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After putting down their pens and closing their exercise books for summer, members of the 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron enjoyed a summer of fun with the Royal Air Force! The summer kicked-off with a week-long stay at RAF Benson, in Oxfordshire, the home of two Puma helicopter squadrons. The lucky cadets enjoyed taking to the skies for a flight in the support helicopter, which can be used to transport people, including those in humanitarian need. The cadets gained first-hand experience of life in the RAF as they lived and ate alongside serving personnel. The youngsters also enjoyed the opportunity to fly in the RAF Air Cadet’s training aeroplane, the Grob Tutor, at RAF Leeming. Jay Burdis, 13, said, “I had an amazing time in the air, doing aerobatics and having a go at flying the plane myself – it was a fantastic feeling!” The young people enjoyed the opportunity to learn about Cyberspace and Radio Communications as they were put through their paces in a field exercise. Other activities on offer seen the cadets learn how to cook in the outdoors, build shelters and kayak. The activities aimed to improve and encourage an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), as well as teamwork, communication and mental agility. Cadet Ali Blair, 13, said, “We’ve had a great summer; it’s been jam-packed with fun activities and we’ve learnt new skills and I really enjoyed the challenges.” Cadet Corporal Emily Turnbull, 18, attended a week-long course that seen her become a first aid instructor and assessor, whilst Cadet Sergeant Mary Delariarte, 17, attended the National shooting competition at Bisley, Surrey, where she gained her Gold Marksmanship badge. Mary said, “I trained for a solid three months leading up to the competition but it put me in good stead for my first competitive shoot. Although I didn’t win anything as an individual, as a team, we finished in top placings in two competitions and I qualified for a gold marksman.” The squadron’s band entertained crowds at local fayres and the youngsters got active in the sporting arena, participating in tennis, cricket, handball, touch rugby, football and rounders. The summer of fun culminated in an adventure training weekend at RAF Spadeadam, Cumbria, where the cadets took part in orienteering, mountain biking and archery. Squadron Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Gary Richardson said, “It has been a busy summer for the squadron, but an enjoyable one. “Many have tried something new this summer and learned new skills from their experiences and all found that they enjoy a particular activity they thought they would never even do!” The activities go towards the cadets earning BTEC and STEM qualifications as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Longbenton Squadron is currently open to new members in Year 8 and above. If you’re up for a challenge then visit the squadron at 2344 (Longbenton) Air Cadet Squadron Durham Northumberland Wing Air Cadets Regional Commandant North - Air Cadets 

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