Uncategorized

Welcome!

So once again, I am creating a blog. For those who have no knowledge of my last little huge project then you can find that here. As I joined the RAF in 2014, I thought it would be interesting to document my progress during application and selection. Since 2014, the blog has gained over 80,000 views from 35,000 individual visitors who have left hundreds of comments. “My RAF Journey” keeps me busy to this day, but 2014 is now a fading memory and it’s time to move on and look forward.

This blog will include a more personal perspective but will primarily follow two main aspects of my life which are the progression of my career as a mechanical aircraft technician and my flying training progress.

Currently, I’m a phase 3 trainee at DCAE Cosford on a mechanical aircraft technician course. This keeps me busy 9-5 Monday-Friday but in addition to that, I am also completing the JRPSS, a flying scholarship I was awarded by the RAF Charitable Trust in 2016. More details in a future post!

As of now, my ambitions are as follows;

  • Achieve my PPL by the end of this year
  • Apply for a commission in the branch of pilot

All relevant updates will be posted here and I’ll make it as interesting as possible so hopefully someone will enjoy reading and maybe even learn a thing or two!

Please use the drop down menu on the side bar to quickly find categories of posts. These include posts on squadron visits, life as an aircraft mechanic/technician, flying scholarship and more if I decide to add any. Alternatively you can just scroll down to read them all which may be easier if you’re on mobile. Newest posts are at the top, just beneath this one. Enjoy!

Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship

Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme – The RAFFCA Showcase Day

With the excitement of being selected still very much there, it was time to focus and see what the next steps were. I waited patiently for an email outlining what I would need to do next and how everything was going to work. RAF Coningsby didn’t have a flying club so I had no idea where I would even be allocated to complete the flying.

The email soon arrived and I found out I would be at RAF Halton Aeroplane Club. This initially made my eyes widen a little and I had to double-check I’d read it right. I had. Not a problem, I thought. I was familiar with Halton from basic training, so it could have been a lot worse. I had until the end of September 2016 to complete the flying training, and this was currently March, so I had plenty of time. The email included individual steps that I needed to take to progress which was very handy and very well organised.

JRPSS email

As you can see on the list, we had a Showcase Day to attend. This was at RAF Halton and included the official handover of a brand new aircraft, funded by the RAF Charitable Trust to be gifted to RAF Flying Clubs. It was a Tecnam P2008, registration G-RFCA. It would later end up at RAF Scampton to be used by JRPSS students there, but for this occasion it was being flown in to Halton for the ceremony. There was also the annual aerobatics competition due to take place which I was excited to see.

Going to Halton for the showcase day was the first and last time that the entire class of 2016 would be together. I saw a couple of familiar faces as soon as I arrived. One of the guys was on my basic training course and was also an aircraft mechanic. We chatted a little, but it was a fairly busy day with lots of prep to do for the showcase. It was good to meet other like-minded people with similar aviation-related goals. 

The big day arrived, but the weather wasn’t playing ball. It was wet, with a low cloud base. The low cloud base meant the aerobatics competition was cancelled. This was unfortunate but although it was rained off, it didn’t dampen spirits at all. 

As well as the unveiling of the new aircraft, there were some great exhibitions on site also. The SpiritOfAyre instantly springs to mind, as does The Flight of The Navigator.

The SpiritOfAyre is a project to continue building a Pitts Special aircraft that had been started by Sgt Tony Ayre. Tony won the inaugural RAF Flying Clubs Association Annual Aerobatics competition, however he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident shortly after. Before his death, he was restoring a Pitts Special, which his family are now continuing to build with the help of funding from the RAF Charitable Trust and RAF Benevolent Fund to name just a couple. It was great to see the aircraft taking shape and hear about the future plans and timescales. I can only hope the project is running smoothly and all is going to plan as there haven’t been any recent updates.

