Thurston Air Cadets virtual Typhoon flight at RAF Coningsby

18 lucky air cadets of 863 (Thurston) Squadron Air Training Corps visited RAF Coningsby, the East Anglian home of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), to get up close to their unique collection of heritage aircraft as well as get an insight into a front-line fast jet Typhoon Squadron.

The Station Commander, Group Captain Attridge OBE MSc, welcomed the air cadets to the BBMF, where they were hosted by enthusiastic guides to get a closer look at Avro Lancaster, various marks of Spitfires and the resident Hurricanes. Corporal Bronwyn Jacobs (17) was impressed ‘that they had a spitfire which had originally flown in the Battle of Britain!’ and Cadet Louise Harcombe (18) later recounted ‘an uncle had actually flown that spitfire’

The highlight of the day was that every cadet got hands-on flying in two Typhoon cockpit trainers which had an impressive surround terrain display.  The 2 trainers were linked so that cadets could ‘fly’ together in the same piece of sky over Lincolnshire. Wing Commander Andy Tucker, a Civilian Instructor with 863 Squadron who organised the visit commented ‘The cockpit trainers were very impressive indeed and for our air cadets to get the opportunity to experience such very modern state of the art technology is exceptional’
Sqn visit to Conningsby (2)
The exciting day was completed with a visit to No. 29(R) Squadron responsible for the training and conversion of new Typhoon pilots.  Following a presentation on the capabilities of the aircraft, Squadron engineers then escorted air cadets around a Typhoon aircraft briefing on the fast jet’s design and cockpit layout; the tour of the Squadron attracted many questions from very inquisitive cadets.  Before departing 29(R) Sqn an engraved pewter tankard was presented to Sergeant Gavin Hutchinson, an avionics instructor at RAF Coningsby, who organised the visit programme and escorted the Thurston air cadets throughout the day.

Sergeant Hugh Williams (19) added ‘the day was fantastic especially as the sunny blue skies over the airfield were continuously buzzing with Typhoons, Spitfires, Hurricanes and the BBMF DC-3 Dakota’

The visit comes in the year that will witness the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain and in recognition of the WW2 three month air superiority battle. Also on display in the BBMF were a 22,000lb Grand Slam ‘earthquake’ bomb and a  12, 0001b Tallboy bomb, both developed by aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis and best known for his invention of the famous Dambusters’ bouncing bomb.

The visit proved highly successful and inspirational, with Thurston air cadets’ experiences ranging from getting close to the Nation’s precious Battle of Britain heritage aircraft collection to getting hands on with modern state of the art aviation technology.