Operational Tornado GR4 pilot and former 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron Air Cadet, Squadron Leader Ian Davis returned to his old Air Training Corps unit to talk to cadets about his career and life in the Royal Air Force.
Squadron Leader Davis who was himself an Air Cadet some 18 years ago is currently a Flight Commander on 14 Squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth, flying the Tornado GR4.
During his talk to the cadets, Sqn Ldr Davis spoke of how his own enthusiasm for flying and an RAF career had started when he was a cadet with 121 ( Nuneaton ) Squadron. How the excitement of his first Glider and Air Experience Flights as a cadet eventually led to him receiving an RAF flying scholarship and RAF sponsorship through his 6th form studies and University.
He explained the progression of his RAF pilot training on the Firefly, Tucano and Hawk before completing training on the Tornado and how he eventually progressed to become a Qualified Weapons Instructor. How during his time on the front line he had taken part in 5 operational tours over Iraq and flown on multi-national exercises in Malaysia, America, France, Germany, Turkey and Canada and that his Squadron was now working up for deployment on operations in Afghanistan.
Sqn Ldr Davis then went on to described life on the front line for the Tornado crews of 14 Squadron who provided vital close air support for coalition forces in Iraq . He explained the routine of an operational mission in the Gulf which could last up to eight hours and involve numerous air-to-air refuellings. How there are two main tasks RAF Tornado GR4 crews are called on to perform: close air support and reconnaissance. The reconnaissance task is undertaken using the Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pods that are analysed following the mission. The close air support task covers a variety of activities. Crews fly over Iraq talking to US and British troops on the ground providing air cover for convoys as they move through areas vulnerable to insurgent attacks. This role requires a great deal of flexibility and by its very nature may require aircraft to remain on station for extended periods ready to react as the situation on the ground changes. Sometimes the very presence of an aircraft and the noise is enough to deter all but the most determined attackers.”
As well as being a Tornado Qualified Weapons Instructor, a role which he describes as telling other pilots “how to blow stuff up”, Ian in his more peaceful moments acts as RAF Lossiemouth's Help for Heroes fundraising co-ordinator. Help for Heroes is a charitable fund which was launched in October 2007 and provides practical direct support for our wounded service personnel. To date Help for Heroes has raised over £18M to support our wounded coming back from Afghanistan and Iraq . Ian will be taking part in the sponsored Help for Heroes ‘Band of Brothers' Bike Ride through the Normandy battlefields and D Day landing beaches in May this year. If you would like to make a donation to Help for Heroes please visit
www.helpforheroes.org.uk or www.justgiving.co.uk/lugsandcharlie
Following his talk Sqn Ldr Davis was invited to present Cadet Flight Sergeant Sasha Dowdall with her Silver Duke of Edinburgh's Award.
In his closing address to the cadets Sqn Ldr Ian Davis said, “My flying career started in an Air Cadet glider during my teenage years and today I'm flying the Tornado GR4. A career in the Royal Air Force is enjoyable and rewarding and I would recommend it to anyone. I was in your shoes some 18 years ago as a cadet and from what I‘ve seen of your Squadron today it's better than it was then. You've got more opportunities available to you through the Air Cadets now than we had in my day. What you've got to do is get out there and make the most of it.”