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Normal Topic Ian (Lofty) Wetherell (Read 1,136 times)
Jan Cobb
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Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
26.01.2022 at 11:57:07
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Sad News!

I have this morning heard from Keith Wetherell that his father, Ian ?Lofty? Wetherell, passed away last week, on Friday 21st January; after a long slow decline he died peacefully.

I know that many will remember Lofty for his professionalism and his character, both of which he possessed in abundance! He will be greatly missed.
  
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Grant Grafton
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell - Funeral Arrangements
Reply #1 - 26.01.2022 at 16:15:27
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Sad news, not unexpected, but sad nonetheless.

When I arrived at RAF Patrington in 1969, Lofty was in the Systems Training Section.  He and Keith Howard, serving under Joe Pratt, took Nick Gadd, Kelvin Holmes and myself under their collective wing and took us from raw (very) controllers to operationally qualified in a firm but fair manner and made us all the controllers we eventually became.

So many memories of a great character.  Latterly, when Lofty and I were both part of Dundridge College (the 'alternative' School of Fighter Control) we spent almost year training Royal Saudi Air Force Controllers at SOC Dhahran, in the eastern province of the Kingdom.  Quite an experience.

RIP Lofty.  You will be sorely missed.
  
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Dave Lowry
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #2 - 26.01.2022 at 16:32:33
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It's very sad news indeed. Lofty was certainly a Fighter Control Character noted for not only his no nonsense approach but also his friendliness and kindness. I worked with him at Buchan on many a QRA Scramble and bumped into him on many occasions thereafter.
  
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Simon Pollock
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #3 - 27.01.2022 at 09:36:49
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Yes, sad news about Lofty.

I first encountered him when I arrived at Patrington in May/June 1972, just short of 50 years ago!  I was a very green Acting P/O, straight from Bawdsey, and was in awe of the fighter control "aces", Lofty certainly being one of them.  My own trainer was FS Dave Price (himself a gifted controller), and I think Lofty was on the other squadron or shift.  But of course we all worked together at some time and I remember the esteem in which Lofty was held by everyone there.  If there was a difficult sortie to manage, put Lofty on, he'd handle it!

Indeed a real character and stalwart of the Fighter Control branch in those days of the 70's.
  
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Dave Lowry
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell - Funeral Arrangements
Reply #4 - 27.01.2022 at 14:50:37
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I have just received two e-mails, one from Penny Smith, née Wild, an ex-Fighter Controller who did the QWI Course flying in Lightnings and the other from John Ward, an ex-Lightning Pilot. Penny now lives in the USA, John runs the Lightnings of the Lightning Preservation Group based at Bruntingthorpe with whom I have the privilege of working. He was an instructor on the QWI Course. I've copied them below. It will give those who never knew Lofty a view of the immense presence he was in our Branch in the past.

Dear Penny,

Thank you for passing on that sad news, Lofty was a good friend. He and Judith called here for lunch several years back and  we really enjoyed reminiscing over our escapades. Judith was not so well but Ian coped with that admirably. Then I heard they had moved from Mill Rise and sadly we lost touch.

Penny, I would be very grateful if you could pass on the below few words to his son, perhaps through the FCA.   

Many thanks, with warm regards          John


IAN "LOFTY" WETHERELL                        

At the end of 1969 I was posted to No 5 Squadron as the weapons officer and tasked with leading a team to compete in the AFCENT Air Defence Competition a few months later. We were remarkably lucky that Lofty was one of the three Patrington controllers nominated to provide GCI direction ? along with Flt Sgts McDavitt and Johnson. I flew as lead ?eyeball? fighter, always with Lofty controlling, and we became very slick at the task. He had a calm confidence in what we were doing that rubbed off on us all; he could control a scramble on a supersonic target, record the tail numbers and have me back on he ground in twenty minutes. We won the trophy that year, largely because of the example he set.

