Aerospace Camp 08

A Report by IFS Mike Cross:

The first week of the Aerospace Leaders camp, now in its second year was held at RAF Brampton in Cambridgeshire. The week long camp was designed to give more insight into careers in aerospace, be it civil or military. During the day we visited different sites and in the evenings we were visited by the RAF Careers team and the Royal Aeronautical Society, who talked to us about routes into the RAF and the roles of simulators in training.

The first day was what an NCO tactfully described to the directing staff, “a bodge job”. The Chinooks at Odiham were busy so a swift turn around saw us on the DCCT range for a few hours. This was followed by a talk by the boss of JARIC, the National Imagery Exploitation Centre. Here we were given a restricted brief on what JARIC is used for and how it goes about its business, which unfortunately we can’t publish here!

Whilst we were all thinking about flying in planes and helicopters we hadn’t thought about anything outside our atmosphere. On Thursday we visited Astrium, a European Space company. Here we were able to get an insight into how satellites and space are being used all the time in our daily lives, even when we take money out from a cash machine! We were also briefed on the military uses of satellites and given a tour of the facility which looked like something out of a sci-fi movie!

At RAF Waddington the DACLO had put together a really good day visiting the three squadrons based there. The first was 26 Sqn who fly Sentry’s (the ones with the big radar on the top). Our visit was slightly stalled because somebody had forgotten to bring the keys for the aircraft. When we did get into the aircraft we were surprised to find a set of credit cards hanging up on the cockpit door. When we asked what they were for we were told “they’re for buying the fuel when we go away!” We also visited the recently formed 5 (AC) who fly Sentinels and 51 Sqn who operate the Nimrod R1s (the RAF’s spy planes). Unfortunately a lot of the questions asked such as “what do you do?” were not answered by the crew and we weren’t allowed inside the aircraft such was the secrecy of the operations they deployed on.

The final day we packed up and drove to RAF Wyton for lunch in the Officer’s Mess. The Mess is pretty much like a 5 star hotel, apart from it doesn’t cost as much for the officers that live in it! We were firstly given a presentation on air power by Air Commodore Parton. This was similar to the one given to officers on their initial training. Last year the Air Commodore was flown in by helicopter specifically to give this brief! Shortly afterwards we were in the spotlight and had to give our presentation on the week to Group Captain Hakin (OC Laser) and Air Commodore Moulds (commandant Air Cadets). After some difficult questions from them both, AC Moulds talked to us about the RAF, the ATC and answered any of our questions. Afterwards we sat down to a top class lunch before being presented with certificates of attendance.

The whole week was a fantastic opportunity for us as we were able to visit a wide range of civil organisations and military units which certainly increased our knowledge of aerospace and the careers within the industry. The week was fantastic value for money; £35 and that was only to pay for the messing charge! The next course should be running at a similar time in 2009 so watch this space. See … 266825655/ for more photos.

The photo shows the group in the Officer’s Mess, RAF Wyton.