“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”.

Ferris Bueller* might have been describing life at Coningsby. I’m delighted that everyone is now back on the Station from exercises and deployments various, and especially 7 Force Protection Wing from a demanding but highly successful tour defending the strategically vital Camp Bastion in Afghanistan. My thanks to everyone for their work in making so many events in the past two months successes too: the parades for 17 Squadron and the Freedom of Boston; Public Display Approval for BBMF; and the AOC’s Formal Inspection, for which the day’s Stand down awarded by AVM Atha has – I hope – provided an additional and welcome ‘breather’ for the May Bank Holiday. Somewhere in all of this, we finally have a Main Entrance worthy of this century and temperatures that might just be in double figures…centigrade.

Two other events speak to activity later this year at, from, or for Coningsby: the Major Planning Conference for Exercise Saudi-British Green Flag, and the first of the ‘Eagle’ series of Expeditionary Air Wing exercises, culminating in one of the biggest RAF exercises of recent years at RAF Leeming in October, in concert with Exercise Joint Warrior 13-2. Both are important in different ways, and I am delighted to be hosting our friends in the Royal Saudi Air Force in late August/early September. I don’t think 29 Squadron are crying in to their beer (brandy sours?) too much at the prospect of deploying to Akrotiri at the same time. The EAW exercises are the precursors to our taking over on-call EAW responsibilities (alongside our colleagues at Marham) for the RAF from November, and I’m heartened and impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm shown so far.

I must also highlight the deeply impressive contribution of BBMF to myriad events commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid. Life does indeed move pretty fast, but speaking to the wartime veterans of 617 Squadron, and Barnes Wallis’ daughter, provided the opportunity for reflection and thanks for the courage, tenacity and comradeship of an exceptional group of Airmen..and for a particularly British inventive genius. Time spent with them will live long in the memory, and offers inspiration for the current generation here at Coningsby.

*For those under the age of 25, ask your parents.

Group Captain Johnny Stringer