St Albans air cadets enjoy trip to RAF base

AIR Cadets from St Albans have been given the chance to fly in a Search and Rescue helicopter and see how all of the UK’s aircraft movements are monitored to protect the country from terrorism.

The youngsters – all cadets at the city’s 220 (St Albans) Squadron Air Training Corps – spent seven days at RAF Boulmer in Northumberland along with dozens of other cadets, aged 13-19, from across Herts.

RAF Boulmer is home to the NATO Control and Reporting Centre, which monitors and defends the UK’s airspace and can include scrambling Typhoon fast jets to respond to suspicious aircraft movements that might represent a threat.

The centre’s work has had a particularly high profile role during the recent London Olympics which saw additional airspace restrictions introduced.

As well as getting to see the centre’s work and talk to its staff, the cadets had many other activities to busy themselves with throughout the week, including target shooting on Boulmer’s rifle range and a military exercise which saw the cadets seek to camouflage themselves and remain invisible to “enemy” patrols, while progressing through checkpoints and ultimately securing a final location.

The cadets visited various other units based at RAF Boulmer, including the Search and Rescue unit which operates Sea King helicopters – the aircraft type famously flown by Prince William in his role as an RAF pilot. Some of them had the chance to go for a flight over the Northumberland countryside and North Sea.

There were also various activities off-base, including a walk along Hadrian’s Wall, a trip into Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a visit to Alnwick Castle and a night out tenpin bowling.

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Sergeant Alexandra Healy,16, said: “Camps on RAF stations are the best thing about being an Air Cadet because there are always so many activities and opportunities that you wouldn’t get anywhere else and it’s a great chance to speak to people who are in the Royal Air Force about their lives and careers.”

St Albans Air Training Corps is recruiting new cadets, aged 13-17, now and anyone interested in joining should call 01727 812101 or email