Falcons News

Successful Training Exercise for RAF Falcons Next Display Season

The Royal Air Force Falcons have returned home to RAF Brize Norton after completing four weeks of intense parachute training.

Members of the RAF Falcons conducting parachute training in California
Members of the RAF Falcons conducting parachute training in California

Early November, the Team deployed to Lake Elsinore, California, for Exercise Freefall Endeavour to undertake advanced coaching in freefall, canopy handling techniques and specific display leader and Drop Zone Safety Officer (DZSO) training.

Three members of the RAF Falcons pictured perfectly on the Drop Zone in Lake Elsinore, California
The RAF Falcons during their Flight One Course, which teaches close canopy in air skills, vital for their famous non-contact canopy stack

This was the first Exercise the Team have conducted under the command of Flight Lieutenant Chris Wilce, Officer Commanding RAF Falcons, commenting on how well the Exercise went, he said:

“I felt privileged to lead the Team through this training package in preparedness for the 2021 season. Exercise Freefall Endeavour 20 was particularly blessed this year with excellent weather. This enabled the Falcons to undertake a large amount of very valuable training in the lead up to Exercise Falcons Stack next year and training that will stand Parachute Jump Instructors (PJIs) in good stead for their future careers.”

Flight Lieutenant Chris Wilce
Officer Commanding RAF Falcons

Three members of the RAF Falcons pictured perfectly on the Drop Zone in Lake Elsinore, California
Three members of the RAF Falcons pictured perfectly on the Drop Zone in Lake Elsinore, California

Meticulous planning was key for this exercise to ensure the Falcons could meet their objectives whilst keeping personnel safe and as COVID-19 secure as possible. The Team focussed on different aspects of their training aims each week, with six to eight jumps being conducted daily to improve freefall skills and increase parachuting experience for each RAF Falcon. During the Exercise, the Team also utilised a Vertical Wind Tunnel, to complete Military Formation Skydiving (MFS) training, which involves the coaching of basic freefall techniques.

Sergeant Brook Stebbings, Third Year Falcon pictured walking off the drop zone after a successful parachute jump
Sergeant Brook Stebbings, Third Year Falcon pictured walking off the drop zone after a successful parachute jump

Sergeant Paddy Guillois, First Year Falcon, said:

“My first trip on Exercise FreeFall Endeavour has exceeded expectations, we were very fortunate to be able to have such a successful exercise. Completing over 96 jumps in four weeks it’s the highest concentration of jumps I’ve done over a short period. This has definitely become apparent in how much I’ve learnt and how much more confident I feel as a parachutist. A big difference in training before the Falcons has been giving other parachutists in the sky as much space as possible. When display parachuting however, we want to be a lot closer to one another whilst still remaining safe. To achieve this, you need to have a lot of trust in your teammates, which has been built whilst parachuting but also outside of our work environment.”

Sergeant Paddy Guillois
First Year Falcon

Overall, the Exercise was a huge success with many qualifications being achieved, including four new Formation Skydiving Coaches and one Lightweight Parachute System despatcher. Freefall Endeavour has certainly placed the RAF Falcons in a great position for the New Year, where they will embark on their second trip to California for Exercise Falcon Stack.

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