Me straddling Austria and Germany after ski touring up to 1844 metres above sea level
My name is Paul Doodson and I am currently a LAC Logs (MTD), Reserve with 501 Squadron RAuxAF. I recently attended Ex SNOW EAGLE adventurous training exercise in Bavaria, Germany.
This year was my first experience of the Eagle scheme and it was an absolutely brilliant time that was had by all. I and 6 other members of my Squadron joined 60+ Regular members of the RAF, all of us at different skill levels, so all getting something different from the experience.
On Ex SNOW EAGLE there are 3 different basic levels of training – Ski Foundation (SF) 1, 2 and 3:
- This level is for people who have never skied before. By the end of the week each person will be at a level where they can confidently stop, turn, control speed and ultimately tackle basic blue runs, more challenging red runs, and occasionally a black run.
- Once you have completed SF1 or have skied before and have a good competent level of ability, this group hone their skills on the slopes, advance to black runs ‘as a standard’ and prepare to advance to the next group.
- For the advanced skier, this group spends a lot of time skiing off piste, ski touring, undertaking avalanche training and rescue. This group gets prepared to go onto the next course which is a whole new package of training which is Ski Leadership 1, 2 and 3.
Every person I spoke to in each of these groups thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the week and all got a massive sense of achievement from their week’s work. This week was very enjoyable but don’t be fooled into thinking it is a free ski trip. Personally I was in the SF3 group and this was very physically demanding, from skiing off piste, digging in deep snow for avalanche search and rescue and most demanding was ski touring. This involves putting skins onto the bottom of the skis, detaching the heel part of your ski binding and then basically walking up the mountain. The payoff for this though is amazing views not available from the top of a ski lift and then, of course, the off piste trip back down creating fresh tracks of your own!
SNOW EAGLE is one of many different schemes that are run as adventure training; there is also mountain biking, canoeing and mountaineering. It is well worth looking on the MOSS website to find out more.
SAC Boon on Op Herrick 15/16
I am a movements operator with 4624 Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force and I have recently returned from a three and a half month tour in Camp Bastion. Myself and 5 others from the Squadron deployed with A Flight, 1 Air Mobility Wing (1 AMW) in February 2012 and formed the air movements element of the Joint Movements Unit at Camp Bastion. I worked on one of the three traffic teams which are responsible for physically loading and unloading the aircraft with anything from troops to helicopters. The work was physically demanding, especially bearing in mind that I work as an accountant in civvy street and spend my days sat at a desk looking at spreadsheets!
Arriving at Camp Bastion was a shock to the system as it is hard to imagine what it is going to be like before you actually get there. Our pre-deployment training was largely trade focussed so it took a bit of time to get used to the routine of living and working on a large military base. After a couple of weeks, though, I felt totally at home. The regulars from 1 AMW were fantastic and made the reservist contingent feel very much part of the team which was great.
We worked 12 hour shifts and rotated between days and nights. On balance I think I enjoyed the night shift more but I was always grateful to see the sun when my turn on the day shift came round. It was not too hot during our tour and the heat only really became intense during our final few weeks. The work on traffic is quite varied, involving restraining loads on the aircraft, driving various vehicles to get the loads to and from the aircraft and a fair amount of baggage stacking! My favourite job was driving the rough terrain fork lift truck – it is the size of a tractor and great fun to drive.
Driving the rough terrain fork lift truck
I was fortunate in that during my time at Bastion, the Indirect Fire Alarm was only sounded once and I believe that it was a false alarm, although I did not know that at the time. Security concerns meant we had to carry our rifles at all times when not on the airfield but we never had to fire our weapons. Life at Camp Bastion is safe compared to forward operating bases and checkpoints and I was grateful for that. All the movers had to do at least one guard duty during the tour and I found myself in a tower on the perimeter fence for 24 hours with three soldiers from the Royal Logistic Corps. It was the only opportunity I had to see the country which existed outside the wire and I found it very interesting.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time at Camp Bastion because it was a total break from the norm and I deployed with a great group of people. It was still wonderful to return home at the end of May and to see my friends and family. I have now been back at work in my civilian job for almost a month. It was initially strange returning to the office but my colleagues have been fantastic, making me feel very welcome and helping me to settle back in.
For more information on joining 4624 Movements squadron RAuxAF tel 01993 897262 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted in 4624 Sqn, Armed Forces, Operations, RAF Reserves, Reservists, South East Reserve Forces and Cadets Association
Tagged Adventure, Armed Forces, Herrick, Operations, RAF Reserves, RAuxAF, Reservists