On 21 August 2016, 9 members of the RAF took part in the 24 hr Newcastle to London charity ride in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support, covering a distance of 315 miles. The team raised a superb £11.4k for Macmillan and in what were particularly challenging conditions. The motivation to undertake this mad challenge was to raise money for a charity that had provided much needed support to many of the team in the past. The Team adopted the moniker Team Barney and this was in memory of Sqn Ldr Penny Lowe, Neil’s wife, who sadly passed away on 11 June 16.
Rotor blades and propellers shared the skies over Royal Air Force Wittering again last week as the famous centennial Station hosted Royal Navy, Army and RAF helicopters.
Exercise Low Rider saw Chinook, Merlin and Lynx helicopters conduct a series of equipment tests over the Royal Air Force Air Weapons Range at RAF Donna Nook near East Lindsey in Lincolnshire.
Helicopters and aeroplanes co-existed at RAF Wittering when the Westland Whirlwinds of No. 230 Squadron shared the Station with Harriers and the beautiful Hawker Hunters in the late sixties and early seventies.
The exercise was run by the Air Warfare Centre at Royal Air Force Waddington and tested the protection systems of nine different aircraft types. As the runway at Waddington was undergoing works, the aircraft were deployed to RAF Wittering for the three week run.
Warrant Officer Raph Winstanley is the Station’s Flight Safety Officer. He said: “Exercises like this benefit everyone; Station and aircrew alike. Having different aircraft come in and safely integrating them with existing flying operations keeps your skills adaptable and flexible.”
Largest of the helicopters was the iconic “Mighty Wokka” known by its unmistakeable shape as the RAF Chinook Mk IV. This giant of the skies was joined by its smaller cousins, the Army’s Westland Lynx and the Royal Navy’s Westland Merlin.
For Group Captain Rich Pratley, Station Commander, the success of Exercise Low Rider was no surprise. He said: “Wittering is a great resource and a perfect choice for this exercise. We have experienced and qualified personnel in our Operations Wing and plenty of physical space on the airfield to accommodate visiting aircraft.”
The Station Commander continued: “This is about value. The Royal Air Force has invested heavily to get Wittering flying again and we have the capacity to offer much more to Defence.”
Editor: Ed Palmer
Photographers: SAC Abigail Drewett
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2016
Personnel from Media Reserves and 7644 Squadron, based at RAF Halton are out in Cyprus gathering footage and photography for an upcoming specialist project for the Royal Air Force.
The projects focus is to highlight the extraordinarily diverse cultural, religious and community backgrounds of some of the Armed Forces personnel of the UK.
Wing Commander Howard Leader, Commanding Officer of 7644 Squadron and Media Reserves headed up the Mobile News Team that went out to Cyprus to gather the material.
“Whilst the weather wasn’t kind to us, we were able to visit Army and Air Force colleagues at work around Cyprus who gave us some outstanding stories about their careers and the lived experience of serving in the Armed Forces.”
Although a short trip, it was a challenging task including specialists in the fields of filming, audio and journalism with varied and invaluable interviews.
SAC Reece Cowlishaw was the Journalist in the Mobile Team and conducted the interviews.
“It really is fantastic to work alongside such dedicated and talented media specialists. As a journalist you don’t always get the opportunity to appreciate the other elements of a shoot, but working alongside three videographers and an audio technician gave me a real insight and a greater understanding into the amount of set-up and care that’s taken in making sure that the material captured is of the highest quality. We’re all in it together, so we work as best as we can for one another to achieve an amazing output.”
The media collected on the trip will be essential to the Tri-Service project headed by the Recruitment team at RAFC Cranwell who created the opportunity to illustrate diversity within the Armed Forces. The project will run until April 2017 when the finished documentary material will be published on social media channels.
© MOD Crown Copyright 2016
JETS from the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team have returned to the United Kingdom after completing a global tour seen by hundreds of millions of people.
Red Arrows pilots, engineers and support staff landed at the display team’s Lincolnshire base, RAF Scampton, earlier today to be met by waiting families.
The flight was the final leg of a major two-month tour to the Asia-Pacific and Middle East regions – the largest and most wide-ranging undertaken by the Red Arrows in a decade.
