A Tale of Two Hangar Tours

We recently welcomed two groups for a tour of our hangar, something we do as often as possible as part of our commitment to pass on Army Aviation’s history to the current generation of soldiers and cadets.

Combined Essex Cadet Force

Last week saw a large contingent of 47 Cadets and staff from several Essex Cadet forces. With a  fairly cramped half-hangar full of aircraft, it was a tight fit and every spare space was filled. 

It is a challenge for a small group of volunteers to monitor the safety of larger groups under these circumstances, keeping them away from props and tail rotors (as well as Colin’s secret biscuit stash!). Happily, no aircraft were hurt that day, and all biscuits were safely accounted for.

Before long, having talked through seven very different aircraft histories, and having provided an opportunity for as many Cadets as possible to sit in some of the aircraft and soak up the experience, our time was up. There was just time for a group photo before the contingent headed over to the Army Flying Museum to finish off their day.

Many of these Cadets had no background knowledge or family history in aviation, and few had themselves considered a career in Army Aviation, so it is always rewarding to show them something outside their normal sphere of experience.

AAC Intake 2022/02

This week saw us carry out our duties as regular hosts of the latest AAC soldier intake. Twelve young AAC recruits, on only day two of their Phase 1 training at Wallop, were introduced to their Corps’ history.

Pilot Jim Trayhurn joined other ground support volunteers in giving the group a full ninety minutes’ immersive experience.

A chance to sit in the aircraft that their predecessors flew and maintained was only a start; it’s always interesting to show today’s generation a cockpit without any form of GPS systems or digital screens, just a compass . . .

Explaining the mental arithmetic required to combine paper map, binoculars,  compass, a watch and dead reckoning to work out your location usually results in the sort of look that says, “I’m glad I was not born in the 1940’s”.

We displayed the Sioux casualty evacuation litter, and also the Scout pod, which brought home how important this role was forty years ago this year.

One brave soul even tried out the Scout pod, a truly claustrophobic experience for anyone, especially when your colleagues are threatening to secure the locking pins and leave you there for a while . . .

A focussed and interested group such as this will always find a way to ask a question we volunteers can’t answer, so it keeps us on our toes as well.

We just had time to wish the group the best of luck with their training, online courses, studying and tests, with an offer to come and see us flying this Saturday at the museum. Then it was time to put all the aircraft doors back on, replace all the rope barriers, tidy up, and check that nobody was locked in the Scout pod.

Photo Credits:

Mark Meaton &

Brian Nicholson