Twenty-nine RAF Air Cadets from nine different squadrons across Bristol & Gloucestershire Wing completed a Bronze Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Expedition last weekend. Fifteen cadets from 181 (City of … Continue Reading
In late October 2002 (Kingswood) Squadron were fortunate to be given the opportunity to spend a full day at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.
The United States Air Force were our gracious and most welcoming hosts. The cadets were looked after by the Public Affairs team attached to the 100th Air Refuelling Wing who ensured a full and exciting program of visits throughout the day.
In the morning the cadets had the opportunity to visit the Control Tower and see first hand what a busy, operational air base looks like from an elevated position. They also had an insight into the complex role of the Meteorological Team and the part that the British weather plays in US Air Force operations!
This was followed by the chance to meet two members of the Birds of Prey Team on the base and their hard working Harris Hawk and Peregrine Falcon, responsible for keeping the airfield free of other birds. The morning was rounded off with a visit to the Air Traffic Control Simulator where Controllers are trained and their skills put to the test.
A well earned lunch was spent in the BX with the expected attractions of Burger King, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell etc. This gave the cadets a real feel for life on a US Airbase with all the hustle and bustle of Service personnel coming and going during their lunch break.
Once replete, it was time to visit operational squadrons located to south of the airfield.
Members of flight crew from the resident 351st Air Refuelling Squadron conducted a briefing for the cadets in the Squadron HQ before we boarded a bus to the hard standing areas.
The first aircraft visited was the impressive and immaculate KC-135 Stratotanker of the 351st Air Refuelling Squadron. The cadets were given a tour of the aircraft and all had the chance to try out the refuelling boom operator’s position as well as taking a seat in the cockpit. The crew happily showed the cadets around and answered all of their questions.
Taking the KC-135 crew with us, a short bus ride to another area of hard standing brought us to the awe inspiring CV-22 Osprey of the 7th Special Operations Squadron (352d Special Operations Wing). Again, the reception was warm and welcoming as the crew of this incredible aircraft took time to show the cadets around and answer questions.
The final visit of the day was to the MC-130J Commando II of the 67th Special Operations Squadron. Yet again, the cadets were welcomed aboard by patient and friendly members of the crew who were more than happy to show off their aircraft and answer questions.
For the cadets of 2002 (Kingswood) Squadron this was a once in a lifetime experience that will never be forgotten. The hospitality afforded the Squadron by the United States Air Force was second to none. It was a full, interesting and very exciting day that will be talked about for many years to come.
The staff and cadets of 2002 who were lucky enough to experience this visit, extend their warmest thanks to those within the United States Air Force who made this visit possible.