XI SQN UPDATE

It’s been a busy year so far for the Royal Air Force’s premier Typhoon squadron and it doesn’t look as though the pace is going to relent any time soon. In the 3 months since the last update the squadron has returned from Ex RED FLAG in North America, taken part in 3 large force exercises, had one squadron Association Day and lost one valuable pilot to 29(R) Sqn in return for four new ones!

On 14 June, XI Sqn hosted its annual Association Day. A superb day was put on by Flt Lt ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson and the 35 members who could attend were treated to a tour of the squadron, a talk around the aircraft by some of our newer squadron members, a spitfire display followed by an all-ranks  Dining-In Night in the Officers’ Mess. The pride, history and ethos of XI Sqn was evident in members both new and old and it is the continuation of Association Days like these that will ensure that XI Sqn continues as an institution and not simply a squadron.

XI Sqn deployed a number of personnel, both pilots and engineers, up to Leuchars for the first Typhoon Force gathering of 2013. A Large Force Exercise was flown on the way up, pitting a combined total of 22 Typhoons against each other, in support of Tornado GR4s combined with assets from 100 Sqn and Cobham Aviation. This sort of exercise provides excellent training for all members of the squadron, new and experienced. Over the weekend there was an excellent programme of entertainment laid on by members of 1(F) Sqn, including clay pigeon shooting, pub golf and a real round of golf on the Old Course at St Andrews. A big thanks to all the engineers who laboured hard to ensure that all aircraft were fit to take part in the exercise on the way back and that everyone got home safely.

The Squadron has also taken part in exercises such as Exercise ANDROID PREFERENCE, the Typhoon Qualified Weapon’s Instructor (QWI) Course’s end of Swing Role phase exercise, and the Combined QWI Multi Role Exercise in support of Typhoon and Tornado GR4 assets. A massive thank you must also go to the engineers who ensured that XI Sqn came in the top 10 static aircraft at the Royal International Air Tattoo this year by fitting training Air-to-Air rounds to the aircraft and ensuring that XI Sqn had by far the most attention from the static crowds and media.

Continuing XI Sqn’s work hard/play hard mentality, the past few months have been no different. On the morning of 25 May, Wg Cdr Wells, Wg Cdr Attridge, Sqn Ldr D’Aubyn, Flt Lt Thorne and Flt Lt Holt arrived at Richmond Park in London to participate in the gruelling non-stop 100km London to Brighton Challenge. There was an interesting warm-up routine from Mr Motivator and an even-more intriguing proposal for Thorney’s fiancée before they were on their way. The route was a combination of one third road and two thirds country trails and was a real test of physical and mental endurance. The group all successfully finished in around the 24 hour mark and were very happily greeted by the future OC XI Sqn; Wg Cdr Chris Layden and his wife Sarah with a bottle of champagne! Completing the walk was a massive achievement for all who were very pleased to raise £3775.77 for Make-A-Wish Foundation; a charity that grants magical wishes to children with life-threatening conditions. The squadron has also enjoyed a wine tasting evening, organised by Flt Lt Crickmore, although some members sampled a good few more bottles than others!

The squadron lost Flt Lt Jonny Dowen in May to 29(R) Sqn, we wish him all the best in his new role as a QPI and the 2015 Typhoon Display Pilot (you heard it here first!). Replacing him on the squadron are 4 new JPs. Flt Lt Mike ‘Brucey’ Forsyth joins us after a stint on 19(R) Sqn and before that the Tornado F3. Flt Lt Dan (….Dan….Dan….Dan….) Hayes comes to the Squadron after a ‘Creamie’ tour and a display season on the Tucano, something he is trying to emulate by representing XI Sqn at every air show they are tasked with this year! Ab Initio’s Flt Lt James Pearce and Flt Lt Owen Thompson join us after a long and arduous 5 year grind through the flying training system. All should be approaching their Combat Ready check rides at the time of print; best of luck!

The next few months holds much of the same for XI Sqn, who will be taking part in several exercises in preparation for an overseas exercise early in 2014. Hopefully with another wine tasting evening in between!

 

Ociores Acrioresque Aquilis