Flight Lieutenant Stuart Martin was piloting one of the Merlins from RAF Benson that led the way for the Jubilee flypast on Saturday 19 May. Stuart tells us more in this blog.
I've been in the RAF for nearly ten years. I joined after spending my youth as an air cadet in the Air Training Corps. Initially I just wanted to be a pilot but was fascinated by helicopters at an early stage and after basic training, that’s the direction I chose.
Since then I have been on the Merlin Force for nearly six years and have enjoyed every minute of it. This year 28 (AC) Squadron have been fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund in recognition of all the fantastic support they have provided to RAF Benson. We've completed two challenges so far – the Paris marathon and the RAF Benson 10K run.
As well as fundraising, we've had the honour to lead the helicopter section of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee flypast.
I was in the lead aircraft for the flypast and it was a distinct honour; to see it run to plan was definitely a 'lump in the throat' moment.
The challenges we faced were twofold: firstly getting twelve helicopters into perfect formation position – all of differing types and across all services and secondly getting overhead Windsor Castle on time.
That may not sound particularly tough, but you have such a variety of aircraft with differing limitations. We did not have the flexibility to speed up, and slowing down would only have a concertina effect on the formation, so it was a case of be on track, on time, on speed…or you'll miss it!
This was my first flypast but hopefully not my last, although next time I hope I'm not organising it as this has taken months to put together!
By Stuart Martin