After having been postponed twice due to adverse weather conditions, three other members of the Royal Air Force section of Nottingham High School’s Combined Cadet Force - Raphie Charles, Sanjay Puri, Jack Hadfield and I - and around five times as many boys from the equivalent group at Loughborough Grammar School flew for thirty minutes each in two £200,000 Robinson R44 Raven II four-seat helicopters on Sunday 2nd June 2013 at East Midlands Helicopters. 2013, the quincentennial year of our School’s foundation marks the very first time that such a trip had been organised by the School.
130 knots (approximately 150 mph or 240 km/h) is the maximum speed of the helicopters; they both have a range of 350 miles, equivalent to about 560 kilometres. Robinson R44s, along with their counterparts, the R22s, are unique in that they have a cyclic control system (or simply, ‘cyclic’) that resembles a teetering bar- contrastingly, almost all other helicopters will use a cyclic that looks like and used in a similar way to a joystick.
As aforementioned, we spent half an hour in a helicopter - the one I was in had the registry code ‘G-MUSH’ - with two other boys (in my case, Raphie and Jack) with ten minutes each being sat in the tan leather seats of the cockpit at the front of the helicopter next to the knowledgeable pilot. Cameras were indubitably used a lot throughout the duration of the flight, since our time in the air was dominated by looking out of the windows at the scenic landscapes of the village of Bunny in Rushcliffe, gazing at Wymeswold Solar Farm, the largest solar farm in the United Kingdom and wondering what the mysterious blue pools of water we saw were (it is not unlikely that they were created after having been filled with water following the depletion of gypsum in quarries).
Overall, I can truly say that the trip was a brilliant occasion, made better not only by the bright and beautiful Summer sky (the postponement from January was most certainly a blessing!) but also by the exceptional organisational skills of Sqn Ldr Hayton. I would recommend the trip to anybody, especially to those with an interest of flying. ‘Per ardua ad astra’ - ‘through adversity to the stars’.
Tom Jayamaha, 10L