On June 21, 2524 (Oakington) and 2461 (Sawston) RAF Air Cadets were treated to a mesmerising talk and presentation from Air Vice-Marshal Alan Merriman CBE AFC* FRAeS RAF (Rtd). The event was held at 2524's HQ in Longstanton.
Air Vice-Marshal Merriman gave the squadron and their guests an insight into what in it was like to be a test pilot in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He shared his experiences leading up to becoming a Test Pilot, including serving as an instructor on Meteors, and then as an operational pilot on a Hunter fighter squadron. He then talked about his wide and varied experiences as a Test Pilot on the Hunter, Javelin, Swift, Lightning, Gnat Fighter and Harrier – his talk painting vivid pictures of the skills required and dangers faced by the pilots.
His time as a test pilot certainly had some highlights – one of which was ejecting from a Hunter and landing through the roof of a house - AVM Merriman’s description of looking around a room the after falling though ceiling to see a very shocked woman still lying in her bed had the audience in fits of laughter!
As well as his duties as a test pilot, AVM Merriman was also invited to carry out assessments of the US supersonic fighters F-100, F-104, F-105 and F-106, the French rocket powered Mirage 3 and the Swiss Viggen.
Following his career as a test pilot, he later commanded the first Harrier base at RAF Wittering.
During his career in the RAF, Air Vice Marshal Merriman flew 110 different aircraft and types.
Everyone was completely enthralled by the evening, and we are very grateful to Air Vice Marshall Merriman for giving up his time to give us an insight into such an amazing life in the RAF.