March 2009 - Royal Air Force

March 2009 - Royal Air Force



Sqn Ldr Mark Dover Ext 6618

Sqn Ldr Phil ’Fozzie‘ Foster Ext 6328

Deputy Editor

Flt Lt Jim Mason Ext 7336

The Gateway Team

Fg Off Doug Smith Ext 5308

Sgt Stu Mason Ext 5885

Mr Colin Tregoing Ext 5491

Editorial Correspondence

The ‘Gateway’ Editor

Sqn Ldr Mark Dover

Sqn Ldr Phil ‘Fozzie’ Foster

RAF Brize Norton



OX18 3LX

Brize net email:


Sgt Hayley Crame Ext 6011

Cpl Phil Thorp

No 2267 (Brize Norton) ATC Sqn


The Editor needs to be in possession of contributions

by the 7th of the month preceding publication.

Please liaise with the Editor to make arrangements

for articles which will miss the deadline as

accommodation can be made up until about the

third week of the month. Text is appreciated on

floppy disk or sent via email on Brize Net to ‘gatewayeditor’.

It is preferred for original photographs to be

used but if sending digital photographs please send

as individual files (maximum quality JPEGS) and not

embedded in a text document. There is no need to

format an article before submission.

Although advertisements are included in good faith,

the Editor hereby declares that the publication of any

advertisement in the ‘Gateway’ in no way implies

endorsements or responsibility, by the ‘Gateway’. The MOD

or any Service Establishment - including RAF Brize Norton,

for the advertiser or its advertised product or service.

Furthermore, neither the Editor nor any Service authority

will become involved in any dispute arising out of any

advertisement appearing in the ‘Gateway’.

The ‘Gateway’ is not an official publication; unless specifically

stated otherwise, all views expressed in the ‘Gateway’ are

those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect

official MOD or Service policy.

© No part of the ‘Gateway’ may be reproduced in part or

full without the written permission of the Editor or publisher.

Photographs are Crown Copyright - all rights reserved -

unless credited to an individual photographer.

The ‘Gateway’ is the magazine of RAF Brize Norton and

is published monthly by kind permission of the Station

Commander - Gp Capt Ager.

On the cover

© No responsibility for the quality of goods or services

advertised in this magazine can be accepted by the

publishers or printers. Advertisements are included in

good faith.

Published by Forces and Corporate Publishing Ltd,

Hamblin House, Hamblin Court, 92-94 High Street,

Rushden, Northamptonshire NN10 OPQ.

Tel: 01933 419994 • Fax: 01933 419584


Editorial director: Ron Pearson

Sub editor: Kerry Wells

Sales manager: Sally Haynes/Amanda Ringer

4 Foreword

4 Editorial

5 Team Brize

10 Features

20 101 Sqn

28 216 Sqn

33 Execs Corner

33 PTS

34 Community Matters

38 Activity Zone

44 2267 (Brize Norton)

Sqn Air Training Corps

46 Brize Sport

51 The View from St Christopher’s

51 March Weather Statistic

53 Charity

54 What’s On?



I sense that, with some cautious optimism,

winter is now behind us and spring is fast

approaching. I say this in the knowledge

that we have had the worst snow for 18

years and that nothing more can be as

challenging as that. Despite a week of

heavy downfalls, the gallant efforts of

ASMT with their snow ploughs, de-icers

and specialist vehicles kept us open. I

also realise that many others around the

base were instrumental in helping deliver

business as usual and I am grateful to all of

you who did so. Let’s hope that we don’t

see the same again for a few more years.

As I reflect back over the last few months

and look ahead to March, I realise that we

have come a long way with Programme

‘Future Brize’. I will have spoken to most

of you before Christmas about where

I thought the Programme was likely to

go, and much has already changed. This

issue of Gateway marks a change in how

we cover the Programme in two ways. First, I aim to give you

regular updates, and the first of these you will see this month

is on the SLAM build. Second, I have agreed with OC Lyneham

that this content will be reproduced in his magazine, and that

Editorial BY

Greetings to you all and welcome to the

March edition of the Gateway magazine. As

‘Your’ magazine, it is important to get a mix

of activities and events that surround daily

life here at Brize Norton and March’s edition

does not disappoint.

We have a number of Awards of Excellence

being published this month, some from

early 2008. However, as it is our people

that make this Station the success it is, we

feel it important to share their stories to

inspire others to keep up the good work.

Furthermore, as we discuss recognition we

have an advert in this month’s magazine for

Forces Girls.’ They are a web based forum

for Service wifes/partners to seek advice and

support while loved ones are away Out of

Area. It is a tri-service web site so have a

look next time you are on the internet and

it just goes to show there are many vital

mechanisms available to support you and your

families. Please remember our Community Support Service on

station who are also there to help.

I would like to highlight in this month a new article focusing

on ‘FUTURE BRIZE’ which continues on from ‘Project Catara’ in

developing Brize Norton for the challenges ahead. This month’s

entry is about the new SLAM blocks for airmen and in the future

4 Gateway -

we will exchange more copies to help

us collectively learn more about each

other’s Stations. I am also encouraging

the local community to have more of a

voice in the magazine, to help them better

integrate and communicate with us and

those personnel from Lyneham who are

planning to move across.

As the financial year closes, I am also

pleased to report a few more quick wins

for the Station. I have asked for work to

be done to change the way that we use

the main gate; we have secured funding

to complete the refurbishment of the

Officers’ Mess Annex accommodation;

and we will be replacing all the gym CV

equipment. There are many smaller wins

out there as well, and they are all good

news for us and the future of the Station.

As always, Brize Norton remains under

the spotlight, both in terms of its current

operational role and its long-term future. I

am pleased to see that significant investment is being made in us

to deliver a base that is fit for purpose - our test is to continue to

adapt the ways in which we work to meet both the challenges

of today and of tomorrow.


we intend to include updates on new

facilities and plans that complement the

massive £180 million being spend on RAF

Brize Norton. The number of projects and

infrastructure changes being considered at

Senior Station Executive level is staggering

and is a true indication of the massive

investment being given to us all. More to

follow in future editions!

It is important to have a strong mix of

articles so please send us your department’s

stories; they may be fundraising events

or activities that include development

opportunities for your people. The Gateway

is a great way of sharing good experiences

and we have Exped’s to the Himalayas and

Charity fundraising events this month as

well as advertisements for Station Families’

Day in June, so please keep your articles


Finally, thank you to those who have sent

articles in, we will endeavour to add them into the magazine as

the year develops. If you have sent an article and not seen it,

please get in touch and remember all articles must be submitted

in MS Word format. All pictures should be sent separately as their

own JPEG files. To enable easy use of your photos please make

sure the JPEG file sizes are no bigger than 4 MB.


Airman recognised for

his outstanding efforts

Cpl Mike Caffrey, one of 5 JNCOs responsible for running

the operations desk within Air Operations Flight at Brize

Norton, has been chosen to receive the Worshipful Company

of Coachmakers and Coach Harness Makers Plate for 2008.

This Award, which is given to the airman or airwoman judged

to have made the most significant contribution to the Station,

was presented to Cpl Caffrey by the Stn Cdr with many of

Mike’s friends and colleagues in attendance.

Amongst the many examples given in his citation, Mike was

praised for his work in assessing the performance of our AT

Pic (by Steve Lympany). Stn Cdr and Cpl Caffrey.

fleet against accepted and published “normal standards of

operating. The resulting comparison reports which are now

used as the benchmark for judging our performance have also

recently been reviewed at Air Office level, and have made a

direct and significant contribution to the understanding of our

dispatch reliability.

Away from the Ops desk, Cpl Caffrey is also Deputy ACLO

for all ATC activities on the Unit, often undertaking the work

of the OIC with outstanding results. He is also Chairman and

Secretary for the Brize Norton Theatre Club, devoting many

hours of his own time to

producing outstanding sets

for their productions (and

currently playing the part of

Pong in this year’s Aladdin!)

He has also organised a 10k

Charity run to raise funds for

Cancer Research UK.

Overall, in addition to his

main role, and through a

combination of initiative, hard

work and ability, Cpl Caffrey

has made not only significant

improvements to the way in

which we conduct our core

business, but has helped to

raise the profile of the Stn in

the local community, whilst

displaying the highest levels

of professionalism, dedication

and commitment.

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Chew Valley School visit

On January 10th 2009, a party of 10 students and 2

teachers from Chew Valley School, Bristol, visited RAF

Brize Norton to experience life in the Royal Air Force; this

is in conjunction with a national diploma that the students

are studying for in sixth form schooling.

The students arrived and received an introductory brief in

216 Sqn by Cpl Jim Hawkins, before visiting a Tristar aircraft,

where they were shown a KC1 variant in seat fit with aeromed

stretchers. En route to the JRM for lunch they were shown

examples of single living accommodation, and the gym and

pool facilities available to all personnel.

Following lunch, the facilities in the JRM were explained

to them and how the system worked for living in personnel,

with regards to messing, dental and medical


Upon arrival at 101 Sqn, Sac Paula

Baker gave a presentation on the

squadron, followed by a visit

to a VC10 aircraft, showing

and explaining in great detail

the AAR equipment and


Arriving back at 216 Sqn,

coffee was taken with a

questions and answer session,

followed by a quick debrief before

the students departed

back to Bristol at


Many thanks to

all who took part,

e s p e c i a l l y S a c

Paula Baker 101

Sqn, and Cpl Flo

Tansey 216 Sqn who

both took the time

to answer the many

questions poised of them.

Cpl Jim Hawkins

216 Sqn

Project Officer for the


Photos show Cpl

Tansey (blues) and

Sac Baker (flying

suit) at steps of a

Tristar with students

and teachers of Chew

Valley School, Bristol.

Sac Baker showing

the students around the

outside and inside of a VC10.


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The Award for Excellence

The recipient for the Award for Excellence for

November 2008 is Sgt Russ Redfearn.

Sgt Redfearn is a dynamic and enthusiastic character

and the driving force on the 101 Sqn, B-Shift, Mechanical

trade desk over the last year. In the face of experience

and supervisory shortfalls, he was made acting Chf Tech

for 5 months during which time he stepped up to the

mark admirably and provided his team with outstanding

direction and leadership. His efforts have had a direct

impact on the generation of VC10 aircraft to meet the

flying task.

However, it is Sgt Redfearn’s community spirit, away

from his primary duties, that have set him most above

the crowd. He involves himself in a huge range of local

projects which over the last year have included the

collection of soft toys for his local hospital children’s ward

and has provided help and support for this local school.

Moreover, he conceived, planned and orchestrated a

major charity golfing event supporting both ‘Helen &

Douglas House’ and the ‘Help for Heroes’ charities. For

this event he successfully coordinated a sponsored effort that

saw participants complete 72 holes in 15 hours; the total amount

raised was an astounding £7664.

In summary, Sgt Redfearn is a first class SNCO whose fund

raising efforts and performance at work, have been outstanding

The latest recipient for the Award for Excellence for

December 2008 is Sgt Harrison.

Sgt Harrison is an exceptionally dedicated SNCO who

never fails to place the needs of the Service before his

personal interests, most notably on deployment to Minhad

in support of the 2nd ALOC.

Sgt Harrison runs the Cargo Imports Section at RAF

Brize Norton. His consistent ingenuity and clever resource

management has enabled the section to take on additional

tasks such as Consignment Tracking, whilst maintaining

the highest levels of throughput.

Sgt Harrison volunteered to deploy to Minhad as the

only Senior Movements tradesman, Sgt Harrison was

acutely aware of the importance of this task and knew that

only a proactive approach on the ground would enable

this ALOC to be a success. Highly experienced in the

deployed operational space, Sgt Harrison set up and ran

a very professional detachment for 8 weeks, organising

all the ground handling requirements and liaising with

agencies back in the UK.

An exceptional C17A Supervisor, his planning of each aircraft

turn-round and leadership of his team of Dutch and RAF

Movements personnel was highly praised by 99 Sqn crews, HQ

Air, DSCOM and the Foreign Military Liaison Officers in Minhad.

His involvement in ensuring the trial was a success cannot be

underestimated, his recommendations for manning and resources

to make the airhead a more permanent and viable option have

been fully accepted.

