THE VIEW FROM THE WATERFRONT
There’s a pretty good chance that anyone stopping by Ops Wing in the last couple of months has relied on it to determine what the person they are visiting now looks like. Since the last edition of OnetoOne, the Wing has welcomed aboard a new SATCO, a new SLOps, and a new OC in short succession. The Wing is also getting ready to wave goodbye to some of its stalwarts such as WO Bowden, who is leaving the RAF after many years of loyal service and Sqn Ldr John Chappell who has decided that a promotion to Wg Cdr is sufficient reward for an impending commute from Lincolnshire to Andover. Both will be sorely missed.
For the first time in a long while, the Coningsby based Typhoon squadrons have all been at home at the same time which has made for a busy Summer of flying activity. The Wing has been working hard to ensure everyone’s needs are catered for, especially when it comes to finding airspace to train in and tanker aircraft to refuel from. Sgt Ridgway, the fortunate soul responsible for coordinating the above, was incredibly pleased to see Typhoon successfully tanking from the new Voyager aircraft for the first time recently as it is hoped that this will free up a lot more capacity in the system. However it is also sad to think that the VC10 will be conducting its final ever flight in September after many years of loyal service.
The Exercise Plans team has been kept busy designing and rehearsing the Station’s deployable operational support capability in a joint venture with RAF Marham, designated 121 Expeditionary Air Wing. A successful exercise in July leading to a deployment in support of Exercise JOINT WARRIOR in October should leave the EAW in a strong position to take over the RAF’s standby commitment from November for a 12 month period. The Wing were quick to turn threat into opportunity when, due to the unique goldfish bowl qualities of the HQ building, the internal temperature reached 38˚C during the height of Summer – All HQ staff are now considered acclimatized for potential EAW deployments to Africa or the Middle East.
One of the main tasks of the Wing has been to help in preparing to receive our Royal Saudi Air Force colleagues who will be taking part in a combined exercise with UK squadrons over the first 2 weeks of September. After the glorious summer at Coningsby no one is quite sure who will have more trouble adjusting to the inevitable autumnal weather – our Saudi friends or us.
The outgoing SATCO’s last act hurrah was to oversee the safe execution Project Propeller, an annual reunion for 150+ WWII aircrew, who are flown annually to meet up from all over the UK in light aircraft by volunteer pilots. This year, Project Propeller was hosted at BBMF. The veterans and their pilots met up at a convenient airfield, before flying to Coningsby for the day, then flying back home again at the close. It is generally hoped that the veteran air crew get an opportunity for some more “stick and rudder” time. Over 70 light aircraft were booked in to arrive at Coningsby over a short time window making for an unusually busy weekend however due to some unseasonably high winds not as many of the aircraft could land at RAF Coningsby as planned. Despite this, the day was a great success with lots of veterans being hosted by members of ATC, BBMF and volunteers.
The Wing was justifiably proud of FS Robertson and WO Hollis who were rewarded for their hard work and dedication with honours over the Summer. A Meritorious Service Medal was bestowed on Flt Sgt Robertson in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her sterling work for numerous good causes not least her work on behalf of Cancer Research which has already raised over £35,000 so far this year. WO Hollis received an AOC’s Commendation for the part he played in tackling a major incident when he was in command of Fire Section at Bastion Airfield. Congratulations are also due to SAC Pete Baird who has been awarded a slot of the Initial Officer Training intake commencing at Cranwell in October. He can’t be that smart though; he’s accepted a commission as an Air Traffic Controller!