Throughout the year the RAF offer work experience places to members of the Air Cadet Organisation with the aim of giving them an insight into careers in the RAF. During the week 7th to 13th August one cadet from 1359 (Beeston) Sqn took part in a Non-Commissioned Aircrew (NCA) work experience course aimed towards potential future aircrew for the RAF primarily focussing on the roles of Weapon System Officers (WSOps).
During the week Cadet Corporal Conor Bacon kept a diary of the activities he took part in and this is reproduced below.
Day One: Packing, getting to Grantham Station and settling in
* Met all the other candidates at Grantham Station at 16:00 and the jumped on the minibus to RAF Cranwell.
* Shown to our accommodation (the same as used by candidates on the Officer and Aircrew Selection Course) and unpacked.
* Got dressed in my suit and went to the Officer Candidates Mess for dinner.
* After dinner chilled out and got to know the other candidates on the NCA course.
* Lights out at midnight.
Day Two: RAF Cranwell
* Wake up alarm went off at 06:00.
* After breakfast we had a briefing on NCA roles and the training that potential candidates go through.
* We then went off to the RAF College, Cranwell for a guided tour. We got to walk on the famous red carpet that officer candidates are not allowed to walk on until they have passed out!
* After lunch we visited 55 ® Sqn for a tour of one of their Dominie aircraft, unfortunately pilot training took priority and our potential flight was cancelled.
* Due to the cancelled flight we were allowed to look around the survival equipment bay instead.
* After dinner we had a leadership sport session where we were able to work as part of a team to complete a series of exercises.
* Lights out at midnight again.
Day Three: RAF Waddington
* Wake up alarm at 06:00, had breakfast and set off for RAF Waddington.
* We had a briefing on the WSOps (Weapon System Operator) roles in the RAF including: Acoustic (where they use sonar technology to locate and track submarines and ships); Crewman (these are responsible for making sure that loads and passengers are carried safely on either fixed-wing or rotary aircraft); Electronic Warfare (who operate radar systems to survey air and surface activity); and Linguist (who analyse foreign language radio emissions, providing military commanders with combat support)
* Following the briefings we had a tour around a Sentry and Sentinel aircraft and then we took turns on the simulator for WSOps Training where we had to identify and track potential targets including an enemy fleet of warships and submarines.
* Travelled back to RAF Cranwell, had dinner and then we went bowling. This helped build on our team skills and this was the first night we all felt part of a team, we could all trust each other and all felt like we had known each other for years.
* Lights out again at midnight.
Day Four: RAF Fitness Test, tour round a Hercules and minibus to Cosford
* Wake up at 06:00, it was the day we were all dreading, the Fitness test.
* After breakfast we had a briefing on the role of Acoustic operator, this allowed our breakfast to settle then it was off to the Fitness test.
* The fitness test composed of a bleep test, press ups and sit ups. The minimum for men (aged U17) is 9.10 on the bleep test, 19+ press ups and 32 sit-ups. The minimum for women (U17) is 6.07 on the bleep test, 9+ press ups and 19+ sit-ups.
* I managed to pass getting 10.01 on the bleep test, 40 press ups and 35 sit-ups, my boundaries were a bit higher due to being 18.
* After lunch we were planned to have a lesson on how to load a Hercules however a Hercules had landed at the airfield and so we got a complete tour of an actual aircraft.
* After this we packed up and headed to RAF Cosford where, following dinner, we unpacked and chilled out until lights out.
Day Five: RAF Shawbury
* Wake up at 06:00 hours, however there was no alarm and when the fire alarm went off at 06:30 we all thought it was the wake up alarm until our CI ran through telling us to get out, luckily it was a false alarm.
* After breakfast we departed for RAF Shawbury. The morning consisted of a briefing on the roles of rotary wing crewmen, a Q&A session with a pilot and then, in my view one of the best parts of the week a go on the Griffon simulator. These included an amazing, and to the others in the simulator a quite nauseous, flip of the helicopter and eventually a landing next to the airstrip.
* After lunch we were planned to have a flight in a Griffon however they were busy performing mountain flying exercises so we headed back to RAF Cosford to look around the museum.
* Following the museum tour we went swimming (in a huge pool) and then just chilled out in our accommodation.
Day Six: End of Work Experience and departure from RAF Cosford
* After wake up (07:00 due to no planned activities) we packed up and headed for the train station. Here we said our goodbyes and made our way back home.
Corporal Bacon had this to say about his experience “The weeks work experience was one of the best weeks I’ve had. It gave me an insight into the role of RAF NCA and I made friends for life with the other cadets, some of us grew really close and one of them has been up to Nottingham to stay for a few days. This shows that these Work Experience weeks not only give you an idea of what goes on in the RAF but gives you the chance to meet new people from around the country. I would recommend to any cadet that they take part in one of these if they get the opportunity”
CI Mike Hill
Media and Communications Officer
1359 (Beeston) Sqn