December 9 2013 Latest news:
BY CHRIS HILL
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
An airman from Poringland is flying high after landing an engineering job with the nation’s most prestigious aerobatic team.
Senior Aircraftman Simon Watkins has spent the summer flying with the world-famous RAF’s elite Red Arrows formation as part of their back-up support squad.
He is one of a ten-strong team of engineers known as the Blues, who are each assigned to a specific aircraft and display pilot throughout the 2012 season.
The 28-year-old has travelled as a passenger in transit flights to more than 70 display venues around the world and has flown with the outfit during the flypasts for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations over both Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.
Once his allocated plane arrives at each display’s operating base, he has been responsible for servicing the famous two-seat Hawk aircraft before it can fly again.
SAC Watkins said: “It has been an absolute privilege to have been selected to fly with the RAF Red Arrows for a second display season as part of the Blues engineering team.
“It is certainly an experience never to be forgotten and it will be a hard job to beat. I have been lucky enough to travel to most of the display locations to film the displays for the pilots to debrief their shows, including Lowestoft and Cromer. Operating out of Norwich airport has also given me a chance to see friends and family.
“I have been fortunate to be included in some incredibly high-profile flypasts as well as experiences such as flying in formation with the Vulcan to open Farnborough Air show, travelling to Moscow for the Russian Federation Air Force centenary celebrations, and flying all over the nation doing Olympic flypasts for some of Great Britain’s cities, including the huge honour of flying over the Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony at 2012.”
Although he grew up in Poringland, SAC Watkins now lives in Lincoln with his wife Louise, who is from Spixworth.
He joined the Royal Air Force in 2002, following in the footsteps of his father who was a dental officer. He was posted to the Red Arrows in 2009 and as “Blue 10” he has been paired with Red 10, Sqn Ldr Mike Ling.