Here we continue our feature on the centenary celebrations of RAF Cranwell’s No.45 (R) Squadron.
On our tour of training facilities, some of the trainees on the course showed off the cockpits of the King Air 200 ‘classic’ and King Air 200 ‘GT’.
The squadron has five of the older Classics and three more modern GTs. Both designed to be executive passenger planes, the cabins still come with comfy leather seats and drinks holders, but there is no time for relaxation as if you are not glued to the banks of switches you are communicating with your fellow trainees in the back acting as spotters via headsets.
Trainee Rob Grocock explained they learn most of the handling techniques on the Classic after stepping up from single engine Tutor aircraft. He said: “It is a massive shift in dynamic.”
Rob said: “Initially it was quite daunting because of the size compared to the Tutor. You do simulator training first and then they hand you over to fly it on your first time out. Working as a crew initially takes a bit of getting used to, but then it makes your life easier, particularly as your view out of the cockpit is quite limited.”
Moving up to the GT they learn more about systems management, preparing to step up to the C17, C130, Voyager and the A400 heavy lifters.
Fellow trainee Joe Munro said the extra speed of the King Air allows them to take off and fly to other parts of the country to find the ‘good weather’ during their one and a half hour flights.
The other side of training on the squadron concerns the Weapons Systems Operators, who are taught how to handle loads in the back of the heavy lifter aircraft using life size mock-ups of the cargo bays in a hangar.
Chris Sloan explained this can vary from boats to Land Rovers and trucks. All have to be carefully loaded not to put the aircraft out of trim in flight.
lThe Squadron crest is a winged camel, after their nickname - The Flying Camels, so named after their time in the Middle East during the 1920s doing transport work. The Sopwith Camel fighter is also the aircraft the squadron is most famous for flying in the First World War.
l During the 1920s the camel crest from one crashed aircraft, the Golden Gain, was mounted on a plaque in the squadron bar.
l The remains of the original commanding officer’s pennant are preserved in the squadron archives.
l Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, later head of Bomber Command, was commanding officer of 45 Squadron, under whom they consistently won bombing competitions.