Readers of similar age or perhaps slightly younger than myself will I am sure remember the excellent series of Ladybird ‘Learnabout’ non-fictional information books that had at their heart, provision of light detailed information, pictures and learning of interesting subject matter for the young discerning reader. One of many small, well-illustrated and descriptive books designed and published for children by Ladybird in the 1950’s and that had appeared in the series entitled ‘People at Work’ was called ‘The Airman in the Royal Air Force’.
Out of print for many years now and when looked at today, merely a timely reminder of how the Royal Air Force used to be in the immediate post-war years, there has, as far I am aware, been nothing published since of a similar nature that brings the story of what the RAF is and what it does up to date for the eager to learn, young discerning reader in the age 4 to 11 category. Well, not until now that is!
Knowing the author of ‘The ABC of The RAF’ for many years now and particularly during his long period as a Qualified Flying Instructor with 1V(R) Squadron based at RAF Valley in North Wales, I can think of few better than Paul Heasman who might be able to produce a detailed and extremely informative book for young readers that really does bring the story of what the RAF is today right up to date in a modern and very efficient way.
Written originally as a bespoke, one-off edition in order to help his daughter carry out research for her RAF 100 school project, following rather a lot of positive feedback from teachers, parents and other children Paul took the brave decision to make the book available to others who might be interested in learning about the RAF. The new book, entitled ‘ABC of the RAF’ is crammed full of photographs together with a fascinating, easy to read and understand detailed account of the modern day RAF, its equipment, capability and people. I commend it to anyone with young children that have shown an interest in learning about the RAF.
An Air Cadet who, having graduated from Loughborough University, was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in 2000 following graduation from RAF College Cranwell, Paul Heasman spent the last ten years of his career in the Royal Air Force based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales engaged on instructional synthetic based and actual flying training. Having been part of the team that introduced the BAE Systems Hawk T2 aircraft into service with 1V(R) Squadron in 2009, Paul’s work was primarily built around training RAF pilots that have graduated from advanced flying training done with 72 Squadron, based at RAF Linton-on-Ouse, together with students from various international air forces, learn to fly and operate the Hawk T2 Jet trainer aircraft utilising state of the art simulation based equipment housed in the Moran Building at RAF Valley together with actual flying training.
On leaving the Royal Air Force and taking up a new career Paul has, in his spare time, produced and published what I would comfortably describe as being the modern day equivalent of the original Ladybird book of the RAF.
Aimed at 4 to 11 years old group of youngsters, many of whom may well already have forged an interest in aviation and the RAF in some form or another, this book deserves in my view to be found not only in every school, public library, museum but also, in every home where there is an inquisitive child fascinated by things that fly and military aviation.
While the Royal Air Force has its own detailed narrative and which describes what it does in far more finite detail, the ‘ABC of the RAF’ book really is the perfect narrative for those who in a few years from now might seek to become the next generation of airmen or airwomen in the Royal Air Force.
A 56 page book brimming with every bit of information about the RAF that any young reader could want, publication of ‘The ABC of the RAF’ by Heasman coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Royal Air Force itself. Sadly, restrained by costs and needing to focus significant effort through the whole of this year on the ‘RAF 100’ anniversary celebrations and events, this is not an official RAF publication. However and as already mentioned, such was the encouragement from his family and friends, Heasman chose to go ahead and self-publish the book on his own. I am very glad that he did.
Richly illustrated with more than 60 vibrant photographs included many of which, being a keen air to air photographer himself, have been taken by Heasman himself, ‘The ABC of the RAF’ is written from the heart in straightforward, engaging language that in no away attempts to dumb down the intelligence or specific interest of the reader.
Written, as mentioned, originally to be a standalone book for his daughter, ‘ABC of the RAF’ seeks to educate, inform whilst at the same time be a book that is exciting and great fun to read.
Laid out in the form of an alphabet of Royal Air Force activities the book takes the reader through air cadets, air experience flights and elementary flying training, combat aircraft serving with the RAF today, the RAF display teams including the Red Arrows and the RAF Falcons Parachute Display team, the five sectional Groups, Squadrons, Rotary, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) activities, training and Operations, Call Signs, Air Mobility in the form of heavy and Medium Lift Transport, the RAF Regiment and so much more. Vital aspects of the RAF’s work such as ‘Quick Reaction Alert’, Training and Force Protection are covered in detail as is RAF history, ‘The Few’ and RAF Veterans, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the RAF motto ‘Per Ardua ad Astra’ the Roundel along with safety, people, bases and deployments.
Without doubt, this is an important book written with great care by a respected and still young former RAF Officer that has all that is required to inspire the next generation of youngsters that the RAF will need. It is a book that will teach them about the aircraft, capability, people and the vital role that the RAF plays today in a non-complicated comprehensible form and language.
The reader of the ABC of the RAF’ will learn more about the modern day air force, force structure, equipment and techniques used and employed today than anywhere else in one single book and I am sure that, just as the original Ladybird book had clearly done for Paul Heasman, will allow those that are fascinated by all that the Royal Air Force has to offer to follow their dream.
CHW (London – 28th June 2018)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785