RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Welcome to the RAFairman Blog

Hello, and welcome.

The reason you are here I guess is because you already follow me on Twitter and you want a bit more information.

Well, we live in an information age, so I am going to do a bit of “ego-viewing”. This is an invention of my own – a fake interview done by myself – to myself (yeah, sounds a bit schizophrenic on writing that), but it is essentially a FAQ. So here goes.

So, RAFairman. Where are you based and what do you fly?

Ok, obvious one question, but sorry, I don’t fly. I am, by trade, an avionics technician, but right now I am working “out of trade” in an office job, doing a type of management consultancy type job.

On paper I am based at RAF Benson near to Oxford, where the RAF’s medium lift helicopter force is based – Merlin and Puma helicopters.

However right now I am training with the Army prior to deployment to Afghanistan and that is based out of a small camp near to Andover.

That’s cool, but your proper day-job back at Benson sounds quite dull. What’s THAT all about then?

It’s called Continuous Improvement and it’s our job to look at the sections, flights and squadrons on base here and see how we can make them better. Make them more productive and to make them happier places to be. In the writing of that it comes across as a bit of a dull job, but in fact…it’s interesting in that you get to go into any section on station to see what goes on there and you get to learn about things that you everyone on station does. So whilst it’s not sexy…it’s at least interesting and you get a feeling that you are making people’s lives a bit better.

Fair enough – not everyone can be a fighter pilot…how long have you been in the RAF?

Ha ha! No they can’t. I’ve actually been in the RAF for just over 22 years. I joined in 1987. Originally as an Electronics Technician (Air Radar), but as the RAF has merged trades over the years I have changed my trade title. I am now officially Aircraft Technician (Avionics).

That’s a fairly long time, where have you been based?

I did my Initial Training at RAF Swinderby (in Lincolnshire), and then my Basic Trade Training at RAF Cosford near to Wolverhampton. From here I was posted to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. On promotion I moved to RAF Leeming, in North Yorkshire, and then was posted back to RAF Cosford as an Instructor. On my next promotion I moved to RAF Benson – where I am now.

Varied then – what jobs have you done?

At Coningsby I actually did two jobs. The first was working on Tornado F3’s as part of No. 29(F)Sqn. I was here for seven years and did a lot, went to a lot of places, and had a lot of fun. I then moved onto a trials and development team working on an Electronic Warfare bit of kit and fixing the Tornado’s Defensive Aids.

At Leeming I worked in the Radar Bay, fixing the broken boxes that were removed by the people at First Line, and as I said at Cosford I was an Instructor.

It’s difficult to chose a favourite tour, but I’m lucky to have had some fantastic jobs. The Squadron work was hard but fun, whilst the EW work was fascinating and technical, and then the instructing was where I figured out I like working with people and not just bits of electronics. This job is cool though, for the reasons I gave earlier.

You said you are training with the Army for a Deployment to Afghanistan, what the heck is that all about?

Well, right now I am undergoing a training course run by the Army getting me ready for when I deploy to Afghanistan as part of the Military Stabilisation Support Team.  This is a Joint Service job working very closely with the Army Battlegroup deployed on Operation Herrick to assist the local population with recovery and reconstruction. Out there I will be getting out and about amongst the local population helping them to improve their own localities for the better.

One of the points of this blog was to tell you how people in the RAF live and work – so upto – and hopefully during that deployment – expect lots of blog posts about what I am doing to prepair for my trip to Afghanistan, and when I am out there too!

To be honest, in a slightly perverse way, I think I am going to enjoy a tour “Out of Area” operationally. For two reasons – firstly to see how things have changed since my first war (back in the dim distant past of history), and secondly because I feel a bit of a fraud in having not been deployed for a while. I feel a little bit guilty I guess. I mean I would miss my girl-friend and my kids, but being deployed is what goes with the job of being in the military now.

Where do you live?

Right now, I spilt my time between a house in Abingdon, the Army camp near Andover and my girl-friend’s house near to Woking, in Surrey. She is in the Army, and works at Frimley Park Hospital.  Right now, I have kit, clothes and furniture all over the place, and it gets quite confusing. Still, it’s never boring.

Why do you Tweet/Blog?

Well, I love technology and gadgets, and I love the communication aspects that they bring. And I am a people person. I think we are all looking for connections in life, and the more we have the richer our lives are. I like to learn about people and what they do, and what makes them tick.

I was an avid Twitterer from very early on (when there were very few people Tweeting!) and often tweeted what I was doing from there. I decided to close my “own” account and open the “RAF” one simply because people were interesting in service life and I found there were huge gaps in peoples knowledge of what members of the armed forces actually do. There is an idea that we spend all day either doing nothing or else marching up and down all day, our lives are much more varied and richer than that – our jobs are often like what “normal” people do, but in slightly different ways.

