On Monday morning I arrived at the main entrance to RAF Cottesmore in Rutland to begin my week of Work Experience. After waiting for a while I was taken to VASS, this is the place where all aircraft that don't belong to RAF Cottesmore are checked in and checked out. It is also the place where the Work Experience students are sorted out for the week. After I was briefed and given my overalls I was taken to 1 (Fighter) Squadron, this is where I was going to spend my week. 1 (Fighter) Squadron is a fully active Harrier jet fighter Squadron.
I was given a small brief at 1(F) Sqn and then told what I was going to be doing for the rest of the day. Firstly I went on line; this is out with the planes. I helped service the Harriers, this included refuelling, re-arming, re-watering, possibly making an oil change and generally making sure that they were alright to make their next flight after they had come in from flying. After lunch I went on line again to help get the planes off the ground. They had to be checked over again and then again another time by the pilot. The pilot's equipment had to be set up and the engineers, the pilot and myself had to make sure that the plane was running properly and then we had to get the jet safely onto the runway for it to take off. The jets went off for an hour and a half flying, so I was left to explore the hanger and try to find something to do, or someone to help. There wasn't much going on in the hanger or on line, so I played pool in the Tea bar until the engineers went on line again. When I came back in I realised it was time to leave, as it was the end of the shift and the end of my day. I went back to the Bed and Breakfast where I was staying; about ten minutes walk from the main gate.
On Tuesday morning I arrived at my Squadron for 0800 hours. In the morning I went online until about 1130hours, when I had my lunch break. The afternoon was more interesting than the previous day as I was allowed to marshal some aircraft towards the runway. This was relatively simple, but still a new challenge! For the remainder of the afternoon I went around with an armourer re-arming the aircraft with bombs for the jets' bombing practice in Wales . This was the highlight of my week because I was allowed to do something that I really enjoyed and was really interested in, mainly on my own.
On Wednesday morning I arrived again at 0800hours and went on line all day. Nothing much happened on Wednesday, it was just normal servicing. But I wasn't complaining!!
Thursday was an interesting day, it was much like Tuesday, but I was allowed to do more marshalling. I thought that marshalling the planes out was quite simple, but marshalling them back in was the total opposite! I liked doing this because it was quite a challenge. I also had to help deal with a fuel leak, which was quite interesting because I'd never seen, or dealt, with one before. I helped a team of engineers re-build a jet that had had a bird fly into the engine and destroy it, both the bird and the engine that is. This was quite complex, because to work on the engine the wings and various other parts had to be removed first. It was, therefore, a very time consuming job.
Friday was my Squadron's sports day, but as they started two hours after I was meant to start, I wasn't allowed to join them. I went and worked in VASS, where I had spent a small part of my Monday morning. As there was only one plane coming in, there wasn't really much for me to do. So I had a chat with some of the people who worked there and then at 1200hours I was picked up, as it was the end of my week.
It was a highly enjoyable week due to the people of RAF Cottesmore making you feel welcome and useful. It gave me a great insight into the RAF and it has definitely made me think about a career in the RAF. I highly recommend this work experience. It was great!