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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Readers' letters

Irony of the Typhoon display at Leuchars

September 13 2013

Sir, As the RAF Ensign was lowered at the sunset ceremony at the last RAF Leuchars Airshow, well- informed observers and commentators would have seen the irony in one of the displays during the flying programme, namely the Quick Reaction Alert scramble of two Typhoons. With the planned move of air assets some 150 miles north to Lossiemouth, it is in danger of being renamed Delayed Reaction Alert or Diminished Reaction Alert as even travelling at a supersonic 660mph at, say, 35,000 feet, it is going to take the aircraft approximately 14 minutes to fly from Lossiemouth to Leuchars. RAF Leuchars QRA aircraft have been protecting British airspace for over six decades, with no complaints as to their ability to do so, and as a 9/11 style attack is probably the most likely threat to our airspace these days, it is very strange that these same aircraft will be asked to patrol our skies from Lossiemouth to protect us from rogue civilian aircraft that will be flying in air corridors over Britain, 95% of which are south of the Glasgow/Edinburgh corridor. It would appear that the politicians know they have got it wrong, but none are prepared to reverse the decision. The army are destined to come in 2015, even though rumour has it they don’t want to, as it is completely unsuitable for their needs the runway and its services are being retained for emergency diversions. The £240 million price tag for this folly seems steep, but when compared to the £1.5 billion which has reportedly been wasted by the MoD over the last two years, it doesn’t seem so bad. The taxpayer also gets to see £10.2 million wasted every year in increased training costs for the Typhoons, as they fly all the way back to Fife to practise in well-established training grounds just east of Dundee. The prime directive of government is to protect its citizens. Good defence is not determined by luck but by strategy, something the Government decided to leave out of their SDSR. Mark Sharp. 41 Norman View, Leuchars. Jenny’s got it wrong Sir, Jenny Hjul’s article (yesterday’s Courier) takes up the cudgels on behalf of “female exploitation” in lads’ mags. Jenny has got this one wrong, however. In cases of exploitation it is usually the end user, or purchaser, who is being “exploited” and these magazines are no different. The ladies whose images make up the content are being handsomely paid for being photographed, with their full consent, and the magazines’ proprietors are raking in the cash. Nobody is being exploited at that end of the trade, but it is the blokes who part with their cash to buy the mags who are being exploited. No, Jenny, it’s not male exploitation of women, but quite the reverse. It’s female exploitation of men for profit. It’s being going on since the beginning of time and trying to sound trendy by reversing the roles ain’t going to stop it. Vive le difference! (Captain) Ian F McRae. 17 Broomwell Gardens, Monikie. No Scottish jobs created Sir, The brief article re Seimens turbines arriving in Dundee docks should be of interest to readers. The SNP have consistently declared these monstrosities, which are destroying our beautiful landscape, create jobs. The reality is they are manufactured abroad, connected using foreign cables and do not create any Scottish jobs, courtesy of EU procurement rules. We all know the enthusiasm Mr Salmond has for the EU, so he is right in one respect. They do create jobs. For the Germans. However, they cost us all huge amounts in massive subsidies in our electricity bills. If, God forbid, we secure independence, we will have the euro thrust upon us, increasing cost even more. Iain Cathro. 31 Ferndale Drive, Dundee. Slipping into a ‘dark age’? Sir “Humans have stopped evolving” (The Courier Tuesday, September 10). This statement by Sir David Attenborough may be the most significant of his career and deserves to be taken very seriously by governments around the world. Should he be correct, and there is much evidence to indicate he is, then we are already in regression and slipping into a “Dark Age”. Perhaps it is now time for ad hoc “think tanks” to formulate strategic global plans for the way ahead . . . taking into account the objectives and aspirations of all good people before it is too late! Kenneth Miln. 22 Fothringham Drive, Monifieth. A great day all round Sir, Having been an outspoken critic of the traffic and parking management in the past, I must now congratulate all concerned with last Saturday’s air show. In light of the number of people attending, getting on site was, for us, a breeze. The show was excellent even though the Vulcan and red nine (only eight red arrows some shapes just didn’t work!) were sorely missed. Even the weather held up. a great day all round. Marcia Wright. 19 Trinity Road, Brechin.


