RAF Weston on the Green
Oxfordshire. 28th August 2005
Weston from the air
Most of my best experiences in aviation have been unexpected, my visit to RAF Weston on the Green turned out to be one such highlight. This airfield is still owned and run by the Royal Air Force as a parachute training airfield for the RAF and British Army, RAF C130 Hercules are a familiar sight in the skies during the week dropping sticks of parachutists, a Shorts Skyvan (G-PIGY) flies from Oxford Airport, Kidlington being used for the same purpose. This aircraft is operated by Babcock Defence when smaller numbers from the military are jumping.
Based at Weston itself is a turbine powered twin Dornier owned by the RAFSPA which at weekends is available for use by parachuting clubs and members of the public who wish to experience a parachute jump, in tandem or solo using a static line, or those who are experienced with the appropriate qualifications can book in, pay their dues and go skydiving! For full details go to the Royal Air Force Sports Parachute Association website at: www.rafspa.com .
Once again my experience with anything to do concerning the Royal Air Force gets a mark of 10 out of 10. I was able to meet up with two of the Dornier pilots, Mike Westwood and David Burnett, both ex RAF with over 30 years of service each, ground support is to a very high standard and anyone enjoying skydiving could not find a better venue. Friendly, well-run but with safety paramount at all times. All facilities, food, bar, showers and camping over the weekend.
It should be noted that the RAFSPA is a totally separate organisation not subsidised by the RAF, it is run by a civilian manager at Weston on the Green, weekends only as during the week the airfield is 100% Royal Air Force. The fuel bowser has been bought by the Club as they receive no fuel from the RAF, that has to be bought commercially, you can imagine that with the aircraft used the way they are, full power on take off and climb to 10,000 feet a lot of fuel is needed! The day I was there the second Dornier had been hired and so had the helicopter, normally there is just the blue Dornier available, anything up to 16 lifts can be made by the one aircraft in a day starting at 9.30am until late during the summer. All in all a very impressive operation.
A chance came up for a trip in the left seat of a helicopter; Augusta 109 operated by Castle Air, www.castleair.co.uk, was jumped at, the ride that is, not skydiving! Keith Thompson being the pilot and five parachutists for a flight up to 8,000 feet to be dropped overhead Weston at about 1000 hours. The twin Dorniers were dropping at the same time so the skies in this part of Oxfordshire where busy for much of the time although at all times full radio contact and control was in operation. Here are some of the photos taken on the day.
A good way to be reminded how good the Royal Air Force is and to get the true picture of what is going on inside today's RAF, go to: www.rafnews.co.uk
My advice for those considering a career is to join the Royal Air Force and have a proper life and career whilst getting the best training, I feel sure that you will never regret your choice. www.rafcareers.com