Visits to RAF Odiham 8th and 15th June 2011
Posted by APM on 27th Jun 2011
Two groups visited RAF Odiham on 8th and 15th June. Tilak Basu reports on the 8th June visit:
The APM groups received a very pleasant welcome from Sqn Ldr Williamson. This was followed by a film showing the operation of a Chinook helicopter flying within the operation theatre, e.g. Afghanistan. The film show was supplemented by explanatory comments from Sqn Ldr Williamson which clarified the scenario further.
The introduction was followed by a minibus tour of the Odiham site. An informative commentary was provided as the minibus passed specific buildings and sites of significance.
The party then had an escorted visit to the vehicle maintenance hangar. Explanations were provided on the systems used within the workshop with regard to the tools and the operational procedures for servicing and maintaining each vehicle.
After an excellent hearty lunch in the Officers Mess, the APM group received a brief introduction to the technicians training classroom. Here, the group heard how the instructors train the engineers and technicians who keep the helicopters operational on a daily basis. This was done through a programme of lectures and films culminating in tests for each member of the technical personnel.
The visiting party then had the opportunity to have a closer look at a working helicopter. The visitors were escorted into a hangar where two Chinooks were ready for their flying exercise (scheduled for later in the day). Here, the party was split into two sub-groups, with one visiting the inside of the aircraft while the other inspected the outside features. The two groups then swopped round. Both groups received detailed explanations of the aircraft structure: the rotors; the size and construction of the rotor blades; the engines; the winches; the gun placements; the load carrying capacity of the aircraft and other technical details. APM members were also given permission to take photographs of certain angles if they wished.
The visit continued with the armoury training workshop. Here, members were given demonstrations of the various types of guns (without live rounds!) supplemented by a film illustrating how certain types of guns are used. These included: the AK-47 Kalashnikov, the M1 Carbine gun and other such interesting examples. Members also managed to handle some of the armaments to get a feel for the weapons. The author of this article particularly enjoyed handling the one with a laser guided target finder!
As a finale, the visiting party was then taken to the edge of the airfield to observe (from a safe distance) the entire take-off procedure of a Chinook, from starting the engine, to taxiing to take off and then finally to flying away. During this part of the visit, Sqn Ldr Williamson and his colleagues were at hand to provide explanations and to answer questions.
To round off the day, some group photographs were taken by APM members. The whole day can be described only as very exciting, enjoyable, informative and entertaining. All credit to Sqn Ldr Williamson and his colleagues for laying on such a fantastic visit for APM members. The excellent programme went ahead despite the days atrocious weather. The day started in warm sunshine but sadly soon deteriorated to include lashing rain and gale force winds! None of this, however, dampened the visiting partys enthusiasm for continuing to enjoy this well organised and hospitable visit. On behalf of the visiting group, I should like to thank Sqn Ldr Williamson and his colleagues for an unforgettable day and to thank Sue Severn of APM HQ for organising such an exciting professional visit.
T. Basu B.Sc (Eng), MAPM
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