The now infamous ash cloud from the Icelandic Eyjafjallajokull volcano has closed air spaces in Europe over the last five weeks. The mainstream media has concentrated on the impact to air travel with cancelled flights and stranded passengers that even saw the Royal Navy drafted in to assist with getting people home. There is another side to the story that hasn’t had any real coverage; the impact to both the RAF and the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.
Training courses have been impacted by the grounding on military jets for over a week and demand for simulator time has sky rocked but the impact is also effecting qualified pilots. A pilot has to maintain a set number of hours within a defined period of time for each discipline he or she is qualified in to remain current. This is referred to as currency. If they cannot accrue these hours to maintain their currency they will have to requalify their rating.
To avoid this happening RAF Cottesmore was open for flying on both Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd with 1(F) Sqn flying four Harriers to practice Air Combat Manoeuvres (ACM). With the exception of deployments and airframe rotation for Op HERRICK I can’t remember another time RAF Cottesmore has opened for operational flying. All four pilots who flew were wearing the white flight helmet of an instructor (either a flight or weapons instructor) suggestion the flying was either an instructors course or to maintain the currency of the instructor qualified pilots on 1(F) Sqn.
Jedi 1 & Jedi 2
RAF Harrier GR9A ZD375 – Jedi 1
Psycho 1 & Psycho 2
Psycho flight return to RAF Cottesmore