Twelve cadets from Trinity School's CCF (RAF) Section enjoyed an inspirational and exhausting week at RAF Shawbury. Located in north Shropshire, the Station operates the Defence Helicopter Flying School, and trains pilots from all three Services to fly helicopters in the Armed Forces. Trinity School joined up with cadets from William Hulme's Grammar School in Manchester, and Wrekin College, to tackle all that the camp had to offer.
An intensive programme for cadets was a real mix of interest visits, and training for the cadets to build on their own personal skills and confidence. We started the week with a leadership and teambuilding Airfield Rescue exercise, with cadets getting to know each other and work together across the schools. With Trinity’s Senior NCO team taking the lead, the camp soon started to gel together, ahead of the packed schedule to come.
Over the course of the week, aviation was at the heart of our programme, and the cadets were able to get up close and personal with the helicopters, and training, that are offered by the Station. From tours of the Griffin helicopters in 60(R) Squadron, through to engineering training, visiting stored and maintained aircraft, and the Air Traffic and training management simulators, the cadets had a real insight in to the role and working of the Royal Air Force. Several cadets took the opportunity to have a more in depth work experience review, with Sgt Ben Skinner helping one of the units to rebuild a Red Arrows Hawk aircraft.
They trained hard, too: building their own personal skills towards the end of the week to compete in a hard fought and high standard Drill Competition. We also had the opportunity to achieve marksmanship qualifications on the Range Day on Friday, and built an extensive programme of dry and simulated training in place to ensure cadets could work safely and with skills. The transformation in standards between the start and end of the week was phenomenal, and the cadets and their NCO team worked really hard to up their game.
For most of the cadets, though, the flying was the highlight of the programme. A visit to 705 Naval Air Squadron provided the opportunity for all of the cadets to get a twenty minute helicopter ride, showing them the capabilities of rotary aviation in an unforgettable tour of Shropshire. Five of our cadets also managed to take advantage of gliding opportunities, and all of our cadets managed to get some time in control of a multi-million pound helicopter simulator. As a final treat for the cadet Senior NCO team, they were given additional flying time in the simulator – taking personal flying lessons from the Qualified Helicopter Instructor and our liaison officer, Flt Lt Ian Donoghue.
The cadets have returned happy, exhausted, and with their eyes opened to the world of rotary aviation. Next time they hear a helicopter overhead, they’ll know what it takes to fly them – and maybe, one day, they'll do it again. Our thanks to all of the Station personnel, and in particular, Flt Lt Donoghue, for an unforgettable week.