The Flight of The Navigator is an undeniably inspiring and ambitious project by Group Captain Mark Manwaring. Due to take place in 2018 for the centenary of the RAF, Gp Capt. Manwaring, a fast jet navigator, is building a modified Vans RV-7 aircraft which he plans to fly around the world, breaking the circumnavigation speed record as he goes. This is a truly incredible feat and having seen the aircraft and workshop (his garage!) first hand, I am in no doubt that this is 100% achievable. I am watching this project grow and develop intently!

Post-aircraft-handover-ceremony, we were formally presented with our framed certificates confirming our place on the 2016 Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme. The event at Halton was a great chance to network with people we wouldn’t usually get to speak to or share the same environment with. It was also a great introduction to aviation in the military and how much of a friendly community it really is. We were made to feel extremely welcome as newbies which personally filled me with confidence for when I finally launched into the skies myself. 

Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship

Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme – The Application & Selection

The JRPSS has been the most defining event of my time in the RAF. It’s done things for me that I previously could only dream of and it’s setting me up for a great future in aviation and especially a future inside the cockpit which is where I would like to be. Here’s how it all began…

I’d arrived at Coningsby at the start of September 2014, and applied for the scholarship in November. I wasn’t sure of all the details, but I had always wanted to fly. I had thought about it a lot previously. A private pilots licence can cost anything up to and beyond £10,000. It was a huge step and amongst everything else, I didn’t want to get into something I wasn’t sure I could finish. But then I saw the advertisement for a scholarship. 15 hours of flying training fully funded, with the chance to apply for a further 20 hours depending on your performance. “Why the hell not?” I thought. So I did. I spent a couple of days carefully wording my application with the help of my girlfriend, and we submitted it. From that point onwards, I put it to the back of my mind and got on with work. I still had a lot to do in the way of training at getting authorised to work on the typhoon. Plus I had QRA duty scheduled a week before Christmas so I was mentally preparing for that which was a little daunting when you’ve only been out of Cosford a couple of months.

Time flew by and 2016 was here. January passed, and then February and soon it was March. I distinctly remember working one night shift when my Flight Sergeant called me into his office at around 11pm after we had seen-off our jets. There was an almost-subtle but yet too obvious atmosphere of people looking at me as if to say “Oh God, what have you done?!”. Getting called into the FS’s office isn’t usually a great thing. However, I left his office with more questions than I had before I went in. This was a thursday night. When you’re on night shift, Thursday night is your last day at work, so everyone’s looking forward to going home the next morning. The FS told me I wouldn’t be going anywhere, because I was attending the Station Commanders quarterly update. The reason why could not be disclosed, and he made it very obvious that it was a good thing, but he was keeping it a secret. “Uhhh… okay. Thanks, Flight.” He then told me I had to be there at 8am and that I’d need to be in my long-sleeve blue shirt and tie. So I knew no matter what time I finished tonight, I would have to iron my shirt and polish my shoes. Yay

I finished work at around 1am, and headed back to my room for a shower and a spot of kit prep. The last time I had ironed uniform and polished shoes at this ungodly hour, I was preparing for my day 63 inspection at Halton. Funnily enough, it didn’t even take me half the amount of time it used to. I was done by 01:30 and could finally get to sleep. 

I woke up in the morning and I was still none the wiser to what the point in my attendance was. I ambled off in my smarter-than-usual uniform and took my seat at the brief. It was interesting as it covered what different squadrons at Coningsby had been up to recently regarding operations. I sat there for a while and as a few awards were dished out, I was getting quite bored. I had hoped, if anything, that I was there to pick up some kind of award or “well done” or something. I wouldn’t have been that bothered, but I was giving up my Friday so I wanted something out of it at least. The last award was “SAC of the quarter”. This usually goes to someone on the station who has made outstanding contribution to their squadron or unit. The winner gets a backseat trip in a Typoon which is pretty cool. This guy was announced and it sounded very well deserved so there was a big round of applause. Then, the station commander mentioned how good the prize would be and that everyone should experience flight. He then asked those in the crowd who had ever wanted to learn to fly to raise their hand. Lightbulb moment. 

