A Teddy Bear dressed in a miniature RAF flying suit, complete with two genuine 3(Fighter) Squadron Typhoon Patches (as worn by the pilots themselves) has clocked up over 20 hours in the air. Just like all RAF Aircrew, ‘Air Bear’ had his flights logged in an Aircrew Log Book and signed by the pilots.

The bear’s adventures took place between September 2010 and May 2011 and included a flight in a glider, a Typhoon and a Chipmunk. ‘Air Bear’ also managed to fly down south to the Falkland Islands, before being raffled off to raise funds for the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA).

Chief Technician Phil Furness of 3(F) Sqn, who is also the Royal Air Force Association Liaison Officer (RAFALO) for Boston, came up with the idea, he said:  “I thought it would be a great way to raise funds – luckily Officer Commanding 3(F) Squadron agreed.”  He added: “I asked Squadron Survival Equipper SAC Neil Ratcliffe to kit the bear out with an appropriately sized flying suit, scarf and RAF beret prior to his flights; I thought this would add to his appeal!”

The Royal Air Force Association is a RAF Charity that is dedicated to the RAF family.  The charity helps serving members of the RAF, veterans and their families in times of need. They can provide families with housing, counselling or even simple things like phone cards when people are being deployed Out of Area (overseas operations).

SAC Sharleen Merritt from the Mechanical Transport Training and Standards section is Secretary for the RAFALO’s monthly meeting and deputy RAFLO for the Boston branch.  She toured the Station promoting ‘Air Bear’ and raising funds for this worthy cause. The bear was also taken to a monthly RAFA meeting in Boston where he generated a lot of interest.

Flight Lieutenant David Bell (Senior RAFLO), Chf Tech Furness and SAC Merritt took ‘Air Bear’ on his final journey to the Annual RAFA National conference in Eastbourne, where they sold raffle tickets to delegates.

A Raffle was held on Thursday 19 May 2011, when Officer Commanding 3(F) Sqn, Wing Commander Dicky Patounas, pulled out the winning ticket belonging to Mrs Ann Balsom of the Boston RAFA branch.  A total of £387.42 had been raised.

Chf Tech Furness also added:  “We would welcome potential new RAFA members to assist us with supporting three local RAFA branches and also our ongoing fundraising efforts, if you are interested in joining us please contact me on telephone number:
01526 347334.”