Award-winning air cadets went behind the scenes at one of the UK’s and NATO’s most strategically important RAF stations.
Ten cadets from 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron were given unique access to RAF Boulmer to see the elements that go into running a military base on the nation’s frontline.
The youngsters, aged between 14 and 18, were invited to spend a normal working day at the RAF station near Alnwick, Northumberland, after picking up a string of prestigious accolades, promotions and achievement certificates at the squadron’s annual Sabena Awards.
Guest of honour at the ceremony was former 346 cadet, now Wing Commander Alastair Jackson, who is in charge of RAF Boulmer’s School of Aerospace Battle Management (SABM).
Along with touring different sections, cadets had the chance to hone their indoor shooting skills on a computerised live firing range and to take part in aircraft simulator training and tactical and leadership exercises.
The cadets were also granted rare access to the subterranean Control and Reporting Centre (CRC), where RAF personnel use sophisticated computer systems and advanced radar and communications technology to provide real-time awareness around the clock of aircraft within UK and NATO airspace, controlling and directing responses to threats.
Corporal Luke De Vall-McMurray, 15, who was crowned the squadron’s Best Sportsman at the Sabena Awards, said: “It’s been a fantastic day and one I am not going to forget in a hurry.
“To have the opportunity to see behind the scenes of RAF Boulmer has been a real privilege.”
Cadet Chrysta Lois, 14, added: “It has been an incredible experience seeing how an RAF station is run day-to-day, and how the air defence system works. It’s been the trip of a lifetime.”
Wg Cdr Jackson said being a cadet at 346 more than three decades ago had helped shape his future and the career and life he has gone on to lead.
He said: “It was great to be able to invite cadets from my old squadron to visit and to be able to show them the workings of an active RAF base on a normal working day.
“It has been a pleasure to see them taking part in hands-on training and other activities, and to be able to give them a better understanding of the essential role RAF Boulmer plays in UK defence.”
He added: “For the cadets, it has been a wonderful opportunity to actively participate in a tactical scenario, to witness what goes on at the School of Aerospace Battle Management, to see the Control and Reporting Centre in action, and to talk to serving personnel.
“I hope that now the link between RAF Boulmer and 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron has been established that it will be maintained, and that we can look forward to more such activities between us in the future.”
Officer Commanding 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron, Flying Officer Sara Allison said: “We have had the opportunity to visit our parent station and to see things that the public would never have the chance to. We are all very proud to have been asked to take part in what has been a unique money can’t buy experience.
“Our thanks go to Wg Cdr Jackson for inviting us, and also to Flying Officer Dion Feathers, who organised everything and stayed with us throughout the day, giving up his time to make sure the visit not only went ahead but that we had the opportunity to take part in a raft of amazing activities.”