Innovative funding appeal enables school flight simulator upgrade

Posted on April 25, 2018

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Following the success of an innovative Crowdfunding appeal, Penair School CCF cadets are reaping the rewards of their newly upgraded flight simulator, partly paid for by the funds raised.

The stand-alone RAF section came into existence as part of the first round of the Cadet Expansion Programme (CEP). As a new start-up school, resources were scarce and Penair CCF consequently took part in a Crowdfunding appeal to raise funds to supplement their initial Cadet Bursary Fund grant provided by the Combined Cadet Force Association (CCFA).

CCFA  worked with Crowdfunder to help cadet units in state schools raise funds, and to distribute match funding generously provided by the Garfield Weston Foundation

“The Crowdfunding appeal was extremely successful,” says Emily Cook, OC Penair CCF. “We worked incredibly hard for the month-long project and managed to raise over £6,000. This was then match-funded with a further £4,500 from the CCFA”.

The money raised was intended to help the newly-formed section to procure essential equipment for Adventurous Training (AT), leadership and all the other activities which form the backbone of the CCF. The funds were used to buy tents and other AT kit utilised on Penair’s mountain expeditions. They have since travelled from Cornwall to conquer Pen-y-fan and Scafell Pike.

A significant proportion of the Crowdfunding money was also used to massively upgrade the section flight simulator.

The upgrade was conceived of and actualised through the technical abilities of Civilian Instructor Chris. “The flight simulator utilises a high-spec PC with a specialised graphics card which powers a virtual reality headset. Realistic pilot input is achieved through the hands-on throttle and stick (HOTAS) which is attached to a bespoke desk. The software used allows a representative depiction of a PF-51 Mustang flying through the Nevada landscape. Additional aircraft can be purchased and a recent acquisition has been a UH1H (Huey) rotary wing aircraft”.

The flight simulator helps cadets prepare for Air Experience Flights (AEF) by helping them to learn the controls of an aircraft and how they affect the movement of the machine in the air.

The simulator is operated by a team of cadet instructors who have had training in how to operate the software and hardware. The instructors also fly regularly to enable them to pass their knowledge on to other cadets.

Once of the instructors, L/Cpl Perfect, had his first real AEF experience whilst on annual camp in July 2017. His instructor was so impressed with his abilities for a first-time flier that he recommended Perfect for a flying scholarship when he is old enough. Perfect says: "Thanks to the flight simulator we recently acquired, myself and the others have been able to learn and practise with the simulator, mainly on the P51-D Mustang. With this virtual experience, going into my first flight was not as daunting as it may seem and this training must have been beneficial to the opportunity afterwards. Thanks to all of our CFAVs involved with the Crowdfunding I now have the chance to gain a flying scholarship which is amazing!"

The cadet NCO in charge of the flight simulator is L/Cpl Mat Simpson. He says: “The new flight simulator was an investment the whole section won't forget, it has been a great opportunity for those who are about to go flying and those who are too young to fly.  The cadets that have so far used it have made vast improvements to their technique and are much better prepared for AEF's than some other squadrons. It is one of the many opportunities we are so lucky to have here.”

Cadets are asked to complete a flight simulator user agreement and can then book flights for any lunchtime or during parade nights. They have a flying program to follow which helps them to learn the controls to be able to fly.