News Section

Fantastic 5F - Runners up in the Aerospace Challenge

Article posted: Nov 30, 2012 by Wing Media & Comm Officer

Success for 5F(Northampton) Squadron Air Cadets in Aerospace Challenge 2012

*5F Falcons’ meeting the Duke of York, HRH Prince Andrew *

This year, a talented trio of Air Cadets from 5F (Northampton) Squadron competed in the Aerospace Challenge. Cadet Corporals Matt Broadbent and Curtis Newton along with Cadet Charlie Smith competed under the team name of ‘5F Falcons’.

The Aerospace Challenge is an annual competition organised by John Farley (the first ever Harrier test pilot) and his team. The Aerospace Challenge aims to provide students interested in engineering with the opportunity to create a conceptual solution to a problem that high profile engineering companies are currently trying to solve. The event is sponsored by many leading companies within the aviation industry including but not exclusively Rolls Royce, Marshalls Aerospace, Air International and the Royal Air Force.

Teams from schools and cadet forces take part and have to submit their ideas and a project on a topic which is usually set by the RAF. The topic for 2012 was ‘The Training of Remotely Piloted Air Systems (RPAS) Operators’.

All projects are reviewed and the top twelve teams from across the UK and the Commonwealth qualify to attend an educational residential week at Cranfield University to receive training on various aspects of aerospace.

Cadet Corporal Matt Broadbent explains “Our ideas were on future training methods and where RPASs would go in the next 10 years. With the introduction of new materials and technologies, we had to think of a training system that would not be out of date. We created our own classification system and then applied it to integrate RPASs into civil airspace. With the help and guidance of our sponsor Flight Lieutenant Derek King, a retired Officer from the Training Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR) we were successfully chosen to go to the summer school in July 2012.”

During the week long residential, the teams learnt more about aircraft and engineering in sessions delivered by experienced lecturers (including John Farley). It is not all classroom based however, and the teams this year also had the opportunity to fly in an R22 helicopter, receive a visit from a Hawk MK2 aircraft based at RAF Valley and visit Duxford Imperial War Museum for a personal Spitfire display and to see the Spitfire Restoration workshop.

There was a definite jubilee feel to the week this year too, with Air Cadet teams from both Canada and Australia competing and a visit from HRH Prince Andrew. As Cadet Corporal Newton said “We met cadets from Canada and Australia and it was interesting to share our experiences in the cadets in our countries. We had lectures from experienced test pilots, like John Farley who was the first test pilot of the Harrier Aircraft and later test piloted Concorde. We were also presented to HRH Prince Andrew.”

This is the ninth successive year that 5F (Northampton) Squadron have entered the Aerospace Challenge and had teams qualify through to Cranfield University. All teams had to wait until August for the results to be made known and when they were, the ‘5F Falcons’ were ecstatic!!

‘Team Phoenix’ of St Paul’s School, London were selected as this year’s winners with 5F being selected as equal runners up with Team S.W.O.T of King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford. The top three teams receive individual awards and a further award for their school or Cadet Squadron.

Following on from their success as runners-up in the Aerospace Challenge, the team from 5F attended the awards ceremony held at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in London on Wednesday 14th November. They were accompanied by their sponsor, Derek King and Officer Commanding (OC) 5F, Carol Haynes Flt Lt RAF VR(T).

The event was attended by many distinguished guests including the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Dalton ACM RAF and Wing Commander Andy Green (currently the fastest man on the planet and set to pilot the 1,000mph car). Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, Commandant Air Cadets, was also there to congratulate the team on their achievement.

During the evening reception the cadets were able to organise a trip to RAF Waddington to visit 13 Squadron to see the training systems there and to talk about their ideas. “As the only Air Cadet Squadron present it was greatly interesting to have many other RAF personnel speak to us and be interested in our future prospects.” said Cdt Cpl Broadbent.

Carol Haynes said “I am exceedingly proud of the team and their achievements and indebted to Mr King who has assisted them through this. Some of the schools that entered had access to a much wider range of resources and even did this as a full time project within school. When you think what these cadets have achieved working on the project and presentation just once a week on a cadet night it is absolutely fantastic. They have all done remarkably well and are a credit to the Squadron and the Air Cadet Organisation.”

Submitted by CI.D.Upton
Adjutant 5F (Northampton) Squadron