The Hercules is the RAF’s backbone for transporting troops and other logistics. Although its time in service is coming to an end, cadets are able to fly in large numbers from bases such as RAF Brize Norton and experience the noise and vibrations felt when in such a large aircraft. Often cadets are invited to the flight deck to see first hand what it’s like to pilot this monster.
Merlin & Puma
The Merlin fleet is soon to be moved to the RNAS and the Puma will absorb the entire light to medium helicopter transport role. Flying from bases such as RAF Benson and RAF Odiham cadets have sat in the left hand pilot seat in years gone by or strapped themselves in for emergency engine fail drills, plummeting a few hundred feet in seconds to simulate the real thing. Although slower than fixed wing aircraft the thrill of flight in these types of aircraft is endless.
The Chinook is the helicopter transport version of the Hercules. Its ability to lift the largest of vehicles, logistics and not forgetting the versatile ability to deposit troops in areas not suitable for fixed wing landings is second to none.
Our cadets have flown on numerous occasions in these aircraft, often watching the world pass by with the tailgate open and as you make another stomach churning turn or descending towards Earth.
The Hawk is the Red Arrows’ choice of aircraft and the red single seat version can be seen at most Airshows throughout the year. On very rare occasions a cadet who excelled on camp or was recognised for outstanding work has been awarded the honour of flying in one of their trainers. As you slip effortlessly from the runway at RAF Valley and you begin to pick up speed, watching the Mach meter climb as you skim through the Welsh valleys, with the notion of following a dream to be a fast jet pilot. Priceless!
The Globemaster is the up and coming transport aircraft for the RAF, replacing the ageing Hercules fleet. Its colossal size and capacity can only be described as daunting as cadets strap into this giant of an aircraft. Capable of lifting vehicles as large as tanks and helicopters inside its vast holds, an entire camp’s worth of cadets would barely fill the first few rows of seating. As more of these aircraft take to the skies the opportunities to fly in them will increase.