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209’s Merlin Magic

Article posted: Apr 29, 2013 by Sqn Ldr Wilson

Air Cadets from 209 (West Bridgford) Squadron spent the day at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire which is the home of the Joint Helicopter Command.

The first Squadron they visited was 33 Sqn which fly’s the Puma helicopter. The Cadets were shown around the Pumas in the hanger with one of the aircrew explaining the instruments and controls in the cockpit. He then pointed out one Puma which had extra markings on the side and explained they had been added for a Tom Cruise film in which Tom Cruise is flown into Trafalgar Square in that Puma helicopter!

After lunch the Cadets visited 28 (AC) Sqn which operates the Merlin helicopter. The Merlin is the most modern helicopter in the RAF and is the same length as a WWII Lancaster bomber. This time two aircrew showed them around the more complex interior of the Merlin.

Other sections they visited included the Safety Equipment Bay where they were shown a 12 man survival dinghy and all the equipment contained inside and were offered aircrew survival boiled sweets which contain 400 calories each!

They also visited the Armoury and got some hands on experience with some of the RAF’s weapons and were also given a guided tour of the Stations Fire Engines by RAF Firefighters. The last port of call was Air Traffic Control where they were able to watch a helicopter make a precision approach on the controller’s radar screens.