RAF Leuchars Typhoon involved in its first scramble

January 3 2011

A Typhoon from 6 Squadron has been scrambled from RAF Leuchars for the first time. It was scrambled in support of Leuchars' primary Quick Reaction Alert (interceptor) North mission, which aims to intercept unidentified aircraft approaching the country's airspace. The first of three Eurofighter Typhoon squadrons officially stood up last September at the Fife base. During a phased operation 6 Squadron will replace the RAF's long-serving Tornado F3 combat jets with the Eurofighters. Last year one of the base's two Tornado squadrons 43 (Fighter) Squadron was disbanded during the process. In March 111 (Fighter) Squadron will follow suit after a handover to 6 Squadron. While passing an important milestone in itself by successfully completing Quick Reaction Alert duties at RAF Leuchars for the very first time at the end of last month, the first multi-role Typhoon aircraft from Number 6 Squadron was scrambled on Sunday. The primary mission for RAF Leuchars in Fife is to maintain QRA (Interceptor) North which requires air and ground crews to be on high alert to scramble 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to protect UK airspace. The QRA role sits with the Tornado F3 aircraft of 111 (Fighter) Squadron, but in March the responsibility is to pass to 6 Squadron. Officer Commanding 6 Squadron, Wing Commander Roddy Dennis, said, "Since the squadron reformed at RAF Leuchars in September 2010, our air and ground crew personnel have been on an intensive training programme preparing for our Typhoons to assume the Quick Reaction Alert role. "Our aim was to assume responsibility for QRA over the festive period and I am delighted to say that we did so successfully." He said this was a "critical step" towards 6 Squadron taking over the QRA mission from 111 (Fighter) Squadron this year. "I am proud of the way my personnel have met mission challenges so far and we look forward to taking on the air defence role of the northern UK on a full-time basis."


VIDEO: End of era as fast jets leave RAF Leuchars

September 8 2014

Decades of aviation history came to a close at RAF Leuchars with the departure of the final fast jets ahead of the base’s closure. All jets attached to Leuchars-based 1 (Fighter) Squadron have been relocated to RAF Lossiemouth. The squadron’s relocation is due to be completed by the end of the month. There was no formal flypast at Leuchars but a ceremony took place when the aircraft arrived at their new home at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray. Watched by a small number of enthusiasts who had set up cameras in a field near the end of the runway, four Typhoons took off from Leuchars at 10.30am followed by another four around 11am. The final two aircraft then took off individually. One took off and did a vertical climb straight into the clouds. RAF Leuchars would not confirm the pilots. But the second aircraft understood to have been flown by RAF Leuchars Station Commander and Air Officer Scotland, Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew then took off very low and waggled the aircraft’s wings as it did so. The aircraft then did a circuit over Guardbridge and headed towards the sea before returning and shooting straight up its afterburners roaring as it disappeared into the clouds. And with that, the era of permanently stationed fast jets at Leuchars came to an end. The departure of 1 (Fighter) Squadron follows that of 6 Squadron in mid-June. An RAF Leuchars spokesman said: “The bulk of the aircraft have now left Leuchars. There might be a couple of spares to follow but the aircraft have now gone.” Typhoon aircraft of 1 (Fighter) Squadron will now provide quick reaction alert (QRA) cover alongside the Typhoons of 6 Squadron for the north of the UK from RAF Lossiemouth. Quick reaction alert for the south will be based at RAF Coningsby. As for the future of RAF Leuchars, it will now focus on becoming home to army units the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, 2 Close Support Battalion of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, and 110 Provost Company of the Royal Military Police in 2015. For full reaction, see Tuesday's Courier or try our digital edition.

