We arrived at the camp on the Saturday morning, it was a perfect day and the cadets from 966 Wallingford were ready for the next two weeks. After getting registered, we had a basic brief about the camp, and within 30 minutes we were heading off across the field to set up tents. The first day of RIAT is always a rush, because if you don’t build the tents in time, there isn’t anywhere to sleep.
We managed to get all the tents up in time, and by the end of the day everyone was tired, but still ready for the work ahead. We spent the next few days putting up over 40 tents around the bomb dump where we were staying. The cadets got settled into life in tents, got acquainted with the other cadets in their flights, and general life on camp. As the Airshow drew nearer, aircraft from all the different countries began to fill the skies above Fairford. We were all lucky enough to see the new F-35 Lighting II practicing vertical landing and hovering up close, something none of us will ever forget.
As the Airshow drew nearer, more cadets began arriving, and before we knew it, 150 cadets and staff had become 1000. We began to do more duties “showside”, putting up barriers etc. The camp wasn’t all work though, the cadets had plenty of time in the evenings to relax, chill out and talk to people from all around the world who had come to the Royal International Air Tattoo camp.
We then found ourselves on the Friday, the first day of the airshow. It was on this day, and the day before, that 2 cadets from 996 Squadron had some amazing experiences. Cdt HB was lucky enough to fly in the A400m Atlas, a very new aircraft in the RAF. I was also lucky enough to be chosen to have afternoon tea with the Air Marshall for Personnel, we also got a chance to meet the Chief of Air Staff Sir Andrew Pulford, and high ranking officials of the Australian Air Force, and the Marshal Aerospace and Defence group.
After a smooth, and fairly quiet Friday, we moved onto the more hectic weekend, where tens of thousands of people came to the show. Cadets did everything from manning the crowdline, checking bags, to meeting and greeting the public. With 1000 Cadets and staff, we vastly outnumber the RAF, and RIAT staff, and it has been commented on multiple times how the Airshow could not run without the help of the Air Cadets.
After the weekend we had a few days of clean-up, taking down the barriers and ticket booths, followed by the cadets doing a massive sweep of the airfield for FOD, “Foreign Object Debris”. If this wasn’t done, the 100s of foreign aircraft wouldn’t have been able to take off.
We retired to the campsite, then in the evening we were treated to a camp party and BBQ, and we congratulated by the RAF charitable trust, being told that the success of the Air show wouldn’t have been possible without us.
The following day, most of the cadets went home, we said our goodbyes, hugs and handshakes and friending on Facebook. Leaving only 100 of us, including all 966 cadets. Over the next few days, the cadets packed down over 40 tents ready for next year. Some cadets, me included, spent a few days taking gear from RAF Fairford, to ATC little Rissington, to RAF Brize Norton. After the last push was over, the campsite was down, and we spent the last few days in solid accommodation on the American side of the base. On the last day, the last of us went our separate ways
All the cadets thoroughly enjoyed the camp, and are eager to return next year!