Best School Trip Ever

Jane Reilly  |  Published: Oct 20th 2016

A Cool Aeronautics event has been held at RAF Halton’s Trenchard Museum, James McCudden Flight Heritage Centre and the Halton Aero Club. Sixty youngsters arrived on the Station from St Louis RC School Aylesbury and Nashmills C of E Primary School, Hemel Hempstead.

The Trenchard Museum is working with the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAE) and as part of RAF Halton’s commitment to engage with local schools, the Station held the event which is an aviation and aerospace project designed by the RAE to promote Science, Technology, Engineering amd Maths (STEM) to school children between the age of 9 and 11 (Year 5 & 6). Cool Aeronautics events are free to attend and offer a fantastic opportunity for young people – the new generation – to meet inspirational people from across the industry and to engage with aerospace themed activities that are relevant to the current Key Skills 2 National Curriculum.

The children were split into groups of 10 and each group was involved in six different activities during the all-day event. In one activity the children were briefed by pilots of the Halton Aero Club on the principles of flight and given the opportunity to sit in a light aircraft as the pilot.They also experienced a map reading activity using grid references and communicating using hand held radios under the guidance of the London & South East Air Training Corp Communication Officer and his colleagues, including a young Ryanair pilot. The British Model Flying Association (BMFA) lead the aircraft model making activity when the children made Aerojet models and then flew them.

The volunteers of Trenchard Museum, RAF Halton also lead a number of other activities including the children ‘flying’ a Chipmunk aircraft flight simulator, a Link trainer simulator, which was made in Aylesbury by Air Trainers Limited in the 1950s, and a briefing on aerodynamics. The children also built wooden racing cars using a range of tools and then raced them. In another activity the children completed an electronic circuit and produced a Flying Disc!

Of the airfield part of the day, Sqn Ldr Gary Coleman, OC Ops, said: “It was an absolute pleasure to show school-children from Hemel Hempstead and Aylesbury our aircraft at RAF Halton. The children had obviously done their homework as they knew what a Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, Tornado and even what a Chipmunk are in terms of aircraft. We spent a morning and afternoon explaining the various parts of the Halton Aero Club’s aircraft, how they work and also allowed the children to sit in them; the latter always being their favourite! They also built model aircraft to fly in one of our hangars with the help of the British Model Flying Association and they conducted a radio communications exercise between two of the buildings at the airfield. Every child left the airfield enthused about Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), essential for the country’s future aircrew and engineers, and which is a key message for the “Cool Aeronautics” day. I hope that we enthused a future Sir Frank Whittle or Sir James Dyson in years to come.”

The Station utilised the assistance of the Servicemen Awaiting Trade Training, (SATTs) to safely move the groups around the different areas and AC Frankie Jennings said: “We met the children at the Airfield and took them to the RAFA Club for the map reading and communications exercises.  It was good fun throwing foam aeroplanes around the hangar.  I was personally interested in the brief by a Ryan Air Pilot as I am going to train as a Flight Operations assistant.”

Mrs Lesley Beuscher, a teacher from Nashmills school, said: “What more can I say other than the children have hailed it the Best School Trip Ever!!!  They have gained an understanding of what is behind the Royal Air Force with the hands-on activities. They have been so motivated and absolutely absorbed with everything from the radios, the planes and making the model cars.  It’s been an extremely successful day.”

Carmella Perkins from St Louis school wrote to organiser Bill McGrath after the event, saying: “I just wanted to say thank you so much for organising the Year 6 Cool Aeronautics trip at RAF Halton. The children thought the trip was amazing. They were so well occupied throughout the day. Each activity was well planned and kept the children occupied. They learned a great deal about flight as well as finding out about some skills that could be used as they grow older. They were very excited when they returned to school. 

The wood work was very successful and the children learned about friction and speed which is part of their science, building on knowledge from previous years. We will decorate these at school to their own design. 

“The flight simulation was a big success and the children enjoyed 'flying' the plane. They learned about the science of flight both the theory and the practical when they made the models. 

“The radio controlling was excellent and the children loved doing this but it also taught them how to use grid references and map reading.” 

Finally Bill McGrath, who was instrumental in organising the day, said: “A very hectic day for all concerned but the smile on the children’s faces throughout the day, and as they were given their goody bags provided by the Royal Aeronautical Society at the end of the day, made it all worthwhile.”

students at work
students at work
students at work
students at work
students at work
students at work
students at work
students at work
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