The RAF Falcons parachute display team undertake team training in as part of Falcon Ex at Lake Elsinore, California, USA.  RAF FALCONS READY FOR 2015 DISPLAY SEASON The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team have had a very productive 2014 season putting on over 60 displays across the UK and Europe. Since the end of the 2014 season the RAF Falcons have been very busy preparing for the 2015 season ahead. Flt Lt Ollie Smith has taken over the reigns from Flt Lt Chris Bailey as OC Falcons with Flt Lt Kirk Evans stepping in as 2I/C. Other new parachute display members include Cpl Paul Smith, Mark O’Brien and Cpl Alex Williams. Cpl Richard Bremner joins the Falcons as the new Survival Equipment Fitter (SEFITT) The RAF Falcons flew out to California on 26 Oct 2014 to complete 5 weeks winter training. The reason for travelling across the Atlantic Ocean to carry out this training is purely down to the weather. The British winter as we all know can be very unpredictable and in order for parachute training to take place there needs to be a reasonably high cloud base and the wind to be within limits. Lake Elsinore Drop Zone in Temecula, California allows the display team to meet all their requirements and parachute within a safe environment. During this 5 week period the display team hone their ‘in air’ skills as well as improving their skills in exiting the aircraft and canopy handling. This first training trip in America is very intense averaging around 6 jumps a day. This is really the first time the new RAF Falcon Team work together in a parachuting capacity. Before each parachute descent a full brief is given for what we are trying to achieve. We follow a set sequence in order to remember the skydive and complete all points. From this moment on the display members are fully focussed. On Completion of each descent a full debrief is given pointing out all areas of development. These areas will be discussed and rehearsed in depth before emplaning and doing it all over again.   On return to the UK from this first trip the RAF Falcons were pretty much office based working on their associated duties before the well deserved Christmas break. This entailed such tasks as liaising with our sponsorships for the up and coming year, co-ordinating with the events team, communicating with local charities and social networking amongst many more. Time in the office is very limited throughout the display season so it is vital that this time is used effectively. The RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team enjoyed a 2 week Christmas break with their families before returning to work in early Jan 2015. This period leading upto the next America staff training trip can be very stressful, especially for the team member who has been tasked to organise and run the 5 week trip. Cpl Ryan Norris (2nd year team member) had the task of ensuring the training trip ran as smoothly as possible. There were many last minute changes that took place and Cpl Norris took it in his stride to adapt and overcome any major concerns.  The advanced party flew out to America on Thu 29 Jan 2015, with the main party leaving the very next day. The reason for this is so the first team members to arrive can arrange many of the logistic issues and put things in place ready for the core of the team to set foot on American soil. This trip, especially for the first year display members can be a very stressful 5 weeks. It is here where jumpers learn all the canopy handling skills to perform the world famous ‘Falcons canopy stack’, averaging around 8 jumps a day. This brings parachuting to a different level. The Falcons rehearse over and over again, practising for low, medium and high displays. The low show that takes place throughout the season requires the parachutist to exit the aircraft safely before pulling their toggle once clear, also known as a ‘hop and pop’. This means there will be 8-9 canopies in close proximity to one another at one time so awareness to your surroundings is key. The trust and bond the RAF Falcons have with each another is, and will continue to be very strong because of this element of parachuting.   Once the team completed over 100 practice displays stateside and all members completed the Parachutist Display Course successfully we flew home knowing we were ready for the 2015 season ahead of us. It was all go as soon as we returned back to RAF Brize Norton to complete our UK training phase. This allowed the team to put even more practice under canopy in before the ratification date. Each season the RAF Falcons need to be ratified in order to put on public displays. This is obviously a very nervous time for us all however, the hard work paid off and were given the go ahead for the 2015 season.            The RAF Falcons are all Parachute Jump Instructors and are carefully selected from Airborne Delivery Wing (ADW) on parachuting ability and NCO qualities. When they join the team, the PJI’s embark on a 3 year journey of learning advanced freefall and canopy control skills. Engrossed in their busy display schedule, the primary aim of an RAF Falcon is to become qualified as a Military Accelerated Free Fall Instructor (MAFFI). On average, the RAF Falcons produce 2 – 3 MAFFI’s every year; who, on leaving the team will instruct more specialised parachuting to those who require it within the military.  The RAF Falcons have many public displays lined up throughout this year, with our launch day being held on Thu 7 May 2015 at Witney Lees. Timings TBC. We look forward to seeing you. Remember, the show doesn’t finish when we land so please come and say hello to us all!!!!
By Ann Evans