November 2008

December 2008

Photograph from John Readshaw: Left to Right: Sqn Ldr D

Lawson, Mr John Dobson - Availability Manager BAES Systems,

Sgt R Redfearn, Gp Capt Jon Ager, Flt Lt A Pittock.

- he is a credit to the Service.

Award for Excellence is supported by BAE Systems.

Photograph from Steve Lympany. Front Row Left to Right: Flt Lt

A Pittock, Gp Capt Jon Ager, Sgt Harrison, Sqn Ldr R Harris. Back

Row Left to Right: Flt Lt Ben Smy, Mr John Dobson - Availability

Manager BAES Systems, Flt Lt Geerah.

He is without doubt an individual of the highest calibre who

has put the Service before himself time and time again. His

commitment to RAF Brize Norton, 99 Sqn and the wider Defence

effort has been exemplary.

Award for Excellence is supported by BAE Systems.


8 Gateway -

The Award for Excellence

The recipient for the Award for Excellence for April 2008

was A/Cpl Jemma Kerr.

A/Cpl Jemma Kerr joined 216 Sqn operations in November 07

and, considering her levels of military experience, has made a

tremendous difference to the operational output of the squadron.

In short time, A/Cpl Kerr has fully got to grips with her role and

has trained 2 Operations Officers in their current duties. It is of

particular note, her post is normally established for a full corporal;

however, she has successfully shouldered these responsibilities

as a relatively junior SAC.

While training 2 new operations officers and maintaining the

operational effectiveness of 216 Sqn, A/Kerr has wholeheartedly

imparted a great deal of knowledge, readily answering questions

or striving to find the answer, allowing them to quickly become

operationally effective. Furthermore, her successor had been in

post for 5 years, however, A/Cpl Kerr was quick to step into the

breach to minimise the experience vacuum. She has maintained

continuity in the ops room and as such has been employed on

duties which are considered above her current pay grade. A/

Cpl Kerr has a fantastic work ethic and quick sense of humour.

Of particular note, Cpl Kerr was at the forefront of handling

216 Sqn’s move from STARs to the BOCs operational planning

tool. She effectively dealt with all associated teething problems

and been quick to find solutions. Indeed it is largely due to A/

Cpl Kerr’s efforts and pragmatic attitude that 216 Sqn are able

to use BOCs as a primary planning tool.

This has been an exceptionally busy time for the squadron

April 2008

Photograph from Steve Lympany.

Front Row Left to Right: Flt Lt A Pittock, Gp Capt Jon Ager, Cpl

Jemma Kerr, Mr Rod Marshall - BAE Systems .

Back Row Left to Right: Sqn Ldr Jamie Osborne and Flt Lt Ben


where she has set an outstanding example to her peers and

superiors alike. Her overall contribution to training and operations

would easily justify two separate posts.

A/Kerr far exceeds the expected skill levels of her rank and

experience - a huge asset to 216 Squadron.

Award for Excellence is supported by BAE Systems.

Gateway -



Groundbreaking News - SLAM is coming!

After years of careful design and planning, the Single

Living Accommodation Modernisation (SLAM) programme

at RAF Brize Norton is about to start in earnest. Over the

next three years, the accommodation at the base will be

transformed with a multi-million pound investment which

will make 75 per cent of the accommodation of a Grade

1 condition standard. Due to the congested nature of

the unit, the design of the SLAM accommodation and its

location has required a large amount of preparation and

planning and we are now at the stage where construction

can commence.

The first phase of the build will be the construction of a 66

bed space build to the rear of the Officers’ Mess, on the site

currently occupied by the Officers’ Mess garages and the former

Weights Bay. Demolition of the garages and weights bay is due

to start in Apr 09, with the main site compound setting up on

the adjacent car-park shortly after. Due to the modular design of

the construction, the build process is very quick and the building

should be ready for occupation within 12 months.

The Junior Ranks build is an altogether more complex build

and will be tackled in three overlapping phases. We are currently

awaiting planning permission; however, if all goes to plan, Phase

1 will start in late Summer 09. The phased approach will mean

the relocation of some occupants and the accommodation cell are

working hard to ensure that as smooth a process as possible takes

place. The first action will to be to establish a large contractor’s

compound behind the SIF garages to the South of the JRM.

This will ensure a safe area for operation by the contractor and

will be the centre of the operations during the 2 1/2 year build

process. Additionally, a clockwise one-way system will be put in

place around the Spotlight Club-500 series-900 series-400 series

Site 4.


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road, in order to de-conflict site and resident traffic. This will

undoubtedly have a knock-on effect on parking and traffic flow;

however, maintenance of safety is paramount and this is a key

enabler for the programme.

Phase 1 will involved the demolition of Bldgs 540 and 541,

followed by the building of a series of blocks containing 306

rooms over 3 floors. Phase 2 will commence during the latter

stages of the Phase 1 build and will comprise of 2 blocks located

either side of the swimming pool and Spotlight club, bringing

another 174 rooms online. The final phase will require the

demolition of the 900-series blocks and the adjacent Nissen Huts

to make way for a 4-storey build containing 258 bedspaces. As

a result, by the end of 2011, some 738 en-suite rooms will have

been built bringing new levels of comfort to living-in personnel.

The quality of the accommodation will be excellent, with

en-suite facilities, Wi Fi connectivity, TV aerials and communal

areas all designed in. The open paces between the blocks will be

landscaped and the provision of bike racks, barbeques and

seating areas will all be incorporated. The attached diagrams

give an indication of the plan and what the blocks will look

like once completed.

The days of cold showers, damp, mould and flaking plaster

will be banished for good with the advent of these new

additions and for those personnel who have already occupied

SLAM accommodation, they will testify to the comfort that

these blocks will bring. I will aim to add further updates

once construction gets underway in the coming months.

Sqn Ldr Mike Boyle


Site 3.

Site 1.

Gateway -


Where next

The Hercules Detachment of 24/30

Squadron, part of 904 Expeditionary Air

Wing (EAW) based in Kandahar, had a

very special guest the other day when

they were tasked to transport the Afghan

President, Hamid Karzai from the capital

in Kabul to the south of the country to

allow him to attend an engagement

there. Such VVIP moves happen from

time to time but for the Hercules crews,

normally based at RAF Lyneham in

Mr President? Wiltshire, it was just another sortie in

the Afghan theatre of operations albeit

that the passenger in the back had more

minders than your average customer.

Pictured with the President is Gp Capt

Tony Toner who is the Chief of Staff

(Operations) with 904 EAW. Gp Capt

Toner said:

‘With direct support to the troops on

the ground, airdrops, leaflet drops and

the ferrying of Afghan Security Forces,

for 904 EAW the Hercules aircraft and

crews are vital elements of the RAF’s

work in Afghanistan and to be able to

support the President’s visit was a real

honour. President Karzai was very

open in his discussions and to

hear his thoughts on the

importance of international

contribution towards his

country’s development

was a real education’.




Gateway -

Cpl Mike Caffrey

Some 40 years ago, RAF Brize Norton welcomed a new club

to what was already an extensive list so that servicemen

and women could further explore their own interests and

hobbies. The curtain was lifted on the station Theatre Club

and their inaugural production of ‘The Ghost Train’. 2009

will be a year of celebration and will hopefully see a club

reunion, with members past and present being invited to

a special weekend in the summer.

Today the club continues to operate in what most people

refer to as the old ‘Arena Club’ and has just finished a run

with the 2009 pantomime ‘Aladdin’, performed to almost

1500 people over seven performances. Special guests

amongst the audience this year were families of service

personnel currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, who

enjoyed a three course lunch in the Sergeants’ Mess before

watching the show.

Set in the ancient city of Peking, the story sees our hero

Aladdin battle against the evil Abanazer to reclaim the

Genie of the magic lamp and take the hand of the beautiful

Princess Jasmine. Aided (or hindered) along the way,

Aladdin introduces us to his Chinese family, mother Dame

Widow Twankey and brother Wishee Washee. He also

spends his time evading the long arms of the law, PCs Ping

and Pong, the dopiest policemen the Dynasty has ever seen!

Traditionally, the Theatre Club aims to perform three

times per year, starting with a pantomime in January,

moving to a series of one act plays in May, which are also

performed at the RAF Theatrical Associations (RAFTA)

competition, before finishing with a full length play or

musical in September/October.

The Club also aims to aid the development of junior

airmen and women by teaching the skills beneficial

to promotion, such as leadership, management and

confidence. This is done through the process of putting

together a production from initial script reading to final

performance parties.

In November 2008, we were presented with the RAFTA

Triplar Trophy, awarded annually to the RAF club that

produces the best set design for pantomime, and was a real

credit to the ingenuity of the stage crew who interpreted

the written word and turned that into a fairy tale kingdom

for ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

But the club doesn’t just have its acting side; talents

are needed from all walks of life. This anniversary year is

threatened by a reduction in amongst others woodworkers,

painters, and electricians whose skills have been crucial to

our previous successes. No special talents are needed - just

enthusiasm and a sense of fun and adventure - we provide

the rest! The Club is open to service personnel, MOD

employees and dependants, young or old. Exceptionally,

we by Committee acceptance, allow civilian members who

previously have had no contact with the RAF.

If anyone is interested in joining the club or wishes to have

a look around and meet other members, we meet Tuesday

evenings from 8pm in the old Arena Club. Alternatively,

they can contact club stalwart, Cpl Mike Caffrey on Ext 7994

or by e-mailing BZN-Ops 2-JNCO



By Sgt A Oldham SNCO TSF

26-28 Jan 09 saw the second run of Just

Resources’ Junior Officers Leadership Programme

held at Training Development Flight (TDF). The 3

day programme concluded in an eventful ‘Dragon’s

Den’ scenario where the JOs demonstrated their

sales skills to OC Ops (Wg Cdr Foster-Bazin), OC

FSW (Wg Cdr Sansome), OC 101 Sqn (Wg Cdr

Lushington), OC 216 Sqn (Wg Cdr Chadwick) and

Sqn Ldr Robertson (99 Sqn).


Gateway -

Amongst the ideas for change were a compulsory

lifestyle changing package for those continually

failing their fitness test entitled ‘FAT camp’, and a

package for improving communication and support

to families/partners etc when service personnel are

deployed overseas. All ideas were well presented

and subjected to critical questioning by the Dragon’s,

who on occasions were actually seen to ‘breathe fire’.

Despite evoking real emotions the ‘FAT camp’ proposal

was declared the most convincing by the Dragon’s,

although not quite enough to be adopted as a Brize

Norton initiative just yet.

The Leadership Programme is still in its infancy and

continually evolving to ensure Just Resources and

TDF provide a valuable course for all those attending.

Focuses remain on change management, influencing

and negotiating, balancing the needs of your personnel

with those of the service, understanding your

leadership/management areas of strength and how to

plan your own development. Whilst the programme

remains available to any JO regardless of seniority, it

has been highlighted during the validation process to

be of most benefit to more senior Flt Lts as a timely

progression to leadership skills developed so far and

for many aircrew a timely refresher of the Flt Cdr skills

required upon promotion to Sqn Ldr. The leadership

programme is undergoing a change prior to the next

run in Apr. A review of those changes will help shape

the future JO Leadership Programme to be offered. For

an update of this review, or to offer any suggestions,

please contact OC TDF (Flt Lt Helen Verney) on 7106.

The next JO Leadership course is due to run 20-22

April in TDF and places can be booked by contacting

Sheila Hatton (TDF Clk) on 7057.

Gateway -


1. The LFLA recognise and promote Lifelong Learning throughout

the Service community and award prizes for qualifications gained

in the workplace, as part of Personal Development or even just

for fun.

2. Nominations are requested from any member of the RAF,

their dependants and civilians employed by the MOD, who have

completed a qualification or embarked on and achieved part of

a lifelong learning plan.

