Welcome to Inzpire, Jonnie!

Inzpire’s Defence Revolution has its newest recruit in Jonnie Rockingham-Smith.

Jonnie who has joined our Helicopter Services Division as a Helicopter Simulator Instructor. Jonnie will be working alongside Lockheed Martin and Operational Solutions Limited to deliver Chinook Mk5 and Mk6 training at the brand new simulator facility at RAF Odiham.

Jonnie joined the Royal Air Force in 1996, having enjoyed 3 years at Aberdeen University. He was a member of Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrew’s Universities Air Squadron and flew the Bulldog from RAF Leuchars. Jonnie started on Chinooks with 18(B) Squadron at RAF Odiham in 2002, having already flown Tucanos, Hawks and Tornado GR1s before attending the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury.

Jonnie almost immediately went to war. He embarked on HMS Ark Royal in January 2003, and flew extensively over the Mediterranean with training in Cyprus, Oman and Kuwait, before operating on the first day wave of the second Gulf War, supporting Royal Marines as they secured the oil terminal on the Al Faw peninsula. This set a bit of a theme, and Jonnie deployed to Iraq again in 2004 and 2005. He was re-toured on 18(B) Squadron and qualified as a training captain and Helicopter Tactics Instructor before being posted to the Rotary Wing Operational Evaluation and Training Unit at RAF Benson, following a tour of Afghanistan at the end of 2006.

Four years later, he had trained numerous Chinook QHTIs and helped introduce the Mk3 Chinook, alongside upgrades to secure comms, NVDs, Defensive Aids and FLIR systems. He returned to 18(B) Squadron once again as lead pilot and tactical guru for 6 further detachments to Afghanistan. Jonnie returned to the Chinook Operational Conversion Flight at RAF Odiham in 2013 and was later posted to 28 (AC) Squadron when it was reformed as the combined Chinook / Puma Operational Conversion Unit in 2015.

In his time, Jonnie has operated throughout Europe, the Middle East, in Africa, North America and the South Atlantic. After 21 years and some 3500 hours in the air, he left the Royal Air Force in 2017 and took up instructional duties at the Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility at RAF Benson. As well as converting Royal Air Force crews to the new Mk6 Chinook, he also trained International Chinook operators from Holland, Canada and Singapore.

Jonnie is married and lives near Winchester with their young son, and slightly neurotic spaniel. He likes Aston Martins and enjoys shooting, motoring, decent whiskey and Cohibas.

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