Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The list

This list is basically going to be everything I've been told after saying or doing something wrong. Not all will have been directed at me, some I simply was present for when someone else did or said something, but all will have amused me in some way and most will have some sort of back story, feel free to ask.

Without further ado, I shall begin.

1. Pockets are not 'standard issue gloves'
2. Dry bar does not mean you may have a 'dry white wine'
3. Neither does it mean 'drink the bar dry'
4. You will not get issued 'gucci boots' for training, even if you already own several pairs of assault boots.
5. Pool cues are not 'lightsabers' even if you do feel the force or have a son called luke.
6. Never get anything right first time. You're going to get a bollocking either way
7. The RAF is not the ghetto, noone wants to see your pants.
8. The above is not 'like, totally disrespecting my individuality and shit, isn't it'
9. Armstrong and Millers airman characters are not role models I should be working towards.
10. I am not to drop a mirror in the swimming pool 'to drown the PTIs'
11. If a PTI says 'good form', assume they're talking about themselves.
12. Chips are not one of your '5 a day'

More will be added as soon as a) I remember about them or b) more happens.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

And I'm done

Last blog post on the application process now. In 3 and a half weeks time I shall be blogging from RTS on RAF Halton.

So, the final interview. For a start it's a whole lot shorter, simpler and less formal than the first formal interview, but the same rules apply so don't let your guard down.

The main difference this time is that the interview is with an officer rather than an NCO and mostly about going through paperwork and signing things off on top of them making sure of your suitability.

When I got there I had to sit and read through all of the attestation paperwork to make sure I understood it all and my details on it were correct. It's long, it's boring and it doesn't make a whole bunch of sense first read through if you are skimming. Basically it says you're signing up for x years, you can leave after y years but have to do z years in the reserves. And something to do with being called up for war and RAF law, etc etc.

After that I was called into an office and the interview began. Mostly we talked about the things that were bought up in the last interview, fitness being a big thing for me and what I'm doing to improve. I was asked a few questions on my training and what I was looking forward to, basic questions to make sure I knew what I was getting into. Finally we talked about my trade, mostly about Tactical Comms Wing as I mentioned that being a role I'd quite like, and going forward etc.

Final part was a quick run through of a few things to make sure nothing major had changed in my personal circumstances and that I'd understood everything I'd had to read before hand.

That done it was on to the paperwork signing. There's lots of things to sign and fill in, the provisional offer of service being the most important, and then you get lots of bits of paper to take home (including a certificate that I was told "mums love", and mum was impressed with it) and sent on your way with a congratulations and 'don't get injured'.

It's as simple as that, nothing too taxing but keeping genned up helps of course. Personnally I came out with a head twice the size as when I went in but I won't go into detail about how the AFCO think I'm amazing.

To celebrate, I went straight into work to hand my notice in, followed by a night playing ice hockey, just to test the 'don't get injured' thing.

And that's it on the application process. As of now I'm done with that and I've blogged on every part along the way. Unless anyone has any burning desire to know any thing in particular I may have missed off (I am planning on a post about boot care) the next time I'll blog like I have been will be either whilst I'm prepping to leave or on Day Zero of RTS.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Fitness Testing

So now I've managed to pass the MSFT level required to start training I'm almost home clear.

I found everything about the MSFT (or bleep test) to be a complete ball-ache. It's not easy to train for without just doing the bleep test inself. And I don't recommend that for your joints sake. I was given some pretty good tips by various people that helped a fair but with my training and testing and I think I should share that here.

Training wise, I've been doing an hours CV workout at least 3 times a week. I've been keeping it low-impact (bike, X-trainer etc) to save my joints as much as possible but I also have two treadmill programs I've been using.

One starts at 8.5km/h and get 0.5km/h faster every minute. The theory being that this is pretty much the speeds required on the bleep test (just without the turn and such) so the increasing effort would help with the nature ofthe test.

The second one makes you look like a complete muppet when youre running it. basically it's short interval training designed for increasing your anaerobic performance. Mine was a 11km/h jog for 30s, then a 15s sprint, back down to jog for 30s, faster sprint, jog, faster sprint etc etc etc. You look crazy and it's very hard work but definately worth the pain.

