Shortly after I married Him I was sitting amongst a group of fellow airforce wives, listening intently as they bandied about names such as ‘Chinook’ and ‘Tornado’
I was pretty sure we were discussing the Nando’s lunch menu.
We were not.
Which was a shame, because in my head I had already decided what sides I was going to order. Coleslaw and sweet potato wedges.
What they were talking about were the various forms of aircraft their husbands flew or instructed to fly.
I was partaking in a conversation that, as usual, I knew nothing about and in hindsight a list would have been helpful. Lists are always helpful.
Even as a civilian it would be nice to be able to look skyward and smugly point out the specifics of a Hawk. Or win a pub quiz. Or just feel humbled.
Here is that list:
My personal favourite. Look at that hulk of metal. I mean, I actually get butterflies. Is that odd? Am I attracted to a helicopter? Is this the wrong platform to be discussing this? Could this be a documentary?
This beauty can be operated from land or ship. In the arctic, the jungle or the desert. Piloted by two and crewed by another two it is used for trooping (the transporting of cavalry, armoured vehicles or artillery) resupply and battleship casualty evacuation.
More recently in Afghanistan the Chinook became known for its emergency response role whereas the rear of the aircraft was used as an operating theatre. Yes, I know. How proud are you now?
I need to have a little lie down.
Initially used as an advanced flying and weapons training aircraft these bad boys you know as being used for the RAF aerobatic team, The Red Arrows.
They fly fast and play hard.
You’ve seen them performing for our Royal Family to mark numerous special occasions and they are always showing off at an airshow somewhere around the country.
Powered by a Rolls Royce engine …. They, like their pilots, are pure class.
This is a combat aircraft, used in all areas of air operations including air policing, peace support and high intensity conflict.
You know when the Daily Mail spew enthusiastically that the Russians have intercepted our airspace and “OMG, Is. This. The. End?!”
These are the aircraft that politely show them the door. No fuss.
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Day or night, low level or poor weather, these pilots are ‘ard as nails.
The aircraft are capable of night vision and infra red and are carriers of weapons and missiles.
I’m actually feeling rather nervy just writing about them. Maybe I should stop. Am I even allowed to be mentioning them?!
*Breathe* Ugh, I’m so dramatic.
Piloted by sons, husbands, daddies and mates, for everything they’ve seen, experienced and protected us from, we are eternally grateful.
Sea King – Coast Guard
First introduced in 1978, the Search and Rescue aircraft were operated from six locations in the U.K, with each location supporting two aircraft that were on call 24 hours a day.
We were very lucky to be here in Puddle*, which is one of their locations, to be summer long spectators before the magnificent aircraft were retired last month in favour of a privatised service (Boo!)
There isn’t a home video of Toddler without the whirring of the grand Sea King in the back ground. Its presence so significant that, to the delight of the pilots, “ellio-ha-copter,” was Toddlers first word and every day throughout the dreamy summer on our march down to the beach, through the village and the farm they would fly low enough on their way to training that Toddler and Dog could exchange excited woofs and waves with the crew.
My chest bursts with pride at having been able to be in those moments with them.
Quote of the Week is a salute to our beautiful heros:
To Stand Beside A Soldier,
And Walk Through His Pain
Will Humble a Civilian
To No Longer Complain
Until next time xoxo
*Puddle, not its real name.