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RAF Wittering Engineer Warrannt Officer retires from regular service after 36 years

Thirty-six years of unbroken Royal Air Force service has come to an end for RAF Engineer Warrant Officer Emma Hanson who has retired from regular service.

For several months Warrant Officer Hanson has fulfilled one of the most important jobs at RAF Wittering, working as the executive officer to the station and A4 Force Elements commander. This is a critical role at the Cambridgeshire Station and is normally only given to officers at the rank of Squadron Leader.

WO Hanson’s career began in 1984 at RAF Swinderby in Lincolnshire, before moving to RAF Cosford in the West Midlands for her trade training. Although finishing her RAF career in a staff role, WO Hanson is proud to be an aircraft engineer.

Warrant Officer Hanson leaves RAF Wittering in the bowler hat, which denotes the end of regular military service
Warrant Officer Hanson leaves RAF Wittering in the bowler hat, which denotes the end of regular military service

She left school with A-levels in maths and physics, and had originally intended to join up as a pilot.

WO Hanson said: “There were no opportunities for female pilots back in the day, so they suggested to me that if I couldn’t fly them, why not fix them?”

Thirty-six years on and she has no regrets about her choices.

She said: “To a young woman who is thinking about having an engineering career in the RAF I would say ‘just do it’. It is remarkable, it is diverse, it is challenging and one hundred percent rewarding. I would definitely recommend it.”

Warrant Officer Emma Hanson
Warrant Officer Emma Hanson

Avionics became the trade of choice for WO Hanson, but a career highlight was in Germany, where she worked in the blade-fit teams on the Chinook and Puma helicopters. Hot and cold has been a feature of career ever since, with tours and detachments in Afhganistan, Texas, the Falklands, Norway and Denmark.

When not at work, WO Hanson is a parish councillor and an active member of the befriending scheme for isolated and housebound people in the Oundle district. She is also a deputy church warden.

After a long and varied career as a regular, a new challenge awaits her as a full-time reservist. From April 2021 WO Hanson will become the new RAF community careers liaison officer for the East Midlands and East Anglia. By coincidence, another role previously occupied by a Squadron Leader.

She said: “Nothing compares to the variety of work and friendships you have in the RAF. The first day at Swinderby is fresh in my mind and I am still in contact with my course buddies to this day. I am proud to continue to serve in the Reserves and will hopefully inspire someone to take the challenge and enjoy a completely fulfilling career as I have done in the RAF.”

Group Captain Jo Lincoln is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. She said: “Mrs Hanson is going to leave a real gap behind at RAF Wittering.

“She is one of the most efficient and knowledgeable people I have ever worked with, this she combines with real energy and a great set of people skills.

“Mrs Hanson will be much missed, but I know she will continue to be a great ambassador for the Royal Air Force in her new role.”

WO Hanson left RAF Wittering on Wednesday, December 16.

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