August 1990 – The Squadron is at Gutersloh flying the Harrier GR3 – but not for long…
As you read this the Squadron will, hopefully, be undergoing a massive change as we convert to the new GR7 aircraft. The long-awaited first conversion course gets underway at the end of August with a small team initially converting to the GR5 at Wittering prior to a 2 day manufacturers’s GR7 course at Dunsfold. Unfortunately, before they go to Wittering, the team will be forced to travel to Yuma, Arizona for a week of simulator practice and sunbathing – sometimes life can be so hard!
Whilst on the subject of picking up suntans, July saw the start of a rolling rotation of the JPs to Belize to cover the annual hurricane season leave period there. Bruce Hedley and Warren Ward have already sampled the delights of their three week tropical holiday and have returned with huge smiles on their very brown faces. Needless to say, the rest of the JPs are queueing up to take their turn in the sunshine.
The major social event of the last few months was, of course, the 20th Anniversary Reunion celebrations held over the weekend of 22-25 June. Things started off with an informal meet-and-greet on the Friday afternoon in a marquee that we had erected on the Squadron site. Despite a few rain showers threatening during the afternoon, we managed to put up a 4-ship of GR3s with painted fins who did their bit by flying over the site in Box 4 formation. Subsequently we all adjourned to the bar for one of the most memorable ‘Happy Hours’ that the Officers’ Mess has seen in a long time. Needless to say there were a few sore heads on Saturday morning. Relentlessly though the pace continued with a barbecue again on the Squadron site, and then a German Beerfest held in the marquee in the evening. Once again a good time was had by all – the only complaint being that the Guiness supplies ran out too quickly! All in all, the whole weekend was celebrated in true Harrier style and we look forward to another anniversary sometime in the future when we can do it all again.
On the operation side, things have been relatively quiet recently. We deployed two sites into the field in July for Exercise Hill Foil, although only for a week this time.
Back at base the introduction of the GR7 is having a few effects on the day-to-day flying already. Although we still have a reasonable number of the old GR3s, most of the engineers have now changed over to GR7 qualified men in anticipation of the much-delayed new aircraft. Unfortunately, this means that nobody knows how to fix the old ones when they go wrong! Because of the age of the old jets, they do tend to go unserviceable quite regularly now, which can be very frustrating. However, we’re all looking forward to the new era and, hopefully, there will be some tales to tell next time about the conversion and introduction of the all-new computerized machine.
To mark the end of the GR3, the Squadron has had a new Dugald Cameron print produced with a GR3 with a painted fin on it and these are available from the Adjutant if anybody would like one.