We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Pity so few journalists know what they write about

An aircraft believed to be a World War II Hawker Hunter fighter jet crashed onto the A27, causing the road to be closed in both directions…

hawker hunter error

Hawker Hunter first flight was 20 July 1951. I guess City A.M. does not allow their journalists access to the internet or the use of Google.

40 comments to Pity so few journalists know what they write about

  • Stonyground

    The fact that it was a jet was a bit of a clue. Maybe it traveled in the same time machine as Steve McQueen’s motorbike. Rather than a Zundapp or BMW, this particular German dispatch rider was riding a 1950s Triumph.

  • Patrick Crozier

    On a more general point is ignorance of the past such a bad thing? Brian has occasionally pointed out that wherever the past is nurtured you get wars e.g. Ulster, Middle East, Bosnia. After the Second World War it took Britain 35 years and repeated socialistic failure to have the smugness wiped off its face and it has taken until now for Germans to be treated as more-or-less normal human beings.

    Not an excuse for a journalist failing to key the words “Hawker” and “Hunter” into an omnibox.

  • On a more general point is ignorance of the past such a bad thing?

    It is if you write about the past and the name tag you wear at events says “journalist” 😀

    Moreover the number of self described socialists who are profoundly ignorant regarding socialism’s past means you get people who are simply a mental blank when it comes to millions upon millions of deaths.

  • Jerry

    ‘On a more general point is ignorance of the past such a bad thing?’

    Generally, YES it is a bad thing especially if you are an educator, journalist, broadcaster or ANYONE who tries to inform others.

    In the case in point ( the aircraft crash ), I suspect that this is simply another example of laziness on the part of the ‘journalist’
    ( no research or fact checking done PERSONALLY ) who is simply parroting what some other misinformed person said, wrote, blogged. Carry this process on a few ‘generations of distribution’ and before long, the story will be that Fred Flinstone crashed his Pterodactyl into the roadway !
    This is just one way how stupidity increases.

  • Brian Swisher

    Patrick, I would stipulate that “nurture” and “fester” are two clean different things.

  • Frank S

    Ignorance of the past is an awful thing. It is the epitome of ignorance. Our knowledge is based on the past, and on what we make of it. Ignorance of the past is the same thing as ignorance.

  • Mr Ed

    The Hunter has the same designer as the Hurricane, Sir Sydney Camm, whose sturdy Hurricane was the workhorse of the Battle of Britain, holding the line as it were, against the Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica.

    Is ignorance of the past a bad thing?

    Yes, we are all ignorant of the future, of the present we know little and can communicate nothing until it is the past, where all has come from.

    Knowledge is essentially of the past.

    RIP those who died in that crash.

  • Julie near Chicago

    A beautiful plane, from the (first) Wikip. photo. But why do you guys keep on painting targets on the tail? :>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Also, what mojo said. Also, just a few minutes ago I was writing an e-mail and used the phrase “next year.” –Well, that is, in my head was “next week” but what came out of my fingers was “next year.”

    Isn’t it nice I happened to catch the mistake — that time.

    I have caught myself doing the same thing pretty often of late. We highly-refined and well-bred, educamated pholks call these “brain pharts.”

    We humans are a sorry lot.

  • Alisa

    We humans are a sorry lot

    Yes, but we still beat the alternative 😀

  • The Sanity Inspector

    If the Hunter had been around in WWII The Battle Of Britain would have gone much better.

  • Indeed WW2 generally would have been over rather swiftly 😀

  • This is nothing new. I do know about ‘planes and a “space-filler” in The Mail a couple of months back” had the shock-horror that Reginald Mitchell din’t design the Spitfire on his own. D’oh!. They then decided to illustrate this piece with a picture of a Hurricane. The point is I do know a lot about aviation so I spot these howlers. There are two sequlae to this. The first is a lot of people don’t and won’t spot it. The second is that there is a shed load of other things I don’t know much about so what sneaks under my radar?

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    It’s an old French custom, from 1914. The USAF adds extra sighting marks to its version, although they had to remove the red bulls-eye.


  • James Strong

    For the journalist to know that a plane that first flew in 1951 wasn’t a WW II plane he would need to know when WW II finished.
    Extra credit if he knows who won.

  • Julie near Chicago

    J.M., aha! Another datum to add to my supply. A girl just can’t have too many. Thank you. :>)

    Although tracing back, what was wrong with the bonkers French? They never went down to the pub to throw darts?

    Deprived childhoods, I blame it on.

  • James Hargrave

    It is quite good that the journo had even, at the back of the ‘mind’, some idea that there were Hawker planes in WW2.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Thanks to J.M. Heinrichs, I was moved to Investigate. The Photos section of the Cyberstacks is still open, and there I found a whole bunch of WWI aircraft (planes and Others) and men. Very interesting, if you are into planes. (Lets NickM right out, of course. 😉 )


  • Kevin B

    After the Second World War it took Britain 35 years and repeated socialistic failure to have the smugness wiped off its face

    As a throw away remark that is a doozy… And utterly, utterly wrong. The prevailing mood in Britain after the war was relief and a profound feeling of never again. Why do you think we dumped our war leader and voted in the socialists at the first chance we got. Then we dismantled our empire as fast as we could and repeatedly applied to join the emerging European Union, (only De Gaulle kept us out).

