The crew of a Royal Air Force C-17 Globemaster III had a grandstand seat to view the Northern Lights on a recent sortie over Norway.
The lights, which are also called aurora borealis, are the visible result of solar particles entering the Earth’s magnetic field and ionizing high in the atmosphere. The large transport aircraft was en-route to Bardufoss flystasjon (Air Station) where the stunning show continued.
Part of the Air Mobility Force at RAF Brize Norton, the C-17 was flying troops and freight to Norway for Exercise Clockwork, part of the British military's extreme weather training.
Talking about the experience Squadron Leader Shepperd, a pilot serving with No. 99 Squadron, said:
“As a globally deployable unit, on constant readiness, the Air Mobility Force can be tasked to deploy rapidly to any location required. In this case, our route allowed us to see the Northern Lights, an unexpected delight. We were lucky enough to watch the electric green waves begin to flare, lighting up the sky”
Squadron Leader Shepperd
RAF Pilot, No. 99 Squadron
Exercise Clockwork subjects personnel, equipment and aircraft to temperatures as low as -30°c as the three Services strengthen their respective Arctic capabilities. Commenting on the importance of exercises such as this, Officer Commanding No. 99 Squadron, Wing Commander Essex said:
“The C-17 aircraft gives the RAF the capability to rapidly deploy large equipment over long distances. Training for this in different operating environments and integrating with the other Services, such as on Exercise Clockwork, enables us all to succeed on deployed operations and hold effective readiness for contingent operations, maximising the output of many units.”
Wing Commander Essex
Officer Commanding No. 99 Squadron
As part of this, the Air Mobility Force plays a vital role in the Exercise with the Globemaster, Atlas, Voyager and Hercules all supporting Clockwork in various roles, be it freight runs or as active participants in certain exercise scenarios.
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