November and December were busy months for the warriors of 29(R) Squadron. We continued implementation of the revised OPCON syllabus, and began training three new OPCON and two Pandora’s Buzzard courses.

We bid farewell to the pilots of OPCON(MR)6. The graduates were Flt Lt Ed Saunders (6 Sqn) and Flt Liam Pucill (3 Sqn). They were the first 29(R) pilots to complete the mulit-role course syllabus, which included live A/G drops. The OPCON7 course also completed training. The graduates were Flt Lt Adam Crickmore (11 Sqn) and Flt Lt Gaz Bewick (6 Sqn).

In addition to new wingmen, we also ramped up the QPIC to ensure there would be enough staff QPIs to meet the increase in student numbers. Course completers were Sqn Ldr Rich Tuer (OC B flight), Flt Lt Jamie Norris and Flt Lt Graham Cooke.

The squadron weapons shop, lead by Flt Lt Andy Hawkes and Flt Lt Andrew Tidmarsh, have begun training a new crop of QWI candidates. The course consists of four pilots and two fighter controllers. After completion of the in-depth ground school phase the course will begin flight ops in February.

The engineers began taking delivery of Block 8 aircraft in early November and have to date accepted a total of five aircraft. Several members of the engineering team were recently awarded AOC 1 Gp Commendations, in the New Years honours list, in recognition of their outstanding efforts. The recipients are FS Chris York, Chf Tech Stevie Dryburgh, Chf Tech Lee Lowrey, Chf Tech Al Norton, Chf Tech Sid Siddiqi, Sgt Liam Whelan and Cpl Dave Griffiths.

On December 9, the squadron hosted the unveiling

ceremony of a refurbished English Electric Lightning painted in 29(R) Squadron colours. FS Chris York, FS Carlos Proctor and Chf Tech  Al Norton of the 29(R) Squadron engineering team, dedicated much of their own spare time to the restoration effort. The aircraft is being loaned to 29 Sqn by its owner, Mr Neil Airey of Lakes Lightnings, and was put on its plinth outside the sqn on 22 January.

On December 21, a change of command ceremony was conducted at the RAF Coningsby Officers’ Mess. Wg Cdr G A Pemberton took over the reigns as OC 29 and the Sqn said farewell to Wg Cdr Al Seymour. We wish him the best for his upcoming OOA and for his future career.

The social calendar was also busy during the holiday season, with several morale enhancing squadron events; the Christmas Draw, Christmas party and the pilots lunch.

No doubt January will be another busy month for 29(R) as we continue to deliver the task.

Lt Heath Hoppes, USN