Members of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, based in Edmonton, Alta., but under the command of 1 Wing Kingston, Ont., are helping a group of young Air Cadets from Edmonton prepare for a prestigious youth aerospace competition in England in July.
Sergeant Mike Scott and Corporal Moe Woodworth are applying the expertise they gained in Afghanistan flying unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help the cadets compete in the Schools Aerospace Challenge at Cranfield University in England. It will be the first time a Canadian team has participated in the challenge.
Last December, the Alberta Aviation Museum received an invitation from the challenge organizers to field a team. The challenge is a program designed for 16- to 18-year-olds to provide solutions for a real Royal Air Force requirement. With Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee this year, several Commonwealth countries have been invited to participate in what is normally a United Kingdom-only event.
The Alberta Aviation Museum sees the competition as a way of encouraging young adults to become involved in the exciting high technology world of aerospace and as a result chose 12 City of Edmonton Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron (RCACS) to participate. When a call for volunteers went out during a 12 RCACS parade evening, Cadet Warrant Officer Richard Oxlade, Flight Sergeant Tyvon Harvey, Flight Corporal Harry Bayrock and Flight Sergeant Mathew McLean quickly responded and were eventually selected to form the Canadian team.
A number of 12 RCACS parents and museum volunteers created a support group, put an extensive training schedule in place for the challenge team, and planned visits to Nav Canada, the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology and the Alberta Aviation Museum‘s flight simulator facility.
The museum approached 408 Squadron to assist in the training of the team because members from the squadron deployed to Afghanistan almost continually in between 2006 and 2011 – operating the CU-161 Sperwer unmanned aerial vehicle, then manning the aviation component for Operation Athena.
The team is assembling an operating UAV and flight simulator console with the help of the squadron’s expert mentors.
The Aerospace Challenge team was particularly impressed with the amount of technical expertise required to use UAVs effectively, particularly in a reconnaissance role. All military UAVs, regardless of the size or range, have ultimately the same goal – to provide the military professional with an increased situational awareness of the operational environment.
With fundraising for this initiative well underway, the Alberta Aviation Museum is optimistic that it can meet its goals and send the team to the UK to represent Canada this July. An exhibit on the Aerospace Challenge will be featured at the museum this summer. Feel free to contact the AAM at (780) 451-1175 for more information.
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