    As we struggled with rationing, re-building our bomb damaged cities and paying off our war debts, we made it very clear that as a people and as a nation that, while we were happy to be one of the ‘Great Powers’ in the shadow of the US, we wanted out of the ‘World’s policeman’ role.

    No Patrick, Britain in those post war years was anything but smug.

  • Stonyground

    I apologize for making a joke at the beginning of this thread. At the time I was not fully aware of what had happened. Joking was inappropriate I’m sorry.

  • As to markings. The US Army started out with Uncle Sam’s “Hat in the Ring” before moving on and eventually going with the “Stars and Bars” we now know. The RFC/RNAS started with a Union flag but… due to the fact that from a distance the dominant St George Cross could look like the German black cross, hence the roundel. I only found this out (for shame) recently at IWM Duxford where I had a flying lesson in a de Havilland Tiger Moth*. Oddly enough we and the French boxed and coxed over ther order of the RWB on the roundel. It is all very interesting to geeks like me as are early attempts at camo such as dazzle patterns. Oddly enough surfers in Oz have been taking to zebra stripe wet suits to put off shark attacks. It interests me not just because of the ‘planes and ships and such but because I’m interested in the philosophical concepts of perception with respect to QMech and elsewise. Now, that is a tangent – possibly literally. I could go on but I yield.

    *Yes, it was that cool. I looked like Biggles in my Irvine jacket, leather helmet and goggles… then I get the stick. I have played flight sims since whenever but… Well, put it this way… afterwards my wife (it was a birthday prezzie from her) asked what it was like and I couldn’t really explain. That is what makes an experience an experience – the ineffability of it.

  • Irvinjacket – obviously. Sorry.

  • Irvin jacket – more obviously. Curse you Kindle!

  • AKM

    NickM, photo’s or it didn’t happen!! 🙂

  • Mr Ed

    Kevin B: Re your comment on:

    After the Second World War it took Britain 35 years and repeated socialistic failure to have the smugness wiped off its face

    I took that original comment by Patrick to be an entirely fair observation on the smugness of the socialists in the ‘New Britain’, with the Royal Festival Hall as its icon of brutalist confidence in socialist progress, which by 1980 was evidently misplaced, given the massive inflation of the 1970s, the unburied dead of the Winter of Discontent, the chaos of untrammelled Trade Union power, the waste of nationalised industries, the period of the 3-day week, power cuts, confiscatory taxation, and the drab poverty of a miserable country coming to terms with the baleful consequences of letting socialists run things.

    Smugness was the dominant political mindset of the previous 35 years post-War. The snowballing consequences became evident to all in the early 1980s recession as the effects of previous decades saw the collapse of much industry after decades of confiscatory taxation, inflation and industrial chaos.

  • llamas

    Re – smugness. It was politically-universal. I still well-remember watching some union shop-steward being interviewed on the TV in the mid 1970s, in connection with yet-another strike at a car factory over ‘working practices’. When it was suggested that there might be something to be learned from the German auto industry, where a strong union and flexible working practices were producing high wages and excellent product, his reaction was immediate. ‘The Germans? We beat them in two World Wars, they don’t have anything to teach US about how to build cars.’

    I want to see photos, too. I’ll be at Duxford in a few weeks, how much did they charge?



  • Fred the Fourth

    There’s already such a story, more or less, called “Hawk Among Sparrows” (IIRC) but it is set in WW1.
    Amusingly (and realistically) enough, the time-travelling pilot spends most of his time trying to obtain and purify enough kerosene to fly for more than a minute or two.

  • Kevin B

    In terms of smugness, politicians are always smug. Look at New Labour. Blair was the epitome of smugness and if I look in the dictionary under smug, Liberals appear just after Greens and just before Cameron and his tories.

    As for Llamas’s trade union guy, he was under orders from the (East) Germans to come out with such bollocks. (As were a large number of politicians of the time who were either True Believers, fellow travellers and/or paid agents.*)

    My point is that the ordiary people of these islands were not smug at all after WWII.

    *You can take this assertion any way you like, but be aware that on some days I still believe that at least half of the so-called elite of this country are still under orders from the Stasi or the KGB. I can find no other way to explain their behavior.

  • llamas

    @ Kevin B, who wrote:

    ‘My point is that the ordiary people of these islands were not smug at all after WWII.’

    I seriously-disagree. From my own personal experience in the 1960s and 1970s, the great majority of the Great British Public in those days affected themselves a smug superiority over the rest of the world that was made up of equal-parts ignorance, fading colonial dreaming and just flat-out racism. Vestiges of this persist to this very day, and will for some time to come.

    Sit and listen to the average Briton today in his native habitat, and the same peculiar mix of jingoism, lordly judgment over peoples far away of whom he knows nothing, and a sort of divinely-ordained position of superiority in the scheme of things, will still be heard.

    As we can see with the terrible goings-on there right now, as far as the average Briton is concerned, Wogs still begin at Calais.