3. The awards will initially be at Stn level and the winners will

be put forward for the National Awards. The categories are as


a. Service Related Personal Learning Award. Open to all RAF

personnel, this award is for individuals who have undertaken

any form of learning which has benefited the Service, but is NOT

part of their compulsory professional development. This includes

the wider aspects of Service life such as OOA, commissioning,

secondary duties, charities, sports or anything else that has

improved the quality of life for other Service personnel.

b. Return to Learning Award. Open to all RAF, dependants and

civilians working for the RAF, this award is in recognition of

individuals who have returned to learning

after a break of at least 5 yrs and have

achieved a qualification that has enhanced

their career or quality of life.

Gateway -

c. Significant Individual Learning Award.

Open to all RAF, dependants and civilians

working for the RAF, this award recognises

outstanding achievement that has proved

inspirational to others. The qualification

gained must be at least at Level 3

(equivalent to

A Levels/National Certificate/Diploma)

and should be outside of normal duties.

The qualification must be gained over a

minimum period of 18 months and should

form part of a long-term learning plan.

d. Open University Award (National Level

Only). Open to all learners who have

successfully completed an Open University

Course of Study or Qualification, this

award recognises special achievement in

Open University Study. Applicants do not

necessarily have to have gained a complete

degree and may submit for consideration,

any level or amount of Open University


4. The awards are coordinated at Stn

level by the Personnel Learning Advisor

(PLA), located in the Learning Centre.

Applications and additional information

are available from the PLA on Ext 6761.

Applications must be received by the PLA

no later than 31 March 09. The Stn level

judging will take place in April and the

Stn winners will receive their prizes in May

09. National awards will be presented in

September 09.

Wendy Usherwood

Personal Learning Advisor

Ext 6761


101 Squadron

As the sun finally rose over Mount Kanchenjunga in the East, her rays finally started to warm our

chilled bones and we could see our goal in the distance, Mera Peak sitting proud at 6476m...


Gateway -

Over one year ago Sgt Richie

Simpson from RAF Coninsgby

and myself, Sgt Craig Harvey

spoke to each other about organizing a

return trip to the Himalaya.

Our first discussion was where to go

along the vast range, should we go to

Everest Base Camp or maybe Annapurna.

No too easy we said. So we decided on

the highest trekking peak in Nepal, Mera

Peak. A behemoth of a mountain that

stands 6476m (or for you imperialists

21247ft) above sea level. Still what would

life be like without challenges!

We had already decided that most of

the team would be novice mountaineers

(as if it would not be difficult enough

already). After a training weekend in the

Snowdonia National Park the team was

picked and consisted of 5 people from

101 Sqn and were Sqn Ldr Andy Scott,

MEng Derek Kyle, FS Dave Rowe, SAC(T)

Tom Saunders and myself. The RAF

All the team after our return to Lukla

Coninsgby Team consisted of Flt Lt Adrian

Hall, Cpl Mick Helliwell, Cpl Tom Reagan,

JT Wes Turner, SAC(T) Martin Dunning

and led by Sgt Richie Simpson. We also

had a JSMEL(W) from RAF Llanwrst Sgt

Chris Morrison.

Both teams traveled from their respective

units via MT to Heathrow airport for

the 1st part of the journey that would

see us fly into Kathmandu, via Doha,

Qatar. So sporting our emblazoned polo

shirts, designed by In Stitches, Carterton,

we boarded our plane full of eager

anticipation about what lay ahead of us.

Although I had been to the Himalaya

twice before I had never gone through

Kathmandu, so this was something I was

looking forward to. Finally seeing this city

that I had read so much about was to be

a fantastic start to ‘our trip of a lifetime’.

However, my romantic notions of

Kathmandu were soon dispelled as we ran

head first in to the Nepalese bureaucracy,

Gateway -

something we get to know quite well by

the end of the trip, and after filling out

my 3rd different entry visa and paying

$40 we finally got out of the airport and

were met by our trekking agent Tom


After leaving the airport our visual

and auditory senses were immediately

overloaded as they were bombarded

from all directions. Kathmandu was in

full flow in the early evening light, people

were bustling in and out of ramshackle

buildings, the roads were jammed full of

cars and literally hundreds of motorbikes,

all weaving precariously through the

chaotic traffic system. Every car and

bike, seemingly, sounding their horn at

the same time, for no purpose at all that

we could tell. It is said that Nepali drivers

use their horns more than their brakes

and we were quickly started to believe

this was true.

Fifteen minutes later we were at our


hotel, called the Hotel Shanker, what a

difference. It was like all the noise and

hustle and bustle was forbidden to enter

the hotel grounds and peace and calm

was restored once again. After everybody

tried to shower away the 22 hours of

traveling we had done, we went to a

local restaurant for our 1st taste of Nepali

cuisine. Despite the excitement of being in

Kathmandu fatigue soon forced our team

to retire to their beds, to catch up on some

of the missed sleep.

The next morning Richie and I took care

of some of the trek administration that

was still to be done. We met our guides

and discussed kit; we made our way to

the British Embassy to pick up our satellite

phones (1950’s technology the size of the

Enigma machines) and paid more taxes

and deposits for various items. Whilst we

were engaged in this the rest of our group

were treated to a half day sightseeing

around Kathmandu. Once the whole team

was back together we went back to our

hotel to sort out our expedition kit ready

for our internal flight the nest day to Lukla;

a place set in history as the gateway to

Everest and all major expeditions to the

Khumbu region.

We arrived at the internal departure

building and my brain was not prepared for

what I saw. UK Customs and Immigration

would have had a heart attack. The

departure lounge resembled a warehouse,

it was full of trekkers, porters, sacks of

grain, rice, pots of cooking oil, beer, TV’s

and our kit all seemingly randomly placed

around the room hoping to fly to various

places. I seriously thought I would never

see my kit bag again. Yet again Nepalese

bureaucracy raised it’s head as we were

forced to pay another random tax of

170Rs (about 1.70 GBP) After 3 hours of

sitting amongst the eggs and rice we were

called forward to our flight on a Twin Otter

aircraft, which is a small twin propeller 18

seat plane that looked like Mallory and

Irving first used it! No sooner had we sat

down in the cramped fuselage, kit bags on

our knees, than the engines where started

and we were taxiing to the runway - No

passenger safety brief for us, just a boiled

sweet and some cotton wool for our ears.

To a sigh of relief we were airborne and

soon overlooking the foothills of Nepal. As

we travelled further east our first views of

giant snowcapped mountains appeared,

much to our delight. However, the best

part of the flight was saved till last, with

the approach to Lukla. For anyone who is

not aware Lukla is a 547m strip of tarmac

situated in a valley 2800m in the air. It has

a massive gradient of 12( and can only be

approached from one direction. As soon

as the pilot touches down he slams the

engine in to full reverse and stamps on

the brakes. The trepidation amongst our

team as the pilot started his approach

was palpable. As we got closer to landing


there was a mixture of fear, excitement and

anxiousness amongst us all. As soon as we

touched down the noise levels increased

as the reversers kicked in and we lurched

forward in our seats as the brakes were

applied. Once under control a collective

sigh of relief was evident and even a small

round of applause was given.

The first thing that we noticed after

getting off the plane and walking up

a small incline was how breathless we

all were. Lukla was sitting at 2800m in

altitude and we still had nearly another 4

kilometers of vertical ascent still to go, I

think this brought home to the group the

size of our task.

Our original plan was to arrive in Lukla

and head straight off on trek from there,

however remember the chaotic departure

lounge earlier, yes they had lost our tents.

So we made our way to a local Teahouse

for the night. Still all was not lost, after

lunch we decided to go for a walk in the

hills to begin our acclimatization process. It

felt so good to be finally out in the hills of

Nepal instead of in planes or buses. Despite

not having any tents and the uncertainty of

when they would arrive the whole group

was in good spirits.

That evening our cook team prepared

the first of the many meals they would

be cooking for us in the coming weeks.

Shortly after dinner Richie, Gore (our

Sherpa guide) and I huddled over a map

and tried to sort out our route to take into

account the day we had lost by staying in

Lukla. It was during this conversation that

I first heard Gore’s fabled words of ‘We’ll

see’ which I think meant ‘I understand

what you are saying, but we will do it my

way anyway.’ This was not going to be the

last time we were to hear those words.

Most days started with at about 7am

and we would trek for about 3 or 4 hours.

After lunch in camp we would then try and

walk further up the trail then descend back

into camp to aid our acclimatization and

hopefully get a good nights sleep. Due to

the length of the Expedition I will not cover

the first 11 days trekking, which were

spent trekking some beautiful scenery in a

attempt to get to the glacier which would

lead us to our goal.

Day 11 Khare Camp 5045m - Mera La

5414m- This was it, the business end of

the Expedition. We were finally going to

step foot on the glacier which would take

us all the way to the top of Mera peak.

The weather was absolutely perfect; blue

skies no wind and the sun high in the sky.

To lighten the loads for our porter team

we have elected to sleep 3 to a tent, so

now I am sharing with Rich and Andy.

I have the feeling it will be a long and

uncomfortable night with very little room

to move inside the tent.

Day 12 Base Camp 5300m - High

Camp 5800m - The altitude was now

really taking effect with people moving

Gateway -

Tom Saunders and Martin Dunning

quite slowly about the mountain and best course of action was for him to go

even putting on crampons could get back to camp. As we only had two sherpa’s

you breathless. However the difficult with us and I needed one to take Rich

conditions were forgotten about when back, so I got the group together and

you looked around and were greeted needed anyone who was struggling to

by the most unbelievable sights. As we be honest and go back to camp. After a

continued up towards our camp Makalu few minutes of discussion Rich, Dave and

(the worlds 4th highest mountain) came Wes all elected to descend. This was a very

in to view, closely followed by Everest, low point for everybody as we had all set

Lhotse, Nuptse, Baruntse and Cho Oyo. It our hopes on summitting together; it was

was absolutely breathtaking and for once especially hard on Rich who had spent a

due to the views and not the altitude. year in planning this.

Most of the team were feeling Ok, some So now 9 people continued to attempt

people had mild headaches and some of to get to the top. It was very hard work

the team had lost there appetite but these and with every step you struggled for

were all things to be expected and I was breath and trying to will yourself to keep

still confident of 100 per cent success. moving forward became very difficult.

Day 13 High Camp - Summit 6476m Soon we crested the final ridge and all

- Khare Camp - This was it. It was 2am that separated us was a 50m-fixed rope

and bed tea was served. Everybody got climb up a very, very steep slope. This had

ready, then we roped in to two separate a few of the team doubting if they had

teams each led by one of our climbing then energy for this final push.

Sherpa. The sky was perfectly clear and After attaching our karabiner to the fixed

the temperature at one stage on the route rope we set off. With a final enormous

had plummeted to a bone chilling -28( C. effort we made it. I could not believe it 8

We started to move slowly up the trail but others and I had made it to the top of the

after about 10 minutes stopped so people highest trekking peak in Nepal. There are

could catch their breath. Unfortunately not enough superlatives to describe the

this would not be the last time we would views I was absolutely speechless. I could

be stopping and it was going to be a long see 4 of the worlds 5 highest mountains in

cold night, but at least we were heading one great panoramic view was a sight to

towards our goal. Due to then frequency behold and a memory I will never forget.

of the stops I could not generate ay body The only negative point was that 3 of

warmth and my fingers and toes were now our team were not here to share our joy.

getting painful with the cold and I was After 20 minutes on the top it was time

seriously worried about frost nip. to descend and all we had to do now was

As the sun finally rose over Mount try and get down to Khare Camp, which

Kanchenjunga in the East, her rays finally was a very long way away. So after roping

started to warm our chilled bones and we together again we set off at a brisk pace.

could see our goal in the distance, Mera As we passed High Camp gore was there

Peak sitting proud at 6476m and despite to congratulate us and provided us with

walking for 3 hours still seemed a very some noodle soup, which was much

long way away and with the very slow needed energy. After half and hour rest at

pace we were setting I was becoming very High Camp we continued our descent to


Khare Camp, eventually after 14 hours on

At just over 6100m Rich seemed to the move we walked in to camp and were

be struggling to catch his breath and I immediately greeted and congratulated by

could see how lethargic he was. On one Rich, Dave and Wes. After a quick wash

of our stops I went and had a chat about and sorting out our kit it was time for

his progress and although his was lucid dinner, very soon after sleep beckoned.

and in control he was very fatigued and The next few days would very long and

unfortunately we both agreed that the hard days as we would miss out several

Gateway -


camps and return to Lukla and relative civilization. We would now attempt to return to

Lukla in 3 days, so there would be some very hard days to come. Eventually we arrived at

Lukla and what a great feeling it was, not only had we had a successful Expedition with no

injuries and everyone ascending over 6000m but also we were back to semi-civilization.

