RAF Air Cadets News

Skip to content

Air Cadets tour future uncrewed aircraft at Llanbedr Airfield

On Monday 26 February 2024, RAF Air Cadets of 2445 (Ardudwy) Squadron, visited Llanbedr Airfield for a tour of the Windracers drones undergoing flight testing.

Windracers is a leading global developer of Uncrewed Air Vehicles (UAV) and currently supporting the British Antarctic Survey team who were trained at Snowdonia Aerospace’s site.

The cadets had a detailed tour of three Windracer Uncrewed Low-cost Transport (ULTRA) long-range logistic drones assembled in the UK. Their proposed use includes mail and parcel delivery and medical and humanitarian supplies to remote or isolated communities and offshore crews.

The UAVs boast an impressive range of 1000km and a 100kg payload. Windracers ULTRA developments include trials with the Royal Mail in the Scottish islands, landing on the aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales and winning the 2023 Financial Times Tech Champions in the logistic category.

A group of Air Cadets and Volunteers stood around a UAV

The hour-long tour allowed the cadets to speak with Windracers Chief Pilot and also their Test Pilot, a former Air Cadet of 238 Squadron. Both former fast jet pilots have a wealth of flying experience, and one shared his experience of ejecting from a Harrier with engine trouble.

Cadet Dion Dobson said:

It was amazing to see the "Ultra" drones tonight by Windracers. We learnt a lot from them about all the different things they can do with drones over the world, greener and faster at a reduced cost than other transport models.

Windracers showed how UAVs are operated and safely controlled with state-of-the-art technology and patented flight control systems. The insight into the avionics, communications and ground control systems raised awareness of the complications of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS). Each UAV has an incredible 24 flight control surfaces to aid flight confidence in the event of any failure so the aircraft can continue to fly and return home.

It was a great time for the cadets to tour the latest developments because RAF Air Cadets are expanding the RPAS opportunities for them.

Civilian Instructor Owen Duncan who organised the visit said:

The engineering on the Windracers ULTRA is top-class. I’ve never seen so many interchangeable airframe components on an aircraft and having worked on several aircraft, I was really impressed. It just looks right, robust and perfect for its role. That they are flying an aircraft in Antarctica from Britain is awesome.

Llanbedr Airfield is historically famous for drone developments with the Fairy Firefly, Gloster Meteor and Jindivik target-towing uncrewed air vehicles (UAV) active from the 50s to the 00s.