The only other thing to train for is the turn part, I was given various techniques for saving your knees and ankles but they tend to include looping which increases the distance you have to run. The best way is to sprint through the middle, slow down using quick but shorter steps then just tap the line with one foot, drop your hips, pivot and push off hard.

On the day the only real advice is to just go for it. Depending on the PTI running the test, you may or may not have to stop at the line on later levels if you reach it before the beep. At Halton you must stop, but when I retook it the PTI yelled at me to keep running whenever I waited at the line on level 8.

The last trick is to use the 'warning' calls to your advantage. Everytime I've run the MSFT I've been told you have 2 warnings and on the 3rd you're out. Make sure you sprint to make the line before your 3rd strike as some places will count your score as the shuttle before you started struggling. Making the shuttle on your last warning negates this and usually gives you the energy boost to get a few more in.

The press-ups and sit-ups are fairly simple. If you can't do them all I can advise is doing alot more weights and manning up a bit. Needless to say I banged them out no problem.

Very boring post from me but I have one left to do for the final interview section and then, in four weeks time, I'll be blogging from RAF Halton on recruit training. So things will get much more interesting.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Damn Fitness Test

So, as per my PRTC post, one element was passing the RAFFT.

For my age group (and being male) thats a level 9.10 in the MSFT (or bleep test), 20 press-ups and 35 situps in a minute. Press-ups and situps were no problem for me, you've only got to get 4 press-ups and 7 sit-ups to get through PRTC (personnally I think that turning up for RTS being able to do less than 15 press-ups is discusting). I did the full 20 and 35 not the wimpy 20% pass PRTC asks of you.

The bleep test however caused me a slight problem. Until PRTC I had NEVER run a bleep test in my life, so although i knew what to expect, I'd never practiced it really. Personnally, as an ice hockey player, I'm build for short (45 - 120 second) bursts of high intensity work. The bleep test on the other hand requires you to start slow, reserving energy, and build over a period of time until you physically can't do any more. So, I reached a 8.0 on the bleep test (quite bad in my eyes).

Sadly, this means I now need to re-take the MSFT to reach at least a level 8.6 (yes, 6 shuttles off) to be accepted for RTS. I have been sent a date in January and I'm off to RAF Wyton (I hate that place) to try again. This time I shall be practicing the bleep test itself along with my regular aerobic and Fartlek exercise program so that I know what I'm doing this time around but if anyone has any tips, feel free to let me know.

That's it for now, if anyone wants to know the particular levels they need to reach on PRTC just leave a comment with your sex and age, I have the tables right here

Friday, 4 December 2009


So, I've just back from my Pre Recruit Training Course at RAF Halton. To be honest, it wasn't great, but it was an essential part of the process. Basically, it's a chance for applicants to see the station and facilities, meet current and ex recruits, ask any questions that may still be nagging, get boots issued so they can be worn in and to take the RAFFT.

To be honest, I knew more about recruit training then I did about PRTC before I turned up. Apart from getting boots and doing the fitness test, I really didn't know what to expect.

Arrival was on the Thursday between 10 and half 11, wearing nice smart clothes and carrying everything you're asked to bring on the kitlist. Now the kitlist isn't great at all, I took a bunch of stuff I really didn't need. First thing we all did was fill in 'next of kin' forms, read and sign some orders and get some lovely coveralls to wear for the 2 days. They really are horrible.

After a couple of quick briefings about what's going on, we were all 'marched' (more attempting to walk in step really) to out barrack block and told to chance into something more comfortable underneath our coveralls. Then it was back to the classroom for a spot of lunch and yet more briefings (lots of these over the 2 days). Lunch was sandwiches (in containers that didn't close, because "the RAF doesn't waste money on things that work, otherwise we wouldn't need mechanics"), a pasty, crisps, apple and a couple of juice drinks.

After that we were split into 2 groups. One group went to get boots and the other went a took this little test thing. The test was a simple literacy and numeracy test that had absolutely no bearing on your application or training. Something to do with finding out if you need extra help with keyskills or something.

