In the deep end with the RAF

As NATO continues its work to protect Libyan civilians from the Qaddafi regime, Donna Atkinson from Whitby is feeling the heat in southern Italy as part of the RAF's operations. ''Based at Gioia del Colle airfield, Senior Aircraftswoman Donna Atkinson doesn't fly, isn't an engineer yet plays a crucial part in ensuring that the RAF's mission runs smoothly. ''As RAF Tornados and Typhoons clock up thousands of flying hours in support of NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the Deployable Supply Group (DSG) are busier than ever making sure the detachment has all the right kit to continue its work.  DSG can deploy at very short notice, they ensure that everything the operation needs, from aircraft parts to ammunition, arrives in theatre as when it's needed.''25 year old Donna is a Supplier by trade and joined the RAF 8 years ago, she has seen operational service in the Falklands and Seeb but Operation ELLAMY has been the busiest.  '''The job is so varied, there are so many different areas you can get involved in; b

As NATO continues its work to protect Libyan civilians from the Qaddafi regime, Donna Atkinson from Whitby is feeling the heat in southern Italy as part of the RAF's operations. ''Based at Gioia del Colle airfield, Senior Aircraftswoman Donna Atkinson doesn't fly, isn't an engineer yet plays a crucial part in ensuring that the RAF's mission runs smoothly. ''As RAF Tornados and Typhoons clock up thousands of flying hours in support of NATO's Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, the Deployable Supply Group (DSG) are busier than ever making sure the detachment has all the right kit to continue its work. DSG can deploy at very short notice, they ensure that everything the operation needs, from aircraft parts to ammunition, arrives in theatre as when it's needed.''25 year old Donna is a Supplier by trade and joined the RAF 8 years ago, she has seen operational service in the Falklands and Seeb but Operation ELLAMY has been the busiest. '''The job is so varied, there are so many different areas you can get involved in; b

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A WOMAN who hails from the Whitby area is playing a crucial part in the protection of civilians caught up in the Libya conflict.

Donna Atkinson from Newholm is a senior aircraftswoman with the RAF and is currently based in southern Italy.

She may not be a pilot or an engineer but her job as part of the deployable supply group is to make sure the Tornado and Typhoon planes presently supporting NATO’s Operation Ellamy, aimed at protecting Libyan civilians from the Qaddafi regime, has all the necessary kit.

That can range from aircraft parts to ammunition and Donna said: “I can’t believe how much kit comes in one lorry.

“The job is so varied but I love the variety and this is the busiest deployment I’ve been on.”

Donna (25) has previously served in the Falklands and in Seeb, a coastal town in Oman.

She joined the RAF when she was aged 17 after attending Whitby Community College.

Her brother Darren who is presently serving in the army in Afghanistan and her Dad Alan encouraged her to join the RAF.

She signed on for 12 years and has served eight of them but she’s now hoping to stay on.

She said: “It was my Dad and brother, Darren who said I should join the RAF. I thought ‘ok maybe I could do that’ and so I went for it.

“I’ve really enjoyed it, the last 8 years have flown by. I’ve done so much, as well as lots of different expeditions, I even been to the Grand Canyon with the RAF.”

“When you go away for four months and you’re ‘chucked’ in sharing with people, you’ve just got to get on but everybody works as a team, and I’ve made some really good friends, it’s been great.”

Donna is due back on leave this month and is looking forward to spending time with her family and catching up with friends as well as her dad, mum Geraldine and younger sisters, Tina and Bridget.