Paviors’ RAF Affiliate, 29(R) Squadron, invited a small number of liverymen to join them on Friday 4 November for a ‘Dining In’ evening in the Officers’ Mess at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire.​

Three Paviors were lucky enough to attend, so Pat Churchard, John May and Richard Tucker, arrived at Coningsby at lunchtime to be met by Flt Lt Scott Noyes, to be escorted through security. The Master, Ian Lumsden, joined later in the day. For many years, Paviors’ principal contact in the Squadron has been Flt Lt Graham Cooke, or ‘Cookie’ as he is known to his fellow pilots. The day of the visit coincided with Cookie’s last day in the Royal Air Force, so Scott stepped in to look after the Pavior visitors.

First stop after passing through security was the Typhoon simulator and the Paviors we were all given the opportunity to demonstrate their aviation skills. This included being shown how to identify the ‘bad guys’ and being allowed to attempt to shoot them down. Fortunately, the UK has the RAF to protect us! Landing the aircraft back at Coningsby demonstrated the sophistication of the systems and what a superb aircraft the Typhoon is to fly. After the adventures in the simulator, the team visited the Squadron’s hangar, where the Typhoons flown by the Squadron are housed.

After booking into the Officers’ Mess, the Paviors readied themselves for pre-dinner drinks and were introduced to the Commanding Officer of 29(R) Squadron, Wg Cdr James Bolton, who took command of the Squadron at the beginning of 2016. Also present were officers from the US Air Force, who are on an exchange visit, and a group of pilots from the Sultanate of Oman Air Force who are at Coningsby being trained to fly the Typhoon. Needless to say, dinner was a splendid and lively occasion. One cannot fail to be impressed by the camaraderie amongst the members of the Squadron, irrespective of their role. Wives and girlfriends were present, and one senses that they are all part of the 29(R) family.

It was the last night for Cookie, and those who have met him will know that it was unlikely to be a quiet evening of reflection. Members of his family were there to witness what was for him, I suspect, quite a significant day in his life. He was leaving the RAF to take up a training role in Saudi Arabia. Nevertheless, he decided to depart with some style. He gave a splendid speech littered with acronyms, some of which passed over the heads of the ‘civilian’ Paviors. Wg Cdr Bolton gave a speech thanking Graham and others who were moving on.

The Master made a presentation on behalf of the Paviors. As on previous occasions, the Company are providing support to the Squadron for recreational facilities. It was a great day, full of interest and friendship.