Year 9, Matthew, is just fourteen, yet he has already experienced two flights with his Air Cadets squadron. We got him to take a little time out from the clouds to tell us about his exciting first year as a member of this prestigious organisation.
I have been parading with the 215 (City of Swansea) Air Training Corps Squadron for fifteen months now. I joined because I was looking for an organisation that was similar to Scouts but offered more challenge. I found exactly what I was looking for in the Air Cadets.
On a regular parade night, there are many activities available. You can be part of the percussion band, ensemble, use the climbing walls, flight simulator, shooting range, do archery and much more! So far, I have done two flights at MOD St Athens, and 1 PTT. A PTT is an exam on a flying simulator with the controls of a regular aircraft. It gives you an accurate sense of how it feels to control an aircraft but nothing beats the real thing! I could only start my flights this January, due to the fact you must be at least thirteen and three quarters to fly.
Airbase Summer Camp
Towards the end of the summer holidays, I attended an annual summer camp at RAF Valley in Anglesey. This camp was based at the airbase and it lasted a week. In that week, I did many things, including a tour the whole airbase, visiting Air Traffic Control and exploring the hangars where Hawk Aircraft are repaired, engineered and stored.
On this summer camp, I made a lot of new friends and met a lot of the people who help to run the RAF and service the Hawk aircraft. Overall it was an amazing experience; the accommodation was comfortable, the food was good, and the scenery was beautiful! My favourite part of the week was the cliff climbing near the sea as it was challenging but I felt a real sense of achievements when I did it successfully.
Earlier this month, I competed in a percussion competition in RAF Cosford, which is near Wolverhampton and Birmingham. I stayed for 3 days, and our squadron managed to come 2nd place in the whole of Wales and West England. I performed in front of the Air Commodore, who is in command of all the Air Cadets, and other high-ranking officers in the UK!
In the future, I want to be able to do a flying scholarship with the Air Cadets and go on the International Air Cadet Exchange, in which I can visit and be a part of an Air Cadet organisation in another country for several weeks or even months.
I would recommend Air Cadets for anybody looking to do something productive with their spare time, particularly if you aspire to become a pilot or join the RAF. It’s not just for budding pilots though, it’s for anyone who wants to take advantage of these challenging and unique opportunities. In my opinion, it’s the best organisation for young people and teens by far.