Updates for 3 (F) SQN
The early summer months have been an exciting time for 3(F) Sqn, with new faces, new challenges and a renewed enthusiasm for what’s ahead.
Memories of recent high end training detachments such as Red Flag remain and it is the lessons identified and squadron cohesion formed over those long months away that will ensure that when 3(F) Sqn next head away at the end of August they will do so as well prepared and professional as is possible.
Close Air Support (CAS) has become the name of the game with daily exercises being carried anywhere where the army can train. Although the great British weather has provided the normal obstacles, the training has been excellent. Working closely with ground forces from across the coalition spectrum, all of our pilots have seen a wide range of challenges and with the Sqn now facing in the right direction, all we’ve got to do…is keep on walking.
Training is not all about the flying; an overnight survival exercise reminded everyone of the very real dangers they could face if they were to find themselves away. As well as testing some pilot’s patience, it tested their ability to navigate by themselves at night through some challenging terrain. Some were more successful than others at finishing the march in good time. Hearing the radio calls come though from the finish served as inspiration for those who were still trudging through the wilderness!
As always, down time is required to keep morale high and the Sqn focussed. A Sqn Top Table in the Officers’ Mess was a great way to get everybody together to relax for an afternoon. Lunch and a few drinks got the event kicked off and the conversation flowing. Determined to be the centre of attention, even though he couldn’t make the party one Pilot (who shall remain nameless) had to use the runway arrestor cable on landing due to an emergency, which ensured that if people weren’t talking to him, they were at least talking about him. The night progressed on to the Warrant Officers and Sergeants mess where the SNCO’s put on a master class in hosting as the Officers were not able to buy a drink for themselves or anyone else for the remainder of the evening.
Whilst firmly part of the RAF Coningsby family, 3(F) Sqn is better able to understand the capabilities and challenges of the other Armed Services, with active affiliations with a number of external organisations. During Jul we were pleased to embark some personnel on our sister ship HMS DIAMOND the Royal Navy’s latest Type 45 Destroyer who was holding its Families Day. The added ability to socialise with the ship’s company makes this process much easier and being able to conduct a flypast of the ship during the event then made the interaction of our personnel that much more special. As mentioned, we regularly operate with British Army units and have active relationships with the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment and 5 Rifles Battalion and recently have also been affiliated to 30 Battery (Rogers’s Company) Royal Artillery.
We also have a proud relationship with the Worshipful Company of Pewterers. As the first Royal Air Force Squadron to have flown heavier than air vehicles, the Fighting Third has much in common with the Pewterers, who are an ancient and evolving foundation that can proudly trace their origins as a City Guild to medieval times. Indeed, the earliest documented reference is from 1348, with their Royal Charter granted by King Edward IV in 1473. The affiliation helps them to satisfy one of their principal activities of supporting the Armed Forces of the Crown, and some of the Sqn have been fortunate to enjoy the Fonseca ’77 that they keep in the cellars when they were hosted by them in London.
A special mention must go out to the 3(F) Sqn members who have so successfully represented at sport; members of the Sqn have represented both station and Service at Tennis, Fencing, Rugby (Union & League) and Shooting, with spectacular results.
To the future; it will be a time of upheaval as command of the Sqn will change, large chunks of the MSF team move on, a change of Sqn QWI and the loss of some experienced operators as others continue to grow into their roles. What is eminently obvious is that the Sqn is in a good place; going into the future it could be in a great place.