KING OF THE MOUNTAINS
OPERATING out of GAF Kaufbeuren, home to the Luftwaffe’s 1st Technical Training School for Tornado and Eurofighter, two Sea King Mk4 helicopters, aircrew and engineers from 848 Naval Air Squadron deployed on Exercise MOUNTAIN EAGLE to hone their specialist flying skills.
Exercise MOUNTAIN EAGLE was designed to introduce recently qualified Sea King crews to, and refresh the more experienced crews on, the challenges of flying through mountainous terrain and the associated weather conditions whilst teaching the tactical skills required for insertion of troops into this unforgiving environment.
With great weather and good aircraft serviceability, the Sea King crews flew approximately 8 hours a day, flying through valleys, landing in dry riverbeds and perching on high mountain peaks. Flying in dramatic settings and with the challenges of high altitude mountain flying, it was demanding but enjoyable for all involved.
Lt Alex Craig, 848 NAS QHI and Detachment Commander, said;
“We are here to learn and practice the art of safely flying in a challenging and unfamiliar environment which is vital for the pilots and aircrewmen of CHF. Deploying to foreign exercises like MOUNTAIN EAGLE is ideal for us to train and to provide wider opportunities for our Squadron.”
During the detachment, personnel from 848 NAS took participated in adventurous training as part of Exercise BAVARIAN SURPRISE at the nearby Naval Outdoor Centre. For several junior Squadron members this was their first foreign detachment and being able to participate in rock climbing, kayaking and klettersteig routes in glorious Alpine weather during the exercise was a fantastic opportunity.
By rolling personnel between BAVARIAN SURPRISE and aircraft maintenance at Kaufbeuren, the maximum numbers were able to attend the Adventurous Training, building confidence, leadership and developing new skills, while ensuring the flying training in the mountains continued unabated.
Wtr Daniel Wade said;
“Learning to kayak down the white water rivers has been a great challenge and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to do something different, I’d recommend it to anyone and definitely want to come back again.”
Remembering events 70 years previously as Allied Forces swept throughBavaria, 848 NAS personnel also took the opportunity to visit the concentration camp atDachauand The Eagles Nest atBerchtesgaden, Hitler’s Alpine retreat. Reflecting on the atrocities committed at one site was in stark contrast to the beautiful mountain scenery at the other.
This was the last planned overseas detachment for the Junglie Sea King prior to their retirement next year.
By Lt Cdr Rob Trewinnard-Boyle, 848 NAS