The Radio Communicators Badge course at RAF Wittering started on a wet, dark Friday night on the 27th of April. I was the first out of the 13 cadets to arrive. Instantly, I was required to make tea and coffee for the members of staff who would be teaching us over the weekend. This was when my practise on my own squadron making tea and coffee would come into use.
As soon as everyone arrived, we were led into the old Airman’s Barracks which we would be sleeping in for the weekend. It was a pleasant surprise to realise that every cadet would get their own room with wardrobe and sink. After dumping all of our clothes and bags in our rooms we were taken back to the force training squadron building: this would be the building which we would be doing all of our learning and assessments in.
After a quick initial briefing, the 13 of us were split into two groups. My group went into classroom two, upstairs, to talk about what we already knew about call signs, prowords and radio checks. After about an hour and a half, we went back downstairs to have the debriefing for the night. We were told that tommorrow night (Saturday night) we would be having 3 exams on: Satellite Communications, Advanced Radio and Radar and our Full VHF/UHF Radio operator’s licence. Silence broke throughout the room as we realised that this wasn’t going to be an easy course.
We all went back to the barracks to get ready for bed. 10:30pm was the time when lights had to be out. We all wanted to stay up longer but this would all change by tomorrow …At 6:30am we were woken up by the screams of the staff. We had to be ready by 7:15am to start the day’s work.
After all cadets got showered and dressed we headed for the Airman’s mess. In my personal opinion, I think that the food was amazing! Nothing can wake you up better than a full English breakfast. After breakfast, we were straight into lessons. We were split into our two groups again; my group had the Advanced Radio and Radar presentation first while the other group had Satellite Communications. After about 4 hours of presentations we had a break for Dinner. The hour Dinner break went by really fast and we were back in lessons again. Personally, I found Satellite Communications easier to understand, probably due to already passing the exam back in November time last year for my Master Air Cadet exam. Never the less, the staff wanted to know that I still had the knowledge. After another 4 hours of presentations we were given another break for Tea. We all knew what was going to happen after Tea… the 3 exams we were told we had the night before.
After Tea, we were given a couple of hours time to go over our notes on the two subjects we had been studying all day. At 7:15pm we were lead into classroom three to start our exams. We were all given an hour and a half to complete all three exams. I was first to finish so was required to make drinks for the staff again.
After everyone had finished we went downstairs back to the main hall. After a tense 10 minutes we were all told that we had passed the exams for the day but the course wasn’t over yet! We still had two more modules to go. Getting back to the barracks at about 9:15pm, we were welcomed by the now open common room. After an hour of socialising, we had to start getting ready for bed. Everyone was happy to get some sleep now after the long day.
We woke up on Sunday morning at 6:30am again; this was our last day of the course before leaving. Two modules were left: Internet where the requirement was to create a web page and a practical module which would require us to: fuse an empty plug; solder the wires and check to see if the plug was safe to be used. I would say that the practical module was the hardest bit of the course for me. Spending 2 hours trying to fix a plug took much of my patients but in the end I produced one to the required standard.
We were finished by 2:00pm; we all sat down for the final briefing of the weekend. I was happy to hear that every cadet on the course passed. We had earned the right to wear the Communicators badge on our brassards.
The course was fun and interesting. My favourite course I have been on so far. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the radio syllabus of the ATC but be warned that this is a very fast paced course and requires high levels concentration throughout the weekend.
By Cdt Connor Levers
1936 Cadet Media Team Leader