RAF Benevolent Fund Station Exec’s Skydive Challenge
Several months ago I came up with the idea of doing a skydive to raise some money for the RAF Benevolent Fund, I mentioned it to Kate Davies and she suggested asking her husband and then maybe getting the Station Exec’s involved.
The idea was discussed at several of the Station Commander’s weekly Exec Meeting’s and the list of 7 willing participants was born. The date was set as surely it would be lovely and sunny at the end of June!?
After three weeks of almost unbroken sunshine and scorching Mediterranean temperatures the day had finally arrived for the group of fearless Executive skydivers to take the plunge in the name of charity. The day began under an annoyingly thick layer of cloud at 0645 sharp with OC DSW as I/C wheels, it turns out this was somewhat of a triumph for OC DSW as this was to be his first entire day in charge of an MT Minibus without actually crashing into something.
With everyone arrived and booked in at UK Parachuting Beccles, it was time to commence some obligatory ground training. With the forecast predicting the cloud base to lift, we found ourselves with some military waiting time on our hands which had to be filled by a competition to see who could eat the most bacon rolls in the Skydive Café. With the weather improving and the sun breaking through, we got the call to make our way to the Hangar to get ourselves kitted up.
First up was OC 12 Sqn, Matt Hubbard from BAE Systems and the Padre. The Tandem Instructors were almost fighting over ‘who got the Padre’ as surely there would be divine intervention to stop anything remotely bad happening to him!! With us all dressed like extras from the 90’s film Cone head’s and wearing our RAF Benevolent Fund T-Shirts we made our way to the aircraft. With the inside of the aircraft packed tighter than a Yorkshireman’s wallet, we set off on the 15 minute ascent to13,000ft, once up to height the red light turned to green, the roller door opened and the Padre shuffled his was to the door strapped to his delighted instructor and promptly disappeared for the 30 second freefall to 5,000 ft. His chute opened as predicted and calm was once again restored, closely followed by myself and OC12 Sqn. Unfortunately Ben Elephant was not allowed to skydive for fear of his head coming off and landing somewhere over the Suffolk countryside!
Last up was the Station Commander, OC DSW, OC ELW and OC Ops, all arrived back to earth with huge smiles and no broken bits! With certificates in hand it was time for a team photo at the aircraft with Ben Elephant. It was a fantastic experience and was thoroughly enjoyed by all. The RAF Benevolent Fund is a registered charity with UK Parachuting and as a result of sponsorship from colleagues, family and friends we managed to raise a grand total of £1,082.50 for this very worthy cause. A great effort by all and an experience that will not be forgotten.
Matt Hubbard, BAE Systems