Arriving at Lukla was a great feeling. Not only had we had a successful Expedition with

no injuries and everyone ascending over 6000m but also we were back to semi-civilization.

All we had to do know was wait for our flight back to Kathmandu that was on Monday

morning. The time was spent looking at the Monastery there and generally relaxing and

taking it easy.

Eventually we checked in for our flights were again the bureaucracy played a part with

more random taxes. Eventually we boarded our Twin Otter aircraft and prepared for our

departure. The Pilot started the engine and took the short taxi to the very short runway

applied the brakes and wound up the engines to full power. The noise was incredible.

The brakes were soon released and we lurched forward each one of us praying that we

would get airborne. We did.

We could now look forward to getting back to the hotel and a hot shower and a warm

bed. So with one last look at the giant mountains I could see from my plane window I

bid farewell to the mighty Himalayan ranges, but hopefully not for the last time!

24 Gateway -

Gateway -


In Sep 08, after months of briefing

(carbo loading)!

that it was time A Shift went on an

Day 2 saw us take our convoy to

expedition (exped), the JEngO finally

Afan forest in the south of Wales. The

delegated the project to SAC(T) Bailey.

drive took in some breathtaking scenery

Following much discussion with the

and indeed the location of our activity

Adventure Training (AT) section, we

was idyllic. Everything was idyllic until

decided on a 3 day exped involving

everyone’s pasty legs came on show as

climbing, mountain-biking and hill-

they prepared for mountain biking! We

walking in South Wales. Organising

set off in high spirits, before piling up

the required admin and logistics was

on the first corner. The PTIs shook their

no small task; completing the JSATFA,

heads, what had they let themselves

Op Order and organizing transport

in for?

and CILOR. Despite the Cyber attack,

Fast downhill sections, murderous

we managed to complete it all and

climbs, technical and sometimes scary

get the show on the road.

fast trails, tiring but worth every ounce

So on 19 Jan 09, a band of assorted

of effort! It was hard to believe how

‘techies’, a ‘mover’ and 2 PTIs set off

those 17 kms had left us so tired and

for the Brecon Beacons in beautiful

aching. Thank goodness for Lizzy’s

Wales. Straight into the action, we

‘spag bol’ which followed and the early

arrived at Llangorse indoor climbing

night to bed.

wall where we decided the only way

The following day we drove into a

was up! Most of us had only limited

central location within the hills of the

climbing experience, and cut our

Brecon Beacons. A challenge in itself,

teeth (almost literally) bouldering

before watching Cpl Al Hadnett

the AT PTI, fly up the centre’s most

Climbing (Left to right): Cpl Bean, Flt Lt Spector

Belaying: SAC(T) Doughty.

as temperatures had dropped below

freezing and there had been snowfall

the night before. SAC(T) Bailey was

challenging overhang with consummate ease - how hard could driving a transit van with Sgt McMinn and our equipment while

this be? Attempting to conquer the walls by choosing coloured the others followed in the mini-van. Unfortunately the transit

routes of increasing the difficulty proved very hard indeed! van was rear wheel drive with not much weight over the back

The day’s exploits over, we arrived at our self catering bunker axle, so the drive to our starting location became reminiscent of

house in Brecon. With the shopping having been sorted before a stage in the rally GB instead!

leaving, our ‘fairy’ chef took no time in throwing together a Having finally arrived at our starting point, we briefed and

‘sweet and sour’ chicken much to the PTIs surprise. Having fed sorted our kit out for the day’s hill walking. The weather was

like lions, it was time for some socialising sampling the local beer fine, Cpl bean had the compass, what could possibly go wrong?


Gateway -

Ascending Fan-Y-big (left to

right): Sgt McMinn, Cpl Bean,

SAC(T) Bailey, SAC(T) Doughty

Back row (Left to right): Flt Lt Spector, Cpl Bean, SAC(T) Bailey,

Sgt McMinn. Front row (Left to Right): SAC(T) Doughty, SAC(T)

MacGregor, SAC Nelson, SAC(T) Thompson.

Having chosen our route we set off to tackle the 3 peaks of, Fan-

Y-big, Cribbon and the awesome Pen-Y-Fan.

Approaching Fan-Y-big was a gentle climb with beautiful views,

but the weather was coming in fast as we reached the summit,

so we descended and started to tackle our next goal, the peak

of Cribbon.

With a viciously steep ascent, the snow and ice made progress

tough work and all the more tiring. It was bitingly cold and

snowing heavily with poor visibility, but we battled on undeterred

and in good spirits. After what seemed an eternity we reached

the hazardous summit. With a sheer drop welcoming us on one

side, and the plateau abundant in frozen fresh water springs, we

had to be wary of every step that we took.

Our final climb up the mighty Pen-Y-Fan was tough. The

weather conditions were now definitely straight from Siberia,

the climb painfully slow, steep and never ending. Having reached

the summit and the cairn at the top of Pen-y-Fan, everyone was

justifiably proud of what they had just achieved. Due to adverse

weather, we decided for a fast descent back to our starting

location. Thankfully the temperature and conditions improved

as we dropped below the cloud base.

Although exhausted, cold and wet, we contentedly headed

back to Brize Norton, reflecting on the physical and mental

challenges of the last few days, satisfied in how we had been

stretched and soldiered on through our fears. Doing something

out of the ordinary was a learning experience for us all and

has definitely whet our appetite for more. Min-expeds are an

excellent tool for sections to build team spirit and a fun way of

improving leadership and management skills. Many thanks to

the AT section for allowing us to turn our plans into reality.

SAC(T) Bailey & Flt Lt Spector

Afan forest.

Gateway -



216 Squadron



OC Tristar Support - Flt Lt Andy Climie

Gateway -

The first time I visited Calgary it was

a night stop with Fat Alberts. I was

25. When I received a telephone call

from the 216 Sqn engineering Flight

Sergeant, just before I set off back to

Brize Norton to start my New Year shift,

very soon after wishing my girlfriend

a Happy New Year and watching

her depart for Madrid, I was not

expecting to be told I would be going

to Calgary for a second time. I was ..

considerably older than 25. And why

would I and 20 other technicians from

RAF Brize Norton be sent to Calgary in

the winter? Relax and I will tell you.....

It all started just before Christmas

when a Tristar from 216 Sqn developed

engineering problems on it’s decent into

Calgary International Airport, Canada.

After the aircraft had landed safely and

taxi-ed onto a parking slot, the ground

engineer (GE) and his small team of

servicing crew set to work trying to rectify

the fault. Unfortunately, every effort

of the engineers was hampered by the

plummeting temperature, which was a

wind-chill affected -20°C resulting in a

ground temperature of around -35°C!

The plight of the engineers was further

exacerbated by the need to carry out cold

weather operating procedures. These

procedures stipulated that whenever a

Tristar aircraft was parked in conditions

below -10°C the flying surfaces, such as

flaps and slats, had to be move periodically

to prevent freezing, and to achieve this

the servicing crew would have to remain

on the aircraft. And just to make matters

worse, Calgary was experiencing a rather

unseasonal bout of persistently cold

weather that was set to remain below

-10°C for at least a week. However, after

having spent 10 days on the ground the

aircraft was finally declared serviceable

and it was launched out of Calgary. Ten

minutes after blast off there was a number

2 engine vibration warning which was so

severe the aircraft captain had no choice

but to land the aircraft back at Calgary; the

date was now the 28 Dec 2008.

What followed was a period of frantic

fault diagnosis by the engineers at Calgary

and lots of questions between Rolls Royce,

the engineers in Calgary and the shift

engineers at RAF Brize Norton. Once

all the evidence had been collected and

evaluated, the decision was made to

change the number 2 engine. Now, it

would probably not surprise the reader

that the number 2 engine of a Tristar

is by far the most awkward to replace

and that this awkwardness is only mildly

reduced when the weather conditions are

favourable, or the aircraft is positioned

in a hangar. Unfortunately, the weather

temperature was still sub-zero and the

provision of a suitable hangar was like a

Welsh coal miner, a mythical beast.

However, once the decision was made

to release International Rescue, cunningly

disguised as the Tristar Engineering

Support Team (and General Engineering

Flight), it was very impressive to see how

swiftly the different pieces of the RAF

Brize Norton machine sprung into action,

and, despite the late inject from Boeing,

which stopped the use of a C-17, the team

departed for Calgary on the 1 January.

Surprisingly, the team was closely followed

by the necessary tools and the replacement

engine on the 2 January.

I would like to think that the decision

to deploy the engineering team 24 hours

before despatching the replacement

engine and equipment was a master stroke

in planning. It gave the junior element of

the engineering team chance to rest and

the senior team members time to finalise

their plan of attack. However, I was there

when the debate about the method of

transportation for the replacement engine

was going on:


‘Cargo floor is too small, Sir.‘

‘C-17!’ ‘Cargo floor is too soft, Sir.’

‘What else can carry something as big a


‘Well done, Sir, a 747!’

So, it came to pass that a 747 ferried

the tools and equipment across the pond

and onward to Alberta, Canada. Once

this valuable cargo had arrived at Calgary

International it was quickly unloaded,

by the refreshed engineering team, and

the equipment was moved to a small

Gateway -

area within a hangar owned by Westjet.

Through some silky smooth diplomatic

work from the resident RAFLO, and his

team, a small area in a hangar had been

acquired that would provide a warm and

dry place to store the replacement engine.

The following day work started in

earnest. The GEF Staging Erection Team,

ably assisted by some mere aircraft

technicians, quickly erected the Tristar

number 2 engine change staging, a task

that was completed with professionalism

and efficiency. Dear reader, if you don’t

mind, I would like to take this opportunity

to thank both the GEF Warrant Officer and

the GEF Training Cell Sergeant for selflessly

sacrificing their well earned New Year

Holiday. They agreed to deploy to Canada

so that the holidays of their subordinates

were not disturbed by this very short notice

request to deploy half way round the world

- now that’s leadership. On with my story

.. Once the safety staging was erected, the

task of removing the unserviceable engine

could start, but also the battle with the

weather would now begin.

Because the temperature had constantly

remained below -10°C it had been

necessary to run the auxiliary power

unit (APU) every couple of hours so that

the flying surfaces could be operated.

Unfortunately, once the unserviceable

engine was removed it would not be

possible to run the APU until the new

engine was fitted. The team, therefore,

would need the temperature to rise above

-10°C for the duration of time that the

engine was removed. Thankfully, almost

as soon as the engine was ready to drop

the weather warmed to - 5°C! It was all

hands to the pumps and the old engine

was removed and the new one fitted. It

was during the engine replacement that

the JEngO, who was considerably older

than 25, found out just how much physical

effort was required to operate the chains

when raising the number 2 engine .. I don’t

think he had a heart attack and maybe his

lips were blue because of the cold, but he

did sit down by himself for a little while,

poor old boy.

Anyway, as the JEngO recovered from

his ‘exercise’ the rest of the team raised

the new engine into place and after a

little gentle persuasion the new engine

was bolted into position. Over the next

couple of days the engine electrical

supplies, fuel lines and hydraulic lines were

connected, and the unserviceable engine

was prepared for its journey home - but

only after a Leading Aircraftsman was

sacrificed in honour of the engine which

had selflessly given its life so that a select

band of RAF Brize Norton technicians

might spend some time in Canada .. not

really, I made that bit up.

Finally, the day arrived when the new

engine was to be tested, and it was nearly


a white-out! The weather had turned for

the worse and the snow was threatening to

halt the proceedings. However, although

it was snowing, the temperature was

still comparatively warm, certainly above

-10°C, so the team prepared for the high

powered engine ground run.

To simplify the high powered engine

ground run, the team had completed a

low powered engine run the previous night

and the JEngO had volunteered to assist.

