16 Air Assault Brigade 16 Air Assault Brigade

Part One

Welcome to South Cerney ! The first of this years major exercises to involve the recently formed 16 Air Assault Brigade took place over the last two weeks of February. The change from the 24 Air Mobile Brigade to 16 Air Assault Brigade has brought with it a change of exercise name, from GRYPHONS**** to EAGLES**** and although an exercise held last October was known as GRYPHONS EYE the change over officially occurred on the 1st of September 1999.

Exercise EAGLES FLIGHT took place at two main locations, the first week at South Cerney in Gloucestershire before moving on for an evasion on Sculthorpe airfield and movements at other nearby training areas in East Anglia the second week. I was fortunate enough to visit South Cerney and go onto the army base for two days to witness first hand the events as they happened.

The first week of Eagles Flight was focused on training, most of the helicopters were on the airfield by the first morning so that "dry runs" could take place, this meant that troops could practice getting on and off the aircraft and that the loadmasters could plan seating arrangements !
Tuesday saw the helicopters get airborne and recce the local area and airfield for correct and safe approaches, this was until 11.00hrs when a Skyvan landed to pick up some Para's for some "drops". Of coarse when the parachuting starts then ALL rotors must not be turning, obviously. No sooner had the last Para landed, and of course he had to be the one who needed medical treatment, then the helicopters were up again and requesting fuel before continuing with there exercise sorties. The refuel location was on the eastern side of the airfield, right next to the main road !, this was known to the aircrew as the TSW (Tactical Supply Wing) point