Music lovers attending the Battle Proms at Warwickshire’s Ragley Hall this Saturday 15th August are in for a real night to remember. Marking the 70th anniversary of V-J Day, in addition to an evening of classical music, there will be Spitfire and cavalry displays, canon fire and a spectacular fireworks finale.

Battle Proms summer picnic2

Battle Proms summer picnic2

 

One of the highlights of the evening will be the RAF Falcons, the military’s premier parachute display team, performing an array of advanced freefall manoeuvres with falling speeds of up to 120mph. Battle Prommers will also be treated to The Falcon’s unique, non-contact stack which has become synonymous with them over the last 50 years.

 

The Battle Proms takes much of its inspiration from the Napoleonic wars, which came to a conclusion 200 years ago at the Battle of Waterloo. As well as marking the 200th anniversary, the team are also celebrating 75 years since the Battle of Britain and 70 years since V-J Day. These key events will be marked with a number of additions to the programme including The Battle of Britain Evening Gun Salute as the gunners herald the arrival of the Grace Spitfire with a volley of shots from a vintage 13 Pounder field gun.

 

TV and radio presenter, author and compère, Pam Rhodes will host the event and the Rockabellas, today’s answer to The Andrews Sisters, will warm up the audience with an upbeat performance of unrivalled vintage vocals.

Reenactors and picnic

Reenactors and picnic

 

Later in the programme Battle Promenaders will be treated to the Battle Proms signature piece ‘Beethoven’s Battle Symphony’, performed with the full complement of 193 live firing cannon providing a thunderous percussion! Conducted by Douglas Coombes and performed by the New English Concert Orchestra, the programme also includes classics from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture to favourites such as Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia. Accompanying the orchestra will be soprano Denise Leigh, who will perform arias before bringing the finale to life as the spectacular firework display lights up the sky.

 

Andrew Mason, Operations Manager at Ragley said, “Ragley is delighted to have The Falcons perform a parachute display at the popular Battle Proms concert. With our lakeside setting, Ragley has a stunning, breath-taking location. The orchestral music, cavalry displays and cannon fire come together to create a truly unique event culminating in an amazing fireworks display”.

 

Ragley Hall itself is at the heart of the 6,500-acre Ragley Estate and dates back to 1680. As well as it being a thriving country estate with a farm, butchers and sawmill, Ragley Hall, park and gardens are a tourist attraction and venue for many outstanding events. It is also home to the 9th Marquess and Marchioness of Hertford and their young family.

 

Gates open at 4.00pm on Saturday, entertainment begins at 5.50pm. Adult tickets cost £36 if booked in advance and £40 on the day of the concert.

 

Further information and to book tickets visit: www.battleproms.com

And for information on Ragley Hall visit: www.ragley.co.uk

 

Battle Proms Spectacular firework finale2

Battle Proms Spectacular firework finale2

 

 

 

About Ann Evans

Feature writer and award winning author, Ann Evans has more than 22 books published for children, young adults, reluctant readers and adults. Never content to write one thing at a time, she always has at least half a dozen different writing projects on the go. She worked for 13 years on the Coventry Telegraph as a feature writer and currently writes for a number of different magazines, in print and on-line. Ann is also a writing tutor running classes for adults and doing author school visits throughout the UK. Ann decided to put her years of writing experience together in her book Become A Writer – a step by step guide. Amazon link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Become-Writer-Step-Guide/dp/1907670246 Blogs:http://annsawriter.blogspot.com