Noting the JEngO’s willingness to play his

part in the team, the SNCO IC suggested

that the JEngO might like to operate as

the safety man on the headset. Without

hesitation the JEngO accepted. Once the

excitement of the engine start was over

the JEngO slowly began to appreciate the

flaw in his enthusiasm. It started when

he could hear laughter over the headset

and someone on the flight deck ask if the

heating could be turned down. He then

noticed that the other groundcrew, who

had been tasked with standing outside,

had retired to stand next to vehicles,

vehicles which had their engines running

and the heating on full blast. As his fingers

slowly numbed, all the poor JEngO could

do was to wiggle his toes, wish he was

working the chains on the engine lift and

take solace in the fact that he was doing

his bit for the team.

The preparation for the high powered

run was quickly executed and the aircraft

was towed away, slowly drifting out

of sight as the snow wrapped round

the aircraft as if it were a pirate ship

disappearing into the fog. However, there

could have been another explanation. The

tug driver, having just finished night shift

and having volunteered to work through

the day shift because he had realised that


the RAF would be running their aircraft for

most of the day, which would allow him

to sleep in his cab, might have towed the

aircraft off the taxi-way and into the snow.

But thankfully that had not happened.

I digress; the engine run .. Whilst the

engine run was being carried out the rest

of the team busied themselves tidying

away tools and equipment that had been

stored in the Westjet hangar. During the

last 14 days it had not gone un-noticed

that there was a mock-up aircraft in the

other half of the Westjet hangar. A mockup

aircraft that was used by the Westjet

stewards for training and on this particular

day there was a course of stewards being

trained. Now, the tidying of the hangar

had been completed relatively quickly and,

as I’m sure the reader knows, ‘a bored

airman, is a dangerous airman’, so, the

GE decided to volunteer the team to act

as passengers for the trainee stewards in

order to stop the airmen becoming bored.

Once on board it became apparent

that this would be no ordinary lesson.

No jumping down slides this time, oh

no, this time it was heart attack and

anaphylactic shock! The team found the

first of the 2 scenarios a little difficult to

get into character but by the second, the

team were in their element. One team

member, hand picked from GEF, had been

told that his nuts had caused the young

female passenger next to him to go into

anaphylactic shock. Once he realised, this

poor chap felt terribly guilty and constantly

tried to get out of his seat to help. The

JEngO, considerably older than 25, had

been told that he was a grey haired old

gentleman who was hard of hearing and

each time there was an announcement

on the PA he was to ask the steward what

was going on, and this he excelled

at. As the scenario progressed and

the poor young lady’s anaphylactic

shock became worse, causing the

GEF chap to become even more

insistent to provide help, the captain

finally informed the passengers

that ‘the aircraft was to divert into

London’. Initially, and not necessarily

in character, there was a cheer from

the British contingent. After the

cheering, the JEngO, now immersed

in his character, grabbed the nearest

steward, ‘I didn’t quite hear that, did

the captain say there was perverts in

London?!’ The scenario ended soon

after this because the steward, who

was grabbed by the JEngO, couldn’t

quite believe her perfect hearing and

the young lady’s anaphylactic shock

seemed to have been cured by her

uncontrollable laughter.

Thankfully, the end of this little

interlude coincided with the return

of the engine running team. Those

left in the hangar made their way

outside just in time to see Tristar ZD948

glide back into view through the snow, like

the Phoenix rising from the fire. However,

the aircraft was towed straight passed the

Westjet pan - had the Tug driver really

fallen asleep this time? No, the engine run

had been a success and the aircraft was

finally being delivered to a more suitable

and elevated parking place outside the

Calgary International Air Terminal - cue


Rather fittingly, the Brize Norton

engineering team had been invited to

the Westjet Bar on the same evening of

the engine runs, and now that it was

apparent that everything had gone well,

the team took this opportunity to relax

and, quite frankly, pat themselves on the

back for a job well done. It also provided

an opportunity to thank the Westjet staff

for all the support they had provided

the RAF, without whose help the engine

change may not have been possible. In

recognition of the gratitude of the RAF

team a signed 216 Sqn print was handed

to the Westjet Vice President.

And that’s about it. As you can imagine,

staying in Calgary, the capital of Alberta,

Canada, not much else really happened

during our three week stay. There was

no ski-ing.. no dancing.. no drinking..

no ‘high jinx’.. and certainly no laughing.

Although the team did smile when the

aircraft finally blasted off from Calgary,

especially when, shortly after take off, all

the GEs were summoned to the flight deck

.. ‘are we turning back, are we returning

to Calgary? I hope so! At last a chance

to ski, dance, drink and laugh!’

Ex JEngO C (...considerably older since

visiting Calgary)

32 Gateway -

Execs Corner

Gp Capt G E Reid

Defence Consultant Adviser in Psychiatry

Department of Community Mental Health

Military mental health continues to be a

focus of media attention, so I would like

to take this opportunity to update you

on the present reality.

Military mental health was re-organised

in Apr 04, following a timely independent

report in 2001 on the requirements for mental

health support to the Armed Forces. There are

3 components to the mental health services:

the Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH), the

Inpatient Contract, and the Academic Centre for Defence

Mental Health (ACDMH) at King’s, London.

The DCMH at RAF Brize Norton is one of 20 similar

departments in the UK and abroad. These departments are the

main deliverers of mental health care to the Armed Forces. They

house teams of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, community

mental health nurses and mental health social workers,

providing a Tri-Service coverage in their catchment areas. DCMH

Brize Norton’s catchment area locates approximately 20, 000

personnel, with about a fifth being Army. The DCMHs see a

total of about 6500 serving personnel every year. Most of this

is not directly operationally related, but reflects the reality of

everyday life. Psychiatric issues are not uncommon and the

DCMHs play a vital role in the day-to-day provision of medical

care in the Armed Forces.

We have a small requirement for inpatient care, approximately

300 people per annum. Most issues are dealt with by the DCMH


Canopy Club

The PTS Canopy Club comprises a healthy membership

of retired Parachute Jump Instructors who have a long

association with RAF Brize Norton via the Parachute

Training School. In recognition of this long association,

the PTS Canopy Club Chairman, OC PTS along with the

Oxfordshire Area Secretary, Mr Glan Evans present a

cheque for £500 to OC Ops Wg for the RAF Brize Norton

CO’s Fund.

Gez Whitten-Brown

staff, but we need to have speedy access to an inpatient

bed when necessary. The Inpatient Contract was previously

with The Priory (not just the celebratory place, but a chain of

independent psychiatric inpatient hospitals throughout the

UK). That contract has now come to the end of its term and

has been replaced by a new contract with a consortium of NHS

Foundation Trusts, following a competitive bidding process.

Mental health foundation trusts are a recent NHS development,

only 4 years old. The changes in the NHS shown during the

bidding process were very impressive. Indeed on a contract

evaluation visit to a NHS department, I saw the best Mental

Health Unit I have ever seen! We have guaranteed access to

an inpatient bed within 4 hours of the request being made,

usually within 2 hours travel of the DCMH.

Lastly, there’s ACDMH. We are fortunate in that this

department, with the King’s Centre for Military Health Research,

has produced world-class research, allowing us to hold our own

on the world stage. If you’re interested, take a look at http://

This is a world-leading occupational mental health service.

Whilst there’s ‘bigger’, its like does not exist elsewhere in the

world, a view that I base upon my experience as the Chair of the

NATO COMEDS Military Mental Health Expert Panel. However,

nothing is perfect and we continue to endeavour to develop

the service, both in the light of experience and of research.

As we move forward in the 21st Century, our understanding

of these issues has changed and developed, to the good of us

all. During my career I have seen a growth of understanding,

not just in the medical profession, but more widely. I’m sure

that there’s more to come!

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Welcome to Community Matters once again.

Thank you to those of you who took the time

to complete the questionnaire in the December

edition. Your feedback is very helpful and we will be

publishing the results soon.

The newly refurbished Families Centre Coffee Shop is now

open so do please use it. If you would like to book it for a get

together or to hold a children’s party do please contact me,

Lin Kennedy, the Community Development Officer (CDO) on:

01993 897068, or email me at: kennedyl600@brizenorton.

For information about anything, including being posted

in or out, schools, local services or any aspect of living in the

area, contact Mel at the HIVE on: 01993 895349 or by email:

For advice and guidance or to assist with any welfare issues

that you may be encountering contact WO Yvonne Conway

the Station Community Support Officer (SCSO) on: 01993

895350 or by email:

Working Towards

a Safer Living


Within the RAF Brize Norton Service Families Accommodation

areas (SFA) are a number of vacant properties that are

attracting the unwanted attention of criminals, squatters

and youths involved in graffiti ‘tagging’. Over the past few

months some of the properties have been forcibly entered and

personal property and metal pipes and water tanks stolen. In

some cases small fires have been lit. Most recently squatters

have been found within the cordoned off area at Upwood

Drive and residents living nearby over the Christmas period

had to endure several nights of very loud music and anti-social

behaviour. Squatters can prove difficult to remove and, unless

there are signs that they have forcibly entered the property or

they leave voluntarily, it can require Defence Estates (DE) to

obtain a court order for their removal.

In this particular case, because the squatters had gone

unnoticed, they had time to remove signs of their forced

entry which caused problems in immediately remedying the


Thames Valley Police (TVP) continue to work hand in hand

with the Ministry of defence Police and the Royal Air Force

Police. Part of TVP responsibility is patrolling the SFA and to

work closely with the other agencies; including DE, to ensure

the safety of all residents.

Your local Policing Team currently consists of a Sergeant, a

Police Constable and three Police Community Support Officers.

The team include the Ministry of Defence Policeman as a

member of the team. This will shortly rise to an additional

Police Constable and Police Community Support Officer. At

present, due to manpower restrictions, the team work the

same shifts, however, when the additional members join

the team then we will provide two separate shifts therefore

doubling the teams’ presence.

We wish the SFAs to be as safe as possible for you and your

families and, therefore, encourage anyone who sees anything

they deem to be suspicious or out of place to immediately


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contact either the RAF Police or Thames Valley Police on the

following 24 hour numbers:

RAF Police - 01993 896666

Thames Valley Police - 0845 8505505

If a crime is being committed, then ring 999.

The RAF Police also run a scheme known as ‘Housewatch’.

This scheme allows personnel to register with the RAF Police

that they will be away from their properties on leave or

detachment. While the property is empty the RAF Police

will endeavour to look around the property as a deterrent to

anyone in the area and as a method of detecting a problem at

the property and taking the necessary steps to prevent further

problems. For further details or to inform the RAF Police that

your property will be empty please use the number above.

Prepayment meters

(PPMs)for gas/


It has recently come to the attention of the Community Support

Team that a large proportion of serving personnel, along with the

rest of society, are struggling with the increasing cost of heating

their homes. When energy consumers fall behind with their

payments and accumulate a debt of more than £100 they are

generally banned from switching suppliers (neither the current

supplier not the prospective supplier will agree to the switch) so

cannot take advantage of entering into a new agreement for a

better tariff. If the customer in debt cannot agree an affordable

repayment schedule with their energy supplier, they may be forced

into accepting a Prepayment Meter (PPM) to avoid disconnection.

These meters are installed into homes at no cost to the

customer. They are usually fitted with a key or card that is

removed from the machine and taken to a local shop and

“charged”. This means that the customer hands over the cash

to pay for the fuel, the shop assistant credits the key/card with

this amount and the customer returns home, re-inserts the key/

card into the meter and the amount is registered by the meter.

The arrears that the customer owes are collected by the meter

at a pre-arranged rate, usually somewhere in the region of £8

per week.

The advantages of this form of pre-payment are the discipline

of controlled expenditure and the avoidance of unexpectedly

high bills.

The disadvantages are that the cost of fuel charged by

prepayment meters is on average around 16% higher than that

charged by direct debit so PPM users are disproportionately

penalized. PPM users are forced not just to pay in advance

but also to pay significantly more than customers who pay by

standard credit or direct debit. Other disadvantages include the

inconvenience of leaving home and travelling to charge a key/

card and perhaps the cost of travel.

