3(F) Sqn Update

As we enter the New Year, the recent period has seen a challenging yet rewarding period of flying operations at 3(F) Squadron.  The final months of 2010 focused on Exercises in the UAE, Oman and India, as detailed in the previous onetoone edition.

Back home at Coningsby, 3(F) Squadron looked to utilise the start of 2011 as an opportunity to advance our piloting techniques and skills using a ‘building block’ approach, commencing from a relatively benign level and then increasing in complexity as the weeks and months progress.

The squadron workup was flown in parallel with the Combat Ready workups of Wg Cdr Patounas, OC 3(F) Squadron, and Flt Lt Kiely, the 3(F) Squadron exchange officer.  With squadron engineers providing impressive support, aircraft serviceability was superb and both workups were able to be completed in a relatively short time frame.  By the end of February 2011, 3(F) Squadron was in the enviable position of having all of its pilots Combat Ready.

During this period, 3(F) Squadron deployed a number of pilots to RAF Leuchars to fly in training operations with the 6 Squadron ‘can openers’.  These small trips provided a nice break away, flying from a different airfield to different airspace and enjoying the social aspects of St Andrews.  It was also a good opportunity to catch up with a few of our ex 3(F) Squadron brethren who were posted to Leuchars in mid-2010.

On the personnel front, Sqn Ldr James McMeeking deployed to the Falkland Islands at the start of 2011 to takeover as OC 1435 Flight.  During this time, Flt Lt Andy King, the tireless (yet very small) 3(F) Squadron QWI filled in as OC A Flight with Sqn Ldr Moon moving to OC B Flight.  Most recently, we welcomed Sqn Ldr Rich Tuer who has been posted from XI Sqn as A Flight Commander to assist during this period.  Sqn Ldr Tuer has promptly been placed in a rigid training regime with the squadron junior officers to wean him away from the XI Sqn milk drinking habit.

Excitingly, 3(F) Squadron is currently working towards an affiliation with the French Air Force EC1/7 Provence.  EC1/7 is in St Dizier in eastern France and is equipped with the Rafale aircraft.  3(F) Squadron personnel hope to make the most of professional and social opportunities to come from this relationship.  The Squadron is looking forward to possible detachments and training prospects later in 2011.

Sadly, at the end of 2010, 3(F) Squadron bade farewell to a great asset and friend in Sqn Ldr Jim Lee.  Rosie left 3(F) Squadron following promotion to begin his Typhoon 1 Group staff job in High Wycombe.  Sqn Ldr Lee worked tirelessly during his tour to assist 3(F) Squadron operations and impart the knowledge he gained whilst working on exchange in the US, flying F-16s.  His energy, focus and ability to turn a pint into a three hour sipping affair will be missed.  The Squadron is also sad to say farewell to Flt Lt John Davy who is leaving the RAF after a distinguished piloting career, firstly on the Jaguar before joining the Typhoon Force.  JD has decided to move south and plans to spend his time teaching UAS students to fly.

Socially, 2010 ended with the customary Pilot’s Lunch, held at the Officer’s Mess during the last week of work.  This year, the theme was Olympic Sports.  The 3(F) team donned the wigs, dirty moustaches, running shorts and vests to brave the cool conditions as ‘118’ Men.  The outfits were retro, but built for supreme performance in liquid sports and were far more tasteful than the 29(R) Squadron ‘Ancient Naked Olympian’ outfits.  Spirited athletic efforts shone through in all the ‘sporting events’, most notable was the team effort in the Human Pyramid, also known as Rhythmic Gymnastics.  However, the most honourable mentions go to Flt Lt Wilson and Sqn Ldr Hall for their stellar performances in the Marathon and Pentathlon respectively.  After a strong day of competition and a busy year, the Squadron enjoyed slowing down for a period of stand-down over Christmas.  The New Year social calendar commenced with an All Ranks beer call, followed by a Squadron cocktail party at the Officer’s Mess where the newest members of the Squadron were christened as blood 3(F) members with the mysterious Baron.  The Baron is a drink named after a pilot who flew on 3(F) Sqn during WWII and displayed extreme heroism during a daring raid into Belgium.  It is the arrival drink for new members on the Squadron.  The ingredients are highly classified, held by the most junior member of the pilot cadre for the duration of his tour.

Recently, in the New Year, 3(F) Squadron held an All Ranks Bottom Table at the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa.  The night was a resounding success and provided a great opportunity for the pilots, engineers and support staff to relax and socialise with each other.

2011 marks the 99th Anniversary of 3(F) Squadron, making it the oldest squadron in the world to fly aircraft in heavier-than-air flight.  Whilst planning is already underway for a big celebration in 2012, 3(F) Squadron is planning to celebrate the monumental 99th year achievement with an Anniversary Dinner in May 2011.

Overall, it’s been an exciting New Year for 3(F) Squadron.  The Squadron members have thrived against the challenges being faced with a strong team focus.  As 3(F) Squadron edges towards our 100th Anniversary it is clear that over the many years some things have remained constant; the determination, adaptability and cohesion of 3(F) members.
The Third shall be First!