From the 28th to the 30th of September, Sergeant James McHarg and Corporal Connor Levers spent the weekend at RAF Wittering completing their initial NCO Course.
The weekend consisted of the Drill Assessments: commanding and performing, Uniform Inspections: Workings Blues and Wedgewoods, Discipline within the ATC and Leadership lectures.
Once Sgt McHarg and I arrived at the meeting point, we noticed a whole range of ranks in attendance. There was a mix of Cadets, Corporals and Sergeants. As we would find out later, ranks don’t matter on this course.
After getting out the car we realised that it was RAF Wittering’s Battle of Britain Dining in Night so we able to see the flyby of a couple Super Marine Spitfires while waiting for the staff.
The staff arrived and registered all of the cadets in attendance. We were then lead into a building near the SPAR shop to collect our numbers for the weekend. These numbers would make it easier for the directing staff to assess us throughout the weekend.
Once we collected our numbers, we were lead to the recently created Cadet Accommodation Block. This gave us time to drop off all our uniform and personal items. Everyone was to share a bedroom holding between 2 and 3 cadets. This gave everyone the perfect opportunity to get to meet the Cadets.
We were required to be at the Force Development Squadron after settling in for ¾ of an hour. Once all of the cadets had found a place to sit we were introduced to the directing staff. Flt Lt Hudson was the course director; this meant that he would be the one to write up every cadet’s individual report at the end of the course.
After the staff did their introductions, basically talking about where they are from, their role on the course and just general facts about themselves. Everyone cadet in attendance was required to stand up in front of the rest of the course and speak about themselves. Luckily we had some bullet points to base our talk on. We had to talk about things such as: where we are from, what school we go to, our family life and our most memorable moment in the ATC.
Once everyone had completed their speech about themselves we were told that there would be no ranks on this course so all current NCOs were required to remove their rank slides for the remainder of the course. We were all to Candidates till Sunday. This was also the point when 2 of the cadets were selected to make sure everyone woke up in time for breakfast and arrived at the stated places on time. The course was jam packed so there wasn’t time for tardiness.
Saturday involved a uniform inspection of our working blues. This point of this was to highlight areas of our uniform which could be improved upon for the final Wedgewoods inspection on Sunday morning. The day also included many lectures on dress regulations, leadership, presentational techniques and how to deal with difficult situations which we might face in the future. Between lectures we did multiple sessions of drill with in hangers. We were assessed on our own personal standard of drill and standard of commanding a flight.
After a very long 14 hour day we were split up into different groups and presented with a possible situation which we might be faced with. The point of having this exercise so late in the day was to see how we handle pressure under fatigue. Each group then presented their solutions to the situations and then took questions from the directing staff and fellow Candidates. We were then told by the directing staff that in the morning we would be required to plan and present a 5 minute presentation on a topic of our choice.
Once arriving back at the Accommodation Block there was a big rush to iron uniform, bull shoes and plan our presentations all for the following morning. Luckily for me I had brought my own personal iron so there wasn’t as much time wasted.
Sunday had finally come; this was our final day, our final chance to impress the staff. We were lead of to the hanger we did drill in the previous day. Here we were formed up and waited nervously for the inspection. The uniform inspection was finally over after 15 minutes, we were then lead back to the Accommodation block to change into working blues for the remainder of the day.
Once arriving back at the Force Development Squadron, we were given an hour to make some visual aids to our presentations and do some final adjustments. There was a large variety of subjects presented. These ranged from how to dance to speaking German. I did my presentation on Satellite Communications and Sgt McHarg did his on Warhammer 40k. We were then given feedback on areas to improve on, mainly time keeping since we both went over the 5 minute limit.
Cpl Levers: “Although the course was tough and tiring, I still very much enjoyed every moment of it. Everything I have learnt will definitely come in handy in the near future.”
Sgt McHarg: “I thought the course was an amazing experience as it allowed everyone there too be on level terms also I feel that everything that was covered is relevant to and I learnt a lot.”
By Cpl Connor Levers
Media Team Leader
1936 (Newton) Squadron