Gareth Stringer's2009 blogGAR Entries

NOV 23 2009
Update, good luck to the Merlin Force and well done Squadron Prints!

We flew in a Cessna 182 and, with the aircraft being a four-seater, Karl, myself and young Sammy (Karl’s son) were all able to get airborne for a trip which saw us flying in formation for photos with a Piper Tomahawk flown by Mark Hooton. Karl made the best of the weather, which had turned unfortunately grey by the time we took-off, but the pictures turned out well and it was interesting to see Mark’s aircraft hanging about ten feet off our left side despite the bumpy conditions. Shame it wasn't the Vampire that Mark displays for the VPG, but maybe next time (and not with a Cessna as the camera ship)!

We’re off to East Midlands Airport tonight as Geoff has lined-up a further feature with DHL, one giving him and Karl the opportunity to grab some night shots and me the chance to interview the man who runs their cargo hub at EMA. Should be an interesting visit and I know the guys will be hoping the wind calms down a little. Fingers crossed.

With no scheduled trips last week I managed to spend some spare time working on some new GAR related projects and also finished the third and final piece from our visit to RNAS Yeovilton. This was a fascinating one to put together as it was a fairly lengthy interview that covered many different aspects of the Flight's operations. I think you'll be as amazed as we were when you see how many important roles they cover and, as that piece has now been approved by Lt Cdr Matt Whitfield, it will be included in tomorrow's update.

Many of you will have seen the news this week that the RAF’s Merlin Force has arrived in Afghanistan. Some of the guys here at GAR have known the MF for far longer than I have but, having worked on the first two in-depth features with them earlier this year and also with Michelle Goodman DFC on publicising the ‘Food For Heroes’ charity project, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to feeling a certain affinity with the team from RAF Benson. Suffice to say I wish them all the best when they are away, and I know everyone here at GAR echoes that – fly safe folks. You may have noted the links posted on Twitter which tell you how you can help the MF by sending packages out to team members in Afghanistan. Naturally we were delighted to help co-ordinate this process and if you would like to know more then please send us an email.

So what’s next? After tonight’s visit to EMA we have a few dates for visits floating around which will hopefully come to fruition in the not too distant future, all of which will bring some great opportunities for features. From a personal point of view I really want to try and get to RAF Cottesmore soon to take some pictures. As you will see when the Yeovilton piece is published I got to try some sunset shots for the first time down in Somerset and I’m itching for another go now! Finally I just wanted to pass on GAR's congratulations to Gill Howie and Berry Vissers at Squadron Prints as they were recently presented with The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund's highest award, the 'Poignard', in recognition of many years fund raising for the charity.

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2009-11-23 - The Merlin Force
Many thanks for the kind words Gareth and we will try to update you on our time away when possible.
Also congratulations from all of us to Gill and Berry from Squadron Prints. Thoroughly deserved for their dedication the the RAFBF.
Regards from us all.

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