I’m also dreadfully proud of being in the RAF. And I enjoy the amazing lifestyle it has given me over the years. I know that people are interested and so I decided to combine all the things I’ve talked about in a Twitter account.

This blog…hmmmm…I’m not so sure about that, but it’s going to exist to add a bit of detail to what I get upto, and to add a bit of history to what I’ve done and where I’ve been. Maybe even where I’m going. Needless to say, just like the Twitter account, I’m making it all up as I go along.

Finally, is this an OFFICIAL blog?

No. Well, sort of. But no.  It is Sponsored by the MOD and I get help and assistance as to some of the stories and ideas I have on here, but all the ll ideas and opinions expressed in this blog (as well as on Twitter) are my own and should not be taken as either RAF or MOD policy. In every way, this is an unofficial web-page, that I intend to post my own thoughts and opinions. But, and there’s always a but, I’ll be doing it in line with the MOD’s Online Engagement Guidelines, which may mean that there are times when I must, and will, say “I can’t comment on that”.

I hope people understand that. If you ever have any questions or points to raise about my blog – or my Twitter feed, then please don’t hesitate to give me a Direct Message on Twitter or leave a Comment to a Post on this blog. I will try my best to reply to all post and answer as many questions as I can.

Happy reading!

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9 thoughts on “Welcome to the RAFairman Blog

  1. Haha ~ nice “Interview” with yourself! My nephew just finished 4 years with the US Air Force. He was in aviation electronics (that’s what they called it; I’m assuming it’s the same as avionics…?). He specialized in the Prowler first, and then the Harrier.

  2. Ms.T.L. Drummond on said:

    Thanks 4 that it was gd. Ta Teresa

  3. You can rest assured that all my post are my own views and not those of the RAF/MoD. I started this blog before I became a ‘Sponsored blogger’ and was invited to become one by the MoD simply cos it means that the MoD trust what I have to say and how I do it.

    You can read or not read as you choose, believe what you want to, but you have my word that my views are my own and that although I am sponsored I am not ‘official’ and i am not a mouthpiece for the official point of view.

    Finally, although a few of my post I have sent to the MoD for approval, I have done so at my choice rather than the MoDs insistence and I have never been Censored. The day I am censored, I will stop doing this blog and tweeting. 🙂

    • You can rest assured that all my post are my own views and not those of the RAF/MoD. I started this blog before I became a ‘Sponsored blogger’ and was invited to become one simply cos it means that the MoD trust what I have to say and how I do it.

      You can read or not read as you choose, believe what you want to, bit you have my word that my views are my own and that although I am sponsored I am not ‘official’ and i am not a mouthpiece for the official point of view.

  4. Thank you for such a wonderful blog, as my Dad was on deployment to Camp Bastion (he is coming home tomorrow, currently in Cyprus!), your blog helped me to understand what he may be up to out there! I’m looking forward to all the photos he has taken too 🙂
    Thanks again, and safe trip home!

  5. I’ve been really enjoying reading the archives of your blog. Recently, a very old family friend came to the end of his distinguished life and his RAF history made tremendous reading. Those service men and women from the secondworld war made such a difference in the lives of future generations.

    I thanked him for what he had done and he shrugged it off. He regarded his courage and committment as part of his job, and I get the impression that you feel the same about your service work. I want to thank you as well.

    (You’ve probably already seen this but just fyi

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/military-obituaries/air-force-obituaries/8592459/Air-Commodore-Peter-Cribb.html

    He will sorely missed by his friends and family.)

  6. Just a quick comment to say, thank you. We in Britain forget that every day there are men and women like you who just get on with it in very difficult conditions.

    I am a teacher in London who spent 7 years in the TA. I work in a school where 40% of my students are Muslim. Every week I find myself justifying what you are doing, to some of my more vocal students, students who claim that sharia law is acceptable and that we are killing innocent Muslims around the world. I try to do that by saying ‘Our soldiers in Afghanistan are just trying to make things better for other people every day, what have you done today?’.

    At the age of 44, as an ex stab, I can truly say I am humbled by what I have read in your blogs. Thanks for what you do. Stay safe.

  7. even though we were different trades , it looks like we’ve seen some of the finest bases the RAF has to offer … ahhhh Halton Block … it still makes me cringe !!

    Nice intro and im looking forward to keeping up with your journey

  8. robyn on said:

    Hi I am wondering if you could help me i have found a dog tag that has a name , number and RAAF on it. i was hoping to find the owner (family) that belongs to it. where would i start .

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