YOUNG AVIATORS 2022
Saturday 10th September 2022
Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire, NN6 0BN
I’d like to send out a huge “Thank You” to everyone for another amazing Young Aviators event.
First and foremost I’d like to thank Michael Bletsoe-Brown owner of Sywell Aerodrome, for yet again hosting this, the 16th Annual Young Aviators event.
With Michael’s on-going support, with the very generous use of facilities and waiving landing fees, this event could never have happened over the last 17 years.
I’d also like to thank Charlotte Orton, Airfield and Main Events Manager, as well as Amy Bletsoe-Brown, and all the folks in the Sywell Control Tower for all their reviews of the briefing for the pilots, which we refined, such that there would be minimum disruption to the smooth operations on the day.
Then I’d like to thank a huge group of people, who I’ll go through name-by-name, to show you all that this event cannot be run without an amazing set of volunteers and pilots, who freely gave their time and effort to ensure that the day was another day of education, inspiration and encouragement, oh and don’t forget the fun!! - for youngsters and adults alike, to consider a career in the wonderful world aviation in all its forms.
I’d also like to say a big “Thank You” to Martin Robinson, CEO of AOPA UK and Mick Elborn AOPA UK Executive Committee Member, for their sponsorship of the event once again. This is the 2nd year which AOPA UK have sponsored Young Aviators and their support along with promotion of the event and pilots attending and other areas has been invaluable.
Each year Young Aviators is different, and this year was no exception.
100x Scouts took part - from Barton-Le-Clay Scouts, 1st Thame, Northamptonshire Scouts Whiteleaf, 1st Stoke Poges Air Scouts, 1st & 2nd Cambourne (including Beavers), Cambridgeshire Scouts, 28th Oxford (Littlemore) and finally 1st Sywell Air Scouts - a big thank you to all of them for their exemplary behaviour and I hope you enjoyed all the activities and the badges you earned and of course the flights you all had. We also had 22x non-Scouts take part and I am always keen to encourage those youngsters to take part and over-all they were not to be disappointed.
So aside from the 4x groupings that everyone was put into, we also had much for them, their friends and families to see and take part in.
From a visit to the excellent Sywell Aviation Museum, and its growing collection of aircraft (Jetstream added since last year) and exhibits, to all the activities in the Square and in Hangar 2.
The Square had 3x static aircraft this year – thanks to the BMAA and Amanda Lord of Wannafly - a Skyranger was displayed by Phil Osbourne, a PeeBee Microlight by Nick Brookes and a special “Thank You” goes to Megan Booth who brought along her lovely Sywell based Eurostar in its snazzy colours G-LYNI. Megan initially helped with registering the arriving pilots, then let folks sit inside her aircraft while she extolled the virtues of the type and her BMAA flying, having just attained her first solo a few short weeks ago - a true inspiration to boys and girls alike.
We then had a packed-out Hangar 2 and I’d like to thank Jon Edginton and his very able navigation and map reading crew of Gavin Richards, Damian Mattock, Mark Parker and Tor West-Ley (Tor was our 1,000th Youngster to fly at the 15th Annual Aviators event at Sywell in September 2019) and a very proud Mum Fii, who also helped out.
We then had Natalie Gelder of Space Store (www.spacestore.co) who provided Virtual Reality headsets (adult and child) with space-related experiences, as well as space-related merchandise sales e.g. pocket money items (key rings, notepads etc.) and AR cards, and some flyers with information about Space Store experience activities, space careers, etc.
Thanks must go to Helen Halsey and Adrian Sutcliffe of Luton Scouts (and a big Thank You to Ellie & Callum Doak of 1st Sywell Air Scouts, for providing the raw materials) for another excellent “Egg Crash Test Workshop” - an ever-popular activity which generated 15x entries and the very first fly-off at the end of the day, where not a single egg was cracked or broken (Me thinks wooden eggs should be banned!! 😊).
Clint Marker (Air Scout country wide co-ordinator) approached me a few weeks before the event and suggested he and his team provide some additional Scout Badges, and he and his team consisting of Peter Higgs, David Harrison, Helen Ellis and Michael Waldron, Frank & Ann Leonhardt (Buckinghamshire Scouts) provided all the Scouts (and some non-Scouts) with some much praised activities for the extra badges, which were sourced by Peter Morrell, and the badges were given out at the end of the day and were much appreciated by everyone.
Peter, and Michael and a couple of other Scout leaders did a wonderful job of registering the 122x youngsters at 9am, and after the very slick check-in, equipped with their name badges, Young Aviator Booklets and timetable, the 4x groups commenced their activities on time at 10:30, after the general safety briefing and a minutes silence for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away two days beforehand.
Finally in hangar 2 and compliments of Liz Pike, we had the BGA (British Gliding Simulator) towed on site by Paul Howard and ably assisted by father & daughter team Ian & Darcey Gallacher, proved a very popular attraction and was kept busy all day long.
Coming in on its second Youth Aviation visit (1st one was in September 2019), G-PROV, the pristine Jet Provost Mk.52, based at Nottingham-Tollerton came in to Sywell piloted by Tatiana Shevchenko, with Mark Hooton (the owner of the only ex RAF T.11 Vampire currently airworthy in the world G-VTII/WZ507 and based temporarily at Staverton) as navigator, was able to perform some ore STEM sessions for Scouts and Non-Scouts alike, relishing in showing off it’s bullet holes while in service with the South Arabian Air Force. Special mention to both Sywell Aerodrome and AOPA UK, who partially sponsored this aircraft’s participation.
A big Thanks must also go to Finley Harris, who was saw the exhibitors on/off site and sorted out the volunteers with yellow tabards and luncheon vouchers. Denise Faehndrich who popped into CostCo enroute to get the two cakes and a box of beers for the control tower folk (who worked particularly hard, ensuring the smooth passage of aircraft in and out of Sywell Aerodrome) and she then cut up the cakes and stuffed the goodie bags ably assisted by Lynn Prangle and her family of the CAA, who also brought some CAA STEM items, compliments of their STEM co-ordinator Brenda Jefcoate.
Lastly and under-going a baptism of fire on the day, as it was their first time running the bus stop, a monster BIG thanks must go to Dad & Daughter team from Northamptonshire Scouts Ian & Iggi Malcomson, did a superb job keeping track of Youngsters and Adults, going airside for their flights, and returning with the usual huge grins on their faces after their flight. This ensured a smooth flying programme, and that everyone who wanted to fly did fly. A great first-time job and hopefully we can twist arms behind backs again next year, for them to repeat this most important of tasks.
Right at the end of an excellent day, interrupted by only one shower, we had the Egg Crash Test Workshop fly-off, following by giving out Young Aviator Certificates, goodie bags and a slice of cake as well as the extra badges earned by Scouts during the day,.
Speaking of flying, we had a total of 22x pilots (AOPA/LAA/BMAA) in 18x aircraft who took part, from locally based Sywell pilots, to ones coming from various airfields and farm strips, Blackbushe, White Waltham, Enstone, Southend, Old Warden, Chatteris, Laindon, Willingale, Sandy and Bourn.
These amazing folks flew a total of 122x flights, carrying 122x youngsters and 28x adults, for another record number of people flown safely. This brings the overall totals since the first Young Aviators event back in 2006 to - 1,342x youngsters and 214x adults (for a total of 1,556x) flown by 207x pilots using 192x aircraft on a total of 1,159x flights. An absolutely superb record, and absolutely impossible without the very kind donation of their time and fuel for the pilots participating, most of whom look forward to doing the same all over again next year.
Finally thanks to the hard working staff in both The Aviator Hotel and The Pilots Mess for keeping everyone fed and watered all day long.
I would also like to thank the BMAA, BGA, LAA, AOPA UK and Pooleys for all their contributions for the Goodie Bags, and to Ron Shell for his usual background pushing and shoving and the Young Aviator Certificates.
To Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell ATC, The Sywell Museum, The Aviator Hotel, all my amazing volunteers and the incredible set of pilots, THANK YOU one and all, as without you all this amazing day just would not have been possible.
I look forward to welcoming you all to the team once again next year to the 17th Annual Young Aviators event, scheduled for Saturday 9th September 2023, at an entirely new venue (watch out for details soon).