RAF Coningsby Camp 2017

From the 5th to the 12th of August, 7 cadets from 148 (Barnsley) Squadron and other Squadrons in South and West Yorkshire Wing spent a week at RAF Coningsby. We did various activities as well as section visits on and off base, from night exercises to fire sections.

Day 1) 5th August After arriving, unpacking, dinner and being split into 2 flights, red and blue, and then into sub flights, red A and red B etc, we went down to the fire section visit. First, we got our fire safety brief for the camp and then went to the fire engines and the equipment they use. We got to climb the fire engine and see how the water cannon worked, then got to practice unrolling the hose pipe as quickly as possible. We were also shown the other equipment that is used by the crew like the jaws they use to cut through metal and cars. We then finished the day with some sports. Playing some football and some competing games in the inter flight points competition.

Day 2) 6th August We went down to RAF Cranwell for some flying in the Grob tutors. In my flying experience, I was able to perform some aerobatics which included loops barrel rolls and stall turns. A stall turn is flying vertically upwards and before the aircraft stalls turning over one of the wings ang going straight down. I find the aerobatics fun and a rare opportunity when flying as it’s not something you get to experience on a regular day. After flying we travelled down to RAF Newark air museum for a couple hours to end the day, getting to see a Vulcan, Shackleton and lots of other retired aircraft. Although it was a rather small museum there was still a lot to learn as well as being a fun way to end the day’s activities before returning to base.

Day 3) 7th August To start day 3, we were visited by the Station Commander to give us an official welcome to RAF Coningsby and were given a brief to the station for health and safety and to see what kind of sections are at Coningsby. Then we when to see the Typhoon aircraft at 29 Squadron to have a look around the jet and learn about the Typhoon. We were also allowed to sit in the pilot’s seat and learn about the cockpit and what the pilot would do to in some situations. And then went to have our camp photo taken in front of an English Electric Lightning. After the photo, we went to RAF Tumby to visit the RAF Police Dogs, we were shown the gear that they use to train the dogs and the different situations the gear is used when training them. They also took us into the kennels to see all the different breeds of dogs they have and what roles they do, for example a Springer Spaniel would be used as a sniffer dog and the bigger breeds such as German Shepherds as the General Purpose dogs. Finally, to end the day we visited the lounge to relax and see a film, the film of choice was pirates of the Caribbean Salazar’s revenge. This was a nice chilled out couple hours to a very busy day before returning to our tents for bed.

Day 4) 8th August To kick off the day, each flight was separated and were doing different activities until lunch and then switched. We started with the high ropes, however due to heavy rain during the night and the morning we were limited to the low ropes, but it was as equally as fun and challenging. After lunch, my flight went to see the survival equipment given to the pilots if they ever had to eject, the equipment ranged from tracking beckons to a small water filter. There was a lot to learn here as there is so much you wouldn’t believe is given to the pilots. Next, we went to the air traffic control tower (ATC) and saw all the different jobs that need to be done. One of the jobs is how they help an aircraft land if the pilot cannot see the runway, this is by using RADAR tracking to find how high or low and how far left or right the pilot is to the runway. After that we went parachute packing, the parachutes are an emergency brake if the jet is having breaking problems, where we practiced how to pack the spring that pushes a parachute out the back of a Typhoon when needed. We also had a race between the inter flights to see which team could pack the spring the quickest. Finally, to end this day, we went to the kinema in the woods and saw the new film Dunkirk. The kinema in the woods was the first cinema to be built and still has an intermission half way through and there was a man playing an original period organ as well for entertainment. Dunkirk was an amazing film to end off a hectic day.

Day 5) 9th August After breakfast, we went to the church on station and met the Padre. We were told to come up with 3 rules for life as a small challenge. This was a rather fun and unique way to start our days activities. After that we got on a coach and travelled to RAF East Kirby air museum. Here we saw a Lancaster bomber that could power up its engines and go taxi round the airfield display. In the hanger, they have lots of different displays of pieces and broken engines that have been found and brought here. There was also a display of a WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) office that showed some of the jobs that the women had to do in the WAAF. Next, we went to RAF Waddington to do our swimming proficiency’s. I passed my intermediate level which tasks included, swimming continuously 100m, 50m on my front and 50m on my back, swimming 25m to a casualty and perform a non-contact rescue (having them hold on to something), perform a surface dive to retrieve an object from the deepest part of the pool and finally, remain afloat using the H.E.L.P position for 3 minutes to name a few. Once returning to RAF Coningsby, we went back to the lounge to chill out and watch Wonder Woman at the end of this day.

Day 6) 10 august Cadets that were trained on the L98 rifle were allowed on the range for the day and the others that weren’t, went to the communications centre and learned how to put up a backup Aerial used in case the ATC tower had a power problem so that they could still communicate with the pilots. Cadets that were not shooting did get the pleasure of watching the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) practicing their display for RAF Scampton air show. Later in the night we had our night ex, our task was to get to a given point and retrieve ether equipment or a downed pilot and meet back at a rendezvous point. This had to be done without getting seen by the enemy force. We had to sneak round or hide from them. This was really fun and we got to use cam cream to mask out faces with and had a lot of fun crawling around.

Day 7) 11th August We started to practice drill for our competition for the Station Warrant Officer (SWO) and had multiple times to practice during the day before our actual competition after visiting the BBMF flight. We then went and visited the BBMF flight and got to look around the Lancaster, Spitfires and Hurricanes they had there, as well as the training and support aircraft they use, the Chipmunk and a Dakota. We learned that their spitfire mk2 had been a part of the Battle of Britain and had fought in the battle. We then had some sports and have some fun trying to beat the other flights in our competition by getting the fastest time. Then we returned to the lounge and had some pizza to end the week and the Boss gave out certificates and we gave out some traditional paper plate awards, that are just funny, usually silly awards..

Final Day) 12th August This day was just our final packing and cleaning around the tents so they were ready for the next camp. But we also found out the winner of our inter flight competition and Blue A (which I was in) had won but the overall best flight when to Red flight. Then was our journey home after a brilliant week.

I would like to thank all the staff for a great week and to RAF Coningsby for allowing us to go.

By Cpl Levi Merrills.