A Trip to RAF Marham

Banana Moon has provided personalised clothing for the HM Forces for over 20 years. Over that time we have developed some brilliant relationships with our customers. Recently a very longstanding customer of ours invited Nikki, our Design Director, down to the friends and family day at RAF Marham in Norfolk. She and her family had an incredible day and here is her write up on it below. Huge thanks to Daz Owen for his very kind hospitality….

My family & I recently spent an amazing day at RAF Marham, thanks to a kind gesture made by Daz Owen, a regular customer of ours. We had been excited for weeks – since learning about the opportunity to attend the friends & family day – and, as the day approached, it became harder & harder for Jack, my 10 year old to sleep at night. I began to worry that the anticipation would be greater than the event itself but I need not have worried. Daz had asked us to meet him at the main gate & to call him when we arrived, which I did. He said he would meet us at the check point in just a few minutes & would be wearing camouflage trousers & a sweatshirt. “Great” I thought, until I turned around & saw dozens of people in camouflage trousers. A slight thread of panic ran through me but thankfully I’d had the forethought to tell him what I was wearing so at least we had a chance of being found. Find us he did & we were walked in past the armed guard at the checkpoint. Ruby, the constant worrier, asked if I found it at all strange that we had just walked past a man with a rifle. “Not at all” I said, “it’s quite reassuring if anything”. I’m not convinced she agreed.

We were driven across the base towards the IX(B) Sqn HQ where we were allowed to climb up & look in the cockpit of a Tornado GR4. It all looked a little complicated to me & after sitting in on a squadron briefing I was all the more convinced that I was not destined to be a pilot. They could well have been speaking Swahili for the amount of sense it made to me. I just about grasped that the squadron would be having a practice run at the base before heading off the Norfolk coast for a further bit of training. They would then head down to Honington to perform a fly-past at another friends & family day – as you do – before returning to Marham to perform their section in the air-show. Whilst the team headed off to their aircraft we were taken by minibus to the VIP area to watch the Tornados take off & to have a bite to eat.

We had only just arrived when we heard the deafening roar of the four Tornados’ Rolls Royce engines. The aircraft sped past us at some ridiculous speed, at precisely five seconds apart, & were off to run through the day’s events. Jack’s face was an absolute picture, he was really going to enjoy the day. From this point on the afternoon was full amazing sights – the RAF Falcons parachute display team with coloured smoke streaming behind them kicked things off in style. As we wandered over to view the static displays – a sheer plethora of military aircraft – we were treated to the incredible spectacle of the Red Arrows. We all tried to capture this as best we could on camera – not the easiest thing when planes are coming from every direction at incredible speeds. I think I shut my eyes on a number of occasions as the jets seemed to fly within inches of each other.

Throughout the afternoon we saw displays by the Typhoons, Spitfires, Wildcats display team, Hawks, Tiger Moths, Gnats among others  but I think the absolute favourite display of the day for us was the Muscle Biplane flown by a chap called Richard Goodwin, an ex XI(B) sqn pilot. He had made his own modifications to the plane & the aerobatics display he performed was astonishing. Upon take-off he appeared to make the aircraft hop sideways, a little too close to the ground for my liking. He could hover in the air for what seemed like an age & all the more remarkable, he could fly backwards! Flt Lt Jonny Dowen, in the solo Typhoon, flew past so close & at such speed that my ears have yet to recover from the sound of the engines. I don’t think I have ever heard anything so loud in my entire life! All the air displays were fantastic & really showcased the skill & dedication of the RAF personnel involved. The whole day was an amazing experience for us – as Jack says “the best day ever!”

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