ACA Woking News by Paul Holden, PRO

15 June 2004


Passengers waited and watched
from the clubroom enclosure
Safety marshals supervised boarding of aircraft

In June the local branch of the Aircrew Association held their annual Flying Night, where Instructors and Club Pilots from Fairoaks Flying Club provide short trips round the local area for members and their friends and families. On this occasion they were honoured with a visit from ACA National President Air Marshal Sir Christopher Colville KCB BA FCIPD FRAeS, pictured with Flying Desk Operator Doug Hudgell (left) and Branch Chairman Eric Smith GM (right).

About 200 members and guests were present, and a very smooth operation flew 120 passengers in 11 aircraft within around 2 hours, followed by a sumptuous buffet.

In a short speech afterwards, Sir Christopher assured the former aircrew present, from his experience as Air Member for Personnel and Commander in Chief Personnel and Training, that the young recruits coming into the service are as excellent as ever, and will always ensure that the RAF, though it is not the largest air force, will always be the equal of the best. It was nice that Lady Irene was also able to be present, and met and talked with many members.

(L to R) Branch Member Doug Hudgell,
ACA National President Air Marshal Sir Christopher Colville KCB BA FCIPD FRAeS
and Branch Chairman Eric Smith GM
VIP guest
Members and their guests
enjoyed the subsequent buffet

At their last monthly meeting, members had a talk by Flt Lt Chris Kay, a regular RAF officer based at RAF Benson, who administers 606 (Chilterns) Squadron RAuxAF, which provides Helicopter Support personnel to the Joint Helicopter Command - a tri-Service organisation set up since the 1996 Defence Review.

He was able to dispel a number of myths about the RAuxAF and bring members up to date with the realities of life in the reserve service, which comprises some 2,500 personnel in 20 Squadrons spread around the country, who have a high level of commitment. They are required to train for a minimum of 27 days per year, including 15 days continuous training, and weekends. They mostly provide specialist ground tradespeople - Medical, Intelligence, Flight Ops Assistants, MT Drivers, Operations Headquarters, Supplies etc, for support on exercises, and indeed on operations, as in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 606 Squadron, they also train people in helicopter handling and as Landing Point Controllers.

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