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I'm considering applying to join the local RAuxAF squadron and have a particular interest in Flight Operations. The information available is all a little vague and I can't work out exactly what I would be letting myself in for (good and bad) if I was accepted.
Would anyone like to comment on the merits and demerits?
26th May 2002, 16:27
Have a friend in RAuxAF who loves it. He says best source of info is your local squadron or online at www.rauxaf.mod.uk
27th May 2002, 12:28
I'm a Fg Off with a RAuxAF Sqn...great fun and I don't know why I waited so long to get involved.
Selection processes vary but it's important to understand that RAuxAF is part time, not second rate, and there is a threshold to pass to be accepted, so many don't get in. It doesn't mean you're not good, just not what's being looked for.
Training, especially initially is time consuming, but like everything you'll find the rewards relate to what you put in. But the idea is to equip you with as many of the skills as full-time. This is reflected by the attitude most full-time RAF colleagues have which is positive - indeed often amazed when you explain that it's possble to work on Saturdays/Sundays and enjoy it! They enjoy working alongside us as we have new perspectives and attitudes to the world, and experiences of life outside which can hold worries for some post-retirement etc.
My family accept it (I'm away normally one weekend a month, and usually two-four days besides, and one major training/exercise of two weeks plus a year), and I find I usually bring some interesting stories back. One family pay back is saving pay and the annual Bounty to put towards the annual family holiday which is my way of saying thanks for letting me go off and work/play. Tying it to civvy work can be more difficult, and I have a good employer who gives me 10 days extra leave a year to assist. Some are less helpful. Even so, I reckon it costs me about another 10 days of my own leave allowance, in addition to weekends.
One problem is insurance. In civilian life I get paid more than a Fg Off (significantly) but if I were injured or worse on military service, all MOD would cover me for would be the equivalent of Fg Off pay. NAAFI and Affinitas can't/won't help as I'm part time, and civilian companies have tight exceptions about paying out in a military war) zone etc, which they define. (Afghanistan wouldbe one, Sirra Leone would have been another). After a long chat with the family I'm carrying the risk, but it's one of the ways RAuxAF part-timers can feel second best and disadvantaged.
Another problem is being mucked about by the Admin - both taskings and other nif naf. But that's not reserved to RAuxAF, so you just grin and sort it out. No one really goes to work to make life difficult for you, but sometimes it just works out that way.
You get a ton of kit thrown at you (wardrobe plus), learn new skills (especially, if an officer, about management - the value which Cranwell adds can't be underestimated), make some new friends with like minds, travel, and have the reward of knowing you're putting something back into society through some public service.
There...if that doesn't put you off (!) nothing will.
27th May 2002, 15:05
Been in nearly two years and have had a great time - made some good friends, increased my 'skills set', drank cheap beer etc.
There have been some bad moments, not least being stuck in the Omani desert for two weeks with a bunch of t@<hidden>*ts from the Army. However I joined to have experiences that I wouldn't otherwise get in civvy street and accept that I take the rough with the smooth. I certainly have no regrets.
It is however a commitment and there's no point signing up unless you are prepared to put the effort in. If you are, then I can put you in touch with someone in Flight Ops for further info (crachach@<hidden>).
There is a lot of discussion at the moment within the TA about pay and Cost of Living Increments (CoLI) which i would imagine is also relevant to the RAuxAF. Basically this pay increment is supposed to ensure that should you be called up/volunteer to do Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS..I believe the term is the same for all 3 services) alongside the regular forces (which I would presume is what happened with Regie) the MoD pays you an "X"factor to ensure that you can continue to meet your financial commitments if you have to take a drop in pay from your civilian pay to forces pay.
