Lincolnshire Staff Ride

Thursday 12th May saw 6 personnel from RAF Waddington embark on a staff ride around Lincolnshire via mountain bikes, to take in some of the historic RAF treasures of the local area and gain some further knowledge of RAF and airpower history.

On Thursday 12th May, 6 willing and (a few of them only just about) able cyclists set off from RAF Waddington aiming to tackle a 54 kilometre route led by our very own cycling expert Corporal ‘Slim’ Evans. The route took the budding participants around some of the many historic sights of RAF Lincolnshire, some more well known than others, along a route planned and organised by the Training and Development Flight. The team set off, laden with enough sugary foods to last the duration after a brief meet and greet, in the hope of much historical and cultural enrichment and of course hoping to catch a tan! Over the day the route took the group to 5 sites ranging from the mere disused tower and farmers fields of former RAF Coleby Grange to the marvellously reconstructed World War II Operations Room at RAF Digby. The route aimed and succeeded in painting a picture of both the landscape of Lincolnshire during World War II and the cold-war period. Alongside offering an idea with solemn appreciation of the bravery shown and the sacrifices made across Lincolnshire since the RAFs inception, it gave an opportunity for one member of the group to introduce each of the sites.

After setting off, the group began the bright spring day discovering the role of the former airfield and THOR missile sight at Coleby Grange before discussing the changes in repatriation policy at Scopwick Cemetery. After taking some time to view the war grave there, they then pushed on to visit the Sector Operations Room at RAF Digby to learn about the World War II Integrated Air Defence System and were given the opportunity to view such treasures as an original ENIGMA machine as well as try their hands in the roles of the WAAFs of Second World War. After taking on the ‘light’ headlong breeze, the bikers struggled the 9 kilometres on to the spiritual home of the Royal Air Force, RAF Cranwell, to discuss the development of jointary within the British Armed Forces. Here they became victims of a wonderfully placed turn of British weather as a sun-baked discussion complete with iced buns and sweets transformed quickly into a dash for waterproofs and bikes as the team headed off to (eventually) find the old airfield of RAF Wellingore, leaving some members of the group wondering if it ever existed or if we were just taking a scenic loop back to Cranwell. After finding the old battle Headquarters of the airfield at Wellingore, complete with its five underground rooms, still standing to this day the discussion moved on to the earliest forms of airfield defence. The group then retuned valiantly to RAF Waddington after an enjoyable and informative day, eager for a welcome break from the saddle feeling a little weary but a whole lot wiser. Oh, and with the tan successfully achieved!

By Flying Officer Pete Freeman