An Opportunity not to be missed!

Between 20th – 27th October 2012,  I was given the opportunity to go on an RAF-based, Herts and Bucks Wing Air Training Corps Autumn Camp at RAF College Cranwell.

I am a member of the Air Training Corps at 332 Squadron, High Wycombe and I get many opportunities like this. This camp has really opened my eyes, not just to RAF-based organisations, but to discipline, leadership and many other useful skills. We were very fortunate to have some of the opportunities, and the activities planned by our team of staff were exemplary; we were so lucky to have such helpful and caring staff.

There is one  RAF squadron unit at RAF College Cranwell, the ‘45 squadron’, and they train young pilots to fly ‘King Airs’. About 15 cadets were lucky enough to go up in one of these, but due to poor weather and low fog, only one flight took place. We visited the squadron’s training grounds and pilots gave us all a brief on what they do and achieve. It was very interesting. All cadets at the camp were split into flights, A Flight and B Flight, this allowed us to have healthy competition in everything we did. Reveille, or wake up time, was around 6.00am, at the latest, but to give us time to iron our uniform, get showered, dressed and polish our shoes, all of my corridor of girls woke up at about 5.00am. or earlier. Inspection was every morning and we got marks out of 10 for our uniform and rooms from our Warrant Officer and Drill Instructor. Then we would go for breakfast at the mess, forming up in our flights and marching there. Our schedule was breakfast, first activity, lunch, second activity, dinner, evening activity and then lights out at about 11.30pm.

Activities included meeting the New Air Commandant, training and firing our no. 8-22 rifle, going to see air traffic control in action and various other jobs at the station.  We also tried out a ten-man life raft, looked at and tasted some of the things in a survival pack at the safety testing block and had many briefs about equipment, such as parachutes, that they use. We visited the RAF Police Station and, one of our favourites, the RAF Fire Station. The reason it was one of our favourites, was because we tried out the gas equipment and harsh chemical protection suits. We also used the thermal imagining camera to shoot over a traffic cone with the jet on a fire engine. It ended up with the fire team shooting the cadets with the freezing jet on the engine, instead of the traffic cone. We were all soaked and freezing, but it was so much fun.

The Cranwell Camp was such a success and well worth the money. It was a real eye-opener and gave me a good idea of the RAF-related job I want when I leave school and the qualifications I need. Thanks to the ATC organisation many young adults and teenagers can get the same opportunities as me. Something I have learned with the ATC is grab any opportunity with both hands and take advantage of the wonderful things offered.