Road tests

Audi Q2 puts quality over size

March 21 2018

Audi’s Q2 was one of the first premium compact SUVs on the market. It sits below the Q3, Q5 and the gigantic, seven seat Q7 in Audi’s ever growing range. Although it’s about the same size as the Nissan Juke or Volkswagen T-Roc, its price is comparable with the much larger Nissan X-Trail or Volkswagen Tiguan. Even a basic Q2 will set you back more than £21,000 and top whack is £38,000. Then there’s the options list which is extensive to say the least. My 2.0 automatic diesel Quattro S Line model had a base price of £30,745 but tipped the scales at just over £40,000 once a plethora of additions were totted up. Size isn’t everything, however. In recent years there’s been a trend of buyers wanting a car that’s of premium quality but compact enough to zip around town. It may be a step down in size but the Q2 doesn’t feel any less classy than the rest of Audi’s SUV range. The interior looks great and is user friendly in a way that more mainstream manufacturers have never been able to match. The simple rotary dial and shortcut buttons easily trounce touchscreen systems, making it a cinch to skim through the screen’s menus. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4eQ5p5Z7-Ek&list=PLUEXizskBf1nbeiD_LqfXXsKooLOsItB0 There’s a surprising amount of internal space too. I took three large adults from Dundee to Stirling and no one complained about feeling cramped. As long as you don’t have a tall passenger behind a tall driver you can easily fit four adults. At 405 litres the boot’s big too – that’s 50 litres more than a Nissan Juke can muster. Buyers can pick from 1.0 and 1.4 litre petrol engines or 1.6 and 2.0 litre TDIs. Most Q2s are front wheel drive but Audi’s Quattro system is standard on the 2.0 diesel, as is a seven-speed S Tronic gear box. On the road there’s a clear difference between this and SUVs by manufacturers like Nissan, Seat and Ford. Ride quality, while firm, is tremendously smooth. Refinement is excellent too, with road and tyre noise kept out of the cabin. It sits lower than the Q3 or Q5 and this improves handling, lending the Q2 an almost go-kart feel. On a trip out to Auchterhouse, with plenty of snow still on the ground, I was appreciative of the four-wheel drive as well. The Q2 is expensive – though there are some good finance deals out there – but you get what you pay for. Few cars this small feel as good as the Q2 does. Price: £30,745 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds Top speed: 131mph Economy: 58.9mpg CO2 emissions: 125g/km


RAF Leuchars jets shadow Russians

March 25 2010

Russian aircraft have been intercepted in northern British airspace more than 20 times since the beginning of last year, it has emerged. The latest scramble of jets from RAF Leuchars was in response to two Blackjack bombers flying near Stornoway, earlier in March. The TU160 Blackjacks were shadowed by two of 111 (Fighter) Squadron"s Tornado F3 jets as they flew south. Just north of the Northern Irish coast the bombers turned north and left UK airspace. The interception, which lasted for nearly four hours, took place in the early hours of March 10. Photographs of the incident were released by the RAF this week. 111 (F) Squadron provides Quick Reaction Alert cover for the north of the UK and its commander Wing Commander Mark Gorringe said, "This is not an unusual incident. "People may be surprised to know that our crew have successfully scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft on more than 20 occasions since the start of 2009. "Our pilots, navigators and indeed all of the support personnel at RAF Leuchars work very hard to deliver the UK Quick Reaction Alert force 24 hours a day which can be scrambled in minutes to defend the UK from unidentified aircraft entering our airspace, or aircraft in distress. "It"s a very important job, defending the UK and helping to keep UK citizens safe. "It"s also an exciting and busy time at Leuchars just now as we prepare for the arrival of the new Typhoon fighter jets which will replace the Tornados in the QRA role next year." The scramble two weeks ago occurred just before 111 (F) Squadron was moved to RAF Lossiemouth for a temporary "bolthole" detachment.


