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The Station Badge, granted in 1955, depicts a red lion rampant on a gold scallop. The lion signifies that the Station was built on the Manor of Bensington that once belonged to the Royal Duchy of Cornwall. The scallop is the traditional emblem of medieval pilgrims and symbolises the mobility of the service.
RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire is a support helicopter main operating base working within the Joint Helicopter Command.
RAF Benson is home to two front-line Puma HC2 helicopter squadrons, and one Operational Conversion Unit, flying a mix of Puma HC2 and Chinook HC4 helicopters.
RAF Benson is also home to the civilian National Police Air Service and the Thames Valley Air Ambulance which operate 24 hours a day.
Group Captain Wardrope took command of RAF Benson in November 2018.
An experienced Chinook helicopter pilot, he has completed numerous operational deployments including Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland and the Balkans. In 2008 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for gallantry and leadership under fire while serving in Afghanistan.
RAF Benson, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 6AA.
JHSS is a joint RAF and Army Joint Helicopter Command unit tasked with providing ground support to the Support Helicopter Force.
Their aim is to deliver and sustain the specialist helicopter handling and underslung load capability for operations and exercises worldwide, in order to meet UK defence missions and tasks.
6 AEF is commanded by a Senior Instructional Officer with Squadron Leader rank and staffed by a mix of serving RAF and RAF Volunteer Reserve officers.
The major task of 6 AEF is to provide an annual air experience flight of 20 minutes duration to every cadet in its allocated region. Cadets are drawn from Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Forces from Herts & Bucks, Thames Valley, Surrey, Sussex, London, Middlesex and Kent ATC Wings, and 43 Schools with CCF RAF contingent.
The RAF Benson Flying Club operates a fleet of light aircraft to provide serving and ex-serving military personnel flying training to Private Pilot’s Licence standard and also touring opportunities. Further details at www.rafbfc.co.uk.
NPAS operates mainly in the central part of the South of England. RAF Benson’s central location within the south of England provides a strategic position for response to local Police Forces and beyond. Crew regularly respond to tasks such as searching for missing or vulnerable people, searching for offenders, managing high-speed vehicle pursuits and on occasions assisting the Ambulance Service.
The TVAA moved to RAF Benson in 2007. The yellow and red helicopter carries lifesaving equipment and can transport patients at speed to one of several hospitals in the area with landing facilities, and can also take emergency doctors to the patient at the scene.
The paramedics are provided by the NHS; all other costs are funded by the TVAA Trust; a charity funded by donations from the public, largely from the Thames Valley area.
The Firmin Sword of Peace for 2017 was presented to RAF Benson by Air Marshal Wigston for all their help during Op Ruman.
On Friday 15th June 2018, our brilliant Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) pulled a Puma helicopter the length of our 1.8km runway to raise money for the Footsteps Foundation.
2018 marks the centenary of the Royal Air Force, and as well as managing the many operational demands we are faced with, RAF Benson has big plans to celebrate.
In 1937, with the RAF expanding, work began building an airfield near the historic village of Benson. On 1 February 1939, RAF Benson opened and accepted its first aircraft; 2 squadrons of Fairey Battle Bombers. The Battle Bombers left RAF Benson in December 1940 to be replaced by the twin engine Wellington Bombers and the Spitfires of No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, who, under RAF Coastal Command, establish Benson firmly in the forefront of the war effort.
From 1939 until 1995, the Station became the start point for many a Royal journey as initially the ‘King's Flight’, and then later the ‘Queen's Flight’ made its home at RAF Benson. The Queen’s Flight remained at RAF Benson until 1995, when it moved to RAF Northolt and was amalgamated with No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron. Following the war, the station re-grouped under Transport Command to provide medium range tactical air transport.
In March 1992 RAF Benson began its association with helicopters as first No. 60 Squadron flying Wessex HC2 helicopters, and then in 1997 No. 33 Squadron flying Puma HC1 helicopters took up residence. This was followed by the Merlin Helicopters of No. 28 (Army Cooperation) Squadron in July 2001 and of No. 78 Squadron in January 2008 creating the home of the Merlin Force.
In November 2009, the Puma Force was united when the Pumas of No. 230 Squadron were rehomed from Northern Ireland to RAF Benson. As a result of Support Helicopter rationalisation across Defence, the RAF’s Merlin helicopters transferred to the Royal Navy. First to disband in September 2014 was No. 78 Squadron, transferring its Merlins to No. 846 Naval Air Squadron who remained at RAF Benson until March 2015 when it moved to Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton.
No. 28 Squadron was next and in July 2015 transferred its Merlins to No. 845 Naval Air Squadron who moved shortly thereafter to RNAS Yeovilton. No. 28 Squadron, however, did not disband and instead stood up as the joint Operational Conversion Unit for Puma and Chinook helicopters in October 2015, remaining at RAF Benson. Joint Helicopter Support Squadron, a tri-Service Joint Helicopter Command unit tasked with providing ground support to the Support Helicopter Force, arrived in 2016.
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