Friday, 24 November 2017

RAF helicopter commander drops in on school assembly

A ROYAL Air Force helicopter touched down at Langtree School in Woodcote as part of a special assembly.

A ROYAL Air Force helicopter touched down at Langtree School in Woodcote as part of a special assembly.

The Puma HC2 aircraft, which is stationed at RAF Benson, landed on the playing fields as pupils watched from the tennis courts.

Wing Commander Pip Harding, a former squadron commander at the base, climbed out before the aircraft took off again.

He posed for photographs with the students, who were joined by youngsters from Woodcote Primary School, while wearing his flight overalls and helmet. He then went inside and gave a 45-minute presentation about the Puma’s campaign history.

The RAF has been flying the aircraft since 1971 and it has seen active duty in Belize, Venezuela, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Zaire. It is currently flown out of Benson by 33 Squadron and 230 Squadron.



Wg Cdr Harding, who is now based at RAF High Wycombe, used to be commanding officer of Benson’s 78 Squadron, which was disbanded last year after handing its Merlin helicopters to the Royal Navy.

He demonstrated the Puma operators’ flight suits, which include a lifejacket that inflates when a tab is pulled. He also showed pupils a self-inflating survival raft that can be stored in a box the size of a small suitcase.

Afterwards, the pupils asked him questions about his career. Wg Cdr Harding said, “The children seemed to be enthused by the subject.”

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