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June 1990 – The Squadron is at Gutersloh flying the Harrier GR3

The period March to June has been notable for a variety of reasons not least of which was the arrival of our new Boss, Wg Cdr Malcolm White. Wg Cdr White comes to us from JHQ Rheindahlen where he was responsible for some aspects of the introduction of the Harrier GR7 (the latest night-flying version) into service – hopefully he will soon be able to witness the fruits of his labours. Despite various strikes and set-backs at BAe it now seems that we will receive the GR7s in September this year, only four months late. The old Boss, Wg Cdr Roger Gault, left us in May to go to Cranwell for a short course and, on promotion, is to take over as OC RAF Chivenor in the near future. The Squadron wishes Roger and Judith the best of luck for the future.

You will be pleased to hear that the Squadron Balloon has at last arrived and is receiving much use under the guidance of Sqn Ldr Rod Webb who is O.I.C. the balloon. He recently obtained his ballooning P.P.L. in England and we’re having problems prising him out of the basket at the moment. The insurance company, Finlease, are sponsoring the balloon and their Managing Director, Roger Head, came over to Germany to officially launch it in May. The balloon is in Squadron colours, black, red and gold, and you’ll be pleased to note that we managed to get the registration G-IVAC from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Flying has been hectic on the Squadron as usual, with a number of deployments and exercises. We went up to RAF Kinloss for three weeks in March to carry out some 100 ft flying and serious brown beer drinking – oh and the occasional curry thrown in (or was that up?). John Lawson and Warren Ward were made Combat Ready whilst we were there and we also had the opportunity to release a few laser-guided bombs at Garvie Island Range. Our friends from 421 Squadron CAF Sollingen also came with us with their F-18s to liven up the flying and social exercises.

For those old boys from Gutersloh, on return from Kinloss we moved into the much-awaited new P.B.F. accommodation. We now have room to at least swing a cat, and the new communications set-up on the Authoriser’s Desk has to be seen to be believed – six phones, two radios plus telebrief. The major snag at the moment is working out which phone to answer.

Of course, in the usual Harrier tradition, within a few weeks of coming back from Kinloss we were off again into the field for Exercise Handy Forge. Quite a few of the new pilots had never seen field operations before and it was quite an eye-opener for them. It was also quite an eye-opener for Mike Jenkins and his passenger when he crashed the T-bird off the pad. Something to do with the position of the water switch on a hot day I understand. Sadly ‘Q’ is no more, but at least Mike is now back flying after a hats-on with the C in C.

Finally, Neil Ross and Simon Turner left the Squadron in April, both Wittering-bound. Neil goes to the OCU whilst Simon joins 1(F) Squadron. Both pilots were real characters on the Squadron and we are sad to see them go. However we wish all the best of luck to them and their wives Hilda and Patsy (oh yes, Simon did the decent thing at last and got himself married on the quiet).