International Air Cadet Exchange 2016

Kent Cadet FS Katerina Sales spends time as UK Cadet Escort – her experiences in her words Last year I was given the opportunity to be the Air Cadet Kent […]

Kent Cadet FS Katerina Sales spends time as UK Cadet Escort – her experiences in her words

Last year I was given the opportunity to be the Air Cadet Kent Wing Female Representative on the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) programme. At the time I thought that this would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, however, little did I know I would be given the opportunity, a year later, to be a UK cadet escort on the same programme.

The aim of the IACE programme is to bring together like-minded individuals from around the world, and between them foster a common interest of aviation. Throughout the programme cadets like myself, have had the opportunity to experience new cultures, learn about the various air cadet organisations from around the world and to meet cadets who you will remain in contact with for many further years.  

This year I had the pleasure of spending the UK IACE with cadets from the Ghana National Cadet Corps, the Swedish Air Force Voluntary and the Ukrainian Aviation-Space Centre. Although all the cadets could speak English, my ability to speak Russian came in extremely useful when communicating with the Ukrainian cadets.

The exchange began with the UK staff and cadets travelling to Heathrow Airport to meet the international cadets. Once everyone was greeted and introduced we boarded the minibus for a long drive to RAF Fairford where we would be accommodated for the duration of the Royal International Air Tattoo. Like all of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, the IACE party slept in tents, which was interesting experience, especially for the Ghanaian Cadets who found the weather change to be so drastic that sleeping in two sleeping bags each was still not sufficient enough to keep them warm. The air show provided the shared common interest of aviation among the whole IACE party, allowing us all to start to bond. Within just a few days of being at the air show we were given many opportunities with the following being just a few of them: watch the air show from the VIP tents, see the aircraft during the ‘after hours’, have a meet and greet session with the Red Arrows and meet Air Commodore McCafferty and Group Captain Vorderman.

After the air show we all departed to RAFC Cranwell in two separate groups, en route we stopped to go gliding with the Royal Air Force Gliding School Association. Most of the internationals had never been gliding before, whereas for us UK cadets it was nice to go gliding again since the Air Cadets have recently not had many opportunities to. The rest of t .he day we spent relaxing at RAF Cranwell and visiting the College Hall which is a prestigious Officers’ Mess which hosts many high profile events and also Officer Cadet Graduations. The following days we had an air experience flight in a RAF King Air B200 with 45 Sqn, a visit to an aviation museum, a visit to 2160 (Sleaford) Squadron to see what we cadets do on an average parade night, a visit to Head Quarters Air Cadets, a formal dinner with the IACE party, a Swedish Brig Gen and SO1 training Wg Cdr McNeil and also a visit to the historic town of Lincoln.

At this point we were only about two thirds of the way through the exchange, after seeing a few of the main places of interest around RAFC Cranwell it was time to travel to our final destination which was RAF Halton where we would spend the last few days travelling around London. Along the way we stopped at Cambridge for some guided Punting, being from Kent I had never heard of it, however it was a good way to unwind after what felt like a relatively long minibus journey.

In London we had a very intense and enjoyable last few days, being the Capital of England meant there was a lot to see however not a lot of time to see it. Within just two days we managed to visit Greenwich, take a water taxi to London bridge, visit the tower of London, Covent garden, Oxford Street, Wellington Barracks, have a flight on the London Eye and have many photo opportunities at places such as London bridge, memorials, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

By the end of the exchange we had all made some very good friendships and many memories for life. Even though I was an escort myself, it felt like I got to relive my first IACE once more and it brought back many good memories.  Some of the photos show what we got to experience, however in no way do they convey how much we enjoyed the exchange.