11 July 2017

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Reserve drivers from 504 squadron at RAF Wittering hit the road this weekend, delivering Land Rovers to the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford.

The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world’s largest military air show. It is held every year at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire by the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust and the Royal Air Force. The area is so huge the RAF use Land Rover Defenders as utility vehicles throughout the event.

Seventeen of these iconic British off-roaders have been commandeered from RAF Honington, RAF Northolt and RAF Benson. Defenders are essential for ferrying personnel and equipment across the site, particularly during the busy build-up phase.

Land Rover Defenders on the line at RIAT

Squadron Leader Dave Ward is based at RAF Wittering and a Project Officer for RIAT. He said: “RAF Fairford is so vast and with so much to do during the build-up phase, Land Rovers are the perfect vehicle for the event. Many of our regular drivers are tasked with operations and exercises right now, that’s why we need 504 Squadron.”

504 (County of Nottingham) Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron sent drivers to RAF Honington and RAF Northolt to bring the Defenders to RIAT. 504 Sqn is a Logistic Support Unit made up of reservist chefs, drivers and suppliers.

The drivers from 504 Squadron

Squadron Leader Andy Ham is the Officer Commanding 504 Squadron, he said: “We empower our drivers. They are given all the training they need to complete their tasks professionally and with confidence, whether they’re transporting vital supplies on operations or taking a Land Rover to RIAT.”

This weekend’s job allowed 504’s drivers to keep their Land Rover qualifications current and saved the MoD a considerable sum in agency driver fees. Drivers on 504 Squadron are trained to operate a wide variety of vehicles including articulated trucks, fuel bowsers, 4x4’s and even fork-lifts.

More drivers from 504 Squadron

The only qualification required for driver training on 504 Squadron is a full and clean driving licence. Having passed basic training, recruits will complete their driver training at RAF Wittering and the Defence School of transport at Leconfield;

Corporal Aaron Smith was the driver in charge. In civilian life Aaron is a logistics manager, he said: “The job went well; we’ve been able to use this experience to maintain our Land Rover qualifications and help the RAF get RIAT up and running. That’s really what we’re here for, to support the RAF.”

Editor: Ed Palmer

Photographer: Supplied Images

RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2017

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