My Trip to the secret base (Just off the A422 just outside of Astwood, Bedfordshire) was exciting to say the least.
First of all I met some very burly crows that bundled me in to a van just out side of Aylesbury station, and after a bumpy ride I arrived at what seemed to be a mismatch of buildings, old and very new where I had the heartfelt pleasure of meeting @Glyn (from AVEN). He has a different name round the base, but I promised I wouldn’t reveal it.
Glyn and I had been discussing my visit for quite some time. I met him in the Arcade part of the AVEN forum about 4 months ago, and we seemed to appreciate each others fumbled attempts at humour.
So at last I meet the man himself, and the very smart AVEN pigeon stunt team. I am not allowed to say much about him or the fine folk who are working at this top secret AVEN facility (off the A422, just outside of Astwood).
I can say I was very impressed with the whole place. While I cant give too many details, I have been allowed to publish the following conversation that Glyn and I had. (All this had to be cleared through Glyn’s team). I wasn’t allowed to take pictures but I have an artists impression (Thanks to @AndyAce for that one).
My words are in black, Glyn’s words are in purple..
How many Stunt Pigeons are there?
There are over 42,000 Stunt Pigeons, although we can’t be more specific than that. We can’t say where they all are neither, as it risks highly dangerous missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Cardiff.
As an Equal Opportunities employer, we consider hiring people based on their talents rather than their gender, sexuality or even species. Although, saying that, we had to draw the line last week when we had an application form from a mutant pork pie.
Are the Pigeons mostly ex-military?
A military background is incredibly helpful, but we do take on recruits who want to make a career out of it.
We offer a wide range of careers, and can offer training based on your strengths and what you want to be (for example, pigeons who have a sadistic side tend to work in Admin as civil servants – you’d be surprised how seriously devastating a weapon red tape can be on our enemies).
Do you have a rank within the organisation?
Of course, like any other military organisations, we have a rank system, each with its own responsibilities and privileges. As Commander In Chief, I am also responsible for the safe-keeping of the launch codes to AVEN’s mighty Intercontinental Ballistic Turnips and have access to an unlimited supply of Cornish pasties.
Where do you practice?
That information is classified, due to the wide range of activities we are engaged in while we defend the great and glorious land that is AVEN. However, due to the extensive practice and training we are always constantly engaged in, we can proudly say we’ve finally made it into the semi-finals of the United Kingdom National Tiddly-Wink Championships.
Do you all hang out together after displays?
Of course, we enjoy time out down the pub. We also encourage our Stunt Pigeons to get involved in any charity work in the community. For example, Kevin in Admin is participating in National ‘Harass A Traffic Warden’ week next month!
From what you have said, it seems a very dangerous occupation. I realise this may be difficult for you to talk about, but are there ever accidents?
There have been a few accidents, but usually they wipe their butts, change their underpants and then promise their Mums that it’ll never happen again…
Are all the pigeons asexual?
Many are indeed asexual. However, as we are an Equal Opportunity Employer, we hire peoples based on their abilities regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race or any other such consideration.
Except if you’re Barry from Hull. He’s just evil and stuff…
How did the squadron come to be connected with AVEN. Has AVEN got a secret military division or what?
The Super Stunt Pigeons have always been a part of AVEN. We provide all sorts of support, military, intelligence gathering, top secret Stunt Pigeon hardware development and the such. Most of our work in the beginning was undertaken under secrecy. A great deal of it still is done in secret – for example, the intelligence gathering, tactics and execution of our plans to counter-act Barry’s utterly wicked plans to release a huge malicious horde of genetically-modified cabbages in Hull were all done in secret.
Also, weapons-grade laxatives were originally developed in secret to aid our bombing raids, and has since been released to the public.
How long have the pigeons been going for?
So long that most of the battle damage on our equipment is no longer covered under Argos’ Extended Warranty
How old is your oldest veteran, and does he still fly?
We don’t like to go into the ages of our Brave and Courageous Pigeons, but yes, we still have a good few older Stunt Pigeons working for us. Their experience and knowledge are vital when we are undertaking missions and to the Stunt Pigeon Service in general.
Regrettably, some of our longest-serving Stunt Pigeons do retire, and have got some excellent stories to show for it. For example, there is a story of how one Stunt Pigeon retired after being the first Stunt Pigeon to be clamped at 40,000 feet.
However, he’s re-joined the service and now doing a highly dangerous deep-cover mission as a Ryan Air check-in assistant in Basingstoke.
Glyn, I see a few seagulls flying about today as well as pigeons. Is this what you mean by inclusiveness? Or are they on other missions?
The Stunt Seagull Division are all currently undertaking other missions at the moment. At RAF AVEN, we were undertaking public test runs of the holographic disguise systems of our new spy drones. All seemed to be going fine until someone pointed out that most seagulls don’t have “Made in China” painted on their butts.
Obviously we may have young pigeons reading this. What advice would you give to a young pigeon aspiring to join the Stunt pigeon corps?
Matches and curries don’t always mix. We learned this the hard way when Trevor was having his medical – he became the first Stunt Pigeon to make it to Mach 15, but at the expense of the burnt-down hospital where he was having his medical….
Are the chickens here your only ground crew?
No. Depending on the location of the base, we may also have badgers, emus and 15 highly-trained hedgehog weapons specialists at any time.
I can’t thank Glyn enough for the day out, and letting us go in to this much detail about something that is so secretive. Glyn has said that he may or may not answer questions left for him… But if you have any, then feel free to ask them in the feedback section of this article.
Glyn, thank you once more for having me, for the memorabilia and the VERY unique way you arranged to get me home… The very best wishes to you and all the other important folk who make the AVEN Profession Stunt Pigeon Team.