Having taken command over 3 months ago this is the first of my news updates from the Squadron. Clearly it is my intention to build on the foundations that have been laid over the years by the excellent and dedicated squadron commanders that precede me; hard acts to follow from my perspective. I am very fortunate to inherit a squadron that is in good shape. We have a first-class organisation, staff and students are keen and focused on the yob in hand and they work (and play) very hard. Additionally, our engineering team impresses me; their high quality work, often carried out under considerable pressure, and a can-do attitude is just the ticket. They are very much a part of the Squadron. Finally, I must thank the C Flight team for making my Hawk conversion painless, and Nigel Clifford for a trouble-free handover. The first few months have flown by but I am now settled, both in the Boss’ chair and the cockpit.
To begin I offer some statistics which will show the scale of operations that the busiest fast jet flying squadron in the RAF undertakes. In the 8 months between July 2005 and February 2006 the Squadron flew 5,791 sorties - a total of 6,153 flying hours. We have trained 78 pilots; of these 35 were Royal Air Force and Royal Navy ab initio students, and 18 members of the Indian Air Force. Additionally, 25 other pilots converted to the Hawk, from backgrounds ranging from basic QFI, the RAFAT conversion and Senior Officers on work-up training prior to taking command.
July saw us well into the Display Season. Flight Lieutenant ‘Joey’ Diacon flew 50 displays during the 2005 year, at various locations around Europe. Approximately 3 million people watched the display and the Squadron received countless letters, telephone calls and emails congratulating him. It was, without doubt, the most successful season for 208 Squadron to date. Not only was Joey awarded the Geoffrey Bromet Trophy, he was also commended by the Commander-in-Chief in the New Year Honours List for his splendid work as the 208 Squadron 2005 Display Pilot.
Flight Lieutenant Martin (Perty) Pert began his work up as the 2006 Hawk Display Pilot on 01 Feb. At 25, he is believed to be the youngest pilot to ever display the aircraft.