Another disadvantage, particularly to a Service Families

Accommodation dweller is the fact that Defence Estates will not

accept back a property with a prepayment meter installed. This

means that before you can march out of your quarter, any PPM

must be removed by the energy supplier, who of course will not

do so until all arrears have been cleared. There is also usually

a charge of around £100 to have the meter removed. Please

also bear in mind that fuel is a priority payment and utility costs

should be paid before all consumer debts (loans/credit card/

catalogue payments).

If any readers are suffering from unaffordable fuel costs or

indeed have the issue of debts hanging over them, there is a

dedicated Citizens Advice Bureau Worker available twice a week

for serving personnel, their current or ex partners and any civilians

who work on the base. The CAB adviser can assist clients with

negotiating affordable repayment schedules with creditors or

directing clients to non-profit making organisations who can

administer debt management plans. Please phone 01993 708492

for an appointment with the RAF Caseworker. In addition, free

internet is available at the HIVE for anyone wishing to conduct

a comparison of energy suppliers online.

Small changes equal big energy savings

The biggest long-term savings come from

changing your energy habits and being more

energy efficient around the home.

As you start to see savings it’s a good idea

to re-invest this money in energy saving

products and appliances to reduce your energy

consumption even further. The long-term

savings will more than pay for the cost of

purchasing and installing these measures.

Start using these no-cost energy saving tips energy saving ideas

around your home and measure the reduction in your next few

energy bills. The more you apply the more you’ll save.

Heating Tips

Set your heating to go off 30 minutes before you leave the house,

and come on again 30 minutes before you expect to return.

Turn the room thermostat down by 1 degree. This can save you

around £30 a year.

Make sure your radiators are not obstructed by curtains or


Draw your curtains at dusk to help keep the heat generated

inside your rooms.

Insulate your loft space and consider cavity wall insulation too.

Electrical Appliances

Use energy efficient light bulbs which use less energy and last

up to ten times longer than standard bulbs.

Turn off household appliances such as microwaves, TVs, videos,

music systems, and computers when not in use, as they continue

to use energy when they are left on standby.


Don’t leave the fridge door open and try to avoid putting hot or

warm food straight into the fridge as this increases the energy

required to keep the contents cold.

Defrost your fridge frequently and check the door seals. Avoid

putting your fridge next to heat generating appliances such as

an oven or boiler. If possible, keep the freezer in a cool room or


Washing Machines, Tumble Dryers and Dishwashers

Use a low temperature setting and only wash full loads or use a

half-load or economy programme.

In summer, dry your clothes outside rather than using a tumble


When drying your clothes indoors, use a clothes rail instead of a

radiator as this stops the heat from reaching the rest of the room.

Modern dishwashers use less energy and water than washing

up by hand.


Use a pan which is the same size as the cooker ring to prevent

heat loss.

Use a lid on saucepans where possible, so the contents heat up

faster and require less energy.

Consider using pressure cookers, steamers and microwaves which

use less energy.

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Hot Water

When using a kettle, only boil as much water as you need.

If you live in a hard water area, limescale can affect the efficiency

of your kettle. Look out for a buildup of limescale in your kettle

and treat with vinegar or descaling solutions.

Consider turning the thermostat on your hot water tank down

to 60 degrees centigrade which is a comfortable temperature for

most people and will save on your heating costs.

If you have a standard shower it will use around 40% of the

water required for a bath.

Energy Saving Tip: Letter boxes and key holes can let in draughts.

Fit a nylon brush seal or a spring flap and put a cover over a key

hole to keep the heat in.


Consultative Group

We are very fortunate to have a group who meet every two

months to discuss issues affecting the RAF Brize Norton

Service Families Accommodation areas (SFA). We also come

up with actions that we take to try and resolve issues on

behalf of the community of RAF Brize Norton. This is a

huge task but everyone involved is committed to helping

improve the areas for everyone.

The SFA in divided into areas, with representatives for

each of the five areas. We do have some vacancies and

would be delighted if you would like to join the group. If

you are interested or would like more information please

contact Lin Kennedy, the Community Development Officer

(CDO) on: 01993 897068, or email me at: kennedyl600@

If you would have any concerns about where you live and

would like to contact someone please phone:

Yvonne Conway 01993 895350

Ady Coomber 07896 574542

Mick Laing 07981 516145

Mick Sullivan 07901 943339


I hope everybody has enjoyed the

recent spate of traditional winter

weather; however I would guess that

the novelty has worn off with most

people by now. My daughter enjoyed

having two days off school, but even

she was keen to go back to school


You may be wondering how this cold

weather fits in with all the predictions

of global warming that have been in the

media over the last few years. Global

warming does not appear to be the best

way to describe the weather experienced in

our part of the world, and perhaps climate

change would be a better description.

As the average global temperature

changes it alters the weather patterns.

Over the past few years we seem to

have had milder winters and indifferent

summers with just the odd good month

to keep our hopes up of a hot sunny

summer. Last summer was so dull and

cool it should not warrant so much article

space. The Farmers were particularly hard

hit what with the cold spring followed by

an exceptionally dull August. The knock

on effect of this was a late wet harvest

was a shortage of Hay. Mind you the apple

producers were not complaining.

Here in the Environmental Protection

Office, it is that time of year when the

Station has to submit its annual carbon

dioxide production figures for verification

by the Environment Agency. As we are

a large consumer of energy, we are only

allowed to produce a limited amount of

carbon dioxide from burning fuel in the

heating systems within our buildings. If

we exceed this amount we have to buy

‘carbon shares’ to make up the difference.

In addition we also have explain to the

Environment Agency how we are going

to improve our energy efficiency over the

next year.

The Station Services Squadron and

DCRE have been working hard to increase

the efficiency of the boilers and heating

systems, however the amount of carbon


dioxide produced is directly related to the

amount of heat energy we put into the

buildings. Of course every unit of energy

we put into the buildings cost money,

yours and mine as we are all taxpayers.

This year the total bill for energy on

Station will exceed £5,000,000.

With this in mind, please ensure you are

only heating your office, hanger, and store,

accommodation to the level that you need

to work or live. If your building is being

overheated or your heating system is not

working correctly please contact Works

Services Flight on extension 7283 or myself

on extension 7602.

As you know from previous articles I try

to include an example of flora or fauna

that we have living on Station. If you work

on the south side of the airfield you may

have been lucky enough to see one of our

resident Barn Owls hunting in the open

grass. We have a resident pair that, nest

in the barns, of a farm that borders the

Station. They are regularly seen hunting

in daylight especially within the ESP. Yes

I did say daylight, as unusually for owls,

Barn Owls prefer to hunt during the day

and are most active just after dawn and

just before dusk.

Barn Owl

Latin Name...Tyto alba

The Barn Owl is about 25cm (10_) tall

with a wingspan of approximately 85cm

(34”). The face, breast and undersides

are predominantly white - when seen

in flight the impression is of a large

white bird. However, if the owl is seen

only from behind or above it looks light

brown/grey. Its upper-parts are, in fact,

a beautiful golden-buff colour, delicately

marked in varying shades of grey and buff,

sometimes with black and/or white, too.

The sexes can be difficult to tell apart,

particularly in the field and differences in

size are not necessarily sex-linked. Females

often have darker upper surfaces and small

black spots on the underside. Barn Owls

are not woodland birds and do not hoot.

They prefer open habitat and usually

hunt by flying slowly back and forth

(quartering), about 3m above the ground,

looking and listening for their prey. If

suitable perches such as fence posts are

available, the owls may save energy by

hunting from these. Their diet consists

mainly of small mammals, particularly field

voles, common shrews and wood mice.

Prey is often swallowed whole and the

indigestible parts, the bones and fur, are

regurgitated in the form of a pellet.

Barn Owl habitat includes rough

grassland (where field voles can be

numerous), field margins, hedgerows,

woodland edge, stubble fields, drainage

ditches and farmyards. Compared to

most birds Barn Owls have a very low

wing loading (large wings supporting a

lightweight body) this means they are

able to fly very slowly without stalling and

hover in only the slightest lift (rising air).

Slow flight gives the bird’s ample time to

locate and pinpoint prey on the ground

below, and the low wing loading enables

them to pass through the air very gently

and hover with minimal effort. The owls’

feathers are very soft - another adaptation

for quiet flight. The flight feathers are

covered in a layer of tiny hairs that trap

air within the feather surface and the

foremost wing feather (the tenth primary)

also has a row of tiny hooks that help to

deaden the sound of air hitting the wings’

leading edge. Almost-silent flight enables

the birds to hear the tiny sounds produced

by their small mammal prey and approach

them undetected.

Your local wildlife trust, the Berkshire

Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire wildlife

Trust (BBOWT) have an active Barn Owl

Breeding campaign at Chimney Meadows

down on the Thames. Chimney Meadows

is an outstanding nature reserve and is only

a few miles from the Station. For more

information have a look at their website


When the Station Commander

asked me in August if I would like

to take up the post as acting Station

Warrant Officer, little did I realize

that walking around a Wiltshire

graveyard would be one of my many


With no handover from the outgoing

SWO, every day has brought its own

surprises; a sunny morning in September

was no exception. A large official brown

envelope with a stamp on the back that

read; ‘Service Personnel & Veterans

Agency, Joint Casualty & Compassionate

Centre, Graves & Memorials’, was

thrown on to my desk.

After a quick perusal, I realised that I

was being asked if I had carried out the

annual inspection of 107 post-World

War graves in 21 different graveyards

from Leamington Spa to Letcombe-

Regis. The deadline for completing

the inspection was 31 December 2008.

With the prospect of pub lunches in

RAF Brize Norton’s

War Grave Inspections

the offing, I had soon planned 4 routes

to cover the 21 sites, gathered together

my camera and notepad, so that I could

take a full description of each grave for

my successor, submitted my F658 and duly

set off to undertake this important task.

RAF Brize Norton is only responsible

for post-World War graves, as the graves

from the two World Wars are looked after

by the National War Graves Commission.

On walking into my first graveyard, the

enormity of the task suddenly became

apparent. Some of the cemeteries are a

touch smaller than Arlington, Washington

DC and therefore finding a particular

headstone is literally like finding a needle

in a hay stack. I quickly learnt that local

knowledge is everything and that guidance

from the cemetery’s resident gardener can

cut down hours of pacing up and down

rows of bewildering headstones. You

also meet some wonderful characters

at 1030 on a Tuesday morning while

strolling around the graves with a camera

slung around your neck! Take the lovely

retired couple in Radford Semele, who had

taken it upon themselves to collect all the

fallen leaves in an area as big as Wembley

Stadium that had as many horse chestnut

trees as we have at RAF Brize Norton.

It made me feel a little guilty about my

retirement plans of sitting my days out in

the local pub with a pint of Guinness and

a copy of the Racing Post.

However, I was particularly struck by

the headstone of Master Air Loadmaster

A Bendelow, aged 51. As a 46-year

old Master Air Loadmaster I took great

comfort from knowing wherever I was

laid to rest, there would be somebody in

a blue suit visiting me every year to ensure

that the headstone and its surrounding

area were still in good order and that

the same respect was being shown to a

fellow airman.

Master Aircrew Spike Abbott

Station Warrant Officer



The inaugural Inter Services Power Kite Championships took

place at Red Wharf Bay in Anglesey North Wales over a cold and

bleak weekend in November. RAF Brize Norton was represented

by Fg Off Jed Geddis and Sgt Glen Cromar. After introductions

and a few sociable beers the competitive side of the Navy soon

emerged. Balance boards were brought out to test all at the

lodge. The aim of the balance board is to do various tricks and

moves without falling off. It takes a huge amount of balance

and dexterity to master this game. Confidence soon developed

as the beer started to flow. At one stage Mne Steve Mackay

(42 Commando Regt) flipped a complete summersault landing

on his back. With the wind knocked out of his sails and dented

pride, he resumed a lack lustre performance. Bruised elbows and

various carpet burns were the battle scars that all had on various

parts of their bodies.

After these fun filled shenanigans, the focus switched to the Met

report. A keen interest was shown as the wind predictions for Saturday

was poor. The met report looked more favourable for Sunday as 12 to

15 knots were predicted.

