September 2019
October, 2019
November, 2019
December, 2019 January, 2020

February, 2020

March, 2020


David Taylor’s funeral was held on Thursday 12th March 2020 at 9.40am in the Main Chapel at York Crematorium.  A webcast of the funeral was arranged by Dave’s son William so that it could be watched live online as he had many friends around the world that wouldn’t be able to attend. If any ONI website member was not able to view the webcast, please CLICK HERE to view it now on YouTube.


David Taylor passed away on Thursday February 27  at 14.15 hrs. (UK time).  I never met Dave and only spoke to him a few times. The first time was after I came across the ONI website that he created.  I became curious and so in 2013 sent him an email and later spoke with him on the phone.  He was curious about Al Leffler.  I did some research, found Al's phone number and gave him a call.  I then sent Dave and email of my contact with Al which you can find in the Contacts page of this website.  I also sent him photos and a narrative of my time with ONI in Belize and the Arabian Gulf '64 -'67 which he posted on the Photos page.

I kept in touch with Dave periodically by email, a few times by phone and purchased his book "A Suitcase Full Of Dreams" from him directly which I read with great interest. However in August of 2019 I received a troubling email from Dave asking for someone to take over the ONI website as he was facing serious health problems. I contacted Dave and told him that I would be glad to help as I had some fleeting experience with website design.

I worked with Dave to procure the addresses and passwords necessary to access and maintain the site but it turned out that there were innumerable problems with taking it over completely.  I could not take over ownership because the website is located in the UK and I live in the US.  It also was not feasible to transfer the website to a US hosting service without disrupting Dave's access to his email and other serious obstacles.  In the end I simply changed the billing of the service to my CC while keeping Dave as the registered owner.

I then spent the next two months working on the site, standardizing fonts for readability and correcting many other formatting problems.  While the site is not perfect, Dave seemed pleased with my work.  I last heard from Dave on January 19 when I sent him an email asking whether he was receiving my update notices and gently inquired about his health.  He replied "Hi Jesse, Yes I am receiving everything Ok, you are doing a grand job, thanks. As far as my health is concerned I am not doing too well at all, so am happy that we got everything sorted when we did. Keep up the good work."

Even though I did not know Dave very well I admire him for commemorating via this website those that worked for and with ONI, a forum in which stories of adventure all over the world abound.  I encourage all those who knew Dave better than I to send me your remembrances of him at so they can be posted on this website to be shared with the larger ONI community.

Jesse Lerma, February 29, 2020



Hello all.  Many thanks for all your emails regarding my medical situation, but my demise would appear to be not in the near future, going by the way I feel at present. Despite this fact, and to ensure the continued existence of this website, I have taken the opportunity of transferring control of the site to Jesse Lerma (contact:, the only person to take up my request.

Although only with ONI for a few years he is committed to the memory of those who worked for the company and to preserve the stories of their many adventures around the world.  Jesse is not a professional software developer but he is familiar with website design etc - as are many others - and was the only person to offer his services, others still being far to busy already. 

From now on, all emails regarding the site should be addressed to Jesse, who has already spent some time tidying things up as you may notice.   Jesse is also the new sponsor of the site, and we offer grateful thanks to Geoff Metcalfe for the many years of his sponsorship.

Note that you can still reach me for personal matters at  Please keep in touch!


Most of you may not know me as I only worked for ONI for a few years, '64 - '67.   On the other hand I feel that those years shaped the rest of my life.  I had many adventures and met and worked with an iconic cast of characters from different countries and cultures.  While with ONI I also met Claudette, my wife of over 50 years in Doha, Qatar.  I was introduced to her by Don Darroch of GSI and our romance blossomed through the help of ONI party chief Louie Conner.

I am now 76 years old, 13 years retired from a career as an electronics engineer.  During my engineering career I continued to travel for business and pleasure all over the world (though with more comfortable accommodations than I was exposed to while with ONI).   Once a Doodlebugger the dye is cast, forever wondering what lies beyond the next horizon.

I will do my best to maintain the website and to provide updates from time to time as new content is received but be aware that my familiarity with those who worked for ONI is very limited and I will not be able to provide additional context as David has done over the years.  If you would like to learn more about my time with ONI please check out my page in the "Photos" section of the website.




