Anglo-French military aircrew complete 240km run in 24 hours for charities

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22 April 2024

They did it!

The team of five aviators based at Orléans - Bricy Air Base completed the demanding self-set relay run of 240 kilometres from their base to the British Embassy in Paris and back – all within the allotted 24 hours – for two charities: SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity and La Fondation des Œuvres sociales de l'Air (FOSA).

The five, two RAF – including Flight Lieutenant Christian Gerrett – and three colleagues from Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace, are part of Escadron de Transport 1/61 Touraine; the two RAF pilots are currently attached to the squadron.

The relay was to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the signing of the Entente Cordiale, 90 years of the Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace, 80 years since ET 1/61 Touraine was founded, and the 80th anniversary of D-Day. It began at 6.30pm local time on Tuesday (April 16) and ended just before 6.30pm the following day.

Flt Lt Gerrett takes up the story.

“We were self-sufficient, equipped only with one vehicle, one bike and five pairs of legs. When we finally got underway, we had several colleagues who came out to bid us farewell and wish us luck. We were faced with a strong headwind which luckily diminished as the night fell and the conditions were ideal, a half-moon, light winds, and relatively mild temperatures.

“The course chosen was challenging and followed the safest, most direct route to the Embassy. This led us through fields and forests, a lot of which were still bearing the marks of the recent unfavourable weather. As daylight broke, we arrived at the centre of Paris and made it to the Embassy just before 0630. After a quick fuel stop and some photos, we quickly found ourselves back on the road again making our way back to Orléans.

“This was particularly challenging as the legs and bodies were starting to tire, but with plenty of water and nutrition, we managed to pull through. As we made it towards the final quarter, the headwind increased and the heavens began to open. The spirits were low by this stage and the joints began to ache, but the sight of the hangars on the horizon raised our morale for the final stretch.

“Once back in the confines of our home base, we were greeted by several squadron personnel and family members who made sure we were warmly welcomed. The event was a great achievement and an example of how our two nations work together to overcome difficult challenges. While the legs stay sore for 24 hours, hopefully the money raised will help those in need for the long-term.”

Flt Lt Gerrett is correct. The money raised will assist SSAFA France to help those serving and former UK Armed Forces personnel, and their families, in the country and similarly FOSA as it supports its beneficiaries.

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