However, and here is the rub, the CoLI is linked to your military rank on the assumption (often wrong) that your position in civilian life/work mirrors that in the forces. What is overlooked, especially in the TA, is that a lot of soldiers have well paid jobs and get involved with the TA for a bit of fun. The Honourable Artillary Company have suffered in this respect immensly with soldiers who work in the City on $100K a year salaries having to cope on $17-20K (sorry, no pound sign on this computer) as they get called up for short periods working alongside the regs in places like the former Yugoslavia, or large ex's like Oman. Just because you have been called up for 3 months does not mean that your financial obligations at home stop, and many guys in the HAC have been left seriously out of pocket.
When considering working with any of the reserve forces it is important to understand not only what the reserve commitment might mean in terms of being called up, but also how likely it is that you may be called up (certain areas of the TA such as the medics, signallers, RLC mobility specialists, and sappers seem to be in constant demand) and what the financial implications may be if that happens. While many unit commanders are sympathetic, if you are needed and not enough volunteers come forward you may end up being drawn through a "lottery" system anyway.
I would not wish to put anyone off joining the reserves, but these sorts of issues very rarely get discussed when you sit down with the recruiting officer at the unit you wish to join.
27th May 2002, 20:46
I'm in the RAuxAF, Flight Ops, and have just got back from a fun weekend... and I mean that most sincerely :-)
There's already been some good advice. Here are a few additions:
- many of the RAuxAF squadrons have a primary STO role (Survive To Operate, aka Green **** - that was sh-one-t) - that can also be fun, but it took three years to get Flight Ops training kicked off while we were doing that. At one point, it looked like the light at the end of the tunnel was being switched off, but the weekend I've just spent was entirely blue and in the Tower.
- pay, when applied to family fun, helps, but you have to be prepared to put in twice the minimum (27 days, becomes more like 40-50) to keep up. Make sure the family are on-side.
- the Flight Ops jobs can be in Sqn or Wing Ops (imagine a military office job); or in Air Traffic (assisting Controllers - if there are any Aux controllers, I think they'll be those with previous Regular service in the job).
- there are a considerable number of ex-regulars in the RAuxAF, and the comradeship is definitely an attraction, for all involved.
Lastly, feel free to reply with further questions, either on this thread, or by email [tocsin@<hidden>], and I'll try and give (honest!) answers.
[Edited for an expansion of the asterisks!]
27th May 2002, 23:09
Just finished 16 years RAuxAF service a few months ago. Would echo what's been said already....on the whole had a great time, some great experiences...you will get out what you put in (for me that varied a bit over the Years).
Was called-up once during my time (4 months in '91, in UK supporting Gulf Ops), which was actually a great experience....only bad bit about it really was the stuff that
kbf has already mentioned, and the fact that Admin is so slow in the MoD generally (if they were a business, they'd go bust in no time!).
My former Sqn is now under it's 3rd call-out (the '91 one was the first), and that's a sign of the way things are going....no point in being in the Reserve Forces if you can't answer the call (or brown envelope!) when it comes....think seriously about that before you sign up.
Otherwise, go for it and like me, you will be able to go into the Office on Monday, and when asked "what did you do at the weekend?", say "went to Bosnia actually, how about you?!!"
28th May 2002, 17:05
One of the beauties of the RAuxAF is that if you don't like it, you can just leave (subject to wars and call-ups of course). To go Flt Ops, you need the highest aptitude score, but it's not rocket science - for example to be a gunner, holding the pen the right way up is a strong pass - Flt Ops is margionally harder !
If you call for an info pack most of the stuff you need to know is contained within - the biggest difference between oggies and regulars is generally you're treated better - not least because regulars have mortgages and have to stay in !
Specifically for Flt Ops, it's handy of you're either unemployed or have an airfield that's open at weekends, otherwise hands-on can be a bit hard to find after the theory course. There are lots of other top-tips that the likes of Tocsin can give you that aren't necessarily in the brochure, but generally it's not a bad 'pastime' (not sure that's the word I'm after)
Of the oggies I've met, I will say they're damn committed and outshine the regulars in a number of ways. The regulars can be a bit suspicious of oggies because they look different, but once they see em in action, they want more !
Give your local bunch a call and see what they say.
