Congratulations to all the RAF personnel who have been recognised for their efforts in this year’s New Year Honours List!
While we couldn’t really expect 2019 to repeat the glitz and glamour of the Royal Air Force’s centenary year, it was still incredibly busy. We saw the first successful deployment of F-35 Lightning on operations; the retirement of the much-loved and unbelievably effective Tornado; the first flights of Poseidon, the RAF’s new multi-mission maritime patrol aircraft; the Typhoon Force continuing to participate in counter-Daesh operations and, for the first time, in air policing operations from Iceland; and, most recently, an RAF A400M supporting search and rescue efforts off the southern coast of Chile.
When reflecting on the past year I find it interesting to observe just how important the activities of No 41 Squadron have been to the wider success of the Royal Air Force. That the Typhoon Force could effectively deploy Brimstone (the RAF’s hyper-precision strike munition) on Op SHADER was only made possible by 41 Squadron’s extensive and intensive trial work. Similarly, the retirement of Tornado could only occur after Typhoon could field new air-to-ground mission capabilities;
No 41’s delivery of Project CENTURION to the Typhoon Force was truly pivotal to this. Meanwhile, the Squadron’s second home, NAS China Lake in the Mojave Desert, was hit by a devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake. And yet the Squadron still found time to support a memorial service at RAF Coltishall to celebrate the lives of the personnel from No 41 Squadron who perished during a coach accident in Germany in 1983.
Our association has continued to keep former members of the Squadron in touch with each other and, of course, with the Squadron of today. It is with regret that we have seen one of the most active members of the Association, Andy Myers - our founding Chairman, step down from the role to pursue new business opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Andy did a truly brilliant job for us for which we are all immensely grateful. His shoes will be tricky to fill but fill them we must. Please may I encourage anyone with even the slightest interest in taking up this role to contact me for a chat.
2020 will be important for the Royal Air Force. It will see the practical launch of Project
ASTRA, a bold initiative to fast track the Royal Air Force towards 2040. ASTRA will accelerate good ideas into service and blend them with a powerful and dynamic vision for our future. There is no doubt in my mind as to the importance of this project in ensuring the ongoing credibility of our air force. Facing new dynamics in defence and security, and a complex blurring of the lines between peace, conflict and crisis, the RAF simply must adapt to the realities of multi-domain operations. ASTRA will ensure that its people, equipment, structures and processes are properly configured to do just that.
As we celebrate Christmas and New Year, some 2000 RAF personnel will be supporting 15 missions, on 4 continents, in 22 countries around the world. With very special thoughts to them, their families and the loved ones from whom they are separated, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy, peaceful and enjoyable festive season and a prosperous and healthy New Year?
Sir Christopher Harper KBE
No 41 Squadron Association
The Royal Air Force and Virgin Orbit have selected the RAF pilot to be seconded to the company’s ground-breaking small satellite launch programme.
The partnership between the RAF and Virgin Orbit was unveiled at the Air and Space Power conference in July and following a tough selection process, Flight Lieutenant Mathew ‘Stanny’ Stannard has been selected.
Flight Lieutenant Stannard is currently a Typhoon pilot with one of the RAF’s test and evaluation squadrons and is scheduled to join the pioneering Virgin Orbit programme next year, pending final US and UK regulatory approvals.
Read more: http://bit.ly/RAFVOPilot
An exceptionally busy period for the Sqn leading up to the culmination of Project CENTURION and the anticipated role out of Brimstone onto Typhoon FGR4, which will in turn allow the retiral of the Tornado GR4 force in early 2019. Blessed with the recent good weather and consistent hard work to ensure aircraft availability, the Sqn has made positive progress on all current trials with the hard work and high tempo set to continue well beyond the New Year.
Meanwhile, the Sqn had a significant presence at the RAF 100 parade in London in July with the standard displayed alongside other current serving sqns in one of the biggest displays of RAF personnel and aircraft in recent history. A cadre of 25 sqn personnel travelled to Saint-Omer, France in Sept to join the RAF 100 events arranged and discover the history around the Sqn’s involvement during WWI and exposure to the wider impacts of the war. This provided an excellent opportunity for the group of predominantly junior sqn members to gain a greater understanding of the Sqn’s historical relevance.
Looking forward, the Sqn is deep into the planning phases for trials for 2019, with another deployment to America due within the coming 12 months.
We would like to welcome Flt Lt Linda McLean to the Association Committee as the Military secretary. Linda takes the place of Flt Lt Laura Frowen, who has been posted from 41 Squadron on promotion.
