During the summer of 2012, students from Southampton UAS took part in a week named “ASPT 1”, which combined adventurous training in the Snowdonia region, before returning to Boscombe Down for flying instruction. There were a wide range of activities covered, including rock-climbing, kayaking and mountaineering – a great week was had by all; rounded off by the annual delight, which is the SUAS Summer Ball.
From the beginning the weather looked unpromising, but when we arrived at Capel Curig Training Camp near Betws-y-Coed (North Wales), although cold, the rain held off. On the first day, the group split into two, and half of us accompanied Officer Cadet Pirkis for a dip in the nearby lake for some kayaking, whilst the rest of the team went off for a day of rock climbing. Despite the cold, everyone had a good time and learnt new skills, as well as improving on existing ones. We practised individual skills of rowing, and then set up some team games, which were great for building confidence for capsizing. There was a great community spirit of everyone getting involved and helping one another, regardless of the range of abilities.
One the next day, the groups swapped activities, so those who had been kayaking went rock-climbing, and vice versa. Due to early morning rainfall, the climbing group decided to head over to Anglesey to the Indefatigable Climbing Wall, where we got to practice our skills on the different grades of wall. As the clouds cleared up, we spent the afternoon enjoying some outdoor rock climbing. This gave us the chance to apply skills that we’d learnt on the indoor wall, which was the safer environment for the beginners in the group. The next day, our last in Capel, was spent mountaineering. Everyone got to practice some basic navigation as we set off across the fields, through a forest, around a lake, and up the mountain. As the weather conditions improved, we got some glimpses of the spectacular Welsh scenery. The day was a great show of team-work and bonding.
With the first half of the week now over, we drove back down South to Boscombe Down. Unfortunately, the Snowdonian rainclouds accompanied us, which meant over the next couple of days not much flying could be done. Thankfully we were able to make use of Indoor Climbing Wall at the Tidworth Leisure centre, meaning the first day was not wasted. Many people attempted more technical moves, and the overall experience was a positive one. The next day, around 6 Officer Cadets got the chance to fly before the weather once again degenerated. The day was not wasted though, as students were able to spend time learning about metrological conditions and the NOTAM system.
The final day started off clear enough for more SUAS personnel to partake in flying, and those who didn’t were able to help decorate the Lower-Anti room for the Boscombe Summer Ball, which had a great attendance and was a fitting send off for the third years whose time on SUAS had sadly come to an end.
A big thank you to Officer Cadets Edwardes, Pirkis, Williams and Musgrave for organising and running the week so successfully.
If you are interested in finding out more please visit: http://www.raf.mod.uk/southamptonuas/