Station Commander’s Foreword…
The arrival of Spring finds every Squadron at RAF Waddington engaged in operations……ranging from West Africa to the Mediterranean and onwards to the Middle East.
Making a ‘perfect five’, 8 Squadron’s E-3D Sentry begins Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, joining Sentinel, Shadow, Reaper and co-manning Rivet Joint crews in ensuring aircraft from Waddington can be found on-station around the world every hour of the day. This edition of Insight focusses on the experiences of two of our squadrons in delivering their operational output. Firstly, 5 (Army Cooperation) Squadron recounts the first days of its deployment to Mali and 120,000 nautical miles over Africa. Secondly, 51 Squadron, which will soon see its own aircraft arrive here at Waddington, marks the 20,000 hour milestone of co-manning operations on board the United States Air Force RC-135 Rivet Joint. Heavily engaged in its own operational commitments, 14 Squadron takes time to join Exercise PASHTUN DAWN on the Salisbury Plain and to visit the Cabinet War Rooms and Bletchley Park.
Also in this edition, we continue our look back at RAF Waddington ‘Through the Years’ – this time focussing on the outbreak and early years of World War 2. In Autumn 1939, only 44 and 50 Squadrons remained at the Station, with the Avro Manchester arriving with 207 Squadron shortly after the outbreak. This period also saw the enemy bombing of Waddington Village and Station as well as the award of the Victoria Cross to Squadron Leader John D Nettleton for his formation lead of the daring bombing of the marine diesel engine factory in Augsburg. In their own exploration of the Station history, 1237 Air Training Corps recounts a visit by the cadets to the Waddington and Scampton Heritage Centres as well as their rather impromptu ‘visit’ to the Red Arrows.
Moving from the past to the future, the Station receives the excellent news that we are to be in receipt of 142 new homes, along with RAF Coningsby, between now and 2014. I take pleasure in seeing the first of the families moving into these new properties, built within the heart of our local community, and to the high quality that our Service Families deserve.
Despite the high operational tempo at Waddington, we can still find some time to support charities and other worthwhile causes. No. 8 Squadron has been particularly energetic, with thirty Squadron members led by their Wing Commander Jim Beldon, Officer Commanding 8 Squadron, raising over £1000 for the British Red Cross, RAF Benevolent Fund and Keep the Beat Charity. Congratulations to 8 Squadron Exchange Officer, Lieutenant Justin Dargan, United States Navy, for his impressive 39 minute time. Raising the bar one higher, the Red Rock Relayers, composed mainly of 8 Squadron engineers, raised an additional £2300 for charity in the Race for Life.
Finally, our many clubs and Air Force organisations have been active as well. The RAF Waddington Pipes and Drums completes a successful tour of Rhineland-Westphalia, as well as the Berlin Military Tattoo and British Military Tournament at Earl’s Court. Pipes and Drums joins the Station Voluntary Band and the Spitfires Choir for a charity concert at Lincoln Cathedral. The RAF Waddington and Digby Climbing and Mountaineering Clubs literally crawl over the top of each other in a two-part inter-station challenge and 8 Squadron Engineers, led by Senior Aircraftman Sam Shuttleworth, win top honours at the Station Inter-Section Championships on a particularly blustery and inhospitable March day.
I hope you enjoy this issue and that you will rejoin us in the next edition for an insider’s peek at the 2013 RAF Waddington Airshow and a look at RAF Waddington at the height of World War 2.