Few experiences match the adrenaline-charged excitement that new pilots feel when they are allowed to take control of an aircraft for the first time.
Cadets from Christ’s Hospital were recently able to experience this thrill for themselves following flight training provided by the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm.
Ten cadets from the School’s cadet force were given the chance to sample the exhilarating life of a navy pilot over the Christmas break during a two-day visit to Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton.
Prior to the cadets taking to the air, navy pilots provided tuition in the basics of aircraft operation, reading the instruments and operating the parachute in an emergency.
The students also had the chance to sit in on that day’s pre-flight briefing, which included details of the meteorological situation and other flight activities being conducted on the air station.
There was a nervy excitement amongst the cadets as they were strapped into the propeller-driven Grob Tutor aircraft.
Experienced navy pilots taxied the aeroplanes before accelerating down the runway for take-off. The cadets were then given control of the aircraft to practice the basic manoeuvres they had been taught. The navy pilots also took the aircraft through some stomach-churning aerobatics.
While on the ground, the cadets were also allowed to observe the busy operations of a naval air station from its Air Traffic Control Operations Room. The view from the tower gave a real impression of the scale of the air station’s operations.
The cadets spent the night on the station and enjoyed beating the staff in a close-fought game of tenpin bowling.
“Some of the cadets were quite nervous taking the controls for the first time, but they were all smiling on their return to ground with both the excitement and the achievement of what they had done.
“I was hugely proud of the drive and eagerness with which the cadets approached the challenge”, commented Second Lieutenant Helen Goddard who accompanied the trip.
The Combined Cadet Force provides a fun, varied and challenging co-curricular programme in leadership, military and adventure training. It aims to develop important skills for later life including leadership, responsibility, self-reliance, endurance, determination and service to others. It is one of a number of extra-curricular activities provided at Horsham-based Christ’s Hospital.
Report and picture contributed by Christ’s Hospital.