RAF Leuchars Typhoons to take off for night flying exercises

March 3 2014

Typhoon squadrons at RAF Leuchars will conduct night flying on Monday and Tuesday. A spokesman said: “With the primary mission at RAF Leuchars being Quick Reaction Alert, requiring pilots and engineers to be at readiness to launch Typhoon aircraft to protect Britain’s northern airspace 24 hours a day, operating at night is an essential skill that must be practised. “Because of the acknowledged noise impact of this training, each flight is carefully scrutinised. It is planned that all of our aircraft will be on the ground by 8.30pm each night.”

This student took his Tinder profile to the next level by turning it into a PowerPoint presentation

February 21 2018

Standing out from the crowd on Tinder can be tough, but with the help of Microsoft PowerPoint a British student has managed just that – and gone viral in the process.Sam Dixey, a 21-year-old studying at Leeds University, made a six-part slideshow entitled “Why you should swipe right” – using pictures and bullet points to shrewdly persuade potential dates to match with him on the dating app. The slideshow includes discussion of his social life and likes, such as “petting doggos” and “laser tag”, and “other notable qualities and skills” – such as being “not the worst at sex” and “generous when drunk”.It even has reviews mocked up from sources such as “Donald Trump”, “Leonardo Di Capri Sun” and “The Times Guide to Pancakes 2011”.Sam told the Press Association the six-slide presentation only took about 20 minutes to make and “started off as a joke”.However, since being posted to Twitter by fellow Tinder user Gracie Barrow, Sam’s slideshow has been shared tens of thousands of times across social media.So, it’s got the seal of approval form Gracie, but how has the slideshow fared on Tinder? “I’d have to say it has been pretty successful,” Sam said. “Definitely a clear correlation of matches and dates beforehand to afterwards.“Most of the responses tend to revolve around people saying ‘I couldn’t help swipe right 10/10’ but I’ve had some people go the extra mile and message me on Facebook.“Plus some people have recognised me outside, in the library and on dates.”A resounding success.


Award-winning Tayside song writer Eddie Cairney immortalises Queensferry Crossing in tune

October 25 2017

An award-winning Tayside song writer who immortalised the 50th anniversary of the Tay Road Bridge in music last year has released an EP which pays tribute to the newly opened Queensferry Crossing over the Forth. Perth-born Eddie Cairney, 65, who now lives in Arbroath, has released an album called ‘Sketches o' the QC’ which includes songs dedicated to the “isolated” workers who were employed during construction and contrasts the old Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing with its wind shields designed to keep traffic flowing during storms. Eddie, who delayed the release of the album due to family illness and bereavement, said: “It's just another quirky album like I did for the Tay Road Bridge. https://youtu.be/Z6BblA_Zev4 “As you can probably imagine, how do you write six songs about a bridge? “I usually end up using a process of creative journalism. I get a few facts or even just a single fact and then I let my imagination take over. “With each album early on in the writing process I draw a blank and think there's nothing here I can write about but there's always something to write about. “You just have to hang around long enough and it comes eventually. https://youtu.be/a9NyQAFjDsY “I just took threads from here and there. I was going to call the album The Queensferry Crossing but thought that was a bit boring so I went for Sketches o' the Q.C. “It introduces a bit of ambiguity. If you Google the name you get lots of drawings of court scenes!” Eddie was inspired to write Columba Cannon after reading an article about the general foreman for the foundations and towers. https://youtu.be/y_y1y8oV7vo Eddie said: “It was the name that got me and that gave me the first line of the song "He is a bridge builder wi a missionary zeal" Has to be with a name like Columba!” Fishnet bridge was set in a meditative light, describing the bridge as a “thing of beauty that looks like a big fish net glistening high above the Forth but it is a symbolic fishnet with the song taking the form of an imaginary conversation with the bridge.” https://youtu.be/dJgsl2WQ5G0   “Midday starvation came from an article which highlighted the isolation of the workers working high up on the bridge,” he added. https://youtu.be/Dme-bfCXHRI “If you forget your piece you've had it and you starve for there's no nipping round to the corner shop for a pie. The article also said that a local pizza delivery firm regularly delivered a pallet load of warm pizzas to the bridge so that was "midday salvation"! Meanwhile, The boys frae the cheese is a play on words. https://youtu.be/phtQ2-Xx1I0 He added: “I read an article that said The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (FETA) could have acted sooner and avoided the costly closure of the bridge at the end of 2015.” Eddie is no stranger to music and song influenced by Dundee and wider Scottish history. In 2015 he featured in The Courier for his efforts to put the complete works of Robert Burns to music. With a piano style influenced by Albert Ammons, Champion Jack Dupree and Memphis Slim, and a song-writing style influenced by Matt McGinn, Michael Marra and Randy Newman, the former Perth High School pupil, who wrote the 1984 New Zealand Olympic anthem, has organised a number of projects over the years including the McGonagall Centenary Festival  for Dundee City Council in 2002. Last year’s Tay Road Bridge album included a tribute to 19th century poet William Topas McGonagall and also honoured Hugh Pincott – the first member of the public to cross the Tay Road Bridge in 1966. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y51tixl9GEs Thanks to The Courier, he also became one of the first to cross the Queensferry Crossing  when it opened to the public in the early hours of August 30.


