On Monday, 9th October 35 OBs, partners and guests got together for the DVP Gloucestershire and Somerset gathering, kindly organised by DVP for the area, Mark Howson (65-74). After introductions and drinks, guests enjoyed a delicious 3-course lunch at the Ilchester Arms, a delightful old Georgian hotel in the centre of the picturesque and historic village of Ilchester in South Somerset. The gathering was very convivial, and OBs took great pleasure in swapping stories of past times.
After lunch, guests set off for the Wardroom Gate at Yeovilton, where they were met by their hosts, Lieutenants Matthew (Jack) Leonard and Keith Webb. Here, they were given a most interesting account of the new Wildcat helicopter and how it replaces the Lynx. The two lieutenants are experienced with the Lynx and are undergoing a conversion course for the Wildcat. They explained some of the roles of this new ‘kit’ and its amazing capabilities, illustrated by slides of the visual displays. Some of the technological advances, especially in radar information processing, mean that the Wildcat can ‘see’ and control at distances perhaps ten times what had previously been possible.
Next, after a quick refreshment break it was down to the hangar to see the helicopters close up. There were six parked there, some having routine daily maintenance from various technicians for their next flights and others undergoing longer-term servicing that involves more stripping-down of components. The lieutenants were very engaging in their descriptions and there was much animated questioning from the OBs, despite some noise from helicopter manoeuvres going on just outside the hangar.
Finally, guests were met by Commander Simon Collins, the Commanding Officer of 825 NAS, and they gathered for a group photograph in front of the helicopters. Our thanks for a most stimulating afternoon go to DVP for the area, Mark Howson, Lieutenants Matthew (Jack) Leonard and Keith Webb, also to Lieutenant Robin Kenchington, who did much of the organisation and of course to Commander Simon Collins who was the initial contact and who oversaw the visit.