RAF Halton Hosts Young Flyers

  |  Published: Jun 22nd 2015
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The global ‘Young Eagles’ initiative was set-up in the late 1990s with the aim of flying 1 million children before the Centenary of Flight in 2003. Although this was achieved in 2002, the RAF Halton Young Flyers event has been so successful, that it continues as an annual event.

The RAF Halton initiative is open to predominantly Service children from the age of eight and the Halton Aero Club has now flown in excess of 30% of all UK children in the programme. The Club is part of the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association which was formed on 1st April 2001 with the aim of affording Service personnel the opportunity to learn to fly at the lowest cost and supports initiatives like the Young Flyers scheme to introduce youngsters to the experience of flight.

Over 100 children enjoyed a free 20 minute flight during the annual event, taking off in sunny but blustery conditions from the grass airfield of the RAF Halton Aero Club. A variety of light aircraft, motor gliders and visiting planes with their volunteer pilots, provided a thrilling experience for the local youngsters.

The oldest aircraft was a 1944 L4 Piper Cub of the USAF which was used almost exactly 71 years ago during D-Day and then on through France, Belgium and Germany. It has been based at RAF Halton since 1980 and pilot Alan Vogel took 14-year old, John Colet School boy Liam Bell, on his first flying sortie in the historical aircraft.

Liam said after his flight: ‘It was really good fun but a bit windy, the best bit was when a faster plane overtook us and we had to waggle our wings so he could plainly see us. It has really inspired me to be a pilot and given me a focus to work hard at school.’

Liam’s Dad Adam commented that: ‘Liam has always been interested in flying and has mentioned joining Air Cadets a number of times this year. We hope it will ignite a passion which will help him academically and give him the discipline for self-improvement.’

Chairman of the Halton Aero Club, Group Captain Mark Manwaring, said ‘We consider this day to be the highlight of our flying year. Our aim was to fly a minimum of 90 children on our 90th Anniversary and with a combination of very kind weather and the generosity of our members, we comfortably achieved it. We are now planning the 2016 event!’

Formed in 1925 and now celebrating its 90th Anniversary, the Halton Aero Club is part of the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association whose collective mission is to afford Service personnel the opportunity to learn to fly at the lowest cost. This is achieved by profit-free flying rates supported members of the Club who contribute their time for ground-related tasks and self-help jobs that would otherwise be funded through flying fees. At just over £90/hour to fly the Club’s new Tecnam Sierra aircraft, this 30% saving on comparative establishments is highly evident. The Club is open to all Service personnel and dependants, with a packed training, expedition and social programme. For further details, contact the Ops Manager, Mike Howard, on 95237 6178 or 01296 622697 and visit the website at www.haltonaeroclub.org.uk

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