The Chairman’s Chat

Wg Cgr Andrew Keith – OC RAFAT.

Dear RAA members,

I would like to start by introducing myself; I am Wg Cdr Andrew Keith and took over from Martin Higgins mid Sep 16. The handover was a quick 36 hours of download but what better way to really get a grip of things than to jump straight in? It had been another highly successful season under the guidance and command of Martin but my first task was to look ahead to the end of season ‘Eastern Hawk’ (EH) tour which was due to take the team through Europe to the Middle East in support of the governments ‘GREAT’ campaign. With less than a month to deployment, that certainly focussed the mind and became my main short term objective. I am pleased to say that despite the lack of Air Transport support (they were tasked to the obviously higher priority tasking of humanitarian support to the Caribbean post the devastating effects of Hurricane Erma) RAFAT successfully completed 100 % of its programmed events with marvellous results. The feedback from the public, HM Ambassadors, Embassy staff, host nation senior military officials and other dignitaries was overwhelming.

We of course had to say farewell to some of the RAFAT staff post the EH tour. We bid farewell to Team Leader Sqn Ldr David (Monty) Montenegro after 3 years where he led the team superbly.

Now a key piece of the RAFAT furniture has also been replaced. After serving for a total of 9 years over a 10 year period on the team, Sqn Ldr Mike Ling MBE will finally hang up the red suit. Lingy has been the stability and wealth of experience that has steadied the team over some turbulent times. A true character and asset to RAFAT, he will be missed.

Also departing were Flt Lt Tom Bould, number 6 and Synchro leader. He has gone to RAF Valley to instruct on the new Hawk T2 trainer and has just come off the Sqn Ldr promotion board (many congratulations. Flt Lt Emmet Cox, number 9 leaves the service to pursue other challenges and we all wish him the very best.

I have also lost my very able Team Manager, Sqn Ldr Cate Driscoll. Cate has had the significant task of managing the many moving parts of the RAFAT and seamlessly synchronises all departments into the coherent and smooth delivery of our annual task. Cate joins the John Egging Trust, an organisation very close to our hearts and we wish her all the very best.

With departing members an opportunity emerges to welcome some new blood into the team. We are joined by some outstanding characters that will be a real credit to the Reds. Sqn Ldr Martin Pert takes on the prestigious position as Team Leader; Sqn Ldr Adam Collins is our new senior supervisor and Red 10; Flt Lt’s Jon Bond and David Stark are the first years taking on their initial challenge as Red’s 2 and 3. A significant change to the team but I have no doubt we will be ready to perform another exceptional season of displays by May 18.

Looking ahead to the 2018 season; this is a momentous year for the RAF as it prepares to celebrate its centennial year. We at RAFAT are very much looking forward to playing our part in celebrating and reflecting on a remarkable 100 years of its evolution. 2018 will be a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the RAF’s achievements and a time to look forward with vision and creativity to what can be achieved over the next 100 years.

I look forward to the challenges ahead and supporting the RAA throughout my tenure as Officer Commanding. On behalf of all the members of the RAFAT, have a wonderful Christmas break and all the very best for a prosperous and safe 2018.

Kind regards

Wg Cdr Andrew (Boomer) Keith