As the 2018 National Aerospace Camp draws to a close, Wg Cdr Mark Brayford, Camp Commandant, has written the following message to all cadets, staff and supporters of the camp:
In every year we’ve run this camp, the staff always arrive early, nervous for what the week will bring.
Will we surpass expectations? Will we match the excellence of the previous year?
Those feelings were made more apparent this year by our ambitious approach; in running the camp as an RAF100 Inspire event, with the aim of giving an unmatched aerospace experience to 500 cadets, this camp was like nothing we’d ever done before.
I can, however, say without doubt that those feelings of worry were unfounded.
Between the hard work and dedication of my team of staff, the support of our many and varied industry partners and above all the enthusiasm and drive of the cadets, this has been an excellent week.
Our VIP day was also a major success.
The day is always a disruption to our camp training programme, but this year’s VIP day was a wonderful day for our young people, offering them a private technology park and the chance to talk with careers advisors and industry experts from across STEM and aerospace.
We were delighted to welcome the Assistant Chief of the Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Gerry Mayhew, and Air Officer Commanding 22 (Training) Group, Air Vice Marshal Warren ‘Bunny’ James, to the camp for the day.
The unveiling of our new robotics and artificial intelligence training platform, funded by BAE Systems, along with the launch of a new Open University space syllabus and an update on the Aaron Academy project were all important milestones for 2FTS and the Aerospace Camp.
The finale of the day, a display by the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, was a welcome addition and a fitting tribute to our RAF100 Inspire goal.
Our supporters have been wide and varied, and I am extremely grateful for their help in the planning and delivery of the week’s training.
The permanent staff at 2FTS, under the direction of Group Captain John Middleton, have been excellent throughout the long process of organising and developing the camp.
Gp Capt Middleton was a key player in the initial foundation of the Aerospace Camp and has backed us from day one.
As he approaches his retirement at the end of the year, I would like to pay a particular tribute to his dedication and the support he has the offered the National Aerospace Camp through the years.
Alongside him, the staff at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks, who’ve provided cadet and staff accommodation as well as feeding our cadets twice a day, have been incredibly patient, dealing with our large numbers and providing everything we've needed to look after our young people.
Catering has always been a challenge for the National Aerospace Camp, but a special thanks must go to the team at 3 Mobile Catering Squadron for their support through the week.
Their field kitchen has been first class and we hope to continue working with them in the future.
We have also had wide ranging support from Central Gliding School getting our cadets in the air, alongside VGS staff from up and down the country, dealing with the training, preparation and administration of the hundreds of cadets hoping to gain their gliding wings.
It is a mammoth operation but as always they pull out all the stops and help us to achieve something very, very special.
We were also very lucky to be joined by aircraft and pilots from the RAF Microlight Flying Association.
They’ve flown a number of sorties to maximise the number of cadets we can get airborne throughout the week.
There have been numerous contractors and external providers on site, providing a first class experience for our cadets and offering them something a little bit different.
The same could be said for the 20 or so different organisations hosting visits. Every single RAF station or industry host we have visited has pulled out all the stops and given the cadets time an awesome experience.
Finally, I would like to thank every single one of the staff members who have travelled from up and down the country to make this week happen.
Without your continued support and dedication to our mission, none of this could have gone ahead.
The premise of the camp this year, as an RAF100 event, was to inspire.
I am confident in saying that we have done exactly that, with the 500 young people we’ve looked after having had a week of enthusing, engaging, air minded activity.
As a staff team, I know we won’t rest on our laurels, with initial discussions already happening for next year’s camp.
But for now we can sit back for a well deserved rest, knowing that we have achieved something truly remarkable for the cadets this week.
I am incredibly proud of all that we have achieved, and I hope all the cadets and staff are too.
Wg Cdr RAFAC
National Aerospace Camp