Planet Avgeek


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    Several Puma helicopters from RAF Benson will be operating at RAF Woodvale from 12-17 October 2020 to conduct essential training for crews during Exercise NORTHERN TEMPEST 20.

    The Exercise is part of the pre-deployment training that the Puma Force undertake prior to deployment to Operation TORAL in Afghanistan. Up to three helicopters will be used to train three Puma crews from 33 Squadron operating in rural and urban areas. They will be using a variety of authorised helicopter landing sites in the Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds areas, as well as conducting additional training at Altcar, Spadeadam and Snowdonia. This deployment is not linked to the UK Government’s response to coronavirus and is solely for pre-deployment training.

    The exercise will ensure that the aircrew are qualified to conduct a variety of tasks that are needed in support of the ongoing NATO mission in Afghanistan. This includes operating as pairs by day and by night, confined area landings, flying and landing in urban environments and operating in mountainous terrain.

    The aircraft, support team and crews will be based at RAF Woodvale for the duration of the exercise. They will be flying during the week from 1pm until 1am, which will, on occasion, be outside of RAF Woodvale’s normal operating hours. The Puma helicopters may also be working with other colleagues in the area to simulate tasking that they may encounter during their time in Afghanistan, for example troop movements.

    RAF Woodvale was chosen for the exercise as it provides an excellent forward operating base for the Puma Force. It also provides additional support to the training being undertaking by introducing the crews to operating in unfamiliar surroundings and a different environment.

    Currently deployed to RAF Woodvale are:

    • ZA940 Puma HC2 arrived 12/Oct 1240L as “Vortex 337”
    • ZJ955 Puma HC2 arrived 12/Oct 1545L as “Warlock 1”
    • ZJ956 Puma HC2 arrived 12/Oct 1545L as “Warlock 2”

    12 October 2020

    ZJ955 visited a number of hospitals around Liverpool and Manchester between 1630L and 2045L as “Warlock 1”.

    ZJ956 went to Warrington and back to Woodvale around 1645. Callsign unknown.


    13 October 2020

    • 1335L: G-MAOL Agusta 109 arrived Woodvale as “Northolt 02”
    • 1350L: ZA940 Puma HC2 departed Woodvale as “Vortex 341”
    • 1350L: XW232 Puma HC2 inbound Woodvale as “Kukri 1” – believe there is one other with it as yet unidentified
    • 1530L: ZA940 Puma HC2 inbound Woodvale as “Vortex 341” after operating north of Preston for a while
    • 1550L: “Warlock” formation departed (ZJ956 and ZJ955 respectively), see later posts
    • 1620L: G-MAOL Agusta 109 departed Woodvale as “Northolt 02”
    • 1600L: ZA940 Puma HC2 departed Woodvale as “Vortex 341”

    “Warlock” a formation of Pumas leaving Simonswood routing towards Irlam for the “Army Training Centre Manchester” which I’m fairly sure is in Failsworth.


    Nope, I was wrong. It’s the TA Centre at Platts Field.

    Will have to see if this becomes a theme as photography from there looks rather good!


    Warlock didn’t land at Platts Field and is now routing toward Stretton. On Manchester Tower now 118.630.


    Northolt02 departed Woodvale heading south working Liverpool Radar 119.850.

    Warlock formation is landing at Victoria Park in Warrington.

    Vortex341 is operating off the coast of Hightown.

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