With little wind on the Saturday, a challenge was made for a Go Kart

racing competition at the Cartio Mon race track near Holyhead. The

Navy set the challenge and were vociferous in their driving abilities.

With testosterone pumping the Navy soon made their mark with a

convincing first race victory. The RAF had placed the first driving round

in the capable hands of Flt Lt Jim Field (RAF Valley). He jockeyed for

position with little or no ability and soon found his way at the rear of

the field. He was given the prestigious title of Mr “Driving Miss Daisy”

as it was noted that milk turns quicker. The Navy were quite impressed

as they encouraged Jim to continually bring up the rear!

Sgts Drakey Drake (RAF Leeming) and Glen Cromar struggled for

pace as they had handicapped themselves by eating and drinking their

own body weight in beer and pies! The size and weight of these hefty

chaps severely impacted on the points tally for the RAF. Never the less,

impressive driving by SAC Andy Brown (RAF Marham) and Fg Off Jed

Geddis soon secured the RAF valuable points. Points were awarded for

each round, with the Navy fielding 4 drivers in the final. The RAF had

secured 2 places with Andy and Jed. Andy was in pole position while

Jed was placed 4th on the grid. With lightening speed and incredible

driving ability, Jed passed the Navy drivers with style and grace that

Lewis Hamilton would be proud of. SAC Andy Brown consistent and

incredible driving secured victory, with Jed finishing second. Overall

the Navy were the victors by 2 points as they had less points deducted

for aggressive driving.

Sunday morning soon arrived, an early start was essential as the Land

boarders and Buggy riders needed to make the most of the available

beach before high tide. Impressive freestyle riding from Jed (most call it

falling with no style) ensured that the land boarding event went to the

RAF. Jim Field finally showed his aggressive side as he romped home

with the fastest time of the day to win the buggy event. The Navy and

Army competitors soon conceded victory as they wanted to focus their

attention in the Kite Surfing competition.

Sgt’s Drakey Drake and Glen Cromar were the first to impress the

judges as they skimmed across the bay displaying various back and front

loops, with occasional jumps in between. Glen and Drakey struggled

up wind as their kites were too small to harness any remaining sea

breeze. A long walk back up the beach was the norm for the day.

Sac’s Stu Saul and Andy Brown (RAF Marham) were impressive as they

continued to score points with jumps and board grabs. Sgt Ian Savage

(RAF Leuchars) was the most experienced RAF kite surfer, his skill and

abilities soon set the standard for the competition. His awesome display

of jumps and tricks whilst riding un-hooked had the Navy and Army

worried. He managed numerous handle passes and kite loops which

raised the eyebrows of the competition. 3 and a half years in Cyprus

certainly not wasted.

The Navy soon followed with Capt Scully Scullion RM and Mne

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RED WHARF BAY 29 - 30 NOV 08

‘His awesome display of jumps and

tricks whilst riding un-hooked had the

Navy and Army worried…’

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Steve Mackay (Commando Logistics Regt)

showing their alternative styles. Some

excellent board skills and kite control

enabled the judges to award extra points

for their precision kite surfing ability. Lt

Jonathon Platt Chairman of the Royal

Navy Kite Surfing Association (RNKSA)

soon followed with Lt Cdr Bob Bowman

(RNAS Culdrose).

Jonathon immediately started planeing

and struggled to keep his board in the water

as the wind started to change direction.

His speed in the water was consistent but

his freestyle ability lacked the finesse of

previous riders. Bob however, showed

great skill and jumping ability as he carved

up the water. His larger kite enabled him to

harness the winds power to much greater

effect as he made numerous floaty jumps

and kite loops. Major points were awarded


as he made effortless transitions between

tricks. Next up was Lt Darren Mason (HMS

Dolphin). By this stage it was looking like

victory would go to the RAF. A steady

performance by Darren would mean that

the Championship could go to the Navy.

After a shaky start, Darren soon found his

mojo. His speed across Red Wharf bay was

impressive as he beat the previous best

time by 3 seconds.

All competitors waited for the points

to be added to see who would be the

first winners of the Inter Services Power

Kite Championships. Although the Army

were represented, they could only field

one competitor Major Brian Bloor from 2

Royal Welch Regt.

The points were tallied and the

announcement was made. The Navy

had beaten the RAF by a single point.

With cheers and jubilation from the

Navy, Jonathon Platt Chairman of RNKSA

accepted the trophy and thanked the

organisers for making the championships a

success. The next Tri Service Championships

will be held later in the year, date yet to be

confirmed but will be hosted by the Navy

at RNAS Culdrose.

Power kiting is the fastest growing sport

in the UK with numerous beaches and

inland areas available for all levels of kite

flyer. The RAF has secured special discounts

with the main manufacturers and suppliers

of kite equipment who have shown a

positive interest in the sport developing

across the 3 Services. Turbulence Extreme

Sports based in Llandudno have provided

instruction with Tall Paul and EZE giving

up their time to demonstrate their skills.

Chris Hill from Surface Tension has also

been pivotal in the success of the RPKA.

Power Kiting has recently been given

‘Power Kiting has recently been given approved status by the Sports Board so we

can now look forward in getting the sport recognised as we continue to grow…’

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approved status by the Sports Board so

we can now look forward in getting the

sport recognised as we continue to grow.

Various training camps are scheduled

throughout the year with the majority

of equipment supplied for individual

instruction. An expedition to Lemmings

Kite Surfing Club in Cyprus this June is

currently being planned, so join the RPKA

now and secure a place. Membership

fees are only £5 per year and this entitles

members to favourable discounts with a

host of equipment suppliers. Dependants,

entitled civilians and civil servants are

also welcome to join the RPKA. For more

information contact Flt Jed Geddis or Flt

Lt CJ Martin or visit www.rafpowerkiting. for more information. A big thank

you to BNJ for supplying and taking all the


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No Smoking Day takes place on Wednesday 11th

March. Two-thirds of military personnel who

smoke would like to stop, and 2008 many made

a quit attempt.

No Smoking Day is working with the military on the ninth

Military No Smoking Day to promote the benefits of a smoke

free lifestyle. The theme for 2009 highlights the financial gains

alongside the usual health benefits and encourages smokers

to take the first step.

No Smoking Day is the perfect opportunity for military

personnel to get involved in the UK’s leading health promotion

campaign and highlight the help available for smokers. The Day

can be used to promote the serious messages about smoking

in a fun and approachable way.

The event organisers from Infantry Battle School, Brecon,

took first prize in the No Smoking Day Organiser of the Year

Awards for the Best Armed Forces Activity category. Providing

information to staff and family members in a fun and original

way, events - including a log race and archery contest - provided

an entertaining backdrop to advice available on the dangers of

smoking and health benefits attributed to stopping.

Dan Tickle, Chief Executive is calling on more personnel to

get involved in No Smoking Day:

‘I encourage military staff to get ready and involved - by

supporting No Smoking Day 2009, military personnel will be

joining countless others across the UK raising awareness of the

help they can provide to smokers not only on No Smoking Day,

but all year round.’

Second only to New Year, over a million smokers commit to

quit on No Smoking Day every March. To get involved with your

local No Smoking Day events contact the coordinator at your

local stop smoking service.

To find your nearest free local stop smoking service call your

national stop smoking helpline on:

• England and Wales 0800 169 0 169

• Scotland 0800 84 84 84

• Northern Ireland 0800 85 85 85

New members are welcome to

join the Brize Norton Coarse

Angling Club. The Club offers a

full programme of competitive

matches, charity matches and

social events fished on local venues.

Currently the winter league is

being fished and with 6 events

in this league left to fish it will

give you chance to compete and

learn some valuable winter fishing

tips. Then when it warms up we

have the popular summer league and we have some

quality venues that we will be fishing this summer. The

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You should receive your free information pack with lots of

information on using the theme and get ideas for No Smoking

Day activities and events at the beginning of February.

You can find out more about the 2009 No Smoking Day

campaign by logging onto


RAF Brize Norton

Coarse Angling Club RAF Championships is always well

attended and we will be looking to

put at least 3 teams in the event this

year, so if you fancy having a go at

winning the RAF Champs come on

down and fish a few matches and

get selected.

We require anglers of all

standards and our experienced

anglers will pass on knowledge and

experience to assist you catch more

fish on rivers, lakes and canals.

For more information contact

Sgt Duncan Pritchard 216 Sqn ext 6657

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2267 (Brize Norton) Sqn Air Training Corps

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On 13 February 2009 the Princess Royal unveiled a

plaque at the Royal Opening of the new Community

Centre on Shilton Park, Carterton. The band of No 2267

(Brize Norton) Sqn ATC were invited by the Carterton

Town Council to attend the event. The Air Cadets were

delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to

show-off their musical talents to a member of Royalty and

also to the public on this special occasion. After Cadet

Flt Sgt Jenny Young had accompanied the Mayor during

proceedings inside the Centre the band performed whilst

the Princess Royal met local residents outside. Despite the

cold they presented an impressive performance under

the leadership of RAF Cpl Katie Doak. They were all later

congratulated by the Station Commander.

Forces Girls is an online community run by and for UK

Armed Forces wives, fiancées and girlfriends.

We are a friendly forum, with lots of useful advice, chat,

laughs, news, debates and locally arranged meet ups.

The site is completely free to join and there are members

located across the globe. We welcome all, regardless of your

partner’s rank or regiment/unit – whether Army, Navy or RAF.


Overall Station Winner

Sven Mee Slalom


…And the winner is . . .

. . . RAF Brize Norton! On 10th January, several enthusiastic (some talented)

skiers and snow boarders made their annual pilgrimage to the RAF Alpine

Championships. They were accompanied by several newcomers, yearning to

learn more about the next ‘best kept secret’; many of the first timers, started

these champs as complete beginners!

Set in the welcoming resort of Hinterglemm, Austria, and

comprising 975 people who drove or boarded flights from around

the world (OK, Cyprus and Germany) to attend the 2009 Alpine

Championships. The snow conditions were fantastic this year,

giving everyone great opportunities to compete, have fun and

improve their skills on the snow. Not only did Brize win the overall

team competition, but Nathan Jones performed a remarkable

achievement by winning the combined individual event as well.

Great stuff Nath.

After a challenging race with RAF Wittering close on their heels,

the Brize team (Nathan Jones, Barnaby Rudge, ‘Sven’ Mee and

Paul Crocker) remained composed as they skied to victory, despite

suffering a casualty in the form of Steve Monk. He withdrew

the day before due to an altercation with a race gate (neither

survived the encounter!). Thankfully, he was OK and the only

long term pain was not receiving yet another medal. However,

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he didn’t waste his time off so I must thank him for taking the

photos (He does have one of the medal too!). After an excellent

performance, Nathan and Barnie went on to represent the RAF

in the Inter-service championships at Meribel.

The Brize Norton snow board team (Daz Hall, Sean Compton,

Julian Rolfe and Steve Collins) performed well. They battled

hard but at the end of the week, were narrowly beaten by RAF

Benson. Daz Hall rode well, getting the second fastest time in the

inter-station race. He went on to finish 7th overall. His obvious

talent was snapped up when he was also selected to join the RAF

Squad for the Inter-service champs. Well done Daz.

With great snow conditions, the best in the Alps for over a

decade, the only casualty was the Super G and Downhill races!

As they are speed events, safety is paramount; deep soft snow

combined with poor light and visibility (it was still snowing!), led

to the cancellation. However, the races still achieved celebrity

status when Chemy Alcott (British Female No1) popped in as

part of her work up after injury, to forerun the qualifying races!

It’s not all downhill and lycra, though. We had several complete

beginners from Brize who thoroughly enjoyed the experience and

some improvers who raced for the first time. They found it an

exhilarating experience and can’t wait to do more.

But what happens between races? Well, there is always time

for recreational skiing, socializing, catching up with old friends

and meeting new ones. The resort of Saalbach-Hinterglemm

with on-piste access to Leogang, has numerous mountainside

restaurants and ‘alms’. There were 73 people (60 of them Brize,

uniformed personnel) attending over the two weeks under

the auspices of Brize. We were the biggest contingent at the

championships! Saalbach-Hinterglemm is already, home to many

of the best après ski bars, so add nearly a thousand RAF personnel

to the resort, and the après ski is excellent, with many different


venues to enjoy a post ski drink. I can safely say that everyone

enjoyed the experience!

