Midlands Air Cadets beat the Elements and impress the VIPS
Two cadets practice Fieldcraft
Over Two Hundred and Sixty Cadets from South and East Midlands Wing showed their grit and determination in ensuring they got their full value from the Wing’s Spring Camp at Defence Training Estate (DTE) Swynnerton.
Hot sunshine for the first two days of the Spring Bank Holiday was followed by a day of torrential rain then showers and the occasional sunshine gave the cadets an additional challenge. This did not dampen the cadets enthusiasm and drive. Each of the activities on offer was tackled with gusto and the desire to win.
Accompanied by around eighty staff and Instructor Cadets, the cadets from all over the Midlands and spanning the entire cadet age group (13 to 18 years) were split into twelve flights of around twenty cadets each to spend a week competing against each other whilst being trained and exercised in numerous disciplines.
Held at DTE Swynnerton, Staffordshire, a busy programme was formulated by the Camp Training Officer, Flight Lieutenant Jack Stepanian, that included; First Aid (Casevac), Shooting, Drill, Field Craft, “Gun Run”, Mortar, and an Adventure Day that featured mountain biking, archery and a climbing wall amongst others.
An addition to the programme this year proved to be popular with cadets. A Flight school was introduced where cadets learnt to fly and navigate on a computer simulator. The building of Rocket Cars (miniature) was also on the programme and the cars were later tested on the road to see which car went the greatest distance.
Cadets instructed on building a Rocket Car
Leadership and teamwork were tested throughout the week especially during the days of continuous rain when the Flight Commanders (all under eighteen years of age) had to keep up the cadet’s morale under extreme circumstances.
It was also a tough time for those staffing the exercises. All volunteers who had given up their time to ensure that the cadets had the very best of training and entertainment, They too had to endure the appalling conditions.
Through wind, sun and torrential rain, the week of training and activities continued to run to the planned timetable during the day. However, two evening programmes were changed to a “wet weather” programme to allow the cadets to dry their uniforms. It was a tribute to the cadets that they were determined to press on and fight for the title of Best Flight at Swynnerton 2013.
The Regional Cammandant and RAF Wittering’s Commanding Officer tackle the reassembly of the “gun” on the Gun Run
The Wing camp was visited by a very impressed selection of VIPs. The Deputy Chief Executive of East Midlands Reserve Forces and Cadets Association, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Worsley (Rtd), the Station Commander (at the time) of Royal Air Force Wittering, Group Captain Richard Hill who has given the Wing such great support during his tenure, the Regional Commandant of Central and East Region, Group Captain Geoffrey Hewitt RAFVR and five members of the Long Eaton Branch Royal British Legion who are affiliated to local cadet units. They all agreed that the depth and quality of the training being given was superb.
As a “Training” week, tangible awards gained were 13 Squadron Marksmen, 4 Region Marksmen. But it isn’t just about gaining awards and qualifications, it’s about cadets learning about themselves and what they are capable of, it’s about living and working in close proximity to others and as such, the camp was highly successful.
Several cadets also used the week to complete their Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Residential
On the camp’s Final Parade, Wing Commander Nigel Dickinson, Officer Commanding the Wing praised the cadets for their endurance and fortitude during the days of continuous rain. The staff were also recognised by Nigel for putting in the time, not only during the week at Swynnerton, but for all the hours spent planning and setting up the exercises. “Swynnerton doesn’t just happen” Nigel told the cadets “ Planning for next year is already underway and staff will spend many hours during the next twelve months putting together another great Swynnerton” The Wing Commander gave particular mention to Squadron Leader Andy Pass for acting as The Camp Commandant who oversaw the week and the Training Officer, who was responsible for putting the planned training into action.