Destination Canada: International Air Cadet Exchange

Cadet Flight Sergeant Oliver Omar took part in the International Air Cadet Exchange to Canada in July/August 2011. Representing the Squadron, Thames Valley Wing, and the Air Training Corps, he joined cadets from across the world to take part in the exchange. Here he describes some of the activities he took part in.

“In 1947 the first ever Air Cadet Exchange was between British and Canadian Air Cadets. Today the IACE family has grown to become twenty nations strong and still growing. I was delighted when I was selected to represent my Squadron 211 (Newbury) and Thames Valley Wing to join a group of nine cadets from all across Britain to represent the country in the 2011 IACE event in Canada. Joining us in Ottawa would be young people representing various countries from around the globe all with a common interest in aviation I was also really grateful to have received financial support from both the 211 Squadron and the Thames Valley Wing civilian committees, which helped me participate in the exchange. ”

“Over the next fortnight our exchange programme would show us the history, culture, lifestyle, military, food, identity and weather of the country. Over the exchange we visited and stayed at four of Canada’s biggest cities; Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. The first city we ventured was the Capital, Ottawa. After a tour of the parliament and group picture we toured the city, the tour hit a good balance between the history of Ottawa and the modern day. The Ottawa River was fascinating, The tour guide pointed out people swimming; due to the hot weather, only then to then pass around a photo of the river frozen in the winter packed with ice skaters which showed the contrasting extreme climates. Before departing Ottawa we spent an evening at an Aboriginal experience, which is when I first tried eating Buffalo meat!

“Before spending a weekend with our first host family we spent a day white water rafting on the Ottawa River. The immense thrill and enjoyment made it one of the best days of the exchange, despite the scorching heat. My first weekend with my host family was in Hamilton near Toronto. I stayed with two US cadets and a French cadet for three nights. I enjoyed visiting Canada’s biggest city, Toronto; the CN tower gave a good view of the city. In the evenings we met up with other cadets staying with different host families, for barbeques.

“The exchange gave us the opportunity to enjoy Canada as normal tourists. The visit to Niagara Falls was one of the main highlights of the trip. ‘The maid of the mist’ boat experience brought us face to face with the waterfall, which was a breathtaking experience. We also experienced a day of thrills at Canada’s biggest theme park, Wonderland. Later on in the trip we were scheduled to fly glider planes, unfortunately they were cancelled. However we were fortunate enough to fly in a Griffin helicopter. The pilot had all the doors and windows open for the flight, it was fantastic and gave us a great view of the area.

“I have no doubt that the 2011 International Air Cadet Exchange to Canada was my best experience in the ATC, so far. I would urge others to apply for a place on future IACE programmes and gain the great experience of meeting people like yourself from countries all around the world. The programme put together by the Air Cadet League of Canada was amazing with a wide variety of places to see and activities to take part in. I have much appreciation for my host families in Toronto and Quebec; I was warmed by their hospitality and enjoyed the places they took me to. The trip also demonstrated the strength of the friendships created between everyone through the shared experience of visiting one of the best countries in the world.

Oliver Omar
Cadet Flight Sergeant
211 (Newbury) Squadron ATC