Flight Lieutenant Linda McLean in an engineer, whose short service has principally been in the ISTAR field.
After completing a Master’s degree in Aero-Mechanical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in 2013, McLean undertook Initial Officer Training at Cranwell before posting to RAF Cosford in October 2014 to complete her Engineering Officer Foundation Course; she received the Air Cdr Chris Green Memorial Award upon graduation in June 2015. In her first tour, McLean was posted as a JEngO to 5(AC) Sqn at RAF Waddington. During this tour, McLean deployed as the engineering lead on OPs on 6 separate occasions and was involved with Ex RED FLAG 16. Following a selection process by Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) in mid-2017, McLean was selected to complete a Flight Test Engineer (FTE) course in the USA at the National Test Pilot School (NTPS) in the first half of 2018. She is now in post as a Fast Jet FTE/Trials Management Officer with 41 TES, RAF Coningsby.
Flight Lieutenant McLean’s interests include playing the bagpipes with RAF Waddington Pipes and Drums, and playing rugby union and league for which she has been capped for the RAF Inter Services squad for 3 seasons. She has also recently been selected for the UK Armed Forces Rugby League squad for 2019.
On this day in 1918, the Royal Air Force was formed following an Order in Council made by His Majesty King George V on 22 March 1918, resulting in the union of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and Royal Flying Corps (RFC).
On the inauguration of the Royal Air Force, His Majesty the King, sent the following telegram to Lord Rothermere, the President of the Air Council:
"Today the Royal Air Force, of which you are Minister in Charge, comes into existence as the third arm of the Defences of the Empire. As General-in-Chief I congratulate you on its birth, and I trust that it may enjoy a vigorous and successful life."
100 years later Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has issued this statement from Buckingham Palace:
For more information on RAF100 events around the UK you can visit the official website:
Flt Lt Laura Frowen will be taking part in one of the toughest adventure races in the world: The GODZone Pure. The race runs from 1st-10th March 2018, in the stunning Fiordland in New Zealand. More than 390 racers, from around the world, will compete in unsupported teams of four, travelling across approximately 373 miles (600km) of wilderness. The race will consist of up to 10 days of non-stop racing, including sleeping in the elements, navigating at night, as well as canyoning, coasteering, kayaking, running, mountain biking, orienteering, packrafting and trekking.
The team are no strangers to a challenge. They are drawn from a dozen or so people across the service who have competed together over the past 4 years, fitting races in around their operational deployments. Jamie Buckle is the captain and driving force behind the team. He has competed in 3 AR World Series races and 2 European Series AR events as well as many one-day events in the UK. Recently he completed the Jurassic Coast Challenge (100km from Poole to Bridport) and the Ring of Fire (135 miles around Anglesey). Laura Frowen, navigator, first started adventure racing in a 4 day Hebridean Challenge in 2006 and after a hiatus took up the sport again in 2015. She has competed in an AR World Series race (2017) as well as a Euro Series AR event (2016). As an ultra runner, she has completed the Northern Traverse (190 miles and 16000 ft of ascent across northern England) and several UK Series Mountain Marathons. Charlie Butterfield raced the Euro Series AR (2016), and has competed in the Jurassic Coast Challenge and Marmot Dark Mountains mountain marathon. And Penny Grayson, the most recent addition to the team, brings proven endurance and athletic power after many years of racing ironman triathlon (as a GB age-group athlete) as well as completing the Jurassic Coast Challenge and the Ridgeway Challenge (86 miles along the Ridgeway to Avebury Stones).
Laura Frowen explains how adventure racing can be so inspirational:
For me the defining moment in recent races was in Expedition Africa in early 2017. It was the end of Day 3, and we had spent 2 hours queuing at the top of the Tyrolean Traverse, waiting for our turn and catching some sleep. We got going at about 0100hrs and after an uneventful abseil across the river, with the water glinting below in the dark, we started canoeing downriver. It was my first experience of night paddling and the still, inky water was unnerving. I felt great - really awake and full of energy - but kept losing my balance as the dark water seemed to give me an odd sense of vertigo. (That, and when I stopped to check the map, the fact I couldn’t work out which was the front of the paddle blade, told me that in fact I was, in fact, very, very tired!!) But the chance to paddle down this remote river in the middle of South Africa, with the stars overhead, was utterly magical, one of those moments when you have to stop and just think: “Wow, look at where I am and what we’re all doing!” Coming from a background in ultra running, I love being able to share these moments with other people. After something to eat at the end of the paddle section, we headed out on a trek section which started with a bracing swim across the river just as the sun was coming up.
Updates and news direct from the Committee