RAFairman's Blog

An RAF Airman's Blog

Questions, questions…

I recently asked for some questions – that would need answers on this blog (Hey! it’s not easy coming up with things for me to witter on about you know!) and I got a Tweet from @sperryuk who asked a couple of questions in one go. I’ve split them up to answer them…

“Why the RAF?”

Hmmmm. Well.  I blame my family.  My Dad was in the RAF (although he completed his 22 years just as I was being born – he left as a Sgt (as I am now)) and my brother joined the RAF back when I was 8 in 1977.  So I just kind of wanted to be in the RAF.  They seemed to enjoy it, and it was a forces household so I was kind of used to the way of life before I was in, with regards to the humour and understanding the lifestyle anyway. So joining the RAF was something I wanted to do ever since I can remember wanting to do something – if you know what I mean. There was a short time when I was thinking about trying something else (oddly enough being a history teacher) but this quickly passed and I joined the RAF as soon as I could  when I passed the, minimum age – 17 and a half as it was then.  I originally wanted to be an engines man, but that option closed on the day of my interview and I had the opportunity of joining as a Radar Techie. Which I took.

Now I am in, I am glad I joined, and there haven’t been many days when I have not been glad to have been in the RAF.  I’m not saying that everyday has been fluffy bunnies and pink flowers everywhere, but the dark and bad days have been fairly few in number.

“What’s the hardest role?”

I can only answer this from my own background.  I have said in my FAQ what jobs I have done – and the most enjoyable was when I was a personal development instructor at RAF Cosford…but the hardest one I have done has to have been when I was working “first line” on 29(F)Sqn.  Here I had to service the jets – from putting in the oils and fuel to checking the airframe and tyres for faults and then I had to be able to work on all the avionics equipment as well. 

This meant I had to have a working knowledge of the Radar system, the Comms/Radio systems, the Auto-pilot, the Flight Systems and stability equipments as well as the Missile Warning Receivers and the cockpit displays. Some of which were really easy systems like the radios…quick box in box out stuff…and some that were a nightmare to work on…like the Command Stability Aumentation System (CSAS) or the Main Radar, which at that time, back then, was really, really, really unreliable.

“How does history impact on postings (bases etc)?”

Well, the short answer is it doesn’t! The posting system of ALL the armed forces are a strange and dark art, practised by strange and dark people, who’s main aim seems to be to fill posts as quick as possible, without really listening to the needs, wants and desires of the individuals themselves.  (And THAT has guarenteed me a posting to Machrihanish…)

Once upon a time the RAF had loads of bases all over the country where people could get posted to, and you could move relaitively easily between them.  But now the number of bases is falling and so postings are more difficult to sort out as there are simply less places in the country to go.  I was being a bit harsh above, the drafters have a bloomin’ hard job to do to try and keep everyone in the RAF at their preferred location AND then have to weigh this up against the needs of the service. In general they do it OK.  I could have been posted to Marham when I got promoted – and this would have been really the wrong location for me, but a bit of sweet talking got them to post me down here to Benson instead.  So they DO listen and they do help out when they can.  After all, grumpy airmen not at places where they want to be means airmen more likely to want to leave the service…

“Who are the posers?”

This one made me laugh. There are different answers to this; but the first ones that spring to mind are, obviously, the aircrews.  Particularly fast jet pilots.  There is a standing joke in the RAF: “How do you know if someone’s a Harrier pilot? Don’t worry, he’ll tell you…”

But there are others who can “pose about”. NCO aircrew get a lot of flak, as do the PTI’s – the Physical Training Instructors.  But in the end it’s all down to stereotypes.  People in different trades and specialisations have stereotypes of the others.  Techies take the mick out of PTI’s and Suppliers. Suppiers and MT drivers take the mick out of Techies…EVERYONE takes the mick out of aircrews…but in the end it’s all just harmless banter.  Everyone does their job and the aircraft fly and the bad guys get what is coming to them.

I hope these answers help in some way.

If anyone has got anymore questions for me, about anything to do with me or the RAF then please don’t hesitate to get in touch either on this blog, or like @sperryuk did via Twitter.


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