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Air League, RAFAC and Boeing extending Centennial Wings

Posted 13 July 2018 · Add Comment

The partnership between the Air League, the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC) and Boeing, today celebrated the completion of Centennial Wings 1, the inaugural science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM)-focused programme launched in July 2016 on the date of Boeing’s centennial, inspiring ATC cadets from Northern Ireland to successfully build a Sting S4 ultralight aircraft from a kit in celebration of 100 years of the Royal Air Force (RAF), with the completed aircraft — G-NIAC — on public display for the first time at the Royal International Air Tattoo.

The Centennial Wings Sting S4 aircraft will for the first time be on display at a public airshow, providing an inspiring example at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) of what can be achieved by young people.

In 2016, the Air League, Boeing UK and RAF Air Cadets joined forces on the date of Boeing’s centenary to launch the programme, Centennial Wings, with a completion date in 2018 – the RAF’s own centenary. The programmes aim was to construct an ultralight aircraft to be completed in the RAF100 year. The project saw some 70 Air Training Corps (ATC) cadets from Northern Ireland Wing work together to complete the project.



John Steel QC, chairman of the Air league, commented: “The Air League is a leading provider of inspirational programmes in the STEM arena for young people wishing to develop a career in aviation and aerospace. Through participating in scholarships, bursaries, flight taster days, lectures and company visits, amongst other Air League activities, many young people have seen their career soar. The Air League very much looks forward to supporting Boeing in their next Centennial Wings project, which is set to be announced at RIAT2018.”

The Centennial Wings project has provided hundreds of hours of hands-on plane building experience for Air Cadets from 17 Squadrons across Northern Ireland. Led by Sqn Ldr RAFAC Aaron Coulter, the aircraft is now complete with flight testing and certification by the Light Aviation Association to be completed over the coming month. The intention is that Centennial Wings will enable many Air Cadets to learn to fly over the years ahead. The Centennial Wings aircraft will be flown with the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association (RAFFCA), an organisation that has had close links with The Air League for decades. The project has involved collaboration of many volunteers including Ulster Aviation Society, LAA inspectors and mentoring from Boeing engineers.

The Air League, together with Boeing and the Royal Air Force, joined forces to launch an exciting new programme that has seen dozens of teenage air cadets build a Sting S4 ultralight aircraft from kit, displaying the finished aircraft to the public for the very first time at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2018.

Centennial Wings was designed to complement and enhance the existing RAF Air Training Corps cadets’ curriculum with hands-on practical application of classroom theory, in order to help inspire young people in Britain to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and to take an interest in careers in the military and aerospace.

 “Centennial Wings has given future generations the opportunity to develop their STEM skills and explore the world of aerospace in a fun environment,” said David Pitchforth, Managing Director, Boeing Defence UK, Ltd.  “These young people are the future of our industry and I congratulate them on their impressive achievement.  I’m proud that has Boeing supported this successful project and that we will now extend it into its next phase in Scotland.”

20 RAFAC cadets from the Northern Ireland Wing worked to assemble the Sting S4 over 400 hours under the guidance of Squadron Leader Aaron Coulter and volunteers from the Ulster Aviation Society, located in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.  The RAFAC comprises both the Air Training Corps (ATC) and the Combined Cadet Force (RAF).

“This two-year build project was a unique opportunity for the NI Wing and I feel fortunate to have seen this brilliant team of cadets working closely together, solving problems, challenging assumptions and in the process, growing into amazing innovators,” said Sqn Ldr Aaron Coulter.  “I’m grateful to Boeing and the Air League for the chance to bring hands-on learning into the development programme of these cadets.”

The programme is designed to enhance the existing RAFAC curriculum with hands-on practical application of classroom theory, in order to help inspire young people in Britain to study STEM subjects and to take an interest in careers in the military and aerospace.  Now the aircraft build has been successfully completed, G-NIAC will be handed over to the Royal Air Force Flying Clubs’ Association (RAFFCA) who will operate the aircraft to develop and enhance the air-mindedness of RAF Air Cadets across the UK from its base at RAF Syerston.

Centennial Wings 2
Due to the success of the first build, Boeing, the Air League and the RAF have decided to extend the project and today have announced that Centennial Wings 2 will be located in Scotland.  The build will start in late 2018, with a target completion date of 2020.  The UK’s fleet of Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft will be based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, north-east Scotland, once they enter into service with the RAF in 2019.

“We are delighted to be working with Boeing and the Air League to welcome Centennial Wings 2 to Scotland.  We look forward to capitalising on local Boeing technical expertise, coming to Moray as part of the P-8A programme, to lead the build team and together we will ensure that as many young people as possible benefit from this extraordinary STEM learning opportunity. We are grateful to Boeing for their generosity in providing our young people with this unique opportunity to build an aeroplane,” said Air Vice Marshal Ross Paterson CB OBE ADC DL, Air Officer Scotland.

Boeing supports The Air League, a UK charity founded in 1909, with the aim of promoting an interest in aviation among young people through the offer of flying scholarships and bursaries as part of its corporate citizenship programme.  Young people from inner city communities and wounded former Armed Forces personnel have learned to fly through this partnership.

 

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