On Friday 29th of August, RAF Benson was scattered with purple as 25 FCT children and our mums arrived at the military base ready to take to the skies.
To start the day off, us children were divided into two groups; it was the turn of the eldest ones first. We were introduced to the pilots (Peter, Chas, Bob and Peter H) as well as the four ‘Cessna 172’ aircrafts, which are four seater planes from the United States.
Before long, we were all looking the part in our headgear and taking off for our 20 minute flight over Henley-upon-Thames. The route included a bird’s eye view of the Windmill and pond that was used to film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, exciting!
Meanwhile, down on the ground, the younger ones were racing each other on the bungee run obstacle course, bouncing on the bouncy castle and getting rather sticky with the candyfloss maker.
Soon came lunchtime and us young pilots were ready for hot dogs and burgers. Delicious!
The afternoon for the older ones consisted of learning about being in the RAF and having a go in the Puma simulator – surprisingly enough the girls crashed far fewer times than the boys!
One of the crewmen (who is based at RAF Benson) gave us a detailed insight into the process of becoming a pilot as well as joining the RAF. This was keenly absorbed by all the listeners, especially the children who had fathers in the RAF.
The fun-filled day was rounded off nicely by a group picture, (even including our mascots, Denny the Lion!!) as well as a presentation ceremony whereby we were all awarded certificates by Owen Varley to congratulate us on our flying success.
Once all the certificates had been dispersed, the Williams family stepped forward to present Denny and the FCT with £250, which they raised through selling bits and bobs at a local car boot sale. Denny was very touched by the money and thanked Kathryn and the boys profusely.
The day was soon over but it was a perfect end to the summer holidays and we would like to thank Owen and the rest of the staff at RAF Benson for making the day run so smoothly and giving us a tremendous flying experience. As always, a special thank you also goes to Denny Wise, founder of the trust, for organising this superb event.
The next event (after the House of Commons trip in October) is the beloved Christmas party which everyone needless to say is really looking forward to.
A final comment comes from Gill Molyneux, mum of four FCT children, who described the day by saying “A little bit closer to Daddy”- a perfect summary of the FCT Flying day.
A young pilots view of the day:
“My personal experience of the RAF Benson fly day was one I will never forget. The feeling of being in charge of a moving mode of transport containing several other people was petrifying yet incredibly thrilling! The adrenalin I had from the take-off was such an experience on its own! Since fly day I’ve had many thoughts and have actually considered my future job being in the area of flying planes, all based on the one day that the Forces Children’s Trust let me participate in. I would like to thank everyone who organised the day and helped out with it as I, and I’m sure many others, made memories to treasure forever.”
Molly Stephens, 16