28th May 2002, 17:23
My old man did 37 years in the RAuxAF and I believe that he enjoyed every minute of it. :)
28th May 2002, 17:41
Indoor work with no heavy lifting (except those big boxes of maps)
Good communication skills, with the ability to work quickly and accurately under pressure, carrying out several tasks at once. You may wish to practice by inserting a broom and sweeping the floor.
How many donuts can you eat?
A nice pair of t*ts are useful to distract disgruntled aircrew.
30th May 2002, 07:46
Tee - what unit are you intending to join?!?
What branch or trade?
3rd Jun 2002, 03:07
Be a 'Mover' and see the world through the bottom of beer glasses :D
It may be Reserve, but with the shortages of some trades, it kept me employed for quite a few years. I never regreted a minute of it, and if I can find an 'Oggie friendly' airline to work for, I'll be going back for more!
3rd Jun 2002, 08:36
Ex-Oggie, do I know you....initials DH by any chance??
Many thanks folks for lots of useful information.
Just one more thing - how much military discipline/deference/formality prevails?
7th Jun 2002, 14:25
'Fraid discipline is as the full-time service. This isn't second rate, just part-time. If you're going for officer, you'll get lots of preparation though and Cranwell will place a lot of store on it. Other training will do likewise I'm sure. My suspicion is that full time service personnel make an allowance for/understand the fact we're not doing it day in/day out, but that doesn't mean a licence to slack.
Formality - depends who's around. If you've a good boss who's confident in your ability then, like my lot, you're probably fine. Christian name terms where appropriate, and working as a team, all as one. But make no mistake he's the Boss, and deserves respect for that, and sensible obedience (i.e. if you're lucky you'll have a boss who'll also listen to 'Can we try it this way please, Boss...'). It does get tighter when there's other personnel around, expecially senior staff, but I suspect that's exactly the same for the full time service.
9th Jun 2002, 16:31
Discipline/formality etc. ...
Should be the same as for the regulars when on duty - after all, we could all be in the same position/foxhole.
In some ways, we do more parades & drill than some of the Regulars - Remembrance Sunday is often at a training weekend after all, and there are committments to our old Squadron Associations.
One important thing to remember, though, is that a reservist doesn't (or shouldn't normally be) relying on a monthly pay check from the RAuxAF. Therefore, if it isn't fun for at least part of the time, s/he is going to walk out of the door. Sensible officers and NCOs know this :)
For a civilian coming in without a forces background, some of the practices will take time to get used to, but I've survived so far!
Just back from another weekend in the Tower
11th Jun 2002, 23:23
Not DH, but yes, you probably know me. I was a Controller on 'B' Flight and on the short notice tasking with MAMS for about 7 years.
I also used to own two or three Yaks, that give the game away? :D
13th Jun 2002, 12:00
....'fraid not Ex-Oggie.
But if you like email me at Wycombe@<hidden> we can perhaps chew the fat about old times at the Sqn!
13th Jun 2002, 17:29
i am an ex raf flight ops assistant who has an interview on sunday for 609 sqn. if your planning to join auxiliaries go for it but always remember that you will be doing in your spare time what the regulars do day in day out, after all if the situation was reversed how would you feel about someone coming in for a few hours a week? i found most auxilaries top blokes but some were just there as a hobby and how many hobbies can you name that can end up letting you die ffor queen and country? okay that may be a bit extreme but dont forget they have been calling up reservists for afghanistan, good lugk!
14th Jun 2002, 12:20
....there have indeed been (well-publicised) compulsory call-ups for Afghanistan (65 in number from my former unit at the moment). I suppose it depends on the role of the unit you join, but my former unit (role = Movs, dare I mention it on this forum!!) are primarily used as "backfill" for Regulars on OOA Ops - so you will find the majority sitting watching TV in the crewrooms of a certain couple of AT bases at the moment.
Why's that....of the call-ups I've been involved with (this would have been the 3rd), they've all been too late for us to really help out when the workload was at it's height.....that's one for the politicians to sort out though!