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 Walney Airfield 22/11/2006

TLZ Exercise

     The Second World War Airfield of Walney was brought out of military retirement once more for another training exercise. This one being the setting up of a TLZ. Although not on the scale as the previous exercise Herrick Eagle, held at the beginning of the year. This exercise did involve a C130K and a pair of Chinooks.

     The scenario for this exercise was for a TLZ to be set up were a C130 carrying fuel would land followed by the two Chinooks that were operating away from there base. The Chinooks would be refueled hot (with engines running) from the C130. Then the Chinooks would depart followed by the C130, and all of this would be done in total darkness.

As soon as BAE systems last flight arrived back at its base on Walney, staff there closed the airfield to normal traffic put their aircraft away and turned out all the airfield lights. It was then that the RAF Fire and rescue crews from Lyneham and the Forward Aircraft Controllers from Brize Norton set about getting the airfield ready for the arrival of the C130 and the start of the exercise. The FAC's marked out a landing box on the main runway and then set up alongside it to await the inbound C130.

As soon as the C130 landed its crew laid out the refueling hoses to the pre arranged landing positions of the inbound Chinooks.


     The night was darker than usual and a low cloud base made visibility even worse for the inbound C130. Normally from here on a clear night the town of Millom can be seen across the estuary but although we couldn't see far we heard the approaching C130 and out of the gloom came the even darker shadow of the C130 which landed in the middle of the landing box set up by the FAC's. Taxing back to the threshold the C130's crew disembarked and set up the landing areas for the inbound Chinooks and then lay down the fuel hoses ready. The thump of the Chinooks blades heralded their approach and out of the gloom both aircraft made fast and perfect landings. With engines running, the C130 crew quickly started the fueling and within no time both aircraft were ready to lift. As soon as they had taken off, the fuel hoses were stored back onto the C130 and after a short reverse it too was made ready for take off, after a quick sprint it leaped skyward and then it too was homeward bound.

     Played out within the safety of our own shores one can only imagine what it would be like to be behind the enemy lines doing this for real. Its only because of exercises like this that our forces can gain that edge and be the true professionals that they are.

With Thanks to airfield management and staff plus the RAF ground crew