29(R) SQN Centenary Parade with Duke of Cambridge
With the Display Season drawing to a close, in the UK at least, 29(R) Sqn was reaching an important milestone – its 100th birthday. Formed in Gosport, at the height of World War One on November 7th 1915, this highly decorated Sqn has received battle honours for operations such as The Western Front, The Battle of Britain, and The Gulf War to name but a few.
As with all ceremonies of this importance, a parade was to be carried out to mark the occasion. With the likelihood of good weather in November somewhat slim it was decided that 22nd September would be better. That’s not to say we didn’t plan for British weather as the Sqn carried out parade square practice as well as a wet weather parade in the hangar.
With two flights of airman, a standard party and OC 29(R) Sqn, almost 80 personnel were earmarked for the parade. However, the day job did not stop, and the ability to practice whilst maintaining a challenging flying programme, which included the last 2 weekends of the Display Season, the culmination of the QWI course including EX COBRA WARRIOR and standard OCU flying, provided substantial challenges for the Engineering Team of 29(R) Sqn.
In the end with plenty of practice and achieving all flying required, the 22nd September came quickly. The parade square was set, with 5 Typhoons of varying paint schemes as a backdrop, and a beautiful sunny day for good measure, the Sqn were ready to show off the hard work that had been put in to distinguished guests and Stn personnel. We were lucky enough to have Air Chief Marshal Sir Ian McFadyen as the reviewing officer who had commanded 29(R) Sqn on two occasions: from 1980-82 and in 1983. The Sqn was also very lucky to have been joined by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William who observed the parade. He returns to 29(R) Sqn having briefly been a student with us in 2008.
Following a highly successful parade, which included a four aircraft formation flypast followed by an aerobatic display, the Sqn had an all ranks Dining In Night on Friday 25th September which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. On the Saturday, once again with beautiful weather the Sqn opened its doors to its personnel’s families and friends. With a wide variety of entertainment on the ground, and the Solo and Synchro Typhoon Display in the skies above the day was a great success. This was followed by a hangar bash for all Sqn personnel to relax and enjoy themselves after what was an extremely busy few weeks.
All in all it was a fitting tribute to the biggest and best Typhoon Sqn in the Royal Air Force and we all look forward to many more years to celebrate in the future.
Impiger et Acer.
The 22 Sep not only saw the occasion of 29(R) Sqn’s Centenary Parade but we were lucky enough to welcome the Duke of Cambridge to Coningsby for a station visit.
The Duke was seamlessly integrated into the parade, arriving just in time to take his place on the dais for the flypast and then taking the salute. A lucky few 29(R) Sqn personnel and their families were then able to meet him including 6 of the Squadron’s previous bosses.
From 29(R) Sqn the Duke then took a short notice tour of an 8 Sqn E-3D, much to the surprise of their Junior Engineering Officer, before taking the opportunity to meet with a selection of local veterans over lunch in the evocative setting of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hangar.
The highlight of the Duke’s day though was a chance to go flying in the BBMF Chipmunk flown by Sqn Ldr Dunc Mason with a Spitfire as a chase aircraft. The Chipmunk was referred to by one cheeky veteran as ‘a real aircraft; not one of those choppers that he usually flies’.
Onto the more serious side of RAF Coningsby the Duke took the time to thank the pilots and engineers on standby at QRA. Being a 24/7 duty the Duke went out of his way to go to the QRA facility to chat to those safeguarding the integrity of the United Kingdom’s airspace.
Overall it was a very successful visit and created a real buzz in the atmosphere at Coningsby. We hope to see him back soon.