Exercises

Trainee Recruits Undergo Unexpected Lesson In Chinooks

The visit made the recruits' training feel "more real" and also had benefits for the RAF student pilots.

Trainee recruits from the Queen's Division in Catterick have received an unexpected lesson in Chinook helicopter deployment.

The Infantry Training Centre often requests Chinooks for training, but the RAF is only able to supply them on rare occasions.

The Chinooks flew the recruits to where they will begin the second tactical exercise of their 26-week course, spending four days out in the field.

Speaking ahead of the flight, Rifleman Jose Godinez told Forces News: "A couple of people in the platoon were saying that we are going on a helicopter - [I] didn't believe them at first because you never know what goes on around here!"

Rifleman Eroni Nawalu said he had only seen Chinooks in films before and said there had been a lot excitement around the potential arrival of the helicopters.

"All of us were looking forward to it because none of us have been in or flown in a chopper before," he said.

"It has been going around the camp - talking about it - but we never believed it until the last minute."

The visit also allowed RAF student pilots to gain experience.

Lieutenant Andrew Rogers, Platoon Commander of Queen's Division 5, said: "It's absolutely massive if you think about this being the troops' first opportunity to properly deploy on an exercise. 

"At this point they're starting to add polish onto their soldiering skills, deploying on a Chinook adds that realist sense.

"These guys would have grown up on the era of Afghan-esque insertions and that experience will make this more real and make them more focused and honed for the exercise."

The recruits were not the only ones who saw the benefits from such an event, however. The RAF's student pilots also gained from the experience.

Major Mike Cooper of 28 Squadron, an Operational Conversion Unit, said: "We've got student pilots who haven't dealt with troops before.

"There are different elements, there's the human element where you've got to deal with real people and all the variables that brings in.

"You're also dealing with weight as well, which affects the flying so it's a very different experience to just flying back at base."