148 (Barnsley) Squadron

Royal Air Force Air Cadets


RIAT Camp 2023

Early on Tuesday 11th July, cadets from all over South and West Yorkshire Wing set off on a long journey to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire to become part of the larger cadet detachment that is made up of over 800 cadets from around the country, all to help support the Royal International Air Tattoo which takes place annually during July.

I was part of the Comms Flight at the camp, which meant that I formed part of the team that helped with the organisation of the cadet flights. As the comms team, we operated multiple radio networks simultaneously, always monitoring the base station radios in case a flight needed assistance or had any questions for the Bronze Operations team.

The weather for the week was extremely varied, with lots of sun and heat, and sudden torrential downpour and 45mph winds, however I was lucky enough to be shielded from lots of the bad weather by the Comms Cave (our nickname for the operating tent which became our home for the week). During the week we dealt with medical incidents and was part of finding a misplaced cadet, which kept us on our toes and engaged during quiet parts, as we never knew when heaps of traffic would arise.

On show days, we were split into 2 sub-flights, so that half of the flight could go to see the airshow while the other half operated the radios. As air cadets, some of the crews allowed us closer access to the aircraft than regular show-goers. During the show I attempted to complete my mission of getting patches from pilot’s flight suits, and I got very lucky and started to gain a small collection of patches. We also had a flight mascot, a minion, that we had to get photographed with aircraft, and a large rubber duck that we were tasked to get signed by air and ground crews by WO Ley, the Comms I/C. 

On the last day, we did a FOD (Foreign Objects Debris) plod on the airfield, and then sat in the grandstands watching all the aircraft depart, with lots of aircraft doing a wing wave to all the cadets watching. Then, there was a disco in the evening, after spending our off-duty afternoon in the comms tent chatting and having snacks that were given to us by the generous Ops team. The disco was crazy, with all the camp staff dressed up in fancy-dress- even Cruella De-Vil and a Dinosaur made an appearance! Then after an emotional morning of goodbyes, we set off back to the glorious north to enjoy normal beds and food, after a week of camp cots in a tent.

Overall, RIAT was a fantastic camp where you go above and beyond anything you’ve ever done before and meet so many kind, wonderful people from all around the UK. I have made friendships this week that will last me a lifetime and done things I’ve never done before.

My highlight would be climbing on a Hawk T2 jet and getting an exclusive look inside the cockpit or getting a private tour of the Swedish Gripen.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff team at RIAT for making my experience unforgettable, and thank my squadron staff for helping me to get there at all. If you have the chance to go to RIAT, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

Cpl Wallis