An invitation to return has been given to the RAF Chinooks after another successful deployment to Royal Air Force Wittering came to a close on Friday.
The Royal Air Force’s most distinctive helicopters are based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire. The Air Weapons Range at RAF Donna Nook in Lincolnshire has been a location for a series of equipment tests and RAF Wittering, with its large airfield, has been an ideal forward operating base.
Warrant Officer Raph Winstanley works in Operations Wing at RAF Wittering and is the Station’s Flight Safety Officer. He is a self-confessed helicopter fan and much of the planning and co-ordination work for the deployment has been his responsibility.
He said: “It’s not an exaggeration to say that we’ve been the first choice for the Chinook team. Our Operations Wing, in particular its air traffic controllers and fire section, as well as our photographers have given really valuable support. It says a lot for our combined Station team that we’ve been able to help the Chinooks without interrupting our elementary flying schedule at all.”
Royal Air Force Wittering’s airfield is spacious and has a long runway and wide taxiways. It has received a number of interesting visitors since reopening in 2014, not least the Airbus A400M used in Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation.
The Chinook is a versatile helicopter that can be operated from land or ship and in environments as diverse as the Arctic, jungle and desert. They are used for trooping, resupply and casualty evacuation and can carry up to 55 troops (more, usually 24 to 40) and/or up to 10 tonnes of freight.
The current phase of tests comes to an end shortly, but the Chinook team plans to return to RAF Wittering in the coming months and years in order to develop the capabilities of this amazing aircraft.
Wing Commander Nick Maxey is the Officer Commanding Operations Wing and is responsible for the airfield and the airspace above and around RAF Wittering. He said: “These helicopter deployments have been highly successful and it’s something we want to continue to build on.
“This airfield and the Station has a tremendous amount to offer the Defence community and I think we’ll be seeing many more aircraft here in the months to come.”