When Thames Valley Veteran, Flight Lieutenant Mike Kidley returned from a Hong Kong based International Air Cadet Exchange back in 2009 he never thought he would be able to return to meet Far East colleagues again. Well, this all changed when he received an invite from one of these friends to return to see a Summer Camp – Hong Kong Style!
Mike takes up the story ” It all started in 2009 when I was selected to go to Hong Kong as an Escort Officer with three cadets on an IACE visit. When the visit was over, I returned to UK not knowing when or if I would ever go back and visit the many friends I made during the camp. Well, 3 years later, I had an email from one of my IACE friends in Hong Kong who was about to organise a Summer Camp to take place in August. He had asked his committee if I could go to Hong Kong – and before long I was at Heathrow checking in on Virgin Atlantic for the long haul flight out to Hong Kong”.
After his 12 Hour Flight, Mike was relieved to be met at the airport by some friendly faces “I was met at the airport by Flt Lt Victor Lai and Sqn Ldr Peter Ng and whisked off to Campsite at the Chinese YMCA, which can also be booked by Uniformed Groups, and started unpacking. As I had purposefully arrived 2 days early to acclimatise the camp was being used by Sea Cadets . The next day I went over taken to the Hong Kong Air Cadet HQ in Kowloon to listen to the presentations of the Candidates who were on IACE in different countries. After a long day I headed back to camp to try and sleep to get over the jet lag”.
On the next day the Air Cadets and their staff arrived on camp “On the Monday we spent the day briefing 180 Cadets and 30 Staff as to what to expect during their camp. The Cadets were split up into four groups to do different tasks which were to be presented to the Commanding Officer of the HKACC at a local sports complex. These activities were Continuity Drill, A Dragon Dance, Playing the Tom Toms and finally a Pioneering exercise where the cadets made a large platform using bamboo”.
With the first day over, the rest of the camp saw an exciting mix of activities “The following week saw a wide range of activities including orienteering, Military Training Experience and a Water Sports day. With the camp due to end in the next couple of days, we all went by coach to a local reservoir where we all had a Super Puma Helicopter Ride compliments of he Government Flying Service. Saturday all day was rehearsals for final parade and Sunday we got to meet all the Senior officers in the HKACC and at 12 midday the final tasks were performed in front of parents and local dignitaries. Imagine my surprise was when I was presented an “Appreciation Award”, which is now in pride of place ,by the head of the Hong Kong Air Cadets”!
During the week, Mike noticed many differenced to Air Cadets in the UK “Apart from the wide range of activities on offer, one of the other differences with the UK Air Cadets is that they give local business benefactors who subsidise the local Air Cadets an honorary rank of Wing Commander. This funding arrangement helps the Cadets with uniform as everything is paid for by donations. The discipline of the cadets was exemplary and one thing sticks to mind ,the cadets wanting to leave the room would knock on the inside of the door and ask permission to leave and when they left for activities each day, the cadets would carry all their kit in their backpacks and nothing was ever left in their rooms”.
Overall, Flt Lt Kidley enjoyed the week “I must say that my week in the Far East went too quick and I was soon on aircraft back to UK . It was a really good week I certainly learnt a lot about the Hong Kong Air Cadets and I have already have tried a few of their ideas at my Squadron in Thame.”