Friday, 16 September 2011
Even though he has been at university he has still managed to come back and assist the Squadron whenever he could!
Also during final parade FS Sam White was awarded his Silver DofE.
Monday, 12 September 2011
Later on in the day the Squadrons band led the parade for the Skipton Battle of Britain Parade through the streets of Skipton featuring a short wreath-laying service at the Cenotaph before a longer church service at Christ Church.
The parade itself was also attended by Air Cadets from 2431 (Keighley) and 264 (Skipton) Squadrons as well as veterans and members of the USAF from RAF Menwith Hill on what was a particularly important date for them.
The salute during the parade was taken by Air Commodore Colin Smith, Chief of Staff at RAF High Wycombe and a former guest at 1224's annual presentation evening.
The parade was the first for new Wharfedale recruits, Cadets Graham, Shaw, Chivvers and Hepworth.
You can see more pictures from the day in the Squadrons gallery here.
Wednesday, 7 September 2011
After visiting RAF Marham in 2010 for summer camp, I knew that I really wanted to do another blues camp at an RAF Base as a cadet, before I aged out. So after weeks of begging and being overly helpful to my CO, I was selected! On July 23rd, myself and 5 other cadets from 1224 began our (long) journey to RAF Coningsby.
The camp was a joint Wing one, made up of 30 cadets in total from as far North as Middlesbrough and as far south as Ilkley and Lawnswood. We met the coach at Wetherby Services, where the cadets from Middlesbrough, Stockton, Darlington and Richmond were already waiting for us. After another stop of at Hull (and 5 hours later) we finally arrived at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
Coningsby is home to both the newest and the oldest aircraft that the RAF has to offer. From the four Eurofighter Typhoon Squadrons and the Tornado GR4 Squadron, to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, who still fly regularly. The stations mission; “To develop the future, deliver the present and commemorate the past of the Royal Air Force’s combat air power” reflects the diversity of the Base perfectly.
Day One: We arrived shortly after lunchtime on the Saturday, and were greeted by our staff members for the week who wasted no time in getting us organised into our accommodation (the fabulous standard military issue tents) and then split us into 2 groups, A and B Flight. A Flight was to be my baby for the week, and B Flight was headed up by CWO Thomas from East Cleveland Squadron. We spent a couple of hours playing inter-flight sport. A warm up followed by softball, football and human chess! B Flight was victorious in every sporting activity, gaining flight points for their efforts. After all that hard work, it was time to march the Cadets to the Mess for their well-deserved evening meal. However, with a camp schedule like ours was, there was no time to relax and we had to go straight over to the Fire Section for a visit. Although the visit was for a serious reason (Health and Safety Brief, Fire Brief and use of fire extinguishers) they still managed to show us a good time. We split into 3 groups, and took it in turns to look at the Fire Engine, sit on the top of it, play with the hoses and threaten our staff with them! However, no Fire Section visit would be complete without getting completely soaking wet. After an exceedingly long day, we headed to our Tents for a cracking nights sleep!
Day Two: The Warrant Officer stood in the centre of the tented accommodation at 0600, and bellowed “The Warrant Officer is lonely!!” Not the greatest alarm call I’ve ever woken up to!
20 cadets were scheduled to go flying at RAF Cranwell for the day, whilst the rest of us spent the afternoon sunbathing (weapons training) at our accommodation. For those who had not handled the L98A2 before, this was a fantastic opportunity to get some one on one training with the weapon with Flt Lt Waters, the Wing Shooting Officer. The weather could not have been better, both for the flyers and those of us who were sat out under the sun all day. When the cadets returned from Cranwell, it was time to go to the Mess for our evening meal, which was then followed by Bowling!
Day Three; another 0530 reveille and straight into Wedgewood Blues for the day. A tent inspection was scheduled for before breakfast so we were kept busy for the hour that followed to ensure that our tents were immaculate for the Warrant Officer to look at! Cadets + Wedgewood’s + Baked Beans at breakfast do not mix however, so all 30 of us (yes, even the Cadet Warrant Officers!) donned paper napkin bibs for the duration of breakfast time! After breakfast, we had a presentation from the ACLO at Coningsby, plus another safety brief from a very excitable RAF Police Officer. We were to visit 29 Squadron, home to Typhoons, for our Camp Photo and a look at the aircraft after this, which gave us all the opportunity to see them up close and to look inside the cockpit.
