The RAF’s oldest fighter Sqn culminated the end of its centenary year celebrations by laying-up the old Sqn Standard in the All Saints and St Mary Church, Chitterne on 12 May 13, having received a new Standard in Apr 12.

Chitterne is only a few miles from Larkhill where 3(F) was formed on 13 May 1912 and will be a fitting resting place for our Standard. The old standard will now have ‘…safe lodging in the house of God until such time it shall pass to dust like those whose courage and devotion are enshrined in it’s history’.

The ceremony was attended by such esteemed guests as ACM Sir Richard Johns and ACM Sir Peter Squire. Also in attendance were many previous OC 3s, members of the Sqn association as well as the majority of the current Sqn. After the laying-up ceremony the assembled throng were delighted by a flypast from a BBMF Hurricane and 3(F) Sqn Typhoon. The pilots were the dashing Wg Cdr Paul Godfrey, formally XO of this parish, and the less dashing Flt Lt Andrew “Geeky” Hawkes on his last Typhoon flight. Our grateful thanks go to ACM Sir Richard Johns for his help in organising the whole affair and to Gp Capt Barry, the Dep Chaplain-in-Chief, who presided over the ceremony.

Continuing on the social front, the Sqn held a Ladies Guest Night at the Petwood Hotel in early April. A number of members from The Worshipful Company Of Pewterers were in attendance to hear the departure speeches for Flt Lt ‘Stuka’ Wilson, Ben ‘Two Dads’ Westoby-Brooks (both already on 29(R) Sqn), Will ‘Albanian’ Collins and Andy ‘Geeky’ Hawkes. Will leaves for a quieter life in North Wales as an instructor on the Hawk T2 while Geeky departs the RAF for big money, sunny weather and short working days in Saudi Arabia as a BAE employee; we look forward to receiving him on the first flight back home once he opens his mouth in front of them.

The event also saw the first presentation of the ‘Towns-end’ Award for excellence in air to air refuelling with the inaugural recipient Wg Cdr Townsend himself proving that he hasn’t lost the skills learnt on a previous ‘fast’ jet when it comes to breaking bits off his aircraft while striving to plug first time at all costs.  Not to be out done, Buble ‘I literally blew on it and it broke’ Palfreyman is already warming up his challenge for the award next year.

April saw the Sqn participate in Exercise After Eight, a multi national air-to-air exercise ‘run’ by 8 Sqn at RAF Waddington who even managed to turn up for 3 of the 10 missions they had ‘organised’. The sorties provided an excellent training opportunity for 3(F); Flt Lt Badger Fordham achieved combat ready status during the week while a number of other combat ready and pairs leader work up sorties were completed.

3(F) also deployed 4 jets on an overseas training flight to Poland. Flying from Malbork, Billy ‘Sea Animal’ Cooper, Buble Palfreyman, Rayban C-S and Badger Fordham conducted dissimilar air combat training sorties against the MiG-29 aircraft before enjoying the sights, sounds and late night entertainment of Gdansk with their hosts. The trip was extremely successful and will hopefully lead to future visits between the 2 units; souvenirs included credit card fraud and a mannequin’s arm.

On the not so operational side, Liam ‘Fatboy Thruster’ Pucill dusted off his No 2 jumper (with wings so everyone would still know he is a pilot) and attended Junior Officer Development training at Shrivenham where he learnt that he is ‘…not an Officer because he sits in an office but because he holds office…’ while drawing out mind maps showing how MOSS, JPA claim auditing, MT matrix tests and pretty much the entire North-side of Coningsby all enhance the operational effectiveness of the RAF.  Hopefully he will disregard all of the Admin lessons he has learnt such that he can become an effective Officer. Flt Lt Steve ‘Boomer – but not that one’ Kemp joins as the new 3(F) junior pilot from the OCU; despite having come from the RAF’s finest aggressor Sqn he is showing worrying signs of knowing about Air Defence and Tactics.

3(F) are looking forward to a steady but busy flying period as the summer approaches and renewing old acquaintances on the annual Typhoon Entente Cordiale staff ride to Normandy. The summer will also see a hefty change of our personnel but more on that in the next edition.

Tertius Primus Erit