Suddenly, I knew why I was there. My heart rate increased and I was praying to hear the words I thought the station commander was going to say next. He did. “Some people in this room do want to learn to fly and I know this because 2 of them are going to learn to fly. They applied for the Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship scheme and out of 370 people, they were selected which is an incredible achievement”. My name and the name of another guy who has won was then read out. It was unreal. I was going to learn to fly! A lifelong dream had all of a sudden become a reality because of an application I sent on a whim. I was over the moon and didn’t mind one bit that I had given up my Friday for this! 

There was a lot of hard work to come, but this is just the beginning. Part 2 coming soon!

Squadron Visits

Above the clouds with 45(R) Squadron

The second and final instalment of squadron visits (for now, at least), comes from my visit to 45(R) Squadron at RAF Cranwell.

This visit was more convenient as it was only a 30 minute drive from Coningsby and I was familiar with it anyway as I drove by most weekends. I didn’t actually know I was getting a pax trip on this visit but I did anyway and it turned out to be really unique and interesting. 

Once again I was assigned to a current student on the squadron who basically showed me around and answered questions all day. The crew room was busy. The weather wasn’t great so a lot of the students were having their flights cancelled or delayed. Lots of guys were sat around taking notes, revising, and generally looking busy and focused. 

20160905_102006 (2)They sat out there for a while as the pilots waited for the cloud base to improve

I got shown around one of the King Air in the hangar undergoing maintenance. The emergency exits and all safety information was briefed to me, and I had a sit in the cockpit which was a little more cluttered than I was used to but still very familiar. 

Another hour or two passed and it was time for me to get in the air. I was going up with a two Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs) who were updating some of their currencies. For any pilot, military or civilian, there are always things you need to keep up to date. It’s actually the same for mechanics and engineers too. We have to keep in date for all of our authorizations. I remember I was scheduled to see off an aircraft one morning and I was essentially pulled off it and banned from doing any work on aircraft because I wasn’t up to date on my wiring husbandry brief. I had to wait a few days until I did the brief before I could start working on aircraft again, so it’s really important for pilots and engineers to keep in date for all their authorisations and competencies. 

20160905_113908edit.jpgFocused

I’d done plenty of stalling in single piston-engine aircraft but not multi-engine, so I was intrigued to see what, if any differences there were. A stall in a light aircraft is actually fairly uneventful if you control it correctly. You keep it in balance (wings level) and pitch nose up to keep your vertical speed indicator on zero. You don’t want to be losing or gaining height. As you approach stall speed, you’ll usually hear the stall warner just before you’re in a fully developed stall. The airframe will buffet and you’ll feel a bit of vibration, and that’s when you pitch nose down and correct. Usually around 200-300ft is lost if correction is immediate. 

Other than stalling, the instructors had planned to do some circuits at Marham, which is another station I’d not visited before, so that would be cool to see. We got airborne and climbed out to about 11,000ft which is the highest altitude I’d flown in a small aircraft. Smaller than an airliner, any way. It was pretty much cloud all the way up, and for the first time in my life, I was having severe ear pain. Usually you would experience this if you had a cold or a blocked nose. I had neither and had felt fine on the ground but as soon as we were climbing through about 2,000ft, I couldn’t equalise the pressure at all. Normally, you would just swallow, yawn, or chew gum. This has the effect of opening the Eustachian tube and allowing air into your middle ear (which is the little pop you hear). The pain is felt when the Eustachian tube doesn’t open, and therefore pressure cannot equalise. I was suffering pretty bad, and it was really hard to even try to enjoy the flight.

We broke through the clouds at about 8,000ft and suddenly I had something to take my mind off the pain. The view was incredible. We were surfing this blanket of cloud beneath us and above was the brilliant varying shades of blue of the mid-afternoon sky. The quote “The sky is always blue above the clouds” could not have been more fitting.

