It was an early start for 12 cadets from 1187 (Hemel Hempstead) & 795 (Harpenden) squadrons as they boarded the mini bus to make the journey down to RAF Odiham, home of the Chinook, in Hampshire. We were visiting 27 squadron and shown around by SGT Chris ‘Bones’ Pratt. The day consisted of a tour of a Chinoock, lunch in the crew room (very much a hit with the cadets as there was table football), a tour of the armoury & a talk on survival equipment.
We met SGT Pratt, who used to be a 1187 cadet, he gave us a briefing of what we could and couldn’t do on base then he took us to BN. BN (Bravo November) is the only Chinook that survived Operation Corporate in the Falklands over 30 years ago. It has been in service ever since, it has had many upgrades and its last tour was in Afghanistan. The Chinook is renowned for its lifting & transportation capacities so SGT Pratt had us all trying to manoeuvre the hook in the centre of the helicopter to see how difficult is was. The cadets had it easy as it was day light, they had no body armour on and the helicopter was on the ground!
Next on our itinerary we went to the armoury, it is very secure and we couldn’t take photo’s. The cadets were given a hands on talk about various weapons throughout history from the old number 8 rifle to the M134 Minigun which is mounted on a Chinook.
We finished up going to the survival classrooms. SGT Pratt talked to us on surviving in different situations and showed us various bits of equipment that the RAF use. We were able to try on body armour, helmets, eat some rations and 12 of us got into a life raft with loads of room to spare.