CELEBRITY SPOTTING AT RAF CONINGSBY
Recently the Station Guard Force would have benefitted from carrying an autograph book in place of the standard note book in July, RAF Coningsby was visited by a host of celebrities in quick succession.
At the start of the month two members of the Bradford Bulls Super League Rugby team visited RAF Coningsby. The visit by Heath L’Estrange and Adrian Purtell was initiated by Senior Aircraftman Daniel Gibbons, who met both of the players at a recent charity ball.
“I cheekily asked the question, whether they would like to come and train with us on the station, and they obliged!” he explained. “For an amateur such as myself it is a once in a lifetime chance to train with a couple of Super League professionals. As a rugby player in the RAF I get lots of opportunities, I get to travel and to play in some great stadiums, this is one of those great experiences.”
The two professionals took the RAF Coningsby Rugby League team for a training session. Heath L’Estrange, Captain of the Bulls, was impressed with the RAF personnel, “They took to the training well and were eager to learn, they were physical and demonstrated some good skills, hopefully one day we can come back and do it all again”. During the day-long visit the two Australians also had an opportunity to get up close to some impressive RAF hardware, including a walk-around tour of both a Typhoon and Tornado aircraft.
Heath said “It was an amazing experience to see what these guys work with on a daily basis; The Typhoon and the Tornado are awesome pieces of kit.”
Shortly after the rugby stars’ visit, Suzi Perry, BBC F1 presenter, was flown from Coningsby to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire to launch the Press Day for the 2013 Royal International Air Tattoo. Suzi’s Typhoon adventure started the evening before at XI Squadron. After arrival on the station, the first task was to be kitted up in the start-of-the-art flight clothing used by Typhoon pilots. Following a quick brief from the squadron boss, Wing Commander Rich Wells, Suzi then had her flying skills tested in the Typhoon simulator. The simulator is used to give pilots a virtual platform to practice their trade without needing to fly hours on a live aircraft. The incredible fidelity of the screens makes the experience as real as possible, as evidenced by Suzi’s exhilaration at safely ‘landing’ the aircraft. The next morning, after successfully completing the necessary medical, Suzi took to the sky with OC XI. Although unconfirmed, a source suggested that when the task to fly Suzi was received by XI Sqn the following conversation took place:
XI Sqn programmer: “Boss, would you like to fly Suzi Perry?”
OC XI: “There’s no like about it. I will fly Suzi Perry.”