FOUR air cadets have been reaching for the skies through a visit to the British Airways Flight Training Centre at London’s Heathrow airport.
Sergeant Alex Burn, Cadet Sean Harrison and Corporals Josh McAree and Carl Soulsby, from 861 (Wideopen) Squadron, got the opportunity to fly a British Airways Boeing 747-400 ‘Jumbo’ full-motion flight simulator for two hours each during the visit.
All of the cadets had already flown a Grob Tutor training aircraft at RAF Leeming on several occasions, and spent a great deal of time on the squadron’s state-of-the-art flight simulators.
This training gave the cadets the basic skills they needed to successfully pilot the Boeing 747-400, under the watchful eye of a British Airways pilot, on a series of simulated flights around the world including ‘touch and go’ landings and take-offs at Heathrow and other airports in the United States.
They also got the chance to visit the safety hall where British Airways staff are trained on the procedures before qualifying as cabin crew.
Sean, 15, of Seaton Burn, said: “We have all flown the Grob Tutor at RAF Leeming with the air cadets, but flying the 747 was an absolutely amazing experience and I would love to it again.
“I couldn’t get over how realistic the simulators were and you could barely tell the difference between the simulator and real life, especially at night.”
The cadets were also taken to the Royal Air Force Battle of Britain bunker at RAF Uxbridge, where they were given a guided tour.
Squadron boss Flight Lieutenant James Elliott, who organised the activity for the cadets, said: “This was an amazing opportunity for the cadets of 861 Squadron to find out about the British Airways Flight Training Programme, and allow the cadets the chance to fly in a £12m full-motion simulator.
“They also had the chance to reinforce their knowledge of the RAF by visiting an active RAF station at Northolt, and find out more about the role of the air force during the Battle of Britain at the bunker at RAF Uxbridge.
“Just another typical trip for the cadets of 861 Squadron.”