  • Wogs still begin at Calais.

    But they do!!! 😛

  • Paul Marks

    “Is ignorance of the past such a bad thing?”.

    Yes Patrick it is a bad thing, a very bad thing.

    And journalists who are careless about history are likely to be careless about everything else.

  • Paul Marks


    People who think Britain was “smug” in the post war period must be living in an alternative universe.

    The normal position in the 1970s was despair.

    Even in the late 1940s it was clear that Britain had lost is way.

    Some people blamed the war for damaging us – supposedly that was why America was better off.

    Other people blamed the war for not damaging us enough – supposedly that is why Germany and Japan were doing better in 1950s and so on.

    “Clean slate” and all that stuff.

    Half the country (or just about half) rejected these claims and held that the direction of policy after World War II had been wrong.

    That the policy of state control and endless inflation was radically mistaken.

    Sadly this half (or thereabouts) of the population were very badly led – by a Conservative party many of whose leaders were “educated” in watered down versions of collectivist doctrine themselves.

    However, even the Labour half of the country were anything but “smug” – they also knew the country was in terrible decline (at least relative decline).

    They just had different opinions about the cause of the decline.

    As above – the country was too badly damaged by the war, or not damaged enough by the war.

    Or the “bosses” were too “greedy”, or not “greedy” enough (“bosses” to interested in past glories to do anything new).

    And on and on.

    Ravings – much as one gets in the “Daily Mirror” or “The Guardian” or “The Morning Star” to this day.

    However, even the Labour “half” (or thereabouts) of the population were certainly not “smug”.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    You overlook the possibility that the journalist knew when the Hunter first flew, but not the dates of WW2. I once had a mind-boggling barside conversation with a journalism major who claimed not to know when World Wars One and Two occurred, or in what order!

  • veryretired

    The sorriest part of this example is that these same “journalists” are every bit as ignorant with regard to 90% of what they write about.

    And TV talking heads rise to 99%.

    The bitter fact is that a great many people still believe the crap they read and hear from the msm, even when it is repeatedly shown to be utter nonsense.

    The legacy of an educational system that fails to educate.

  • llamas

    @ Paul Marks – WADR, I most-certainly was not living in ‘an alternative universe’. I contend that my personal observations of the smug superiority felt by the great majority of average Brits about (just-about everyone and everywhere else) in the 1960s and ’70s is far-more-accurate than your characterizations, which I contend may well apply to a certain segments of society, but certainly not to the great majority.


    Yes, I know it’s satire, but it rather typifies the common mindset of the time. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be to say that most Brits in those days agreed with the observation that “to be born an Englishman is to win the first prize in the lottery of life.” Currency controls ensured that few if any English people ever travelled much further abroad than the littorals of Europe, and so remained blithely ignorant of foreign places and peoples. The wonderfully-insular policies of the monopoly broadcaster kept most Brits completely-unaware of contemporary foreign cultures – who recalls the paradigm-changing effects of ‘pirate radio’, which allowed foreign, and specifically American, popular music to be heard by large numbers of Brits for the first time? What was the stereotypical exotic foreign meal of 1960s Britain? Scampi – and chips.

    Trapped inside this insular bubble, many Brits remained completely unaware of what was going on in the wider world, and assumed that they still held a center-stage position in the world comparable to that of the pre-war Empire. Fed by a steady diet of ‘Britain Leads the World! Again!’ headlines in the popular prints, it was both easy and comfortable to continue to believe that it was really true.

    The prevailing mood in the 1970s was not despair, but bemusement. They honestly didn’t understand how it could be that those funny bespectacled Japanese, so recently crushed in war, could build a better motorcycle than Triumph? And whoever heard of electric start, anyway? You start a motorcycle by kicking it – everyone knows that! As one industry after another was shown to be inefficient, misguided, or just hopelessly out-of-date, most people were honestly amazed – I thought we Led the World? Sorry – no. And now the lights keep going out, and we’re only working 3 days a week? What the hell happened? And yet, in spite of all that, we still heard statements like the shop steward I quoted above. No, he wasn’t told to say that sort of thing by his East German handlers – he said it because he truly believed it, as did most of his members.



  • I contend that my personal observations of the smug superiority felt by the great majority of average Brits about (just-about everyone and everywhere else) in the 1960s and ’70s is far-more-accurate than your characterizations, which I contend may well apply to a certain segments of society, but certainly not to the great majority.

    I am with Paul on this one. Certainly the 1970’s I lived through was horrifying. The sense of ongoing catastrophe was utterly pervasive and it was that which lead directly and causally to people voting for Thatcher. I for one truly expected the future to be one of trading petrol bombs with leftists on the burning streets of London.

    The prevailing mood in the 1970s was not despair, but bemusement.

    No, it truly wasn’t.

  • Stonyground writes:

    The fact that it was a jet was a bit of a clue. Maybe it traveled in the same time machine as Steve McQueen’s motorbike.

    Presumably this is on the assumption that there were no jet aircraft involved in WW2.

    But what about the Messerschmitt Me 262? And, to a lessor extent, the Gloster Meteor.

    Best regards