On Thursday 28th May thirteen cadets and two staff from 1359 (Beeston) Squadron visited RAF Shawbury in Shropshire, home to the Defence Helicopter Flying School. The visit had been arranged through WO Colin Foot, the stations Air Cadet Liaison Officer, who also acted as the guide for the day.
The day started with a visit to two of the storage hangars located on the airfield. A number of front-line and training aircraft, from all three services, are held in reserve at RAF Shawbury. These spares are stored in de-humidified hangars at varying states of readiness and can be brought back into active service as required. The first hangar held ex-Royal Navy Sea Harriers and Army Air Corps Gazelle helicopters as well as RAF Tucanos.
The cadets were given the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a Sea Harrier as well as climb inside one of the Gazelles. The cadets were also given a demonstration of the workings of an ejection seat by one of the FB Heliservices maintenance team. The second hangar contained stored RAF Hawks and Tornado F.3’s and in here a detailed look at the operation of the Tornado’s swing-wing mechanism was possible.
The next stop was the airfield’s Fire Section where a very warm welcome from the fire crews greeted the cadets. A look around two of the section’s vehicles followed along with demonstrations of the various equipment used when fire fighting and extracting aircrew from aircraft.
Lunch in the Junior Ranks Mess followed and then the cadets were taken to the Assault Glider Project. This is currently housed in one of Shawbury’s hangars but is a charitable venture and will eventually move to a more public location. The projects aim is create a memorial to airborne forces in the Midlands and therefore a complete Airspeed Horsa assault glider is being built along with a US built Waco CG-4A. Many Horsa’s were built in Birmingham and were assembled and tested at RAF Cosford, Shawbury and Sleap before being flown out to squadrons of the Glider Pilot Regiment. The cadets had a tour of the partially complete Horsa as well as a look at the CG-4A along with a Tiger Moth and C-47 Dakota owned by the trust. These respectively represent the aircraft used to train the pilots of the Glider Pilot Regiment and those used to tow the gliders into battle during WWII.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to 60® Squadron who operate the Griffin HT.1 helicopter in the advanced flying-training role as well as for crewman training, an important and integral part of multi-crew operations. The cadets were given a full tour of a Griffin by crews of 60® who described its role and how it is operated by the squadron. Some of the cadets were lucky enough to have a go on the Griffin simulator whilst others tried their hand on the virtual reality crewman training aid.
Whilst the cadets were with 60® Sqn a Merlin HC.3A from RAF Benson arrived to give an opportunity to the trainee aircrew and loadmasters to have a look around one of the RAF’s latest front line helicopters. The cadets were given permission to go out onto the active ramp to have a close up look at the inside and outside of this impressive machine, a great end to what had been a very enjoyable day.
The staff and cadets of 1359 (Beeston) Sqn would like to thank WO Colin Foot for arranging the visit and guiding us around on the day as well as all the other guides who gave up their time to speak to the cadets and answer the numerous questions they asked.
CI Mike Hill
Media and Communications Officer
1359 (Beeston) Sqn