Station Commander’s Foreword…

Group Captain Al Gillespie
Station Commander

What a difference a few weeks make…

In the last issue of Insight, I thanked the Station and our local community for the tremendous effort everyone put into the challenging year that was 2012.

Little did I realise at the time that we’d be starting 2013 by joining operations in Mali alongside our French allies, as well as continuing operations in Afghanistan. Every section called upon to support Sentinel’s short-notice deployment to the African theatre did so with the enthusiasm and energy that is a testament to our continued flexibility and commitment. Even 54 (Reserve) Squadron, our ‘ISTAR schoolhouse’, has moved its Sentinel instructors, evaluators and students to theatre and is flying the line in Operation HERRICK alongside 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron. Not to be outdone, our other platforms continue to deliver impressive achievements in operational theatres and critical training exercises around the world – all supported by our service personnel, civilians and contractors here at Waddington. In light of our running start into 2013, it’s appropriate that this first issue of our Station magazine for the New Year looks at who we are now and where we came from.

In this issue, you’ll get 5 (Army Co-operation) Squadron’s own viewpoint of the last year, as it hits its 10,000th Sentinel flying hour milestone and heads to Mali. Join 8 Squadron as it visits Maleme Airfield, Crete – the focus of Nazi Germany’s Operation MERCURY and key to the war in North Africa. Waddington’s own Qualified Weapons Instructor – Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Course, hosted by 54 (Reserve) Squadron, recounts the unique opportunities and experiences of students from a select group of Royal Air Force, Royal Marines, Royal Artillery, United States Air Force and industry partners during their gruelling seven months’ studies to become official ‘patch wearers’.

Whilst supporting operations overseas, 14 Squadron plays host to the Deputy National Security Advisor and Commander, Joint Forces Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach whilst the Squadron’s 6-a-side football team, under the guidance of Flight Lieutenant Alex Ball, has now begun to show promise after an inauspicious start. Not to be outdone by his sporting brethren on 14, Flight Sergeant Al Clarkson of 13 Squadron sets a personal challenge to run 13 miles each day for 13 consecutive days in support of charity. Similarly, five members of 56 (Reserve) Squadron decide to undertake the Paras’ 10, Chester Marathon, raising money for Cancer Research UK, Hounds for Heroes and Lincoln BABIES. Follow their adventure in near zero visibility across 7 Munros as they raise over £1500. Taking on an even more daunting challenge, a team of injured servicemen, including our own local Corporal Alan Robinson, RAF, from Scunthorpe, prepare to make the first-ever microlight flight to the South Pole.

I trust you’ll find this issue as interesting and entertaining as we intend it, but more importantly, I hope that it gives you a better look at who we are and what we do for the Royal Air Force, our families and our community.

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