XI SQN UPDATE
Where does time go? It feels like yesterday that XI Sqn returned from the Middle East on Ex MAGIC CARPET, yet here we are with the summer drawing to a close. It has been quite a hectic time for the RAF’s premier fighter squadron. We’ve deployed to both Baltic Air Policing (BAP) in Lithuania and Ex ANATOLIAN EAGLE in Turkey.
Firstly, we’d like to welcome our valiant brethren into our home that is the XI Sqn HAS site on the south of the Airfield. Due to 3(F) Sqn taking the lead on BAP, we have been enjoying their company on XI Sqn. Since then, we have been training with them day-to-day whilst sharing a laugh or two along the way!
In June, XI Sqn, supplemented by personnel from 3(F) Sqn, took part in Ex ANATOLIAN EAGLE in Turkey. This was a multi-national exercise including Turkish F-16s and F-4s, Spanish Air Force Typhoons and F-18 Hornets, Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s, and Qatar Air Force Mirage 2000s. Having all of these participants in one place provided great training opportunities for everyone involved and, thanks to sturdy work (as always) by the engineers, XI Sqn ensured that our Typhoons were always ready to maximize our contribution. The 3 week exercise saw our pilots hone their skills in the multi-role environment but, despite a hectic flying schedule, we all managed to find a bit of time for socialising as well.
At the beginning of July, XI Sqn hosted the XI Sqn Reunion Day. This annual event gives an opportunity for all previous and current members of XI Sqn to get together. The day saw attendance of Sqn members from many periods of XI Sqn’s history, from the Spitfire days in Burma during WWII to the Lightning era at RAF Binbrook. We all enjoyed a spectacular display (as always) from a BBMF Spitfire before retiring to the Petwood Hotel in Woodhall Spa to enjoy a dining-in night. We had a fantastic turn out for the event and it is believed to have been the best attended reunion for many years. One guest of particular note is Peter (Percy) Proctor who announced his plans for a charity parachute jump celebrating his 91st birthday! Percy will be jumping on 3rd Sept 2014 and is raising money for the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) – a very worthy cause by an incredible man. Details of his jump and donations can be found at www.justgiving.com/PeterProctorSkyDive/.
As always, we have had people leave and join the squadron. We say goodbye to two of our Flight Commanders, Sqn Ldr Andy King and Sqn Ldr Andy Chisholm. Sqn Ldr King has left the RAF to instruct our allies in Saudi Arabia whilst Sqn Ldr Chisholm has also been posted abroad to enjoy a posting in Washington DC. We wish them both the best of luck and look forward to catching up with them at the next XI Sqn reunion! Replacing them are Sqn Ldr Paul Gardiner and Sqn Ldr John Cockroft as Officers Commanding A flight and B flight respectively. We welcome them to the Sqn and look forward to what they can offer. We also welcome our newest ‘Junior Pilot’, Flt Lt Phil ‘Birdy’ Bird who joins us from the OCU. Birdy brings lots of experience from both instructing the Hawk at RAF Valley and his previous tours on the Tornado F3.
The closing of the summer months sees no let up for XI Sqn as we begin thinking about our upcoming deployment to the United Arab Emirates for the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course (ATLC) in November. It’s another fine exercise where XI Sqn can fly in a multinational environment, providing us with plenty of good training opportunities, whilst inter-operating with foreign Air Forces. Plus, we’ll get a nice bit of winter sun. Until next time!