On the 12th of February, two cadets from 1936 (Newton) Squadron attended the Blue Peter Red Nose Day at RAF College Cranwell.
Cadets from the ATC and CCF within a 50 mile radius of Station were invited to attend this highly televised event. In total there were 400 cadets from South and East Midlands Wing, local CCF units and Trent Wing. The Air Commandant: Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty was also in attendance along with Blue Peter’s very own Helen Skelton.
The day’s activities started at 9:00am, in the Station’s sports hall. A whole range of cadets were present: 2 CCF units and many ATC Squadrons. As time went on, more and more cadets arrived and took their seats. Once all the seats were filled with very ‘energetic’ cadets, all excited yet clueless about the day’s planned activities. The Air Commodore addressed everyone telling us to put our biggest smiles on if we got the honour of being on TV.
Once the initial briefing was over, all of the supervising staff picked out tickets for their respective Squadrons. Very fortunately for me, CI Turner picked out 1 of 12 ‘Y’ ticket so I was given the great honour of forming a guard of honour for Helen as she climbs into the BAE Hawk (commonly used by the Red Arrows Aerobatic Team).
The other 388 cadets were briefed by the BBC about forming the letters: ‘RND’ (Red Nose Day) on the ground outside the College Building. The catch was that these letters were to be made completely of cadets holding black and red umbrellas. Once the 3 letters were formed, the Red Arrows would do a flyby over with Helen.
The time then finally arrived for the ‘chosen few’ to meet with Flt Lt Munns to be escorted to the Hawks. I stood up in front of all 400 cadets, got the attention of the ‘chosen few’ and got them to form up around me for an initial brief. There was a whole range of experienced cadets in front of me. These ranged from a newly passed out cadet to a CCF Cadet Warrant Officer.
Once Flt Lt Munns has arrived, we all jumped into a minibus and were driven to the aircraft hangers. There was a mix of anxiety and excitement in the air as we got closer to the run way.
After a tense 5 minute drive, we were finally at the hangers. As we walked into the hangers we saw a whole range of different aircraft: Hawks, Tucanos and Hawker Hunters.
We were then escorted into the briefing room, as we all walked into the room we realised that there were multiple officers in there wearing flight suits… these were the Red Arrows Pilots!
After a quick chat with the pilots, they had to go get kitted up for their flight over the college hall.
After a few pictures with Helen, all 12 of us were escorted onto the runway by the ground crew. Luckily I was closest to the jets, but kind of unlucky as you’ll find out in a moment.
The BBC director got us to split into 2 groups of 6; we then lined the path leading to the runway. Suddenly the cameras started recording and the pilots with Helen then walked down the middle of us. I have to say it was rather impressive.
After a couple minutes waiting, we were then instructed to wave off the pilots as they taxied down the runway. This was also rather fun as the jet blast from these powerful machines were literally blowing us nearly off our feet. I was closest to the runway so experienced the full force.
Once the pilots had taken off, we jumped back into the minibus and headed to the College Hall to see the flyby. As we were on the final road to the Hall, the ‘Reds’ flew over, spurting out their signature: blue, red and white smoke. See it at an air show is one but at this setting, it was amazing.
Once the flyby was over, the cadets and staff headed to the Junior Ranks Mess for some well-deserved dinner.
I would like to thank: Fg Off Helen Day and CI Mike Phillipson for organising and making this event possible. It was definitely an experience which will not be forgotten any-time soon. I would also like to thank CI Ken Turner for providing transport to and from RAF Cranwell on this mid-week day. I greatly appreciate it.
By Cpl Connor Levers
Media Team Leader
1936 (Newton) Squadron