After a very early start, four lucky cadets from 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron were travelling up to RAF Shawbury for an action packed day. Upon arriving at the base, we were greeted by our extremely engaging ACLO – who would help us navigate our way around throughout the day, and ensure we arrived on time at each section visit.
Having had a brief from the pilots at 705 Naval Air Squadron, we were split into smaller groups of which we would fly in later that day. A unique opportunity was given to the cadets from 121, 163, 165, 1368 and 2504 as we were able to repose in the Crew Room: where various activities such as playing chess and pool were gratefully welcomed by all cadets. One group at a time, we were all given the chance to enjoy an exceptional flight in a Squirrel Helicopter, thanks to the Defence Helicopter Flying School.
Ensuring our helmets were securely fastened, and with smiles firmly placed across our faces, it was our turn to fly! Continuing 121’s tradition of never having a camera out of sight, Sgt (ATC) Barber was eagerly capturing the moments outside of the aircraft, and during take-off.
Conducting the pre-flight checks, we had the opportunity to be connected to the aircrafts intercom system, enabling us to not only talk to each other inflight, but also listen to the articulation between the pilot and Air Traffic Controllers. Having checked that the surrounding air space was clear, we were given the go ahead to commence our flight. Once we were travelling in a safe direction, I was given the remarkable chance to be in control of the aircraft myself. Unbeknown to me, but to the amusement of our three other cadets, the controls were very sensitive, and a few fast turns were executed before I acquired the technique of plain sailing.
During our flight, our pilot asked us about our aspirations for the future, as well as the general activities within the Air Training Corps, after explaining his career to us. Ensuring we captured these incomparable moments (to the delight of staff at 121!), we then headed back towards the base, where a very smooth landing was conveyed. Once our feet were firmly back on the ground, Sgt (ATC) Barber was also given the chance to have a flight.
After appreciating a meal in the Junior Ranks Mess, we headed over towards the Air Traffic Control Training Simulators. This occasion enabled the cadets to be given an insight into the training given to prospective Controllers, with simulations of various weather conditions and emergencies being carried out.
Transporting ourselves over to the Aircraft Maintenance Hangar, we were then split into two smaller groups, and given guided tours of a Typhoon and Hawk T1. We learned about the upkeep of the various aircraft, as well as having representations of how ejector seats work. To the surprise and delight of all cadets and staff, we actually got to sit in the cockpit of a Red Arrow! That was a superb end to a great day!
The three lucky cadets (Blood, Forryan and Hawthorn), including myself and Sgt (ATC) Barber would like to thank all of the staff at RAF Shawbury for allowing us to have an inspiring day, and welcoming us to all section visits.