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What is it like to be a WSOp in the RAF?

Hi I am a year 13 and I have wanted to join the RAF for ages. For a long time I have aimed to be a WSOp in a helicopter, however to be honest there is a lot I don't full understand about this role. What do you actually do (beyond the jargon). I have spent a lot of time looking at the RAF website but I still am not fully confident about what the role entails. I would really appreciate if anyone who has any insight into this role would share. What are you doing? Do you ever get bored? What is the demand for helicopter crew members? What are the majority of your missions aiming to do?
Thanks so much for any replies
Reply 1
Hi, I was what is now termed WSOp for 30+ years and have answered many similar questions over the years on TSR, so would recommend you look back at related threads or just search for my posts relating to the role. The important thing to remember is that you would apply to be a WSOp and could be streamed to any of the 4 different specialisms listed on the careers website (other than Linguist that is a direct application) . You can give your preference for one, but service needs take precedence.

In my career I worked in ISR (EW) on a legacy maritime patrol aircraft (Nimrod) and can honestly say I was never bored, although some days were more memorable than others! However, no two days were ever the same and I was learning something new every day. The day you stop learning or being interested is the day to get out.

I’ve been out of the RAF for over 10 years but still have many serving friends in various WSOp roles at Lossie, Waddington, Brize, Benson and Odiham so still maintain a finger on the pulse. The roles will be different but the life of a WSOp will revolve around flying (training or Ops) , continuous development (simulator and classroom), standby commitments and maintenance of various stats eg fitness, medical, EDI , cat checks etc etc In addition, once you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt, you’ll get secondary duties eg running clubs etc to test your capacity for extra responsibilities which demonstrates potential for promotion.

There’s an awful lot to the role (as with most military roles) and it’s difficult (if not impossible) to summarise them in just a short paragraph. However, what you can do is gain an insight into RAF aircrew life by reading some of the many recent books that are on the market. I’ve just finished reading Chinook Crew Chick by Liz McConaghy which describes her journey as a WSOp Crewman including all the highs and lows. I would recommend that one very highly.

But good luck with your ambitions and feel free to ask any specific questions you may have either in open forum or private message. I don’t bite and am here to help and advise where possible.

(edited 3 months ago)

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