Niels goes Top Gun

PUBLISHED: 17:08 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:15 04 March 2010

PANTHERS had a rare opportunity last week as a result of the club's partnership with the RAF Careers, enjoying an afternoon at RAF Wittering, which is a Harrier base just outside of Peterborough.

PANTHERS had a rare opportunity last week as a result of the club's partnership with the RAF Careers, enjoying an afternoon at RAF Wittering, which is a Harrier base just outside of Peterborough.

The event was organised by Wing Commander Pat Carter, the OIC of RAF Careers in this region and Peterborough promoter Mick Bratley, following discussion earlier in the season.

RAF Wittering is home to 20 Squadron, a joint force Hawker Harrier fighter squadron which flies Harrier GR7/9's.

Panthers Captain Niels Kristian Iversen, represented the club and was shown around one of the squadrons harriers by pilots Flying Officer Keith “Woody” Woodsford (RAF) and Lt Steve McKeen (RN)

Also attending with Niels were “The Panthers Crew” the Peterborough start girls who are officially sponsored by RAF Careers, and everyone enjoyed a great afternoon with the opportunity to see these superb flying machines up close and personal.

Whilst taking the opportunity to take some great photographs, the fact that this is an operational RAF base was very apparent with several Harriers taking off and landing and taxiing around us and despite their size the Harrier GR7/9 is one hell of a noisy plane, with ear plugs provided as standard.

One interesting fact that wasn't known prior to attending is that no hats or loose items of clothing, papers, magazines etc are allowed anywhere near the aircraft or standings because of the danger of being sucked into the engines. All the vehicles wheels were also checked for loose stones before going over to the Harrier's for the same reason, at a general cost of £1 million pounds for each engine, they wisely take every precaution to avoid mechanical disasters.

Bird Strikes are very common for the squadron as Flying Officer Keith Woodsford explained, although on most occasions the first the pilot knows about is after landing.

He said “You generally don't feel it or know about it because the bird goes straight through the engine and out the other side, the first you know about it is when one of the ground crew tell you after they check the plane after landing, sometimes the damage is minimal but sometimes its a write off, they are also very quick and we can reach RAF Leuchars (an airbase near St Andrews GC and Dundee) in about 25 minutes”.

Peterborough Speedway was very well looked after by the RAF Careers department on the day, and many thanks go to Sergeant Dina Rodd, Sergeant Del Penman and Corporal Dave McDonnell for an enjoyable afternoon.

RAF Careers will be in attendance at several of the Panthers home meetings over the season and are perfectly happy to give careers advice to anyone interested.

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