We knew that the following year we would have to up our game dramatically, because of powerful competition from European squadrons, and it was Lofty who persuaded me to adopt an especially challenging tactic (and ensure that his fellow controllers were with him) that enabled 5 Sqn to win the trophy the following year as well. In fact, he was the key player behind the 1971 award to Patrington of the Burniaux Trophy for the top GCI team, an acknowledgement of their skill and his example. 

It?s a splash, Lofty, Pigeons when you?re ready. 

  
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Colin Nash
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #5 - 28.01.2022 at 12:42:37
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Very sad news. I had the privilege of serving with Lofty at Patrington, Neatishead and Buchan. he was the most astute, aware and, with all due respect to others, the best controller I ever worked with, albeit with perhaps an unconventional R/T style; an ace solver of cryptic clues in the Telegraph crossword, and a dab hand and formidable opponent at bridge in the crewroom; and, if you got past the forbidding front, a very kind, helpful and easygoing buddy. There are many stories I could tell. Forgive this one example, with apologies for the prehistoric jargon. Patrington 1973, Ex Priory; Lofty (Instructor) and I (U/T) controlling a Binbrook Lightning each, low level on the same stud on adjacent consoles; Type 80 radar, linear picture, 80 mikes range scale. As well as controlling his own fighter, he told me what to say to mine since I didn't have a clue what was going on (no surprise there). I think we got all our targets but it was all down to Lofty.
A big man in all respects. R.I.P. Ian.
  
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Mike Good
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #6 - 28.01.2022 at 17:51:12
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I never had the pleasure of working with Lofty but his name and reputation echoed around the corridors of every R3 I found myself in from Day 1.  The branch has lost a legend.
  
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Grant Grafton
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #7 - 30.01.2022 at 06:36:15
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Like so many Lofty was my instructor at RAF Patrington, after basic qualification at Bawdsey. As an instructor he was without parallel, suffering we PO with infinite patience. As a controller in his own right, no one was better. Success in the AFCENT competition, controlling Lightnings brilliantly at low level in AJ/BJ - with one paint a minute! Even showing what he was made of by controlling from a RNAS Gannet. He and I ended up working for Dundridge College, detached for a while to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He continued to work his magic on the young Saudi controllers. A true legend
  
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Alec Trevett
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #8 - 12.02.2022 at 13:59:35
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I attended Lofty's funeral up in Hull yesterday morning and received a very warm welcome from his Son Keith and all the family who were keen to share memories of Lofty's time in the RAF. In particular there were some great memorabilia there from when Lofty, earlier in his career as a SNCO controller, played a leading role as a member of the winning team in the AFCENT competition to which John Ward (ex 5 Sqn) relates in his earlier post.

I first met lofty when we both served on the RAF Air Defence Team at CRC Brekendorf in Schleswig-Holstein. Our German Air Force colleagues initially did not know what to make of this giant of a man who instantly took to controlling their F104s etc with such calmness and aplomb. It didn't take them long to catch on - Lofty very soon took a number of the young German controllers under his wing and was respected and admired by all (notwithstanding his propensity for not entirely 'politically correct' but nonetheless utterly hilarious good-natured 'banter'). 

Our paths later crossed off and on before he left the service as a Sqn Ldr and moved on to Dundridge College. He always delighted in calling me 'Trockett' (for some reason) and I well remember arriving at the RAFFCA Christas gathering at the RAF Club every year to be greeted by Lofty, cradling a pint, booming across the room - 'Ah - look out it's Trockett!!'. I'll miss that.

In every respect a larger than life character and a consummate professional, everyone who learned to know Lofty recognised him also as a very kind man and loyal colleague. As a fighter controller he was simply 'the best'.   I have tried to attach a photo of Lofty taken from the back of the order of service booklet - he is characteristically  'with pint' and has that twinkle in his eye - they could not have chosen better. (I hope it appears correctly). 

I raised a glass to his memory when I got home last night - RIP Lofty - you will be fondly missed by a great many.

AT
  
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Alec Trevett
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Re: Ian (Lofty) Wetherell
Reply #9 - 12.02.2022 at 14:15:02
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Picture attached
  

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