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The skies over Newark and Sherwood were filled with the roar of engines this week as hundreds of RAF air cadets were treated to an air show.
Over 600 cadets from across the country came together at RAF Syerston to enjoy families day on the National Air and Space Camp, which concluded with aero acrobatics from the world-renowned Red Arrows.
The afternoon featured displays from by a Typhoon, Spitfire and Hurricane from RAF Coningsby, an F35 from RAF Lakenheath ripping through the sky, as well as aerobatics from gliders and the Tutor training aircraft based at RAF Syerston.
Then came the show stopping moment of the day as the red, white and blue trails of the Red Arrows streaked overhead.
Mind bending manoeuvres followed as the iconic bright red Hawk jets of the RAF’s premier display team twisted, turned and corkscrewed through the air with pinpoint precision, much to the enjoyment of the lucky few gathered below.
But the air show was just one part of a week long camp organised by the RAF to engage young people with all aspects of the air force and air industry with specialist aerospace, aviation and engineering training for cadets.
Commandant RAF Air Cadets, Air Commodore Tony Keeling, said: “The National Air and Space Camp is a week long camp here at RAF Syerston, the home of air cadet gliding, and for one day we open it up and turn it into a bigger event.
“We have about 300 residential cadets here all week and another 320 in for the day. They come from literally all over the country, from Scotland, Wales, the south of England, it really is a national camp.
“They spend the week doing training, flying and gliding and gaining qualifications in air, space and cyber, to hopefully give them a really good week.
“We have our careers fair, which is about inspiring cadets to think about what they might like to do in the future and then in the afternoon we are treated to a flying display, where we get to see what the RAF does best.
“25% of officers and 15% of aviators in the air force are actually air cadets, so it’s only right that the RAF looks at the cadet organisation and supports it when trying to inspire the next generation.
“Our aim is to unlock potential in young people by giving them qualifications outside of school as well as building their self-confidence and leadership skills to give them a head start in life and enable them to chase whatever their dreams are.”
As part of the day over 50 industry organisations such as Boeing, BAE, Rolls Royce were in attendance, giving the cadets a chance to ask questions and explore future careers.
Lecturers from the Air and Space Institute — which is currently being built in Newark — were also present, chatting with cadets and showing off the courses on offer at the specialist college.
UK-based Aeralis also launched a national competition giving cadets the exclusive opportunity to name a first-of-a-kind modular jet currently in development.
Cadets from 1260 Newark squadron, based on Sherwood Avenue, were at the camp for the day, including Flight Sergeant James Williams who said: “We’ve come over for the day from the Trent Wing summer camp just down the road at Beckingham.
“There are 322 of us from all over Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire all looking forward to enjoying the displays and meeting new people and other cadets from across the country.
“Having the careers fair is always interesting too because it helps you make up your mind when you have ideas about what you might like to do in the future.”
Cadet Arnav Sharan, from Glasgow, is a residential cadet on the week long camp, and said: “I think it’s a great opportunity to learn about what’s out there.
“I like seeing what opportunities there are in engineering and astro physics and I’ve enjoyed all aspects of the camp.
“Cadets can be really really fun and I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Corporal Locke, Corporal Walker and Cadet Gaywood from 2160 Sleaford squadron said they had been looking forward to seeing all of the different aircraft and learning about career opportunities in the air force and industry.
Pilot Officer James Lawton is a member of the Red Arrows support team, and said: “One of the most important things we do is try to inspire the next generation of the RAF and the cadets is a fantastic organisation which provides that exposure.
“So it’s great to come to these events and chat to as many young people as possible and give them an idea of what we can offer them.
“I was an air cadet myself and it got me interested when I was a kid, giving me the opportunities to go flying and on camps. I went on to join the University Air Squadron and now the RAF.
“What we want to do is show that behind the pilots in the jets we see on display, there is a whole group of people with different roles that enable them to do what they do.
“There are mechanical engineers, avionics technicians, flight line engineers, air ops officers, photographers, press officers and more, it’s not just pilots in the air force, we’re a part of one big team.”
Station commander at RAF Syerston, Group Captain Baz Dale, said: “We’ve been running these camps for five years now and each year it seems to get bigger and better.
“It’s an opportunity to bring cadets together to enjoy and experience all parts of air and space and hopefully spark some sort of enthusiasm for the future.”
The base is also home to 2 Flying Training School, which delivers air cadet gliding, taking cadets all the way through from complete novices to flying independently.
Flights were unfortunately halted during the covid pandemic but are now beginning to pick up pace again with roughly 50 cadet flights a day and numbers are on track to double the number of flights this year compared to last.