Yesterday twenty-two Cadets and two members of staff from 241 Squadron, visited RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. After a 20 minute talk by the Air Cadet Liaison Officer on what the frontline station did and its history we made our way over to one of the immense hangars of 29(R) Sqn, who fly the state of the art Euro Fighter Typhoon aircraft. Walking into the Hangar was like a child walking into a toyshop, all around us were gleaming aircrafts some of which were only a few weeks old. After taking some group photos we split into two groups. One group was shown inside the futuristic cockpit and saw how the computer driven aircraft operated, with man and machine working together for maximum effect. At the same time the other group was taken around the exterior of the plane and shown all of the engines, weapon systems, electric counter measures and other technologies. The two groups then swapped over.
Lunch was then served in the airmans mess and took a lot of people by surprise as they had only ever eaten on army camps before. The standard of food was excellent and with full bellies we walked back to the vehicles. It was at this point that the trip started to get really, really interesting. As we stood in the car pack in amazement, a thousand feet or so above us was a Typhoon aircraft doing aerobatics of the kind only ever seen in films. The noise was immense and the ease of movement of the aircraft was unreal. It took us a good 10 minutes to pull ourselves away from the display.
Our next visit took us the Battle of Britain Memorial flight hangar where they have some of the last flying Spitfires, Hurricanes and Lancaster’s. Once again we split into two groups and were given an interesting and factual tour around the aircrafts where we were told a great many war time stories. As we were classed as military personnel we were allowed to get right up close to the planes where as the civilian visitors had to stay behind the roped off areas.
We were then onto our last visit of the day, 41(R) Sqn AKA The Fast Jet Operational Evaluation Unit. This was the Sqn tasked with writing the book on all new weapons and equipment for all of the RAF’s fast jet aircrafts. Their hangar was a sight to say the least. Packed full of Typhoons, Tornado’s and Harriers, is was unbelievable. We were shown around the exterior of a Tornado F3 and had explained to us exactly what its role was and how best it did its job. We then moved onto the Tornado GR4 where everyone got to have a good look inside the cockpit and ask loads of questions. Most exciting of all though was the chance to see one of only three Harrier GR9a aircrafts in existence with the GR9 soon to replace all of the air force’s current GR7’s.
All in all it was a fantastic day, with a Tornado F3 and a Jaguar giving us a nice air display as we left.