Area 51 Covid-19 update

Welcome once again to Area 51. The ongoing situation with Covid-19 has continued to present new and unique challenges, as it surely has across all of RAF Waddington.

The last few months have continued apace. In July Wg Cdr Nevin officially took command of 51 Sqn from the Acting OC 51 Sqn Ldr Brook. OC 51 thanked Sqn Ldr Brook and stated what a great privilege and honour it is to take command of the squadron.

July also saw ZZ664 take to the skies again from RAF Waddington following an extensive state-of-the-art upgrade. The aircraft spent a year and a half in the United States undergoing extensive modifications. ’64’ now boasts a modernised flight deck with a ‘glass cockpit’, which transforms flying operations for the squadron. Other modifications have improved situational awareness for the mission crew and upgraded their equipment. Now replete with world-leading technologies, ZZ664 has undertaken a series of flight deck training sorties and has returned to flying on operations and exercises full-time.
As we begin a phased return to work, the squadron has also been getting ready to deploy. Preparing for a deployment in such trying and unique times has required 51 Sqn to lean heavily on many of the other sections around station for pre-deployment training and support, often at very short notice. To that end, everyone on 51 Sqn would like to extend their sincere gratitude to RAF Waddington for all their help and assistance in recent weeks. It has been a remarkable effort from all involved.

Prior to deploying, many of the squadron personnel were placed in quarantine at Air’s new Quarantine Facility, based at RAF Wittering. At relatively short notice much of RAF Wittering has had to re-role many station facilities (including the Warrant officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess) to meet this new requirement.  If nothing else, these last few weeks have shown that personnel across the RAF are able to adapt and change at a moment’s notice to achieve operational needs.

In June we said a fond farewell to our US exchange officer, Maj Nick Solis, he will be missed greatly as he returns to the USA as he was a highly valued member of the team on 51 Sqn. Congratulations go to Sgt Danny Glover who has successfully completed his clinical course with the East Midlands Ambulance Service. Sgt Glover will now be joining other Lincolnshire Emergency Medical Response (LEMR) units out on Lincolnshire’s roads. LEMR is a unique charity which is made up of volunteers who are current or ex-serving Armed Forces personnel to provide a rapid and dynamic response to 999 calls across Lincolnshire. If you are interested in joining or would like more information, please visit lemr.co.uk.

Finally, we would like to wish former 51 Sqn member, and WWII veteran, Flt Lt John Armstrong a very happy 100th birthday. Flt Lt Armstrong, who turned 100 in July, served with the squadron in 1939 and along with his card from Her Majesty the Queen, he also received a pair of squadron cufflinks courtesy of OC51. He was delighted with both.

For the 51 sqn engineers the past few months have been very busy. As mentioned earlier, “64” has finally returned to flying and personnel have been scurrying around trying to locate various bits of personal kit (GSR, PCS that fits and mosquito tents??) in preparation for deployment.

Whilst all this has been going on there have been several movements and promotions. Firstly, Sqn Ldr Hall has left the position of SEngO on posting to High Wycombe as Eng (AS) JO Career Manager. The Sqn would like to thank her for her work during her tour and wish her every success in the future. The sqn would like to take the opportunity to welcome Sqn Ldr Dave Ayton who is the new SEngO, the sigh of relief from JEngO Brown could be heard for miles around when SEngO was seen in his office. A/CTs Docherty and Moreton have both been officially picked up (eventually) with Jase moving to 11 Sqn as the AvTM and Doc remaining on 51 Sqn as Mech TM….sorry I mean Maintenance Controller! In addition to the postings, there have been several personnel who have been offered promotion (too many to name) and we would like to congratulate each of them in this achievement and hope they get their posting of choice providing its Benson or Lossiemouth!

Finally, we need to present the “Unsung Hero” award to a member of 51 Sqn Support Flt and congratulate him on his greatest promotion of all to “Mr”. Chief Tech Cal Callander has been on 51 Sqn since Jul 2013 and has spent most of his time fulfilling the UMO role. His work creating the framework which allows the Sqn to deploy to numerous global locations and operate effectively cannot be underestimated and has seen him clock up a serious number of air miles. Every Sqn member who has deployed has benefitted from an aspect of Cal’s work. He has been an outstanding individual to have on the sqn and has eased the way for many detachments. He’s not going far though as he is taking a sideways move to L3 HARRIS as he joins the AGE team. Thank you for all you have done Cal and we all wish him well for the future. Sgt Al Bonar has been promoted to Chief Tech and takes over as the new UMO, big shoes to fill Al but we know that you will be amazing.

Finally, 51 Sqn hope that you all stay safe and well in these continuing uncertain times.

See you next time!