More than 1,700 Royal Air Force Air Cadets got a close-up look at the RAF during the Cadet Muster at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire.
The RAF proved excellent hosts, with serving personnel on hand to talk to cadets about career opportunities and give them a chance to see hardware on an active military base. Hundreds of CFAVs also contributed to the event to make sure cadets had the best experience possible.
Almost 1,000 cadets also flew in two Chinook helicopters during the one-day event, and there was a RAFAC Immersive Tech zone showing off digital capabilities through virtual reality and computer simulators.
Cadets were fed through 3MCS’ field kitchen before moving outside after lunchtime to watch a flypast featuring six F35s and a Lancaster Bomber. The Lancaster did three circuits above the airfield to the delight of all watching during what is the 80th Anniversary Year of the Dambusters’ Raid.
That impressive sight came thanks to the RAF who had routed part of the King’s Birthday Flypast overhead RAF Benson for the Muster.
Air Commodore Tony Keeling, Commandant Air Cadets, lauded the event as an opportunity to show the Royal Air Force at home.
“A major part of this was the Air Cadets celebrating its relationship with the Royal Air Force and for us having the opportunity to say thank you for their great support,” said Air Commodore Keeling.
“It was a big team effort to produce this event. I am hugely grateful to the Station Commander and the team at RAF Benson for opening the station gates, making us so welcome and helping us to deliver this scale of event.
“Behind the scenes there has also been a lot of staff in RAFAC HQ and the Central and East Region who have pulled together to get all of the bits moving.
“We also had around 250-300 volunteers at the event supporting the cadets and the delivery of the event and we really couldn’t have done it without the strong support of our volunteers.”
A static display featured a Chinook, Prefect, Juno, Tutor and emergency services helicopters.
There were three interactive zones: Aviation Experience, RAF Experience and RAFAC Experience which gave cadets the chance to interact with numerous displays, stands and staff throughout the day.
Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS), Air Marshal Richard Maddison addressed the cadets at the Sunset Parade at the end of the day, which featured a flypast from a Puma helicopter.
“What a fantastic sight to see so many Air Cadets here,” he told the crowd of cadets, volunteers and staff.
“I’m here because I recognise the importance of the Air Cadets and what it does for you as individuals and what it does for the country. I’m also an ex-Air Cadet and I joined the Royal Air Force straight from school. Air Cadets made a massive difference to me as a person. It’s a fantastic organisation.”
The event was open to cadets living within around two-and-a-half hours of the base and sought to enhance recruitment, selection and retention of cadets and CFAV alike and to showcase both RAF capability and RAFAC activities in the Next Generation context.
Images and video from RAF Benson
RAF Air Cadet Volunteers and Staff: Squadron Leader James Miles, Squadron Leader Daniel Holden, Squadron Leader Philip Jones, Flight Lieutenant Tracey Allan, Flying Officer Mel Evans, Flying Officer Liz Blake, Sergeant Shannon Lock, Mr Ken Pike, Mr Julian Turner
RAF Photographers: AS1 Sam Dale, AS2 Josh Gorman