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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



26 September 2018

Members of No 502 (Ulster) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force have been supporting RAF operations across the globe, playing a prominent role in RAF 100 events and taking up challenging opportunities for personal development.

The Squadron trains and parents RAF Reserves who are employed in a range of specialist areas and thus are being put to good use within the Royal Air Force through deployments and exercises abroad and back-filling posts on main operating bases.  Squadron personnel are currently serving in Crete and the Gulf States, while others have recently undertaken duty in Croatia and Hungary as well as diverse locations in the United States.  One specialist has even found themselves taking up a posting working on real-time output on a US Naval Vessel; the USS Mount Whitney.

RAF100 has been a hugely successful outreach programme peaking in July with a 100-aircraft flypast over Buckingham Palace that was watched by 70,000 people on the ground and millions via media devices.  On the ground and indeed below the Royal Balcony were members of No 502 Squadron who were part of the RAF parade party, which trained for days at RAF Halton before the high-profile event.  It was an incredible place to be as one of the Squadron members commented: “We had been told that walking up the Mall with thousands watching would be an experience of a lifetime – they were absolutely right!  As we marched up with the Palace in sight, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, it was something I will never forget.”  At the Service of Commemoration at Westminster Abbey earlier in the day, two members of the Squadron acted as senior ushers with one having the honour of escorting the Prime Minister to her seat.  Others were fortunate enough to be chosen to represent the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as part of the congregation. 

The RAF100 aircraft tour was another significant part of the birthday celebrations aimed at engaging with the public and encouraging young people to get up close to aircraft and get hands-on with the interactive Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical (STEM) aspects of aviation on display.  No 502 Squadron members were involved in the preparation and delivery of the Newcastle, County Down, leg of the tour which despite periods of torrential rain still attracted 17,000 visitors. 

Members of the RAF who made the RAF100 aircraft tour possible thanks to their hard work over the three days, including 502's Flt Lt Dougal Gow, who was a key member of the organising team.

Since its reformation, the Squadron has been conscious of making connections with veterans and including them in social events and key Squadron activity days. One of these, former pilot, Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Bill Eames was featured nationally on the RAF Facebook, U Tube and webpages in a short film built by the Squadron’s media cell, which highlighted Bill’s war-time exploits – from D-Day through to Arnhem – and his time spent with No 502 Squadron post WW2. 

Squadron personnel continue to represent the Service on the sports field, and during the summer, Flt Lt M Cordner was part of the RAF Hockey team which toured Japan. The sport is popular in the country and they fielded strong teams from both the military and civilian world.  

Team building and leadership training was undertaken by 12 Squadron personnel at the Robson Resilience Centre in the Brecon Beacons during August.  Activities undertaken included high-rope challenges, canoeing, hill walking and most daunting of all, caving which involved 5 hours underground in wet conditions.  But for all involved, it was a terrific learning and personal development experience that encapsulated one of the real advantages of being a reservist in today’s RAF.

Members of 502 squadron taking bearings out on the Brecon Beacons national park during Exercise CYMRU EAGLE.

No 502 (Ulster) Squadron continues to mature and is now well placed to play its part within one “Whole Force”.