As part of the Guernsey Air Display’s drive to educate and inspire young people about the history and future of the air display and aviation industry, more than 200 students received talks from air traffic controllers, pilots and engineers this year.
The public also got the opportunity to get up close with the planes in the display at the annual Meet the Pilots event, sponsored by Ravenscroft.
Gary Elson, Operational Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) at Guernsey Airport, spoke to Year 7 and 8 students at St Sampson’s High School about the history of the display. He explained the importance of the display, with some of the key historical local events involving aircraft during World War II.
Rich Goodwin, pilot, then spent some time with Year 13 students at Les Varendes High School and Sixth Form Centre explaining his journey to becoming a pilot and how he built his own Jet Pitts and the challenges this threw up.
The annual ‘Meet the Pilots’ event welcomed hundreds of people of all ages, allowing them to get up close with the aircraft ahead of the Air Display, and speak to the pilots and engineers.
Students at Elizabeth College welcomed two of the Blues, the engineers for the RAF Red Arrows, on the day of the display. The Blues spoke about the importance of STEM (science, technology engineering and maths) and the career paths they had followed in the Royal Air Force.
In addition to this, the RAF Careers Engagement Team were on island all week visiting schools, air cadets and CCF speaking to students about career opportunities in the RAF.
Gary Elson, ATCO at Guernsey Airport and one of the event organisers said: “One of the pillars of the Guernsey Air Display is to ‘educate and inspire’ and this year we made it our mission to bring the Air Display to the young people and children of Guernsey.
“The air display is so much more than welcoming some of Britain’s most historic and treasured military aircraft alongside aerobatic and display teams, it’s about commemorating the lives of all those RAF aircrews who have served their country, celebrating the invaluable work that the RAF Association does and educating and inspiring the next generation of pilots, engineers and aviation professionals.
“The air display relies almost entirely on private funding from the generous support of local businesses and individual Friends of the Guernsey Air Display, and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without their sponsorship and ongoing support.”
Ben Davidson, a student at Elizabeth College who aspires to join the RAF, said: “The air display this year was amazing, but I loved being able to hear from the Blues and learn about their involvement on the ground with the Red Arrows. It’s so inspiring to hear about their experiences and all the hard work they put into getting where they are today.
“As someone who wants to join the RAF, that was such a valuable experience and I hope more young people get the chance to meet them in the future.’
Gary added: “We’re so grateful to all of the pilots, engineers and teams who got directly involved in supporting the next generation over the last week and look forward to building on this around next year’s display.
“A final opportunity is a screening of the documentary ‘Lancaster’ at the Performing Arts Centre on Thursday 5 October. The screening is our way to mark the 80th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid and documents the story of the WW2 bomber through the words of the last surviving crew members and re-mastered footage of the RAF’s last airworthy Lancaster. The screening has been kindly sponsored by Lancaster Guernsey so that all the funds from ticket sales will go to the Guernsey Air Display Foundation and help fund next year’s display.”