20160905_112950editSkipping over the clouds elegantly at 10,000ft

We made our way to Marham. I was just behind the cockpit so I could see everything that was going on and I could hear the pilots through the headset so it was interesting to listen to the comms between them and Marham ATC. As I’ve mentioned, I had flying experience by this point, but I was still a little apprehensive of talking on the radio when I was flying, so it was interesting to listen to professionals and realise it’s not that terrifying after all. We completed a few touch and goes at Marham, before climbing back up above the cloud for the pilots to get current on general handling and stalling. The stalling was pretty much the same in this aircraft as the smaller aircraft I’d experienced. The speeds were a little different, but the effects were the same. The correction wasn’t as pronounced either, but again, there wasn’t any dramatic difference.

20160905_112650editThere’s a big sky outside that small round window

With this complete, we headed back to Cranwell. Besides the ear pain, the flight was fantastic. Great views, but also a great amount of information learnt. It’s nice to do these things when you can actually understand and appreciate what’s going on.

20160905_122043 (2)Not so great beneath the clouds

We got back on the ground and I thought that was my day over. It wasn’t! To my delight I was offered an hour-long simulator slot. The simulator had been busy all day because the weather wasn’t great for the students so they were flooding into the simulator to do their training instead. One of the guys had cancelled his slot so I was offered it instead. The simulator at Cranwell is one of the most advanced I’ve seen, even more so than the typhoon simulators at Coningsby. It essentially had the entire cockpit of a King Air just sitting in this room with an incredibly immersive 180 degree projector screen in front of it. Just behind the cockpit, there’s some computers which are hooked up and you can have someone sitting there to do anything from changing the weather to making both your engines fail. It really was as real as it gets. 

I hopped into the left hand seat with one of the senior students in the right hand seat. He asked me what I wanted to do and I fancied a bit of a low-level flight through the mach loop so he set it up and we flew the same route they do for real before we recovered back to RAF Valley. Within seconds, you fly as if it was real. It’s amazing to see how far technology has come and how simulators really are just as good as the real thing. Of course, as a pilot, you will always prefer the real thing but living in England means the weather can halt proceedings. The simulator, especially one as good as this, is absolutely fantastic and a near-perfect substitute for the real thing.

I had a great time at 45(R) Squadron and I went away inspired. Whilst fully aware that there are no guarantees when you become an RAF pilot, I’d only ever really been interested in jets. I’d be lying if I said that still wasn’t the dream. but my visit to Cranwell opened my eyes and I definitely would not be complaining if I ever had the chance to fly multi engine. 

…Still not sold on helicopters though. Maybe one day!

Squadron Visits

Loops and rolls with 16(R) Squadron

Having aspirations to be a pilot in the RAF means you need exposure to the people and environments you would be working with during that career. It’s not something you go into blindly and just hope you like it. It’s intense and a lot more than a “job”, so you need to do your homework.

This can be quite difficult if you’re a civilian as it greatly depends on who you know and what favours you can pull. Once you start getting into things like this, it really is good to have some decent contacts. Fortunately for me, I was already in the RAF and at Coningsby when I decided to have my first go at applying for pilot. I wanted to go out to flying squadrons, particularly flying training squadrons, and see what it was all about.

My idea was to email the OC’s of all the squadrons I wanted to visit. Top of the list were 16(R) or 57(R) who are responsible for Elementary Flying Training (EFT), 72(R) Squadron who operate Tucano aircraft for Basic Fast Jet Training (side note – watch an incredible video for 72 Squadrons centenary here) , and 45(R) who fly the king Air for multi-engine training. 

