Famous today for flying the enormous C17-A Globemaster III, 99 Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton, are at the heart of worldwide defence operations and are celebrating their 100th anniversary.
The squadron is actually older than the Royal Air Force who will celebrate turning 100 in April 2018. 99 Squadron formed on 15 August 1917 in Wiltshire. In April 1918 the Squadron flew the De Havilland DH9 aircraft and was deployed to France to operate as a light bomber squadron. It flew several missions during the First World War, targeting the German industrial power.
In 1938 the Squadron flew the Vickers Wellington bomber, an aircraft it would operate for the majority of the Second World War and in 1945 it was disbanded. The Squadron reformed in 1949 as a strategic transport squadron operating the Avro Yorks aircraft and has been used in the air transport role ever since.
After being disbanded once again in the 1970’s, 99 Squadron was stood back up in 2000 to fly the C-17 from RAF Brize Norton where it has been operating for 17 years.
BFBS Brize Norton's Alex Gill spoke to Sergeant Nick Spring, a Ground Engineer who travels with C-17 aircraft around the world to maintain them and fix anything should something go wrong, even a full engine change while away isn't too much to ask.
The massive Boeing C17-A Globemaster III is an incredibly versatile and recognisable aircraft. Capable of transporting freight up to 170,000lbs, it is well known for moving people, aid supplies, military vehicles and helicopters and aeromedical evacuations.
Alex discovers what a beast the flexible C17-A Globemaster III is...
Despite the size of the aircraft, the C-17 can land and take off in some of the most austere conditions and surprisingly short runways.
Alex managed to stand under this gigantic open jet engine and speak to Cpl Ben Smith, one of the aircraft mechanics, about the unique problems they face.
Four Pratt & Whitney F117-PW-100 turbofan engines give the C-17 incredible power to take off on runways as short as 1,100 m. Flt Lt Alan Davis is a C-17 pilot, he says:
“It can land on very short runways, and the key to that are the huge ceramic breaks which can heat up and take out a huge amount of energy and the big flaps which help us achieve a slow and steep approach”
To discover more about the history of 99 Squadron Alex spoke to the current Officer Commanding, Wing Commander Marc Holland who said:
“To command a Squadron as prestigious as 99 is a great honour and a huge privilege for me. The beauty of the Squadron is that we can project our freight anywhere in the world rapidly, no matter when. We are supporting missions around the world 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Hear the full interview below...