VIDEO: Thousands gather for final Leuchars Airshow

September 7 2013

This year’s RAF Leuchars Airshow is to be the last, the Ministry of Defence has announced. Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison said the event would be the last of its kind at the RAF station in Fife. It is transforming from an RAF base to an army base by 2015, with its fast jets transferring to RAF Lossiemouth. The RAF said it was “giving serious consideration” to various options, including a replacement for the Leuchars Airshow. At the base, Air Commodore Gerry Mayhew, air officer Scotland and station commander of RAF Leuchars, told The Courier that “planning and delivering a safe and successful airshow requires a dedicated RAF team at Leuchars”. He said: “The reality is that after the 2013 airshow the RAF will be fully committed to relocating to RAF Lossiemouth. “The Typhoon squadrons based here at RAF Leuchars and their Quick Reaction Alert mission will move to RAF Lossiemouth over the course of the summer and into the autumn of next year, so it is impractical for the Royal Air Force to host an airshow here next year.” Air Commodore Mayhew said the RAF is conducting a UK-wide review of all airshow commitments and while it is “inappropriate to pre-empt the outcome of this work”, he said the RAF are aware there are many events that would welcome RAF involvement, including a number of established airshows such as those in Prestwick and East Fortune. Asked if the national airshow review might result in any future military show at Leuchars after it becomes an army base, he said: “I think it’s in the mix,” but added that no decisions had been made. The review aims to report before the end of this year. RAF Leuchars is due to pass into army ownership on April 1 2015, with the bases’s Typhoon squadrons and around 600 personnel due to relocate to RAF Lossiemouth sometime between June and September next year, and the rest to follow. A crowd of at least 35,000 people is expected to attend the airshow, which is the 65th Battle of Britain Home Day to be held at the Leuchars base. The theme of this year’s event is Attack and Protect in recognition of the station’s motto and in line with its primary mission maintaining Quick Reaction Alert as the UK’s northern air defence base. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid and, 617 Squadron, created to fly the Dambusters mission in 1943, is now based at RAF Lossiemouth. To mark the occasion, the display will include a special flypast in recognition of the significance of the Dambusters when the Lancaster from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight takes to the skies alongside a Tornado GR4 from 617 Squadron sporting commemorative 70th anniversary tail art. Other highlights will include the Red Arrows, the Typhoon solo display and the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The weather forecast is for it to be cloudy in the morning and brighter in the afternoon. With three park and rides operating, motorists are requested by police to follow the appropriate signs.