The Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton went back to his roots recently, to visit the Reading Air Cadet Squadron he was a member of in the 1960s. He toured the Squadron seeing projects the cadets were undertaking, before briefing the cadets on his journey from cadet to RAF Chief and answering questions from the cadets and staff.
Squadron Commander, Flight Lieutenant Gail Andrews takes up the story “We were quite surprised when we had a call from Whitehall accepting the invitation to visit us. At first we couldn’t quite believe what we were hearing, but we soon realised how amazing it would be – especially seeing he is an ex-Reading cadet”.
On his tour of the Squadron, Sir Stephen took the time to speak to every cadet and member of staff, visiting each of the projects on offer, including: a state of the art flight simulator, a computer programming project, radio communications and a practical project to make camouflaged “Gillie” suits. Then he went on to visit the new recruits who were being briefed on how to prepare and wear their uniform.
Following a break which saw the most senior serving RAF officer chatting with 13 year old cadets in their first few months with the Air Cadets, the Chief of the Air Staff sat amongst the cadets and briefed them on the RAF today and his journey from air cadet to RAF Chief, before answering questions from the cadets.
He briefed the cadets on how he joined the Air Cadets “My father worked in the centre of Reading where he met one of the Squadron uniformed instructors, who had been in the Second World War as an engineer and he said I know just the activity for you, so he brought me down here and that was it!” He continued to tell the cadets why joining changed his life “Before I joined I had no idea what the Royal Air Force was all about. It all started here, it all started from looking at the Squadron here and deciding that flying was something I wanted to do. It may not be where you end up, but that’s not important – the important thing is that you enjoy the experience of being part of the Squadron and you get out of it as much as you put into it. It’s more than just being a cadet – it’s about trying new things and I believe the organisation is worth its weight in gold!”
Squadron Boss, Flt Lt Andrews, summed up the evening “Tonight seemed to go as quick as a flash; we will treasure our memories for years to come”.