August 18th 2021

Whole town ‘buzzing’ as Royal Navy helicopter visits local RAF Air Cadets

Royal Navy helicopter landing

A Wildcat helicopter from 815 Naval Air Squadron visits RAF Air Cadets at Kettering

The Royal Navy made an unusual appearance in Kettering recently, when they visited in their Wildcat helicopter.  Traffic ground to a halt and the whole town was buzzing with interest as the impressive machine landed.




RAF Air Cadets from Market Harborough, Mannock and Corby Squadrons were invited to join their colleagues in Kettering for the visit from the Royal Navy. The visit was a joint effort from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, as part of their aim to engage with the communities in which they serve.

Cadets inspecting the ground

Cadets inspect the ground for debris before the helicopter lands

“It’s been a difficult 12-14 months of online training delivery,” said Flying Officer John Gore, Commanding Officer of 1101 Kettering Squadron RAF Air Cadets. “Not all of our Cadets have engaged fully with this method of training and we have lost over half of our Cadets as a result.

“We were presented with an opportunity to give back to our Cadets and reward them for their dedication. We wanted to induct our newest Cadets with a flavour of the kinds of dynamic activities we can achieve. It was good to work together with our local units for the first time in over a year and a half.”

Forward planning for visit essential

Planning for the event commenced many months in advance.  Many issues around the intricacies of bringing a piece of flying military hardware to a bustling town centre had to be considered. The Air Cadet staff organising the event also had to ensure they could safeguard the Cadets and the aircrew from the risk of transmitting COVID-19.

RAF Air Cadets in front of a Wildcat helicopter

RAF Air Cadets from 1101 (Kettering) Squadron with the aircrew of the Wildcat

“Whenever you have the chance to plan an activity like this, you are always acutely aware of the importance of getting it right,” added Gore. “We were so fortunate to have the unwavering support of North Northamptonshire Council who own the land.  Our own chain-of-command also supported us, to ensure we could execute this activity without risking the safety of our Cadets, staff, the aircrew and the general public.”

When the helicopter landed, Cadets met the aircrew, who gave them a tour of the exterior, and explained the capabilities of the Wildcat. The crew also talked about their roles in a multi-crew aircraft and what their training involved.

Local on-lookers were ‘buzzing’ with excitement

Around 200 people, including crowds of children and parents from the local school, gathered, with anticipation and excitement building. The Wildcat crew from 815 Naval Air Squadron prepared the helicopter for departure. As the engines roared into life, many of the bystanding young children squealed with excitement. Traffic came to a standstill to witness the spectacle.

“It was an incredible feeling to see the Cadets, staff and the public enjoying this visit so much. I am incredibly grateful to the Royal Navy for the effort they put in to make this event possible. Large numbers of 815 Naval Air Squadron are currently embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth on her landmark Carrier Strike Group tour to the Far-East.

Wildcat helicopter and observing aircrew

“We are looking forward to an exciting summer of activities, with Cadets having opportunities to get away to summer camp at RAF stations in the coming months. We have seen unprecedented demand from young people to join our Squadron and are looking forward to welcoming our second fully-subscribed intake in as many months, in just a few weeks’ time.”

Recruitment is now open at most Air Cadet Squadrons for people aged 12-17 (must be in Year 8 as a minimum). To contact your local Air Cadet unit, complete the form on the RAF’s website, or for more information, visit our Cadets page.

“It was an incredible feeling to see the Cadets, staff, and the public enjoying this visit so much." Flying Officer John Gore