| 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.
scenario for this exercise was for a TLZ to be set up were a C130
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.