I think I emailed around 15 different places, and I got around 10 replies who all wanted to schedule visits. I was a little overwhelmed as I was expecting about 1 or 2 replies. It turned out I could only make 2 of the visits, which i was happy about but a little disappointed. I really wanted to get to visit 72(R) Squadron as I have a bit of a soft spot for the Tucano and would have loved a backseat trip in one. I almost got a backseat trip in a Hawk T1 belonging to 100 Sqn at RAF Leeming but for one reason or another it never happened.

16 Squadron was my first visit and for this I made the hour-long trip from Coningsby to Wittering. I arrived at around 08:30 and was met by my host who happened to be an EFT student on 16 Sqn. It was good to chat and find out about life at Wittering which is somewhere I haven’t visited before. Actually, I didn’t even know where Wittering was until I googled! I arrived at the squadron, met some of the other students, and I was constantly tuning in and out of everyones conversations to find out what they were up to. I was fascinated that these people were taking their first steps towards becoming RAF pilots and this could potentially be my future too.

I liked visiting an EFT squadron because these were junior officers straight out of Cranwell who were learning to fly. Some had no flying experience whatsoever. Up to now, the only pilots I’d known were Typhoon pilots. They had been in training upwards of 5 years and now they were operational pilots on a front line Typhoon squadron. Understandably, they had the ego to go with it. The guys on EFT didn’t have that and it was refreshing to see. Plus at this point I had 15 hours flying experience due to my flying scholarship so I was actually more experienced than students on the junior courses! Nonetheless, I learnt a huge amount. 

With the mandatory safety dvd out of the way, I got to have a walk around, and then go and get sized up for a flying suit and helmet. There was plenty of time to chat as I wouldn’t be getting to fly until the afternoon, so I asked plenty of questions over lunch and then it was almost time to get in the air. I wasn’t in the air cadets when I was a teenager so this would be my first taste of ‘military’ flying. I had a quick brief from the instructor and he essentially asked me what I wanted to do. I said it would be good to see some of the actual components of EFT lessons. He said that sounded good and then we walked out to the aircraft. It was a hot day, and it was absolutely boiling in the flying suit. Thankfully we got to keep the canopy open for a few minutes while we taxied to the end of the runway. 

Once we were airborne, I mentioned that I had a few hours of recent flying experience and he handed over control to see what I could do. We climbed to around 4,000ft and did some general handling and then progressed into steep turns, slow flight and stalling etc. Then he asked me if I wanted to do some aerobatics. I’d never done any before so I grabbed the chance and he said he would demo the manoeuvres one at a time and I could repeat them. We did a few basic rolls, loops, and stall turns. He then said he was pretty happy with my competency and that I had around 5 minutes before we had to head back. He handed over control to me and said I could do any of the manoeuvres we had just done. The next 5 minutes was truly exhilarating. I think I made up for my lack of experience of aerobatics within those 5 minutes! It was time to RTB and after an interesting run-in and break (something I’d not done before), we were back on the ground. 

I headed back to get out of my flying suit and that brought the day to an end. It was an incredible experience that I won’t forget for a very long time but by the end of the day I was very tired and very hot. It was time to head back to Coningsby for a cool shower!

Apologies for the lack of pictures in this post. I’ll make up for it on the next one!

Aircraft Mechanic/Technician

My time as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic

Although I mentioned in my first post that the plan is to look forward, I’m actually going to start by rewinding.

The first few years of my RAF career look like this –

  • 10 weeks basic training at RAF Halton (26/11/14 – 17/02/2015)
  • 6 months AMM training at DCAE Cosford (18/02/15 – 31/08/2015)
  • AMM Posting to XI(F) Squadron, RAF Coningsby (01/09/2015 – 11/11/2016)
  • 12 month Mechanical Aircraft Technician course at DCAE Cosford (14/11/2016-Present)
  • Mechanical Aircraft Technician Posting (TBC)

For this post, I’m going to focus on what my time was like during my first posting on an operational Typhoon squadron.

