Young Aviators Take off Whilst Still on the Ground!!
The 2015 Bader Braves Young Aviators programme got off to a flying start on 9th April but nobody left the ground!! Our first event took the form of a superb day with the Royal Navy Historic Flight, RN Air Squadron 815 and the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
Our small but perfectly formed tribe of Braves assembled for a briefing and cuppa before being escorted by Katie Campbell, Display Director of the famous Royal Navy Historic Flight, to the Flight HQ where a number of aeroplanes including the iconic Swordfish and Sea Fury, were being readied for the very imminent 2015 display season. Katie, ably assisted by guide Mike and Swordfish Navigator, Rich Bell, gave everyone a first class and very “hands –on” tour of the facility and aircraft answering an extremely diverse and huge volume of questions from The Braves. After having a good look around snacks and goodies were handed out before we all had the opportunity of donning examples of the flying kit similar to that worn by aircrew of the Swordfish when on active service during WW2.
Once our tour here had finished it was back into our cars and across the airfield to the hangers of 815 Squadron where Rich Bell (whose full time day job is a serving officer on active service flying in one of 815’s Lynx attack helicopters) had arranged for us to visit one of their aircraft. Again, we spent a fascinating couple of hours climbing in and out of the Lynx, having a go with the thermal cameras and loads of other pieces of equipment that are used by the aircrew on a daily basis; believe me, it is real James Bond stuff that they use and the range of duties that the Squadron undertakes is beyond belief – if I tell you exactly what they do I will have to shoot you!!!!!!
Before leaving, everyone was given the opportunity of trying some of the emergency equipment of the helicopter although some didn’t fancy being cast adrift in the survival dingy – no telly you see!! After a fantastic morning (& a good bit of the afternoon to be honest) it was good bye to Katie and Rich and back to the restaurant for a quick bite before finishing the day off with a visit to the Fleet Air Arm Museum.
Here there are four huge halls crammed full of exciting exhibits dating from the early days of flight through two world wars up to today; it even includes a real Concorde which you can walk through. One of the halls is accessed by helicopter and is a replica of the flight deck and control island of HMS Ark Royal. Again, many of the exhibits are hands-on and somehow, as they say, time just flies when you are enjoying yourself!!
It seemed no time at all from the time we had met up until it was time to leave at the end of what had been a super day that had given us all some privileged and unique opportunities. We are indebted to everyone at Yeovilton but in particular to Katie, Rich and their teams at RNHF & 815 Sqn and to Hilary Hooper and her team at the museum for making it all happen for us – thank you all, it was BRILLIANT!!
If you missed this time don’t worry, we are already in discussions about a return visit ………….. watch this space!!
Report by Keith DelderfieldBader Braves, Concorde, Fleet Air Arm Museum, HMS Ark Royal