RAF Wittering News

Special Award For Air Traffic Control

Air Traffic Controllers at Royal Air Force Wittering in Cambridgeshire have received a special award for their outstanding levels of aviation support and professionalism.

The award-winning team from RAF Wittering (this picture was taken before the rule of six came into force)
The award-winning team from RAF Wittering (this picture was taken before the rule of six came into force)
Image By: SAC Jack Welson

With around 45,000 individual take-offs and landings every year, RAF Wittering is one of the busiest flying Stations in the Ministry of Defence. In addition to keeping the airspace safe for elementary flying training, the Air Traffic Control Team regularly manages activity with heavy transport aircraft, jets and helicopters.

An RAF A400M comes into land at RAF Wittering
An RAF A400M comes into land at RAF Wittering
Image By: SAC Matty Smith

Unusually, the Air Traffic Control team is a combined military and civilian organisation. The visual control room, with its view of the airfield, is manned by personnel from Babcock International. The radar room downstairs, which sees aircraft beyond the airfield, is manned exclusively by Royal Air Force controllers. 

Most of the team’s output directly supports RAF Wittering’s flying training operations but, in the last two years, their work has involved much more.

2018 was RAF100; a year which marked the centenary of the Royal Air Force, and which also brought more aircraft to Wittering than in any year since the airfield reopened in 2014. Displays from the Red Arrows and Typhoons featured that year, as well as numerous visits from fast jets, helicopters and transport aircraft.

The Red Arrows at RAF Wittering in 2018
The Red Arrows at RAF Wittering in 2018
Image By: SAC Chris Thompson-Watts

Flight Sergeant Katie Mason is the Unit Standards Officer for air traffic control at RAF Wittering. She said: “Our aim is to provide a safe operating environment for our trainee instructors and pilots, and also for the many other aircraft that use the Station, and it’s a privilege to be recognised for our cohesive working practices.”  

RAF Hawk jets arrive at Wittering in advance of the RAF 100 flypast. The Air Traffic Control tower can be seen in the background
RAF Hawk jets arrive at Wittering in advance of the RAF 100 flypast. The Air Traffic Control tower can be seen in the background
Image By: SAC Matty Smith

The commendation is given by Air Officer Commanding (AOC) 38 Group, Air Vice Marshal Simon Ellard. RAF Wittering is a 38 Group Station and the commendation is not awarded often.

Rik Smith is the regional manager for Babcock International. He said: “Whether it’s keeping the Babcock training aircraft moving swiftly and safely or managing the constant stream of other aircraft. From heavy transporter aircraft, cutting-edge fast jets or providing exercise coverage, the team demonstrates a tremendous commitment to high levels of safety and professionalism.”

Five flying units are based at RAF Wittering. No 16 Squadron trains novice pilots, No 115 Squadron teaches qualified pilots to become instructors on the Grob Tutor, No 5 Air Experience Flight gives Air Cadets their first flying experiences and there are two University Air Squadrons; Cambridge and London.

Group Captain Jo Lincoln is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering. She said: “This is a perfect example of the Whole Force in action; military personnel and civilian contractors working in harmony to deliver a safe and effective airfield and airspace. Well done to all members of this fantastic team, both past and present, as you are a credit to this Station and Babcock International.  You thoroughly deserve this formal recognition.”

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