17(Coningsby) Squadron, Air Training Corps, which was formed on 17th January 2010 is a very unique Air Training Corps (ATC) Squadron as it is based at and hosted by RAF Coningsby. They Parade (meet) twice a week from the Training and Development Flight between 1900 and 2130 hours on a Tuesday and Thursday.
The Air Officer Commanding (AOC) No 1 Group, Air Vice-Marshal Gary Waterfall visited the Squadron on Thursday 18 June at 1900 hrs as part of his Annual Formal Inspection of RAF Coningsby. He was met by the Station Commander, Flight Lieutenant Eyre, Flight Sergeant (FS) (ATC) Fido and Cadet Sergeant Jessica Sherwood – who is this year’s Station Commanders Cadet.
Following introductions, Cadet Sergeant Sherwood escorted the AOC to classroom 3 where he spoke to the Senior and Leading cadets who were undertaking instruction in one of the core subjects that cadets study; Principles of Flight. The lesson was being taken by Corporal O’Sullivan, one of the volunteer instructors based at RAF Coningsby. From there he was taken to classroom 2 where Mrs Jarratt was working with some of the Leading and First Class cadets on the planning of their Duke of Edinburgh Bronze expedition later in the year.
In Classroom 4 he spoke with the most junior of the cadets, referred to as CTF (Cadet Training Flight) who were learning from a PowerPoint presentation about correct wearing of uniform and the RAF Badges of rank. This lesson was taken by uniformed instructor Civilian Instructor Keith Clark. The AOC was shown the display in the foyer which the cadets had put together showing all of the activities undertaken this year including shooting, field craft, camping, flying, drill and leadership challenges.
From there he went into the resources room where he spoke with three of the senior cadets who are studying for their BTEC in Teamwork and Personal Development and were working through the questions in their own workbooks. They have been studying this through sponsorship from the ATC organisation since August 2014. FS Fido, another volunteer from RAF Coningsby is the BTEC co-ordinator.
Following his chat with the senior cadets the AOC met the remaining staff members in the crew room and members of the Civilian Committee who support the Squadron with finance and fundraising and ensure that the training syllabus is challenging and in line with ATC directives. Members of the Committee present were: Mrs Jane Fido (Treasurer) Mrs Annika Earl (Secretary) and committee member Mrs Amanda Sherwood.
The AOC was a former cadet himself having been a member of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and compared some of his own experiences with the cadets of today. As he left the Squadron he said “I was extremely impressed with how RAF Coningsby personnel are working hard to keep this ATC Squadron active and vibrant, and with the level of dedication shown by all volunteers. I was also equally impressed by the knowledge and skills shown by the cadets; they are clearly keen to make the most of the fantastic opportunities afforded to them.”