Twice the Reservist
Leading Aircraftman Craig Walker has had two cracks as a Reservist with the RAF. The first time was with 603 Squadron in Edinburgh. Then, having left them and after a year’s break, his second experience was with 602 Squadron in Glasgow. A brave transfer of allegiance for any Scot to make. But for Craig it was worth it because he missed his life as a Reservist so much. In fact, he’d only reluctantly handed back his uniform in the first place because he felt that the demands of his civilian job had been getting in the way of his commitment to the RAF.
“I missed RAF life,” he said, “and as Glasgow was better for me geographically it made the work/life balance easier to achieve.”
Three years on it’s all worked out well for Craig who is now training as a Flight Operations Assistant supporting mission and flight planning.
It’s a role that means having to put in a lot of hard work. Basic training is followed by a year’s trade training and then by a two-week course at RAF Shawbury. And that’s not all.
“After that it’s into continuation training followed by a two week ‘Trade Ability Test’ (TAT) at an operational station,” explains Craig.
Why put yourself through all of that? Is it worth it.
Well the answer to that, as far as Craig’s concerned is an emphatic ‘Yes’. He has just completed his TAT at RAF Shawbury and can now be deployed anywhere in the world in a Flight Operations role. A very exciting prospect, both for him, and it just so happens that his civilian employer benefits too.
In his civilian life, Craig is a project engineer with Scottish Power Energy Networks. And he is certain that he’s learned skills with the RAF that have been valuable both to him and to his employer.
“The RAF training and role demands discipline, time management and a teamwork ethos, all of which are useful career skills,” says Craig. “As a Project Engineer I spend a large part of my time managing projects and, as the saying goes, ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry’.
“This is where my RAF development comes in to play. My dual employments in the RAF and SP Energy Networks are mutually beneficial and I often find skills refined in one role are advantageous in the other.”
But the demands on any reservist means that family support is important, and in Craig’s case, his fiancée has been behind him all the way.
He was awarded a sixth form RAF Scholarship, and was thinking seriously about joining the RAF as a regular. But after he graduated as a mechanical engineer from Strathclyde University, he found that the reservist route gave him the flexibility he needed to cope with family commitments and also what he describes as “the best of both worlds.”
Craig’s recreational and community interests also fit well with his RAF commitment. For eight years, he has been a leader (and centre co-ordinator for the last three) at a Duke of Edinburgh Award ‘open award centre’. His interest in hill walking, mountain biking and mountaineering is more than catered for within the RAF, and he will soon be taking part in a selection weekend for the RAF Mountaineering Association Autumn 2018 exploratory expedition to the Himalayas.
Find out if you could enjoy life as an RAF Reservist at https://www.raf.mod.uk/recruitment/lifestyle-benefits/life-as-a-reserve/