October 20th 2016

Former cadet flies in to inspire Lincolnshire ACF

Cadets with Rob McCrae's helicopter on Annual Camp

There was a special treat for Lincolnshire Army Cadet Force (ACF) members at annual camp this summer when former cadet turned Army helicopter pilot, Rob McCrea dropped in to see them.

Adult volunteers who remember the now 27-year-old when he was a cadet say he always vowed to fly back and see them after he’d become a pilot.

He did just that on Lincolnshire ACF’s recent Annual Camp in Warcop, Cumbria, amid a short break from exercises with 664 Squadron, one of four front line Attack Helicopter Squadrons in the Army Air Corps that form the Attack Helicopter Force.

A group of two star cadets welcomed Rob to camp and asked plenty of questions about his career and the AH-64D Apache helicopter he flew in with.

Speaking after the event, Rob said: “I grew up in Sleaford, Lincolnshire and that’s where I joined the ACF. My years in the cadets were some of the best of my life.

Rob McCrae“I enjoyed being outside, learning new things and doing so with a great bunch of like-minded people. It allowed me to experience so many things that other friends at school could only imagine doing including adventurous training, exercises and learn skills that would help me in many aspects of my life.

“It has helped me in many ways, from learning simple life skills that all people should have a basic idea of, such as First Aid, to improving my discipline, teamwork and leadership that helped me mature and made transitioning into an adult much easier.

“Joining the regulars was always something I had considered doing but with the help of my then Detachment Commander (then Lieutenant, now Major) Nick Watson, I was able to do that. He, and the skills I had already learned in the Army Cadets, helped me pass my initial officer selection which eventually led me to Army sponsorship and a bursary through university and then onto Sandhurst.

“The main reason I’ve always wanted to be a pilot in the Army is because aviation is in my family’s blood, both my father and brother are military pilots. I’ve always had a keen interest in attack helicopters and the Army has the best which is what led me to Sandhurst and to commission into the Army Air Corps.

“By flying in to Lincolnshire ACF’s camp, I hoped to inspire any of the young cadets who are considering joining the Army to consider joining the Army Air Corps as a pilot as a realistic option.

“I also wanted to inform them that I was in their position only a few years ago and it gave me a chance to give a little something back to an organisation that gave me so much. It was good to catch up with some of the instructors I haven’t seen in many years.”

A special visitor drops inOne of those instructors is Major Watson who was delighted to welcome Rob back in to the Lincolnshire ACF fold for a few hours.

Major Weston said: “He always said that he was going to fly back to annual camp in an Apache helicopter, and that was years ago. This year he rang me and asked me the dates for camp.

“We couldn’t tell the cadets it was going to happen as we weren’t sure until the last minute it would due to the weather, so we had them all on the sports field and told them they were litter picking.

“When Rob did then fly in, the cadets were astounded. He let them have a look around the helicopter and told them about his background.

“He was excellent with the cadets and they really took to him as he chatted to them for probably around half an hour.

“The cadets were really interested in him and inspired. Maybe in the future one of them will follow Rob and return to camp flying a helicopter themselves.”


“By flying in to Lincolnshire ACF’s camp, I hoped to inspire any of the young cadets who are considering joining the Army to consider joining the Army Air Corps as a pilot as a realistic option."