AIR CADETS ROUND UP
I went flying at RAF Benson. It was great fun. We flew in the tutor plane and did some basic manoeuvres. Afterwards, some of us did some aerobatics, like ‘loop the loop’. I felt a bit sick towards the end, but otherwise it was a great experience and I would recommend anyone to go along.
A few cadets and I went on a trip to RAF Waddington during February half-term for 4 days. It was a really long journey, but a few songs seemed to make it shorter. When we arrived, we had a brilliant time and everyone seemed to find it very interesting, whilst being fun. My personal favourite part had to be the corps band – they were incredible!`
This year was my first camp with my Squadron, and it was to RAF Waddington that I wanted to go, as I had heard so much positive feedback from the group that went last year. We had a long 4-hour journey to Lincoln, but it was well worth it! I had the most fun in a long time, the best part of the camp, in my eyes, was visiting the Sentry (E3D). I learned a lot about what goes on in the plane and how the radar works. Another favourite part was visiting the fire crew at the end of the runway. We saw them perform a training exercise, and also had a go with the fire hoses. I’m sure the other cadets agree that it was a very enjoyable camp.
Cdt Tack CConfessions of a Camp Commandant!
Cadet Camps and other activities seem to run like well-oiled machines (well sometimes), so how do you learn how to do all the things the cadets expect you to do? I’m a Civilian Instructor (CI) with 332 (High Wycombe) Squadron ATC and recently visited RAF Waddington with another CI and 7 junior cadets, over the February half-term break. The short camp is part of the cadets’ introduction to the Service; it was also my introduction to running a cadet activity away from home!
Waddington Camp was my first experience as Camp Commandant! Unfortunately the CO was unable to attend and so he asked me to take charge. I was keen for the cadets to have their camp, but I was worried about how things should be done. Working with Regular ‘Big Blue Suits’ at Air Command is quite different from being put in charge of ‘Little Blue Suits’. I was never a cadet myself (I went down the Girl Guide route as my father was posted away from home, so I was unable to attend the local ATC) and being a CI on an ATC Sqn, you are not taught things like drill or how to do inspections. Thankfully, the programme was already organised and it was literally a case of turning up and meeting the Stn ACLO, a very enthusiastic Sgt.
The cadets were kept occupied from the minute we arrived at the Unit! Luckily, 2 of the cadets have been to a camp before and knew the drill – this made it easier for me and my accompanying CI. The programme started with a relaxed social evening of 10-pin bowling in Lincoln. Each morning the cadets were immaculately turned out in their uniforms and proudly marched around the Stn with their heads held high, whether it was to the mess or to where the next presentation serial was; it was an impressive sight. After breakfast the packed programme started with 8 Sqn – Sentry. We got to go in the plane and were shown the equipment which the cadets were fascinated by, plus that you sat backward in it! We also saw a couple in the hangar having ‘MOTs’ and servicings, which was also interesting. From here it was to 5 Sqn – Sentinel. Again, very interesting, and as the plane had some of the equipment exposed, the cadets were sworn to secrecy. After that it was to the mess for lunch, then over to the Air Traffic Control where, from the tower, we watched a Sentry land and the pilots waved at us.
Next was the RAF Regiment display. As you can imagine cadets, guns and the RAF Regiment are always a recipe for enthusiasm and it was something they were looking forward to. Our Regt Sgt was brilliant. He brought over so many weapons, from a Browning pistol to a ‘very big’ gun (I still haven’t learned the names) with bullets on a strip (that’ll be a GPMG then Jocelyne). The cadets were briefed on the role of the Regiment and each weapon was explained to them. They even got to handle them all and had a competition of who could throw the hand grenade the furthest! Unfortunately, the cadets had to be dragged away from this to visit the Survival Equipment display, which consisted of the life rafts (mini bouncy castles for cadets) and trying to eat as many high energy sweets as they could (as if they weren’t hypo enough).
Thankfully, I re-arranged the swimming session, as we were pushed for time and had to have dinner, then visit the Fire Section for their presentation. The Fire crew put on a great show. We saw them carry out their training drill and then they allowed us all to experience the hose – feel how powerful the pressure was. They also explained their role in the RAF and what they do when deployed on operational duties. By the end of the evening everyone were beginning to feel tired. The cadets watched a DVD before hitting the sack, although some couldn’t stay awake!
Our final day was a trip to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at RAF Coningsby. One of the exciting things we saw was a Hurricane being put though it paces outside. They had tied it to an anchor and had the propeller going full speed – you could feel the vibration of the plane and the sound was brilliant. After seeing a couple of Typhoons take off and a Red Arrow fly over, we headed back to base for a chill-out time in Lincoln, before going swimming and dinner. After dinner, it was scrub-up time – the Cadet Cpl encouraged everyone to help each other out with their uniform and shoes. They looked really smart in their working blues – we were going to RAF Cranwell to watch the Air Cadet Corps Band Concert. The concert was excellent, they play to such a high standard that you forget they are only cadets and not professional military musicians! They were so good, only one of our cadets fell asleep during the concert – he was absolutely shattered! Back to Waddington after the concert and then it was home on the Saturday morning.
After such a busy few days, the journey home was understandably very quiet – all but one fell asleep all the way! It was certainly an enjoyable few days, but tiring!
If the activities above interest you, maybe it is time for you to join the local Squadron. The next Recruits Course at 332 Sqn starts with an Induction Evening on Fri 4 May 12. If you would like to get involved please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.