Celebrating a 40th birthday is an important occasion, especially when it is an Air Cadet Squadron and a helicopter force that are doing the celebrating.
It is 40 years since 2499 (Wokingham) Squadron of the ATC was formed, a year which also saw the Aérospatiale Puma HC1 helicopter enter service with the RAF. In celebration of this event the current staff and cadets of 2499 Squadron were invited to RAF Benson, home of the Puma for a day of visits and flying.
The 15 cadets and 7 staff, accompanied by Sgt Lewis Quilter, ex Thames Valley Air Cadet and currently a Weapons System Operator at RAF Benson enjoyed a series of visits including the Fire Section and the Thames Valley Police Air Support Unit (ASU) who operate their helicopter out of the base. The highlight of the day though was a visit to current Puma operators, Number 33 Squadron where they had a tour of the Puma helicopter before 11 cadets and staff took to the skies for a trip out across London, refuelling at RAF Wattisham and finally returning to RAF Benson.
Flight Lieutenant Andy Bell from 33 Squadron said later “It was fantastic to have the cadets here yesterday, and to see the smiles on the faces after the flying which made the whole event worthwhile.” In return the Commanding Officer of 2499 Squadron, Flight Lieutenant Martin Lines wished to thank both 33 Squadron and RAF Benson for all their hospitality and noted that “this was an amazing way to celebrate the Squadron’s birthday, we now look forward to repeating it in another 40 years time.”