Finally, I would like to thank all the people who helped

to make this happen. Race funding was provided by a PEd

grant, courtesy of Dave Carey, Brize transport gave support by

transferring the bigger groups to the departure airports. Paul

Coen did a tremendous job as Team Captain, handling all of

the race administration. However, the most thankless task, was

carried out by Sam McAleese. She collected and submitted all

of the bookings and acted very much as the ‘customer service’

element. No easy task and she didn’t even attend the champs!

Thank you Sam! There were many more that I don’t have room

to mention by name. We appreciate all of their assistance.

Alpine Champs 2010, here we come!

By Paul Crocker

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A team from DCLPA recently took part

in the Royal Air Force Alpine Ski and

Snowboard Championships 2009,

three members of the DMS attended

the exercise as part of the DCLPA team.

The Ski Championships are open to all

and the aims of the championships

are to encourage beginners to take up

skiing and/or snowboarding as well as

encouraging and raising the standard of

competitive skiing and snowboarding in

the RAF. As well as the participants, it

also develops the skills of officials and

referees up to a national standard.

The DCLPA team consisted of 11

personnel; the 8 other members coming

from across the College. With one

member of the team flying, 10 brave souls

departed in the early hours of 15 Jan 09

for the long trip to Saalbach in Austria.

The DMS members boarded their luxury

(?) mini bus provided by BZN MT and soon

realised that the journey would take rather

a long time with the wagon capable of a

top speed of 60 mph! As the countryside

sped by, they finally RV’d with the rest

of the team some time later following

a slow and uneventful journey through

southern England, France, Germany and

finally Austria!

After the long journey, the team quickly

got onto the slopes to get some practice in

before the competitive races of the week.

The team included 9 skiers and 3 boarders.

Whilst there was a significant amount of

‘banter’ between the boarders and skiers,

the team integrated well, both on and off

the slopes!

All personnel took part in at least one

race during the week and the results

were very good considering very few

had competed on the snow before. For

the skiers, SSgt Martin Bloomfield just

missed out on a medal coming 4 th in the

Selectors Race. In the same race, Sqn

Ldr Andy Hulls made it into the top 10,

with Wg Cdr Damian Alexander, Maj Mat

Rawlinson, Flt Lt Rob Jones, Capt Perry

Bishop, Fg Off John Hook (OC Spt Flt,

DMS) and Sgt Colin King also all making

very credible performances against some

tough opposition.

The boarders also had some success,

with Sgt Russ Howarth (Course Design,

DMS) making it to the quarterfinal, only to

be beaten by the RAF number 2 boarder.

Unfortunately, his quest for success in

his second competition of the week,

the boarder cross ended swiftly with a

fractured collar bone, following a nasty fall

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in what were very difficult conditions.

The Boarder Improvers’ Race also saw

some success for the College, with Flt

Lt Jane Lewis gaining a silver medal in

the Ladies’ race and Sqn Ldr Paul Buxton

(OC DMS) gaining a credible 6 th position

in the men’s race against some very

experienced boarders.

Once the action on the slopes was

over, things did not stop there as the

college team also fully participated in

some après ski activities! Two of the

Army members represented the team

at the fancy dress gaining significant

attention and admiration! Others took

things a little slower with a few well-earned

beers following a hard day on the slopes!

Whilst a truly joint team in many ways, it

was clear that the green contingent had

a slightly different way of doing things!

Whilst the RAF dined in some of the better

restaurants in the resort, the Army headed

to the local supermarket to make dinner in

the chalet. However, as the RAF headed to

bed early, the Army were only just getting

going and planning their sorties to the

local nightclubs.

The journey back was equally as tedious

with driving conditions being extremely

poor making it an arduous journey after

a tiring week. The total mileage covered

on this trip was 1,825 miles.

DCLPA, actively supported by the DMS,

are already looking forward to entering

another team into the Championships

next year following the success of this

year’s entry. As well as being a thoroughly

enjoyable week, it is also an excellent

opportunity to maintain and develop

personal fitness levels and generate a good

team atmosphere that can be translated

back into the workplace on return.


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TheView from St Christopher’s

Over the last few weeks it’s been a

month of all seasons... with snow, floods,

rain and even sunshine in alarming

succession.... and all the pundits (rather

like that financial chap who will remain

nameless) are prophesying doom....

Global warming, credit crunch, bush

fires, crime stats etc.. etc... its all out

there. Maybe a quote from the book of

Revelation would do (after all that whole

book is full of doom and the end of the

world) ....

‘I watched as the sixth seal opened and

there was a great earthquake. The sun turned

black and the moon blood red and stars fell

to the earth’ ( Rev 5,12)

Well that’s good news! Maybe the

earthquake is coming... but joking apart I

think it is good news because if Revelation is right, the end of

the world isn’t just yet... we did have some sunshine the other

day and last I looked the moon was still a pale shade of grey.

You see it seems that in spite of the difficulties that we all have

at the moment - individually, as a nation and even globally (in

these days of internet banking and call centres in India) everything

Mean maximum: 9.9°C.

Record maximum: 21.7°C in 1965.

Mean minimum: 2.8°C.

Record minimum: -10.6°C in 1965.

Wettest March: 127.5 mm in 1981.

Average rainfall: 47.4 mm

Driest March: 2.0 mm in 1961.

Sunniest March: 185.6 hours in 1995.

Average sunshine: 110.3 hours.

Dullest March: 51.0 hours in 1984.

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by Padre Steve Lamond

is actually the same... and if there is any time

of the year that I love most its this one... ie


The days are getting longer; the temperature

is (sometimes slowly!) getting warmer and so

on. For Christians we are about to enter a

period that is called ‘Lent’ which comes from

the Anglo Saxon word for ‘spring’. It’s the

season of the year that traditionally we fast or

more quaintly ‘give something up’ to prepare

for Easter. For the early Christian church the

idea wasn’t self-deprivation it was to enable

us to be thankful for what we do have and

appreciate the good things. The reason being

that often we don’t appreciate what we take

for granted. Nothing like losing something

to appreciate again what you once had - and

in Lent even better to appreciate something

that you will get back at the end.

So as we begin to get to grips with the New Year in our

recession gripped country... Let’s try to appreciate what we do

have... or in other words perhaps you are ‘better off in the RAF.’

PS We will be running a Lent course at St Christopher’s each

Wednesday from 12:00 to 13:00 (until Easter).

March weather statistics

The A-Z of Weather: P is for WIND!

PAESA-A violent north-northeast wind of Lake Garda in Italy.

PAESANO-A northerly night breeze, blowing down from the

mountains, of Lake Garda in Italy.

PAMPERO-A cold squally south or southwest wind over the

pampas of the Argentine and Uruguay, which sets in with the

passage of a cold front. It is often accompanied by squalls,

thunderstorms, and a sudden drop of temperature. The pampero

seco is rainless, the pampero sucio brings a dust storm.

PANAS OETARA-A strong, warm and dry north wind in February

in Indonesia.

PAPAGAYO-(Also spelled popogaio.) A violent northeasterly

autumn wind on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and Guatemala.

It consists of the cold air mass that has overridden the mountains

of Central America and, being a descending wind, brings fine

clear weather. Papagayos are most frequent and strongest in

January and February, often lasting three or four days. They

weaken between 7 and 10 and freshen again, sometimes to

gale force, in the evening and early night.

PINER-In England, a rather strong breeze from north and


POLACKE-(Also spelled polake.) A cold, dry, northeasterly wind

in Bohemia descending from the Sudeten Mountains (from the

direction of Poland).

PONENTE-A west wind on the Côte d’Azur (French Mediterranean

coast), the northern Roussillon region, and Corsica. On the

Côte d’Azur it is a weakened mistral and brings clear skies.

In northern Roussillon it is the land breeze of early morning,

changing to southeast during the day, and generally preceding

the tramontana.

PONENTINO-Local name for the westerly sea breeze on the west

coast of Italy, and especially in Rome.

PONIENTE-The west wind in the Strait of Gibraltar.

PONTIAS-A mountain wind at Lyons, Department of Drôme, in

southeastern France.

PUELCHE-An east wind that has crossed the Andes; the Andean

foehn of the South American west coast. This term is sometimes

used for a land breeze in areas where the Andes descend sharply

into the Pacific Ocean. The corresponding sea breeze is the


OK, SO ONE NON-WIND - PINGO-A large frost mound of more

than one year’s duration. While this Eskimo term is used in several

related senses, the above meaning is becoming increasingly


Victoria Whatley

(Forecaster, Met Office Brize Norton)



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An aircraft which played a significant role in Brize Norton’s

history celebrates a major anniversary this March.

Britannia joins the RAF

March 19th 2009 marks 50 years since the Bristol Britannia first

officially entered squadron service with RAF Transport Command.

With its long haul capabilities and passenger/cargo configuration,

the Britannia was ideally suited to an era of increasing mobility,

as the UK fulfilled its commitments to NATO and Europe.

Varied duties

Initially based at Lyneham, the Britannia fleet operated by

99 and 511 Squadrons moved to Brize Norton in 1970. By

then the aircraft were wearing the livery of the renamed RAF

Support Command, yet their deployment remained much the

same. The familiar Changi Slip, and flights to Gan, Akrotiri and

Bahrain were interspersed with more unusual duties including

flying nuclear weapon parts to the USA and Japan, HRH Prince

Charles to Gibraltar and Tutankhamen’s solid gold death mask,

from Cairo to Brize.

Sole survivor

The Britannia fleet was demobbed from RAF service in 1975,

and now only one genuine RAF Britannia remains to mark the

momentous occasion 50 years ago. XM496 Regulus, under the

custodianship of the Bristol Britannia XM496 Preservation Society,

is displayed at Kemble Airport.

A permanent tribute

XM496 Regulus is preserved as a tribute to all RAF aircrew

and technicians, and their families, who served on and flew in

Britannias during the aircrafts’ 16 years of Royal Air Force service.

All photos copyright of the Bristol Britannia XM496

Preservation Society.

At the time of writing Regulus is not regularly open to

the public, but visits are very welcome and can be arranged

through the Society’s CEO Derek Smith, who can be contacted

at The Society particularly welcomes new

members and volunteers who would like to help, in any capacity

with the ongoing maintenance and restoration of this now unique

exhibit. More details of Regulus are available at

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Bryan Whitfield

Publicity Officer

Bristol Britannia XM496 Preservation Society


Exciting art show

comes to museum

A unique art exhibition featuring light, sound, craftsmanship

and theatre is winging its way to the Oxfordshire Museum in

Woodstock next month.

The Sharmanka Travelling Circus and Gothic Kinetic have

combined eye-catching mechanical objects, animal skulls and

beautifully carved figures in a not-to-be-missed show which will

be performed daily from 11 February to 29 March.

The sculptures ‘speak’ in turn, each telling its own story of life,

death, cruelty and beauty - some with personal references, others

with cultural ones, but each as fascinating as the last.

Meanwhile, mechanical objects including old sewing machines,

bicycle wheels and forgotten domestic machinery whirr and clang

to create dramatic sequences of light and sound in a 30-minute

performance which will be repeated hourly throughout the day.

Sharmanka - the Russian word for musical instrument the hurdygurdy

- is the brainchild of Russian-born artist Eduard Bersudsky,

theatre director Tatyana Jakovskya and light and sound designer

Sergey Jakovsky. Staff at the Oxfordshire County Council-run

museum are delighted to play host to the exhibition.

Unique exhibition

Councillor Jim Couchman, Oxfordshire County Council’s

Cabinet Member for Social and Community Services, said: ‘This

new exhibition is very unusual and a really good opportunity to

see a different form of art at The Oxfordshire Museum.

‘We always have a wide range of exhibitions at The Oxfordshire

Museum on a whole host of subjects which prove to be very

popular with visitors. I am sure that this show will attract many

people who will certainly be in for a treat.’



Day 2009

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