Cadet Voyagers for Queens Birthday
Wellingborough and Kettering Air Cadets got a special place in the Queen’s Birthday celebration this year. They were given special access to the RAF’s brand new Voyager transport aircraft and allowed take part in the traditional fly past over Buckingham Palace – just ahead of the Red Arrows.
Harley Widdowson, Alex Grimbley and Victoria Gazeley, all Air Cadets from 378 Mannock Squadron in Wellingborough, joined Miriam Lee and Thomas Daniels from Kettering squadron to ride in the new Voyager Tanker. The Voyager was escorted by Tornado and Typhoon fighter aircraft flying just metres from its wing tips. The Airbus Voyager is the RAF’s brand new tanker aircraft with only three currently in service and this was its first public appearance.
The cadets travelled to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire for the initial meeting before boarding the aircraft. Once aboard they joined up with the aircraft in the flypast formation and circled over the Norfolk coast flying nearly 340knots and no higher than 500ft before beginning their journey into London.
“With the two Tornados at our wing tips the Typhoons at our rear, the sights we could see from our windows I will never forget.” said Harley Widdowson a cadet Flight Sergeant at Wellingborough. “I knew that just to be where I sat was a great privilege”.
In total over 150 Air Cadets, aged 13 to 18 from across the country were given the opportunity to take part, travelling on one of only three Voyager tankers currently in service. As part of the flypast the cadets also got a rare view of iconic London buildings such as the Gherkin and the Shard, as well as the river Thames and Tower Bridge.
“As we de-planed,” Harley continues, “we caught a glimpse of the red arrows lined up, the superstars of the sky, which ended our amazing day and once in a life time opportunity. I can safely say I won’t forget that very easily.”