The boot fitting part then. We got marched off to supply where we sat in little cubicles and took our shoes and socks off before being sized up and having a pair of boots and thick socks thrown at us. This is the forth pair of Assault Boots I've owned in my life, and I still hate brand new ones. They're stiff, tight and generally painful. The idea is that by issuing them to you in advance, you can have them worn in and save yourself from some discomfort and injuries when you get to training. Thankfully I have become quite good at this so mine will be fine. If anyone wants any tips, ask away.

After all this is yet another brief. This time about the evening and morning. Timings, the social evening, bed, reveillie etc. And then it's off to the mess for dinner and then back to the barracks to prepare for the social event.

The social event is a 'dry bar' event, meaning no alcohol. It's basically a chance to get to know each other a bit better and talk to the staff and any current recruits that are mingling (who generally try to scare you with talk of beatings and 20 mile runs). I spent most of the night in the smokers shed chatting to the recruits about training and got some pretty good gem to help with training.

At half 9 it was time to head back to the barrack after one last fag and start getting ready for bed. The beds are horrible. I've had better nights out in the field but I should have remember what those beds are like really. Reveille is 0545 and everyone is expected to be showered, dressed in PT kit with coveralls over the top and formed up outside at 0615 ready for breakfast.

Unfortunately, the fitness test is straight after brekkie so as much as I was looking forward to the messes full English, I felt I should refrain and have a nice bowl of cereal. At the gym, we were split into 3 groups. First group was to do the fitness test and the other two had a couple of briefs (sensing a theme here?) before all swapping round. I took the fitness test first and it's by no means easy. Level 9.10 on the bleep test, 20 pressups and 35 situps in a minute. For blokes between 18 and 29 that is.

Be aware that the gym queens hate anyone that doesn't run EVERYWHERE or doesn't stand upright in the 'at ease' position in the gym. And they constanly overuse the following phrases; 'max effort!', 'good form', 'bad form' and 'happy days'. Play their game and it makes everything easier and for gods sake don't lie about your test scores, they WILL know if you only got 8 pressups.

Back to the barracks for another shower and change, and a short chance to start packing and cleaning your bedspace and amenities before lunch. A final couple of briefings and a last chance to get any questions answered and it's back to the barracks yet again to make sure everythings spotless for a mini inspection. Providing you've done enough to make the CPLs happy you get to go home.

And that's it really, lots of information and question asking, bit of social and of course the boots and fitness. You do get to do a bit of 'walking in step' and there is an element of discipline but be aware that's it's nowhere near the amount you'll encounter on training. You're still a civillian so they can't give you full on military discipline.

There's nothing more to say about the PRTC really unless anyone has any questions. I do have a short list of things not to say or do that I'll post up soon, though I'll probably keep updating that throughout my career as I'm sure there'll be plenty more. I'm sure any RAF or military guys that read it will recognise some of the very same things aswell.

That's it for now from me. More soon

Monday, 30 November 2009


With all of 2 days before my PRTC I have one final update about the past. After this it'll all be updates about what's going on with training and such, with the odd extra if I feel the need.

As I'm sure I've said before, I decided the military was for me quite early on in life. At several times it almost happened sooner than planned. My ultimate (viable) plan was always to go in as an engineering officer. I hadn't decided between RAF and REME, but I wanted to work on aircraft, helicopters specifically.

This meant good GCSEs (which I got), good A-Levels (I'll come to that) and then a degree (lets not go there).

As you can guess from the 'viable' statement earlier, engineering wasn't my favourite dream. I wanted to be a fast jet pilot (of course) at the age of about 8 and, after seeing Britiains first Apaches arrive at Wattisham when I was a cadet, I decided I'd quite like to fly those. Unfortunately I found out I'm pretty short sighted and so I'd never make pilot.

There were also backup plans, I always fancied combat, so infantry or RAF regiment were high on my list, but my mum was dead against me joining up and not earning decent qualifactions (she's a careers advisor, I had no chance). Or there was always joining up as a mechanic if things went pear shape. Which they did.

The closest I got previously was on A-Level results day. I didn't do too well during my AS Levels (except a C in maths) but I'd managed to charm the lead lecturer at one uni and they'd dropped their requirements for me to get in. All I needed was 2 Cs and a D. Should have been fairly easy but instead I walked away with 2 Es and a D instead.

