Written by Sarah Gardner.
On a beautiful sunny day in May we set off in good time (everyone having arrived early!) for our highly anticipated visit to RAF Odiham, with the Legion's Legends, a group run by The Royal British Legion in Alton, along with the older person's mental health team and our dementia advice team.
RAF Odiham is home to Nos. 7, 18 and 27 Squadrons who together form the UK Chinook Helicopter Force. We were welcomed by our host Flt. Lt. James an experienced Chinook pilot and disembarked beside the active flight ground where several Chinooks were in various states of activity. We were led inside to the briefing room, a somewhat quieter area, where James thanked everyone for their service and spoke of his Grandfather a 2nd World War pilot who inspired his career.
James whose obvious love of chinooks radiated to everyone spoke about the RAF base and his deployments thus far, mostly in Afghanistan. Chinooks have been deployed in an operational capacity around the world supporting humanitarian relief, security or fighting a war since their introduction during the Falklands Conflict.
One of our members was a mechanical engineer in the RAF working and living at Odiham, he was amazed by the changes. John was involved in air traffic control and clearly recalled the distinctive crossover runway paths when aircraft were based here. Now everything is very different and organised around the Chinooks.
We then had an amazing tour of the hangars getting to climb on board the helicopters and barrage James and his colleague with questions.
The obvious camaraderie and enthusiasm provided a relaxed chatty atmosphere, engaging everyone and given the opportunity I think we would all have signed up!