pub in the Wolds. On the wall behind the bar was a montage of black-and-white photographs grown sepia-toned with age: wonderful faces of pilots and air-crew who had drained their last pint there before heading to the nearby airfield to take off and do battle with Hitler’s Luftwaffe. They were white and male, but Death did not discriminate against them. A pilot considered himself old if he made it to 25. Eighty years later, the RAF is accused of discriminating against the great-grandsons of those men. How dare they? The country for which so many gave their lives has lost its mind and busily enfeebles itself to the delight of its enemies. It makes you want to cry with shame. Air Chief Marshal Wigston should resign with immediate effect.