This Website came about as the result of an idea mostly put forward by Ron Hewson's wife, Lynne. I believe some global discussion did follow with other ex ONI-ers, then, somehow or other, with a little input from myself, it seems I ended up being tasked with the job of trying to pull something out of the footlockers of memory! Having no experience whatsoever in the intricacies of web design, I jumped in, elicited advice from wherever, and from whoever was willing to give it, the following somewhat amateurish pages being the result of many frustrating hours at the computer. The initial composing of the pages, images, links etc seemed to pose few problems, at first. It was only when I came to try and publish it on the Web that those "few problems" revealed themselves to be many, and sometimes fatal! But, just as back in the ONI days, things gradually came together, and we succeeded. Although I began work on creating the site in September/October 2009, it was the middle of January 2010 before I finally got it up and running online.


Hans Karlsson has recently had a book published about touring the world on his motorcycle - which he continues to do, even though now in his nineties - titled: Around the World on Two Wheels: An Old Man's Journeys Through 76 Countries, it is available via Amazon, or Kindle, well worth a look I should think. 

Hans Karlsson, born in 1925, dreamed of traveling the world ever since he was a little boy growing up in the small town of Brunna, Sweden. But it was only later in life that Hans discovered his most cherished means of travel: motorcycle touring. He was sixty-eight when he took his first long-distance ride. He’s ninety-one now and, in the intervening years, he estimates he’s logged more than 600,000 miles. And those miles have taken him from Alaska to Argentina, throughout the Middle East, all over Europe and Japan, into Africa, down under to Australia and New Zealand, and, quite literally, around the world. And he’s not slowing down. Next up? Another round trip from New Orleans to the southernmost tip of South America.


Whilst featuring Hans' book I figured I may as well push my own latest offering. Probably only of interest to a select few, but I understand Rich Longton has a copy.  Aviation-minded Yorkshire born and bred author, David Taylor was Scarborough born, Norton raised, but now lives in Dunnington, York. He has travelled the world extensively (when it was, in his opinion, a far better, much safer world in which to travel) both when serving with the RAF, and in a later, equally adventurous life when involved with oil exploration.

THE FIRST HELICOPTER BOYS (ISBN 1526754134) published by Pen & Sword, is his 7th book, and tells of the time when life in the Federation of Malaya - as it then was - with the RAF, was an ‘active service’ posting.

There have been many books written about the Indonesian Confrontation of the 60s & 70s, therefore much is now evident re the enormous contribution made by the helicopter squadrons to the successful outcome of hostilities. Initially limited in numbers and flown by pilots with experience gained in earlier’ conflicts, the numbers of helicopters increased dramatically and were subsequently flown by the new breed of specialist helicopter pilot. These were pilots transported straight from ab initio training into the world of rotary wing and so had the benefit of intense and extended training in all aspects of helicopter flying, so that when they arrived in theatre they had many hours under their belts and a sound knowledge of the particular techniques they would be required to employ.

What is perhaps not as well known is that circa twelve years earlier, those techniques were developed and honed by a small band of pilgrim pilots during the Malayan Emergency (1947-1960). Not for these guys the specialist helicopter training, but a 17 hour quick conversion at Westland, then out to theatre and learn to fly these machines over the jungle. Operational procedures were still under development, even though the aircraft flew on Frontline service! This is in no way an attempt to decry the exploits and heroics of the ‘Borneo Boys’, which are legend, nor their well earned and fully deserved accolades and plaudits, but rather, to plug the gap, to bring to note the priceless contribution made by the original ‘guinea pig’ pilots of 110, 155, 194, 848 RNAS, and the Casualty Evacuation Flight during the Malayan Emergency, and quietly cement their rightful place in Helicopter, and Jungle Warfare history. 

This was military helicopter flying in its infancy, at least as far as the British forces were concerned. The Westland Dragonfly and Whirlwind HAR 4, along with the Bristol Sycamore, were a far cry from the relatively safe, computer-assisted, turbine-powered, clutch-less machines of later years, the potential for an incident never too far distant. 

This is the story of those development years, and one that needed to be told. It is recalled here by the air and ground crews, plus others involved at the time. ie, History from the horses mouth.