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15 December 2016

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2016 RAFFCA Christmas Message

The RAFFCA Chairman acknowledges an outstanding 2016 for @RAFFlyingclubs made possible by valued supporters and organisations. To all RAFFCA Supporters, Friends and Members.

  • Sir Geoffrey de Havilland Flying Foundation
  • The Royal Air Squadron
  • The RAF Charitable Trust
  • The RAF Charitable Trust Enterprise
  • The Nuffield Trust
  • The RAF Benevolent Fund
  • InZpire Ltd
  • Aeros Flight Training
  • The RAF Sports Charity
  • The RAF Sports Lottery
  • The RAF Aerobatic Team

From Air Commodore Al Seymour, Chairman RAFFCA

As the year draws to a close, and we pause to enjoy the Christmas Season, I wanted to take this timely opportunity to reflect on what has been an outstanding year for the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association (RAFFCA) and, moreover, to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to the many people and supporting organisations who, together, have enabled some marvellous achievements.

Earlier in the year, the inaugural RAFFCA Showcase Day, and combining the 3rd Tony Ayre Blade aerobatic competition, was held at RAF Halton Aerodrome. A significant event, akin to a small ‘airshow’, it was a humbling experience for me to witness the tangible success of so many projects coming together in one place. Although the weather conspired against us, the newly formed Aerobatic Squad, comprising a cross section of RAFFCA members and ranks, were still able to host a static display. The rapid growth of this young Squad, and the unexpected individual successes at national competitions held during the year, is attributable to the unwavering and generous support of the Sir Geoffrey de Havilland Flying Foundation and Inzpire Ltd. I am truly indebted to both the Foundation and Inzpire without whom, none of the excellent progress made by our young aerobatic flyers thus far would have been possible.

Similarly, the Junior Rank Pilot Scholarship Scheme (JRPSS) has, undoubtedly, been an unprecedented success story in 2016, mirrored by the high profile that the Scheme now enjoys. Funded by the RAF Charitable Trust (RAF CT) and delivered through our Flying Clubs, a further 24 Scholarships were awarded this year along with 10 Top-Up-Scheme Grants. I was delighted to behold the genuine enthusiasm and happiness of the selected Junior Ranks (JRs) in attendance at the Showcase Day who spontaneously formed a JRPSS ‘guard of honour’ for the arrival of a new Tecnam P2008JC aircraft (G-RFCA). The aircraft will further enhance the delivery of the JRPSS and supports the vision and significant backing of the RAF CT Trustees which has certainly promoted, supported and encouraged those involved with the Scheme. Actually, looking at the picture of Senior Aircraftman Aaron Garcha at the top of this Christmas Message, our second JR to achieve his Pilot Licence, I think that the encouragement may have gone too far - he clearly thinks that Santa Airways might be a potential future employer!

Also on display at the Showcase Day, was the Spirit of Ayre (SoA) Pitts aircraft project, kindly bequeathed to the
Association by the family of the late Sgt Ayre. As the Spirit’s first ‘public’ showing, it was wonderful to see the aircraft taking shape and I have learned this week that the engine and propeller will be fitted before Christmas such that the stunning SoA paint scheme, designed by Sgt Ayre’s family, can be applied in the New Year ahead of flight testing in the Spring. The project has only been made possible by the kind and generous support of the Nuffield Trust, the RAF Benevolent Fund, RAF Charitable Trust and the RAF Sports Charity to all of whom I am most grateful.

Turning now to the core of RAFFCA, that being its members, Club OICs & Committees and my Exec Team whose combined endeavours are behind this outstanding year of success. To afford so much personal (voluntary) time and effort to manage individual clubs, staff necessary safety policy, generate projects such as the RAFFCA Wings Award Scheme, establish valuable Training Alliances such as that with Aeros Flight Training and deliver competitive sporting activities is simply remarkable.

The positive position we find ourselves in at the end of this year is a product of all of the support and hard work in its many guises that we, as an organisation, have been fortunate to benefit from and would not have been as successful without, it is truly appreciated. 2017 will build on our progress to date and promises to be a very exciting and challenging year.

May I take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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