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2017/04 – The Deci Dozen

Deci Header

Deci Header

On 22 March, 12 Hawk T2s departed Valley to the sunnier climes of Sardinia in the largest overseas detachment of Hawk T2s to date. Over the ensuing two weeks we achieved awesome rates of flying with 3 waves a day fuelled exclusively by pizza and cappuccino. The result was an incredible number of DC0s, newly minted QFIs and upgrades, 18 Course complete and a gloriously bronzed Musky. Of course, no plan can ever survive the first contact and so it was that the advanced party ended up stranded in Rome due to Air Traffic strikes and were the last to arrive. Worryingly, for those that know them, this left the initial liaison in the hands of 20 Course who had just gallantly carried the AMPA computers across Europe by road. What could go wrong?

Deci 2

Deci 2

The trail, however, ran on rails with a quick refuel in Orange, France, before pressing straight to Sardinia with Sqn Ldr Altoft’s desperate pleas to be intercepted falling on confused ears. All 12 jets arrived safely and uneventfully with the minor exception of Will Collins scoring the ?rst points for international relations. This enabled the opening auth to meet Lt Col Shouty McShouty to clarify the finer points of arrivals, the lessons from which served us well for the remainder of the det. The jets were immediately turned and achieved our first wave of DCOs the same afternoon. The bar was set.

Deci Flight Line

Deci Flight Line

Decimomannu Airbase exists for NATO members to use for air weapons training. As such, they were fantastic hosts, well accustomed and equipped for visiting personnel, and the local airspace, procedures and facilities were ideal for our purposes. We adjusted to the daily routine almost instantly. Cappuccino and pastries for breakfast and straight through to met brief to be told that, funnily enough, the colour state was “blue”, the diversions were “blue”, and the wind was “feeble from de Nord West”.

Making the most of our time in Sardinia, every minute of the weekends were used, day and night, the wind-up signal given by OCA’s sports jacket. Force Development visits were organised to local historic sites, drinking in incredible views across the rooftops of Cagliari – the capital city. The local beaches also proved ideal for Pearcey to indulge in his evident passion of studying rocks very closely, his shouts audible for miles around. In turn, we were familiarised with the finer points of European culture and lifestyle including the many uses of the bidet.

Mabbs

Mabbs

As it turned out, MT’s European matrix test didn’t include the most vital ingredients of Italian driving which was that nose authority is king and he who gesticulates most has the right of way. Not to mention that you must always honour the ‘bubble’ and that paying for car parking will single you out to have your car towed away…

Against all the odds, all this learning came for the reasonable cost of only one slightly modified hire car.

For those not getting enough of a rush from battling the normal traffic, karting was organised. Despite the gym’s best efforts to condition us with necks as strong as 10 bulls, nothing can prepare the human body from the whiplash and bruised ribs resulting from overly competitive, gung-ho aircrew being let loose on a narrow racing circuit. Lt Si Collins’ aggression took the day to put him on top of the podium, though the glory was short lived as he promptly dashed out to vomit from the pain of his injuries. With the progress of our planned syllabus flying going so well, the opportunity for liaison and DACT with the Italian detachment of Aermacchi M-346 was welcomed with open arms. After the first few engagements it became clear that they may well hold a significant performance advantage over our venerable Hawk T2. Hard to believe, I know. As a controlled experiment, an ab-initio student with no BFM instruction was put up in a 346 against one of our experienced OFIs in a Hawk. One more kill for the 346 (simulated), proof that the better aeroplane will win regardless, and British egos were somewhat restored. Dakka dakka dakka.

3-ship 2

3-ship 2

Most importantly, the success of this detachment was thanks to the way in which the whole of IV (R) Sqn pulled together. Some jets remained serviceable throughout and the engineering team worked like Trojans in the heat. Sgt Hewson worked wonders in the tower ensuring our training needs were understood with the Ops team keeping everything shipshape. Last but not least, the Squippers kept us all safe and equipped with a seemingly endless supply of rollnecks for Mabbs.

3-ship 1

3-ship 1

For now, I must return to the stark reality of wading through my hundreds of the food receipts for JPA, the excitement of trying to work out the correct UIN (after all, why should admin be made efficient for dets?) and having to share the jets with the rest of the Squadron. Take me back to where the skies were blue and there was nothin’ but DCOs raining down…

Prego, Prego!