My arrival at RAF Coningsby was nothing short of a comedy sketch. I pitched up, found a car park and set about locating the accommodation cell so I could get the key to my room. I was rather excited about getting my room as since joining the RAF, I had only experienced shared living accommodation. Halton had 16 man rooms, and Cosford had 4 man rooms. I had no idea what my room at Coningsby would be like, but at least it would be mine. It was a blisteringly hot day and I was looking for accommodation. 20 minutes later, I was still looking for accommodation. I had a map, but the map was old. Accommodation was on the map, but it had moved and the map was not updated. Fantastic. I asked 3 different people to point me in the right direction and they all pointed me in different directions, none of which led me to the right building. I finally found the place, to discover that I’d actually walked past it countless times in the last hour but the sign was on the door and the door was propped open due to the heat… Great start.

20150828_165709The room was a nice surprise. Apart from the pink wall. That was… very pink.

The initial plan was to grab my key, go to my room to relax and cool down for a little while and then head off in search of XI squadron. Due to the difficulty I had in obtaining my key, I decided I would just head off walking and try to find my squadron straight away. There’s something very wrong with one of the words I chose in that last sentence. Walk. See, I didn’t know this, but it turns out like most airfields, Coningsby has a ring road, which means there are buildings and facilities on the other side of the airfield aaand guess what some of those buildings were? Yep. XI Squadron. I was politely told by someone who worked at 29 Squadron that I may need my car if I wanted to arrive there before tomorrow. He wasn’t wrong. Turns out XI is almost 3 miles from the car park on the main camp. I was in uniform, I had driven 3 hours in the heat, and the once-interesting typhoons were very quickly becoming an annoyance overhead that I just wanted to disappear. By this point I just wanted to go to bed but I went a jumped back in my car, and made my way across to my new place of work.

20150920_083640(edit)The drive to work did offer some nice views in the early morning light

It’s funny. A new AMM is incredibly easy to spot. We all look like a rabbit in the headlights. We are fresh out of a training environment and we’re not sure how anything works in the real RAF yet. Do I still call Corporals by their rank? Does my uniform need to be perfect all the time? How strict is this place? We are clueless. The learning curve is astronomical and that’s never more apparent than when you arrive at your first unit. Eventually I met the flight sergeant and my line manager and then I was shown to a small office which was home to training cell. Training cell are your go-to people until you’re fully qualified. Although you’ve just spent 6 months doing AMM training, you aren’t ready to be an AMM on a specific type of aircraft. We learn primarily on Jaguars at Cosford, and now we’re dealing with typhoons. There are lots of differences and new things to learn.

Before you are let loose on a £100m aircraft, you need to complete a 2 week common induction module (CIM course) ran by BAE systems and a couple more weeks on line training which is done on your squadron by training cell. The CIM course at Coningsby is the only CIM course for typhoon, which means if you get posted to Lossiemouth then unlucky because guess where you’re going on holiday for a couple of weeks! The course is fairly in-depth on typhoon systems, both mechanical and avionics. It also gives you basic understanding of topics such as safety and hazard information and how to apply electrical power etc. We got to try out the typhoon simulator that the pilots use which was pretty cool. Once you pass the exam, you can return to your squadron to start line training.

Line training typically lasts two weeks and everything you learn is essentially how to do your job. You learn the different types of flight servicings and all that is contained within them. You will also get QRA trained and do a couple of mock QRA scrambles. The pilots play ball and will come running out to help simulate a real QRA. Once complete, you will do a written and a practical exam and once those are passed – you are good to go! It is surprising you quickly you pick everything up. Within about 3-4 months, you’re helping show the new AMM’s what and what not to do.

typhon sunsetThe sunsets weren’t too bad either…

Personally, I had a really enjoyable posting on XI squadron. I had the chance to undertake QRA duty which is a long week of not being allowed to leave the building but the adrenaline when the alarm goes off is pretty intense. If you don’t get any calls, then it’s a nice relaxing week off work with free food. What more do you want?!

