For the past two years, Abingdon Squadron has been the winner of Aircraft Recognition at both Wing and Regional Activities Days. However, on both occasions, we have not been successful at Corps level. This year preparation to retain our titles began at the start of summer with three new recruits – Cdt Spratt, Cdt Irwin and Cdt Warrick – adding to the current members being myself (Sgt Flavin), Sgt North and Cpl Plows. At all levels of the competition there are two categories: Under 16 and Open. In the Under 16 category, only cadets who are under the age of 16 can take part, however, in the Open category, any cadet of any age can take part. In each category each Squadron sends a team of three whose individual scores are added together. Every team member also competes for an Individual trophy. For the under 16s any aircraft from a list of 120 could be shown, whereas in the Open category, any aircraft from that list as well as 180 others can be shown.
As mentioned before, we began preparation at the start of the summer led by Civilian Instructor and airplane enthusiast Mr Tilley. He lead us through various lessons in which we focused on a variety of aircraft groups ranging from relatively easy RAF aircraft to the less known array of Cold War Soviet aircraft. These lessons were ever more frequent in the weeks leading up to WAD and we decided on the two teams that would go forward. This being in the Under 16 category: myself, Cdt Spratt and Cdt Irwin, and in the Open category: myself, Sgt North and Cpl Plows. Unfortunately, Sgt North had to drop out so the Open team ended up being myself, Cpl Plows and Cdt Spratt. In the competition, for the third year running, both of our teams were successful in winning and I was the first Individual in both categories too.
A success at WAD meant progressing forward to RAD held at RAF Odiham on the first weekend of October. In this competition we would no longer be competing against the best cadets from different squadrons, but the best cadets from the five other wings in South West Region. Once again, our Open team suffered a last minute drop out from Cpl Plows, making the Open team myself, Sgt North and Cdt Spratt – the Under 16 team the same as at WAD. On that day Cdt Warrick also agreed to give up his day and came as a reserve in case of any more misfortune, even though there was no certainty that he would compete – making his decision even more admirable. To our amazement we repeated the success of WAD with both of our teams coming top, and myself coming first Individual in both categories. As a result of this, all four of us that participated were lucky enough to have our trophies presented by Commandant Air Cadets, Air Commodore Dawn McCafferty, and the Station Commander of RAF Odiham, Group Captain Richard Maddison.
Just like WAD, winning meant progressing further, however, this time ‘further’ was Corps. This was to be held one and a half months after RAD at RAF Cosford, where we would compete against the best cadets at aircraft recognition in the whole UK. The teams were exactly the same as RAD and the gap between it and Nationals meant we had time to practise the areas that needed strengthening. The National competition was much like the previous ones, 30 slides and 3 tie breakers. I don’t think I was the only one on the team who thought that there was a big chance of our winning streak coming to an end at Nationals, however, it turned out that our U16 team had come first in the UK, with me coming first Individual and our Open team coming third in the UK.
All in all, this year’s Aircraft Recognition competitions were a great success for our Squadron, Wing and Region. Congratulations to our new recruits, Cdts Irwin and Spratt achieving so much in their very first year. Finally, I would like to thank CI Tilley on behalf of all of us for all the tuition he gave us before each competition and also our CO Flt Lt Smith for her support throughout.
Sgt Flavin, 2121 (Abingdon) Sqn