CCF students soar to new heights
16th May 2023
On Thursday 11th May Westonbirt School was honoured to host the world’s second-largest helicopter in the world, a Chinook, on its front fields. The Chinook was flown in by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Odiham division who stopped by to educate and turn a fascination with flying into a personal experience and connection for our Combined Cadet Force (CCF) students.
Westonbirt CCF School Staff Instructor, Major Paton helped to organise the Chinook’s arrival. He said,
“I think we all have a general awe of flying machines and appreciation of them; be it through media or perhaps while flying to travel on holiday. So, there’s a fascination that draws people to flying and the aircraft themselves.”
After preparation of the landing site and a safe landing of the Chinook, cadets were put through a capabilities briefing on Military Helicopters, including types of aircraft, what roles they perform, and how they operate. This was followed by a safety briefing on the dangers of working in and around helicopters, including specific instructions on boarding and disembarking the Chinook.
Major Paton said,
“I think the RAF visit to Westonbirt helped to show the scale of opportunities available to students here and highlights the CCF as a club that’s really unique to other school experiences. I am sure the visit will increase recruitment for the CCF next year, as we grow and further develop as a team.”
Freddie in Year 9 stated,
“It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I learnt all about what the Chinook is used for and how they can save lives. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.”
Our cadets were also treated to a ten-minute flight in the Chinook and everyone on the ground was in awe of its unmistakable thundering as it took off and flew over the School.
“Flying in the Chinook was an experience I will never forget. From the moment I put the helmet on to the time we landed, my adrenaline was rushing and I loved it,” stated Toby in Year 11.
Flying a helicopter is very different from the more common types of flying, such as passenger jets on holiday. Flying lower and slower gives a greater appreciation of the experience that seems more real when you have a more detailed and familiar perspective of the ground.
Mary in Year 9 stated, “The Chinook experience was amazing, I was very surprised at how fast it flew and seeing places from a different perspective was really cool!”
“The Chinook is an amazing machine,” said Major Paton “It’s so large that it feels like it should be slow and heavy, but the power of its two iconic rotors make it amazingly nimble and you can really feel the power of the engines as it manoeuvres around the sky. I suspect it’s a feeling that never gets boring, even for those amazing crews who fly it every day.”
Imogen in Year 11 stated, “It was a once in a lifetime experience which I am going to remember forever. I got to see an incredible view of the School from the air. Thank you to Major Paton and Mr Monteith for organising it!”
Major Paton said with great gratitude,
“Thank you to the Gloucestershire Constabulary Royalty Household Protection Group for their help in managing the restricted airspace for this to happen as well as the A flight, 27 Sqn, Royal Air Force flown by Squadron Leader Sam Bennet and his crew, including co-pilot, an exchange officer from the Royal Canadian Air Force. They are stationed at RAF Odiham, Hampshire, which is the home of the RAF Chinook force.”