THE END OF 2013 SAW WG CDR PEMBERTON STEP DOWN AS OC 29 SQN, A TOUR THAT HAS SEEN THE OCU GRADUATE IN EXCESS OF 45 PILOTS, TRAINED RSAF PILOTS AND ENGINEERS AND SUPPORTED TO A GLOBAL DISPLAY SEASON.
He has moved on, taking an out of area posting to the Al Udeid, and then on to a staff job or promotion…
We wish Pembers all the best for the future and we are sure to see him back at Coningsby in the not too distant future, with an extra rank stripe and a parking space in front of SHQ (rumour started!!!).
A tough act to follow, however Wg Cdr James Heald (good friend of ‘Pembers’) took command of the Sqn on the last working day of 2013 and inspired the pilots to possibly one of the greatest achievements of 2013…as the proud winners of the unofficial ‘best song of the pilots lunch’ award 29 Sqn moves into 2014 riding on the crest of a wave.
Wg Cdr Heald (DFC) has joined the Sqn from staff college at Shrivenham, before which he worked in the Combined Air Operations Centre in Al Udeid. He is joined in the land of the eternal horizon with his wife Sophie, and children Thomas and William. We all wish him a successful command tour.
The B******d pot is back up for grabs as Flt Lt Nick Graham leaves not only the Sqn but the RAF after 16 years of service on 3 different frontline fighter aircraft. He leaves the hot and sunny Coningsby climate, for the ever cloudy and cold climbs of Dubai. He will begin teaching UAE pilots how to fly the BAe Hawk. Zoe Lindley has sadly departed the Sqn, she goes to an OOA posting before taking up the role at the AWOC in Bahrain. Again we wish her all the best with her further postings. She leaves just in time to allow the next QWI course to administered by Flt Lt Ben Thomas, who joins us from MAOT. He no doubt will plan to have the QWIC airlifted onto Spadeadam Range to enhance their survival instincts.
The calm before the storm is on us at 29 Sqn. Opcon 22 have graduated, Steve Moore and Wally join 3 Sqn, Wildy and Yoshi venture north (although have regularly reappeared on jet rescue missions). As this article goes to press, Opcon 23 will be graduating. Will Ricketts joins 11 Sqn and Tori and Millie hit the great north road to Scotland. Unfortunately Jamie Lenox will have a slightly delayed journey to front line, having unfortunately injured himself on a somewhat rapid egress from the aircraft.
Opcon 24 have settled into the 29 Sqn lifestyle. Talented musicians and aviators, Deano and Bobby are primed and ready to be educated in the fine art of air combat.
The Sqn welcomes the return from the frontline of Luke Wilkinson and Ryan Lawton (11 Sqn), Liam Pucill (3 Sqn) and Ben Dutton(6 Sqn), to begin the Pilot instructor course. The Qualified Weapons Instructor course is also on Sqn; the course members are soon to be locked in a room until they can all build an advance air to air missile with their eyes blindfolded and hands tied.
2014 is going to be busy maintaining effective training for all pilots destined for the UK frontline, whilst supporting QRA ops. Cyprus beckons (again), OTFs and a busy display season for Noel. 29 Sqn will rise to the challenge in 2014.