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Dear Diary,

Published on 20 May 2020 at 21:05

Good evening dear followers, here I am again. It took a while, but today I had my webinar online at the Ministry of Defense, because I have had my eyes on an attractive and fun position at the Royal Netherlands Air Force for a number of weeks and I still had some questions and wanted to get more information.

I had some technical problems with my sound and image and I was very disappointed because it didn't work. But in the end I was in the call, with sound. My image was also present in the end. And in the webinar I spoke with Maik Swinkels, recruiter of the Royal Netherlands Air Force and was employed as a VUT for about 12.5 years. Before I started the online webinar, I had written two important questions for myself:

  1. What is the chance that you will be hired for the position Corporal flight equipment technology in the current time with the corona crisis.
  2. In connection with the current situation about how long does it take until you undergo the fit test and pass everything?

These were my most important questions, during the webinar I got more questions and Maik was a very enthusiastic Soldier to talk to. I learned a lot about the VUT training. By the way, VUT means: Aircraft equipment technology or Flight equipment technology. Is correct in both cases. It is also sometimes called VUU and this stands for Flight safety equipment. I learned a lot about which helicopters are being used by the Defense (Air Force) but also aircraft from Eindhoven Air Base. As a VUT Corporal you don't have much of a choice where you are stationed, this will be Gilze Rijen Air Base by default. And here they work with Chinook, NH90, Cougars and Apaches. Maintenance is indicated here. They indicate that VUT is often the waste bin of the Air Force, but nothing could be further from the truth, because we are the most important link between the pilot and the ground. All safety materials, helicopters, but also SOS and emergency packages, everything goes through the VUT. The ranks in the Air Force are as follows: Corporal (MBO 2) > Non-commissioned officer (MBO 3) > General (MBO 4 / HBO) > Commander ( HBO + / WO). Commander is the highest position achieved in defense. At the moment this is Mr. Brouwers. Also nice to know, you are not yet finished with your vocational training specialized in early retirement. Then you are already deployable as a soldier, so you can be sent on exercises or missions. You can always grow. If you are a Corporal and you show yourself positively in the defense department in your vocational training or in your 6 months trial period with the Air Force, it may just be that you will follow an internal MBO 3 training to become a Non-commissioned Officer.

Of course, a petty officer comes with many more responsibilities. With a non-commissioned officer you also get the opportunity to work at various air bases in the Netherlands. As a Corporal you will be deployed at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. And as a non-commissioned officer you can choose from Volkel Air Base, Eindhoven and/or Gilze-Rijen, you can also give your preference to this, but it may even be that the Air Base is over manned and you still end up at Gilze-Rijen Air Base . Also very nice to mention. As a non-commissioned officer you even have the chance to be stationed at PAPA Airbase Hungary. Everything comes together at this Air Base. Soldiers from all over the world. For example: Americans, English, Canadian, Indonesians etc. If you have the ambition to do this, you can always be stationed here. If your future eventually looks different, you can always be stationed back in the Netherlands. I thought this was really nice to hear. Fortunately, Ilja supports my decision to apply and in the end we make the choices together, but my ambitions have always been abroad or in collaboration with other countries, so it's great to keep in mind! It is not possible to practice for the VUT function, if you go on a mission this is actually the same as in the Netherlands. You are concerned with the safety of the pilot, you are concerned with the maintenance of the helicopters, nothing is the same, it is not a standard 9 to 5 mentality where you continuously do the same thing every day. There is so much variety and so much difference. Very nice to hear it from Militair Maik Swinkels who has been deployed several times to Normandy, Afghanistan etc.

In the end we sat in the online webinar with another girl for 1.5 hours. In the end she decided to leave the webinar and I called Militair Swinkels for more than 2 hours. Had a great conversation, gained a lot of insight about the actual function. About the application procedure and how it ultimately works. We talked about the fit test. And this one isn't quite as hard as I have it in my head. It is an endurance run in which you have to cover 2200 meters in 12 minutes. You can decide for yourself whether you do this in sprint, running or walking. As long as you have covered those 2200 meters in those 12 minutes, how is completely up to you. Furthermore, strength is mainly tested. So take weights from the helicopter above your head and put them back again. Turn nuts over your head and tighten. Hanging from a climbing frame, especially to test, can you handle it at a certain height or do you have a fear of heights. It is also checked whether you can jump over a buck. And move a ball from side to side to see if you can dig. Because some soldiers who were appointed in the past couldn't even dig. And this is actually how the fit test works. I thought I had to do a really tough beep test, but luckily it's not that bad. I am now the first to be invited for psychological research in Amsterdam. From here, if I get through this I will be medically tested, of course I have the fit test and this is done by Peter de Nie, super cool man. And according to Militair Swinkels, that will be all right! Especially because I am so technically grounded. But also because we are getting ready for the Strong Viking Family Edition Run in Amsterdam on October 10, 2020. And the Strong Viking Mud Run in Wijchen/Nijmegen on April 10, 2021. Militair Swinkels indicated that a Strong Viking Run is 10x worse and tougher than the Defense fit test. I am on Cluster 1 and that is the easiest of Defense. As a tip, I mainly got to build everything up slowly, because otherwise you can get a shin splints and you will never get rid of this.

I have now applied and have filled the last available position. If I pass all the tests correctly, I will start 9 weeks internally at the Royal Netherlands Air Force in the military training in Woensdrecht in September/October. And after these 9 weeks I will fulfill the function of early retirement at Gilze-Rijen Air Base. I'm really looking forward to it and I'm going to do my very best to get through everything as best as possible. Come on!

Posted on: 20-05-2020

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