After a quick lunch we all headed over to RAF Waddington to use the Swimming Pool. Every cadet left having achieved a Swimming Proficiency standard.
Day Four: After another early morning tent and dress inspection, it was time for another 7 o clock breakfast! Following this, we were given a presentation by a local civilian police officer about the importance of staying safe online. With the use of film and power point presentation, he made each and every one of us aware of the dangers of using the internet, and more importantly, the dangers of online chat and chat rooms. After ending the presentation on a serious note, it was time to go have some fun! We left RAF Coningsby again, and headed to RAF Tumby, a RAF Police dog handling section. Here we were given a presentation on the different equipment used to train the dogs and then we were given a tour around the kennels. Although this was only a short visit, it was very informative, and a lot of the cadets came away from it adamant that they want to be Dog Handlers in the future!!
After our evening meal, we headed back to the Fire section again. Here, we were driven across to the opposite side of the air field, to their simulation area. Some of the cadets even got the travel in the fire engines! Here, they set fire to their plane simulator, built to represent a tornado, a typhoon and a helicopter all at once! They demonstrated the different methods of putting out the fire, and showed just how resilient all of their equipment is to the heat!
Day Five: The day I had been waiting for! We were scheduled to visit 41 Squadron in the morning, a Tornado GR4 Reserve Squadron. We were shown around the aircraft, and then asked if we could send somebody back to camp to grab our High Vis jackets and Ear Defenders…We were being allowed out onto the Flight Line! We were taken outside by one of the technicians who showed us where to stand. We watched two of the Tornados power up, watched the Pilot and Weapons Systems Operator do all of their pre-flight checks and watched them taxi out to the runway. We stood outside for about half an hour, watching Typhoons and Tornados take off. We were all so grateful for the opportunity to get so close to them! After saying our thanks, it was time to take all the hungry cadets to the Mess for their lunch.
The afternoon to follow turned out to be my favourite afternoon of the entire week, as we visited the Air Traffic Control tower. We split into our flights and were in turn, shown around “local”, which is the Tower part of the building, and the RADAR room downstairs. The Cadets asked a lot of questions, and got to see what the job was like in some detail.
We visited the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) on the Thursday, splitting into flights once again for the visit. We were all shown around by a Tour Guide, who’s knowledge of the BBMF and the History surrounding it was vast. My tour guide was an ex pilot in the Air Force, who had flown Lightning’s and Tornado F3’s, to name just two of the fast jets he had experience in! He had also been a member of a Lancaster Crew, and his experience was fascinating to learn from.
We had an additional 10 flying slots at RAF Cranwell for the afternoon, so these lucky cadets headed straight off from the BBMF. As for the rest of us, the afternoon had more L98A2 weapons training and High Ropes in store! As the High Ropes course was opposite our accommodation, and where we were doing weapons training, we split into two groups and took it in turns to go over. The PTI who led the High Ropes session was brilliant, and led us through both high and low ropes exercises. Although we’d already spent 6 days together, this was a fantastic opportunity to get to know other Cadets on the camp, and a time for leadership skills to shine.
After finishing up all of the activities for the day, we headed over to the tennis courts for a last minute drill practice, just in time for the inter-flight drill competition that was to be marked by the Station Warrant Officer on Friday morning! After smoothing out last minute kinks, we headed back to the accommodation for a well deserved early night!
Day Six: The big event! Another early morning (surprise surprise), followed by an hour of solid uniform preparation. The staff, and the CWO’s, would not let the Cadets go to breakfast until their uniform was absolutely perfect! We donned our bibs again for Breakfast, and immediately after heading over to the Tennis Courts (our makeshift Drill Square) for the Competition. After a last minute practice and a talk from the Station Warrant Officer, the competition began! B Flight performed first immediately followed by A Flight. The atmosphere was tense as we formed back up in our Flights to hear the results from the SWO. B Flight were victorious, by a mere one point!
After an early lunch, we headed over to the range to spend a day firing the L98A2. All of the Cadets thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity on the range to practice for future Wing Range Days, and they all left feeling completely exhausted! Friday evening was spent in the Station Lounge and Coffee Bar. An opportunity for the staff to make their presentations and for us all to say our final Thank You’s and proper good byes before the camp drew to a close.
All in all, I had a brilliant week at RAF Coningsby. The staff, both RAF personnel and ATC, were fantastic, and they are all owed a huge thank you from myself and the other cadets. An exhausting week, but definitely worth the early mornings and late nights!