Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The Few

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the Battle of Britain ceremony at RAF Odiham.  The ceremony, of course, remembers the RAF pilots who defended this country during the Battle of Britain seventy years ago.

There was a flyby by a Spitfire.  Sadly my eyes are not as young as they were but I thought it looked like a late model Spitfire and every eye followed it as it danced in the  sky.

There were also two flybys by Chinooks, which are awesome up close.  RAF Odiham is the home of the Chinook squadrons in the UK and these Chinooks are closely involved in the war in Afghanistan.  At any one time, a third of the Chinooks are in Afghanistan and about a tenth of the service men and women are there too.  They transport thousands of tons of supplies: they move troops; they rescue them, in many cases seriously wounded from the middle of firefights.

One example of the danger they face is the case of Flight Lieutenant Fortune, who flew into the middle of a firefight to evacuate wounded soldiers.  Taking off he flew directly over a hidden Taliban machine gun nest, was shot and yet continued to fly the Chinook and its wounded passengers to safety and land it.  On a number of occasions Chinooks have been hit.  The design of this amazing aircraft and the skills of the pilots and aircrew keep them flying in extraordinarily challenging conditions.

So last night while we remembered the Few of 1940, I was very conscious of the Few of 2010 who maintain the best traditions of Royal Air Force.

No comments: