Air Scouts First To Do The Airshow Double
Published: 21 Aug 2015
Air Scouts from Suffolk have achieved a spectacular first by sending representatives to two airshows on two continents.
Helped by a grant of £3,000 from the RAF Charitable Trust, eight Scouts aged 14 to 20 from the 1st Carlton Colville Air Scouts travelled over 3,900 miles to the event in Wisconsin, USA. Meanwhile those who couldn't go to America played their part by helping at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.
The American contingent of eight Scouts and four leaders became the first UK Scouts to volunteer at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh as part of the Aviation Explorer Base. Once at Oshkosh, they set up camp in borrowed tents and had three days of training before beginning their official duties, which included manning the ropes at aircraft and vehicle crossing points, helping pilots park aircraft and tie them down, directing visitors and helping prepare food for the Base.
Leader Matt Harper said: "The week volunteering at Oshkosh is one none of us will forget. All 12 of us carried out shifts every day to enable the event to run. We saw a night-time air show and numerous day ones, and the Scouts got to sit in the cockpit of this year's headliner- the B52! We also visited some aviation conferences, had a go at welding, went flying in a Ford Trimotor (the first airliner in the USA), and made some good friends on the way."
Their week on duty was followed by seven days camping on the Ma Ka Ja Wan Scout reservation. Matt says: "We stayed with troop 156 from Glenview, Illinois, who really made us feel at home, and whilst there we went zip lining, white water rafting, horse riding, climbing, hiking, swimming and boating, as well as having campfires by the lake. The reserve was beautiful, with incredible scenery."
They even hit the headlines, appearing on local tv news channel WJFW NBC, which resulted in celebrity status with people coming in to visit the English group.
Scouts and leaders alike thoroughly enjoyed their experience. Morgan McCurdy-Kenny, 14, said: "The people welcome you more than they would in England, and they're more friendly. The weather is nicer, too, and the food is better!"
Matt added: "We would like to thank Charitable Trust for helping us make this trip possible - your help was, and still is, massively appreciated."
Meanwhile back in England, a smaller group attended RIAT to experience the airshow and to say thanks to the Charitable Trust by helping out on the Trust stand in the Techno Zone. Leader Veronica Duff explained: "The Oshkosh party were fundraising in their own right so they could get to the USA, but the donation from the Charitable Trust made a real difference - it made us feel so special.
"Being asked to attend this year's Air Tattoo was a real privilege and the Scouts who came along were thrilled to see RIAT in action. The leaders and Scouts had a brilliant day out, and it is something that we will look to offer every year now to the troop. We can only say a massive 'thank you' to the Charitable Trust."
CAPTION: Carlton Colville Air Scouts at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.