Some of you may know that RAF Leuchars in Scotland is the most northerly Eurofighter Typhoon operating base with RAF No 6 (and also now No 1) Squadron providing Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) services for the northern UK. Leuchars being in "Bonnie Scotland" has some special interest for me... and last weekend was another european air show with Eurofighter Typhoon's participation, the RAF Leuchars Air Show.
Two weekends ago we were in southern Europe working in Serbia; then it was central Europe with MSPO Poland and ILA Berlin, and now it’s Northern Europe and the home of golf, St. Andrews and RAF Leuchars to mark the very special occasion of the formation of another new Eurofighter Typhoon squadron. The handover of the Eurofighter Squadron Sword to RAF No 1(f) squadron took place during their annual air show which provided an opportunity for discussion with the RAF’s most senior personnel on our programme and our continued need for them to provide export support.
Eurofighter had a small but significant presence at the show, with a tent full of Eurofighter goodies. The key rings, baseball caps and other give-aways saw a huge line form outside from fans who had cleaned us out by lunchtime. This sat alongside the BAE SYSTEMS road show trailer in addition we were supported on either side by two Italian Air Force Typhoons, plus Typhoons from No 1, 3, and 6 squadrons ... Truly impressive. The Italian team were led by Col. Vito Cracas who was pleased to return to the "exchange base" he served at a few years ago.
To arrive at the base this time I swapped normal transport for my Cessna 152 and at the invitation of RAF Air Officer Scotland and Leuchars station commander, Gav Parker, I flew into RAF Leuchars directly. So when our PR and Comms leader asked me for a quote for the local press, she thought it inappropriate to say:
"It is an honour and a pleasure to personally handover the lead aircraft for the new squadron: G-BITF, an ancient Cessna 152 provides the squadron with a unique opportunity to fly constantly at less than the speed of sound, while introducing the new capability of - NO REACTION ALERT - a novel feature that will out-fox adversaries.”
We now have a more appropriate quote based around the handover of the Eurofighter Squadron Sword.
“Swords have a very long tradition within armed forces. Knights of old had the privilege of wearing swords and since then Military Officers have inherited this privilege. In modern forces, including flying units, commanders have worn swords during parades as symbols of strength, precision and honour. These swords in flying communities are called the Squadron Sword. Today’s fighter pilots are the ‘knights of the skies’ and have the privilege of holding – or in this case piloting – a very special sword: Eurofighter Typhoon.”
No 1 Squadron's motto is: “In Omnibus princeps” - “First in all things”... Most appropriate with the squadron having so many ‘firsts" or "ones" including:
- In 1878 its predecessor being No 1 Balloon Company: a first for the Army.
- Re-designated in 1912 as No 1 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps: a first for the world and the RAF.
- And in 1969, equipped with the Hawker Siddley Harrier: the world’s first operator of a V/STOL aircraft.
However these all fade into the background when the courage of its fliers are taken into account, especially that of Lieutenant Keith Jopp, a one eyed, one armed pilot whose commanding officer wrote in August 1918:
“This officer has had only one eye and one arm for a considerable time, during which he has done a very large amount of instructing and special flying.
He has flown over 350 hours with one eye, and over 200 hours with one arm.
I consider that unless he has some other medical disqualification that there is no reason why he should not be allowed to do limited flying.”
No1 Squadron's Wing Commander is a fully abled, experienced ‘knight of the sky" and he sure has a unique surname for a flier, "Mark Flewin" (flew in...) the list of which is rather long and he has done many times in many places! On behalf of No1 he was most honoured to be presented with the Eurofighter Squadron Sword.....Meanwhile Squadron Leader Scott Loughran, this year's RAF display pilot emulated the superb Eurofighter Typhoon show he put on at Farnborough in July: another guy with an interesting name; Scott, from Scotland, based in Scotland with his Eurofighter Typhoon... Scots everywhere.
The beautiful blue sky and exceedingly windy day provided both a fantastic backdrop and challenge for the closing sunset ceremony; 9 Typhoons flew in (yes including Wing Commander Mark Flewin) a "diamond 9" formation, with Scott Loughran and Wing Commander of No 6 Squadron Roddy Dennis leading the pack... Fantastic... Effective, Proven, and Trusted.
Till next time.....