The deployment contributed to the Government’s GREAT campaign, supporting UK interests across business, trade and education and promoting the best of British innovation, technology and creativity.
Covering 20,000 miles, the tour took the Red Arrows to 17 countries – including visiting China for the first time in the Squadron’s 52-season history. It is estimated the team’s activities were seen by a global audience, in person or through media channels, of up to one billion people.
The Red Arrows tour was part of a wider RAF deployment, known as Exercise Eastern Venture, which also saw Typhoon fast-jets visiting other parts of Asia.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “We can be very proud of all the RAF personnel who made this exercise a success. This historic Red Arrows tour has highlighted Britain’s ability to project ‘soft power’ across the world.
“The RAF have flown the flag across Asia and the Middle East and shown how Britain is stepping up internationally.
“Along with our RAF Typhoons flying side-by-side with international partners, this tour has underlined not only Britain’s defensive strength but also our export potential.”
Leaving the UK in late September, the Red Arrows tour featured more than 20 displays and flypasts, together with extensive ground activity and events.
As well as China, performances were also completed in Bangladesh, Bahrain, India, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Singapore and the UAE. Among the high profile moments were flypasts over the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands – both on the same day.
A fuel stop in Vietnam was also the first time British military aircraft had landed in the country.
Speaking after the jets arrived at RAF Scampton, Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Turner, Air Officer Commanding, 22 (Training) Group – the RAF group within which the Red Arrows are organised – said: “Today's return of the Red Arrows to RAF Scampton signals the end of a remarkable two-month Royal Air Force deployment to the Far East and Middle East.
“The Asia-Pacific and Middle East exercise saw the Red Arrows, Typhoon fast-jets, Voyager tankers, C130 Hercules and C17 transport aircraft project UK influence right across the globe and promote British prosperity with leading UK businesses in important capitals through the GREAT campaign and by demonstrating British excellence at its finest."
The Red Arrows are ambassadors for the UK, with the displays in China taking the number of countries in which the team has performed to 57, since its first season in 1965.
The team’s British-built Hawk jets were flown to and from China, involving 42 transit flights in total.
Group Captain Fin Monahan, Commandant of the Central Flying School, which the Red Arrows form part of, said: “The Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team returns to the UK having completed one of the most highly visible and complex deployments for a decade.
“In nine weeks the team, and by inference the UK and Her Majesty's Armed Forces, has been seen by approximately one billion people. It was a collective endeavour, drawing in expertise from a variety of roles across Defence.
“The tour to Asia and the Middle East validates the RAF's credentials as a capable expeditionary force with truly global reach.”
Wing Commander Martin Higgins, Officer Commanding of the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, said: “The 100-strong detachment of Red Arrows pilots, engineers and support staff, augmented by other key roles from within the RAF, has overcome incredible challenges on the Asia-Pacific and Middle East tour.
“The team visited China for the first time in its history, having travelled more than 11,000 miles through 14 countries before reaching Zhuhai, which is the home of Airshow China and largest of its type in the country, in October.”
In addition to performing nine aerobatic displays in six days at Zhuhai, members of the team visited mega cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou to carry out ground engagement.
The events focused on the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths and saw the Red Arrows deliver talks, meet with students and deliver presentations to business leaders – many from the aerospace and engineering sectors.
Wg Cdr Higgins said: “Through teamwork, selfless determination and professionalism, the team and supporting staff have promoted the very best of British across the world.
“Aviation is a truly global language and it is our hope that we have inspired the next generation of engineers, scientists and aviators.”
Winter training for 2017 – the Red Arrows’ 53rd season – will begin in six days.
Eastern Venture also included the deployment of RAF Typhoons. Their participation in a Five Powers’ Defence Arrangements (FPDA) exercise alongside Australian, Malaysian, Singaporean and New Zealand forces underlined the depth of the UK’s continuing commitment to the FPDA.
They subsequently made history with the first ever joint exercises in Japan and the Republic of Korea between the RAF and Japanese Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force as well as flying alongside US Air Force allies in both countries.
The whole deployment was supported by Voyager air-to-air re-fuelling, C-17 Globemaster, C-130J Hercules and A400M Atlas transport aircraft.