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2004 – Summary

Another frenetic year has flashed by for Happy 4 – with no sign of any let up on the horizon. Firstly we deployed to Cold Lake for a heavy weapons det leading into a full MAPLE FLAG. Whilst we were in Canada, Scott (POP) and Tony (DEC) joined the Red Arrows in Cyprus for a week’s ?shortlisting?. Then POP became the Harrier role demo pilot for June and July (to take some workload off a struggling OCU at Wittering). Scott flew displays at Kemble, Eire, Plymouth, RIAT and Farnborough and obviously impressed those in the know because he was finally selected to join the Reds at the end of the year.

In June, we deployed to Macrahanish for a 2-week locally generated exercise called HIGHLAND SOLSTICE. This highly original name was chosen because the longest day fell during our deployment – in fact the sun barely set at all! Those old hands on the Sqn who recalled, with great affection, the days of yore on field sites in Germany conceived the exercise. Although Macrahanish has a plentiful supply of warm dry accommodation, we were committed to tents and duckboards. And it rained and rained – and rained. So much so that the troops had to evacuate the tents for 48 hrs to dry out their kit. Wouldn’t have been allowed in the old days I hear you muttering?

Back from Scotland and some well deserved block leave before we became the ?duty? CVS Sqn requiring a massive effort in preparation even before we first embarked. Apart from putting all the pilots through the ski-jump at Yeovilton we now have to take everyone through the 5-day Basic Sea Survival Course at Whale Island, Plymouth. There we learn to extinguish fires at sea and plug holes in sinking ships. Great fun – but when time is precious??

September saw our first CVS push onto HMS INVINCIBLE in the North Sea. We were blessed with good weather and able to day-qual all the pilots and start the night-qual work-up for 4. The Boss, Wg Cdr Andy Offer, even persuaded the Navy to let 4 jets fly off the boat for the weekend of 11/12 September so that 4’s Four could thrill the crowds again at the Southport Air Show. This fun weekend based at Blackpool Airport is becoming a feature of the Happy Four calendar and we are hoping to manage an appearance again this year. Watch this space.

In October, we ?lent? seven pilots to 1(F) to raise the overall standard of performance on a RED FLAG at Nellis AFB. Andy McK (son of our President), Dave L, Dave A, Tony H, Andrew K, Neil F and Mark S all sampled the delights of Las Vegas. Then in November, Scott W (the author of the last update) was sent with Mike W for a final pre-QWI course sharpening to Nimes for a TLP. Thirty volunteer groundcrew did their best to keep the Noble Rot at bay!

December was Christmas – happily spent at home for Happy 4 – and then whilst most of us were ?all hands to the pumps? preparing for the second, and major CVS detachment, several singlies (and even some married drags) decided that the Alpine snows provided a far greater attraction. Tony H (that name again), Pete K, ?Boomer? Keith, Keith Gardner, Damian Lipman (our erstwhile GLO), Steph Glass, Leigh Davies and Dougal Gow led the way to glory on skis, snowboards and/or toboggans. All returned safely.