Unfortunately I arrived at XI at the wrong time for detachments. The squadron had not long got back from Turkey when I arrived and a month after I arrived, they went to Langley AFB, Virginia. Unfortunately I wasn’t trained in time so I stayed behind and painted the engineers tea bar instead. So while I would love to talk about all the cool places I visited… the reality is I went to Leeming for 2 weeks on Ex GRIFFIN STRIKE. Not saying it was a bad det… actually no, who am I kidding. It was awful. I was chosen to be in charge of tool control and tool stores during the two weeks at Leeming. It was actually quite a lot of responsibility and would usually be a position held by someone with more seniority. Truth was, I pretty much just sat in portacabin  for two weeks and made sure everyone signed for their tools correctly. But hey, at least I got to stay dry. I didn’t complain once while I was there and took everything in my stride which I was commended for by management. The real trick is just knowing when to shut up and keep how you’re feeling to yourself!

7x0vqvsjmvmxA pretty eerie picture I managed to grab of our English Electric Lightning gate guard at XI Squadron. Taken at 3am after a very long, foggy night shift.

One thing I absolutely loved about being on a squadron was the freedom and opportunities that I could take advantage of. I wanted to do two main things while on my first posting and they were 1) learn to fly and 2) apply to be an RAF pilot. Honestly, I had no idea how I would do either of those. I took it upon myself to look into both. I also decided I wanted to improve my C grade in GCSE Maths, so I set about doing an IGCSE course which I found on the defence internet page for Coningsby. Upon finding this course, I saw a little link on the same page which was titled something like “Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme – Apply now!”. I didn’t hesitate. I had no idea what was involved or even if I was elgibile.. I was at work but I decided to stay in the little computer room and throw together an application. It was rushed, it was a spur of the moment thing and looking back it was probably awful but then again maybe not because long story short – I got it! I managed to check the small print a couple days after I sub,mitted my application and thankfully I met the criteria. I applied about a month after I arrived at Coningsby and I found out I had been awarded a place around 3 months later. I had a chat with my management who were extremely supportive and I got two weeks off work to complete the flying without having to use any leave to cover it. I have lots to talk about regarding the scholarship so there will be many posts about it in the future!

Turns out the Maths course was eventually cancelled, but I think I got something a whole load better by looking for it!

I also wanted to apply for RAF pilot and see how I got on with the aptitude. I decided that should I pass the aptitude, I’d need to be ready for the interview. This could either mean hours slaving away looking up information on flying training and all the flying squadrons in the RAF, or I could go and visit a bunch of squadrons and see what they do first hand. I could take a day off whenever I wanted so I emailed about 15 flying squadrons and just decided to see who got back to me. For various reasons I only got to visit 2. I managed to get a day with 45(R) Squadron at RAF Cranwell and another day with 16(R) Squadron at RAF Wittering. Look out for future posts detailing these trips but they were incredible and something I’ll be looking to do again as soon as I get back onto a squadron!

After doing the visits, it was time to sit the aptitude test. I wouldn’t say I was as prepared as I could have been but I decided to give it a shot any way. The worst case scenario is they tell me to come back next year. No big deal. Again, I won’t go into too much detail because this will make another good post in the future but I didn’t pass the aptitude for pilot. I was a few marks short. Not by much, but enough. I qualified for many other officer branches but they just aren’t for me. It’s always been pilot or engineer so I’m happy where I am until I get another go.

My time at Coningsby was really good. It could have been better if I had the chances to do more things and see more places but I made the most of it as much as I could. The management was great which is exactly what you need and I had a good time and plenty of laughs with the other guys I spent my time with there. We got up to all kinds of mischief to make the night shifts go faster and I was dreading leaving but excited to get my technicians course done so I can get back out there.

That was a summary of my time at XI Squadron, RAF Coningsby. Had a blast and who knows, with any luck I may be back there later this year!