Genuinely gutted with the results I didn't even bother checking with the uni and discussed joining up with my mum and went out to get wasted with everyone that was celebrating. By the time I actually went out I was over my results and had decided to head to the army careers office in the morning to join the REME.

In the morning however, I found out I'd been accepted to my uni even with my bad grades. So I was back to my original plan of officer. I did plan on joining the TA whilst at uni but decided not to as I wouldn't have been able to go to Iraq or Afghanistan whilst at uni anyway.

Uni for me was not really what I wanted. Sure, the parties were good, I met some of the most amazing people and had some great times. I also had an amazing house for my second and third year and some pretty special housemates. I do miss the 'happy house'. Most importantly, I met Em whilst I was at uni (though really I met her back home) and I've been in a very happy relationship since.

The main problem for me was the sheer amount of spare time I had to do my own thing and sort myself out. It was too irregular to fill it with paid work and too much to enjoy fully. Somewhere along the line I got fed up of doing uni work in that time and found I enjoyed having a workout program instead.

It was around about the time I started playing ice hockey. Having a level of fitness and skill to work at easier to get into than advanced maths and fluid dynamics (can't imagine why). Eventually I found I'd much rather train than do anything else.

In addition to the loss of enthusiasm over my course, lack of money was starting to get to me. I was getting more and more in debt and was starting to struggle with it. I figured what I needed was to work rather than study, even just for a year out. I've always been more of a worker than anything else so I applyed for a placement year, hoping to earn some money and experiance in the industry.

After the interview process and everything was over nothing really improved, after waiting a while and hearing nothing I decided to talk to someone at uni over my concerns and bought up the RAF. Being ex services, my tutor suggested I just go for it as it would be more benificial for someone like me and after talking to my parents I began the joining process.

And that's where my blog began. So even if it's not in the order it should be, the story that leads up to where I am now is all here, more or less. I'm sure there are gaps but I can live with that. I can always answer any questions you might have.

This week is my Pre Recruit Training Course at RAF Halton so I shall blog about that over the weekend.

Friday, 30 October 2009

The fun

The first thing I did as a flight sergeant was begin a new course. Advanced Field Training was created at out squadron to promote and refine leadership and teamwork skills through fitness, drill and fieldcraft. The idea was to bring future NCOs forward and prepare the rest of us for the Junior Leader course or military basic training.

It was hard. 20 stared the course, 4 passed and 1 made it through to the end but had to retake it in the second year. We began with solid fitness sessions that pushed us to our limits, and a good kicking if we didn't push hard enough. Eventually those of us that made it through started further field training (laced with more fitness). We were taught tactics, battle drills, building clearances, everything and anything we could possibly need in the field but that the corps would never really teach us.

Phase 3 included the biggest naughty. We used 'airsoft' to furthur our training. Being able to engage in semi-realistic scenarios and get used to moving with and looking after a weapon in the field was a major part of what we'd aimed for. The final part was a night exercise on a local farm using all of our skills to recce an enemy and later attack them. 4 of us vs 9 of them. Whilst not technically a complete success, we did complete out main objective and survive so we won. After that was a simple fitness test and written exam and the 4 of us had passed the first AFT course.

Matt and Sait ended up as my Sergeants and together we ran the squadron well. We brought the Wing Field Day and Drill teams up and reached 4th in the year before I left. The band began to move back up to where it was years before and we became more and more recognised for our squadrons abilities. Sadly neither of us ever went on the JL course (we never got paperwork in time) but we did run the AFT course for another 2 years. It was never quite the same as the first one though.

I could go on all day with stories of Matt, Sait and I on exercise or during the course but I won't bore anyone wIth all of it. Though if anyones that interested I might start a whole other blog about it.

Then at 19 I left the corps to go to uni. I'd reached as far as I probably could go without getting CWO (which I'd been told I wouldn't get because the Wing Co pretty much didn't like me) so there was nothing really left for me to acheive. I'd got staff cadet, a gliding scholarship, heaps of band, drill and fieldcraft stuff and I decided to take some time off from it all to concentrate on my studies.

That's enough for today, more next week.