Visit to JHCFS Aldergrove, 16th November 2009

    This visits' timing had been arranged as a last chance to see the 230 Sqn Pumas before they re-located to Benson in Oxfordshire. As it turned out, the squadron flew out en-masse the very next day, so we were very fortunate that our scheduled visit coincided with a unit who were very busy packing boxes and preparing to move out.

    230 Sqn fly the Aerospatiale SA.330 Puma and are a celebrated "Tiger" squadron. The personnel are justifiably proud of their traditions and the current unit emblem features a tiger's head.

Following a brief presentation DVD we moved into 230 Sqn's hangar to have full access to all the helicopters. Crews were on hand to provide us with all the pertinent information, and were able to answer all our questions. Access inside a couple of aircraft was also allowed, with a description of the cockpit area, and this was followed by an overview of the recently announced upgrade programme that all the Pumas will undergo. This upgrade will provide new engines and gearboxes, a fully digital cockpit, and an increased fuel capacity.

    After a quick group photograph, we then moved outside to a view the static aircraft presentation on the apron. 5 Rgt and the Police Service of Northern Ireland had made some aircraft and crews available for us. We had full photographic access to all the aircraft, and the crews were on hand again to answer all our questions.

    Unfortunately access to the 5 Rgt hangar was not permitted on this occasion due to operational reasons.

Thanks must go to all the staff at Aldergrove for their time and effort.

Listed below are the aircraft noted during our visit:-

XR529 Wessex HC2 Coded E, preserved
XW198 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW199 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW212 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW213 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW219 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW220 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW223 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW231 Puma HC1 230 Sqn
XW847 Gazelle AH1 5 Rgt
ZB669 Gazelle AH1 5 Rgt
ZB693 Gazelle AH1 5 Rgt
ZG844 Islander AL1 5 Rgt
ZG845 Islander AL1 5 Rgt
ZG848 Islander AL1 5 Rgt
ZG993 Islander AL1 5 Rgt