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Air Cadets go behind the scenes at the Royal International Air Tattoo

Air Cadets from across the country experienced the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) up close and personal this year as part of their summer super camp, supporting the show from the start. Despite the infamous downpour – which only ever seems to occur on the one specific weekend of RIAT – over 900 Air Cadets and adult volunteers spent the long weekend marshalling crowds, building infrastructure, greeting VIPs, and getting backstage access to Europe’s biggest air show.

RAF Air Cadets Adult Volunteer demonstrates the PC flight sim
An RAF Air Cadets adult volunteer demonstrates the controls on the PC flight simulator

For some of the Air Cadet contingent, they had been there for two weeks prior to the air show’s kick off, turning an empty field into what can only be described as ‘tent city’. This ‘extended camp’ group of volunteers worked tirelessly through every type of weather thrown at them to bring the base and air show to life, constructing all of the tents and facilities needed to then host the rest of their colleagues.

Air Cadets building tent city
Air Cadets pause during the building of the "tent city" accommodation

But it’s not all hard work and no play, as everyone works in shifts and are given plenty of opportunity on their time off to explore RIAT as a spectator and there inevitably is a competition to who can find the coolest or most unique merch from the stalls (extra points if a person has haggled it for free). At the end of the show, on the Monday, once all of the general public has gone home and the cadets have completed their FOD-plod (walking the length and width of the runway to pick up loose material, foreign object debris, before it gets stuck within the engines of the aircraft), they are all gather on the grandstand to watch each aircraft from around the world complete its final departure from RAF Fairford. Hours of watching fast jets swoop away into the sky, or multi-jet engines wave their wings in farewell.

Air Cadets group in front of a Danish F16 Jet
Air Cadets with Commandant RAFAC at the static aircraft display

This year, a small group of cadets got the chance walk out onto the taxi-run way to get up close and personal with the Typhoon Display team, as they had a personal tour of the display aircraft from a Typhoon engineer. They learned all about the ins and outs of the aircraft from its tip to its tail, and then as icing on the cake, stood onside as the Red Arrows came into land and taxied right alongside the cadets. The cadets were in awe – as were the adult volunteers – and it is just one example of the unique experiences that happen within the Royal Air Force Air Cadets.

For more information on getting involved with the RAFAC, as either an air cadet or adult volunteer, then visit raf.mod.uk/aircadets/ .