An air cadet from Longbenton has visited six states in the USA as part of the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) programme.
Flight Sergeant Alex McGowan, of 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron, experienced a two-week road trip style visit, starting in Washington DC before heading to Kalispell in Montana, Denver in Colorado and Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. The 18-year-old, who was joined by cadets from other countries, visited US Air Force bases, saw the sites in the Rockies region and enjoyed a Cessna flight and time at a shooting gallery.
The cadets also took part in a leadership and obstacle course; relaxed at a Salt Lake City Bees baseball game and in lava hot springs spa pools; and took trips to Salt Lake City and Glacier, Yellowstone and Arches national parks.
A reception for the IACE participants offered Alex the chance to meet dignitaries such as Major General Mark Smith, the National Commander of the Civil Air Patrol.
Alex, who spent time living with a host family, said: “I’ve been really lucky in the experiences and opportunities I’ve had in the Air Cadets. IACE is among the best as I enjoyed representing my country, the organisation and my squadron. It was great to tell the American cadets and my host family about Longbenton Squadron and what we do.
“They couldn’t believe the opportunities available on squadron and within RAF Air Cadets. It was an immense privilege and something I was incredibly proud to have been selected for.
“The best part for me personally was the flight over and drive in to Glacier National Park. The scenery was absolutely breathtaking and I could have happily spent the whole two weeks in that one national park just going round and exploring the area.”
The Longbenton Air Cadet Squadron is currently open to new members in Year 8 and above. Visit www.2344.org.uk for more information.