Akshay goes to France

Hot on the heals of CWO Hulbert and her trip to Australia FS Akshay Mandalia has returned from his IACE to France “On 22 July – 7 August, 17 cadets from 8 different countries assembled to take part in the French IACE Programme. The exchange to France was highly aviation based alongside all the obligatory tourist attractions. It is definitely the most aviation focused of all the exchange programmes. Some of the aviation visits we had were: Visit to Airbus – seeing the A350 final assembly line, flying the A330, A340 & A380 full motion, tour of the first ever A380 built. We really were given the VIP treatment. The visit to Dassault Aviation was cancelled by them at the very last minute but the extra time was well spent at Flight Safety were we had a tour of the facility and flew the full motion jet simulators. We also visited the French Government’s Department of Aviation for a not so interesting presentation on policy making, however we were told what to expect.

We were provided with many opportunities to sample the French nightlife and culture. Toulouse is a very beautiful city with great food and plenty of attractions. In Paris we had the obligatory visit to the Eifel Tower, had a tour along the river and guided tour around the secret passages. We had a lot of free time for adventuring on our own using the Metro. Many people visited Le Louvre as well as countless other attractions like the Arc D’triomphe, Notre Dame, etc.

On the flying side of things: We spent a day gliding over the Pyrenees with a local gliding club, a day flying around Toulouse with the French Aviation College (ENAC). Everyone also got some flying on the host family weekend; the majority got a trip by air to see a local castle from the airfield at Carcassonne, whereas a few of us flew Toulouse to Carcassonne and back.
We had a day of simulator flying with Airbus in Toulouse which was a fantastic opportunity, flying the A330, A340 & A380. We also had a day of business jet simulator flying at Flight Safety in Paris.
Overall it was an amazing exchange packed full of memories I will carry for years to come. I gained a lot of knowledge on different cultures, aviation and have met friends who I will stay in contact with for life. I have happily offered to host any of the other cadets should they ever come to London. The trip has definitely broadened my horizons and I would thoroughly recommend IACE to anyone who is looking for an adventure”.