Visit to RAF Valley

Today, 18 Team members journeyed to RAF Valley on Anglesey, to take part in training with C Flight of 22 Squadron, RAF Search & Rescue Helicopters.

For some of us it was a very early start to the day as alarm clocks were going off pre 06:00 Hrs, for one Team member Sarah Drake, she came straight from work to attend the days training.

Our journey to RAF Valley resulted in us arriving to spectacular views of the North Wales mountains as it was a clear, blue skied morning.

On arrival at RAF Valley we were given a safety briefing on the HAR 3 Sea King Helicopter and a welcoming cuppa. It also allowed those who had suffered crossed legs on their journey here to relieve themselves.

Next on the visit was a tour around the aircraft and how things would happen inflight, RAF Valley had 2 operational Sea Kings today and four Sea Kings in the garage !

Team Radio Officer, Dave Healey, then gave those present on their first flight, a guided tour of RAF Sea King mishaps by showing them photographs he has collected over the years. One such ’mishap’ was airframe XZ 585 which crashed in the Cairngorms in 1989 whilst filming the TV series Rescue, this aircraft is now based at Valley and was involved in the rescue of crew and passengers of the vessel Riverdance, when it ran aground off the North West coast. Then began a series of worried looking faces with the first-timers, especially when Dave spotted a notice saying that XZ 585 was still at Valley, was it the one we were going to fly in ?

Team members being winched in to the aircraft…

We then got our hill kit and proceeded onto the ’tarmac’ for our winching into and out of the Sea King. Split into 3 groups of 6, we watched with envy as the first group started their training winches, we watched opened mouthed as they disappeared off for a flight round Anglesey returning some 5 minutes later. The next group were called forward and again we watched as they carried out their training and their flight. We then laughed as the last group carried out their training and their flight was all of 1 minute, before they returned back to Valley. Was the combined weight of Neil Aspinall and Dave Healey too much for the crew ??

…Team Member Neil Warburton, enjoying his first flight…

…what a day job…

We then landed and had a debrief on what had happened and the points of the winchmen were passed to us about the handling of the hook, the bending of legs, the grabbing of the aircraft and the electric shock !!

…Neil Aspinall, Mike O’Brien & Chris Tennant…

Our sincere thanks to the aircrew of Sierra 122, namely –

  • Flt Lt Steve Wilders
  • Flt Lt Iain Smith
  • Flt Sgt Nick Swannick
  • Sgt Keith Best

We look forward to welcoming the crew to our home patch soon for an exercise.

Best part of the day, must have been the very wide Cheshire cat grins of those who had flown for the first time, being displayed as they came off the airfield.

…the view out of the main door.

The remaining Team members will be visiting RAF Valley in November, lets hope they have as good a day as we did today and for those wondering Sarah did get some sleep on the way back to Bolton.