The RFCA for Yorkshire and the Humber’s redevelopment of an historic drill hall has brought an extra bonus for cadets – the creation of Yorkshire’s first virtual reality aviation centre.
The aviation centre is the brainchild of the Air Cadets’ Central and East Yorkshire Wing’s aviation officer Adam Waudby and has only been made possible because of a £750,000 refurbishment done by the RFCA at the joint cadet centre in Harrogate.
Thanks to the development, which included the restoration of the original drill hall and the creation of new classrooms, 58 (Harrogate) Squadron and the town’s detachment of the Army Cadet Force had extra space and were able to set aside some of it for the aviation centre.
“Harrogate is a perfect location for us because around 28 cadet squadrons are within an hour’s drive and that means we can create a facility that hundreds of cadets from benefit from,” said Adam.
“With five virtual reality flight simulators, the centre will be one of the largest in the UK. The use of virtual reality to enhance flight simulation means the experience is far more immersive, allowing many aspects of aviation to be taught including airmanship, navigation and flight planning.”
The RFCA has contributed £10,000 through its Yorkshire Cadet Trust charity to the total £35,000 cost of the centre which has also received backing from the schools-based Combined Cadet Force.
Attraction for cadets
“The number one attraction of the Air Cadets to young people is the opportunity to fly and develop their aviation skills,” said Adam.
“Inevitably, the opportunities to fly in real life are restricted by a range of factors, including the weather. However, this new centre will be able to give cadets a remarkably realistic experience of flying and will provide a fantastic way of preparing cadets before they take to the skies in real life.”
The centre is expected to open later this year and will be available to community air cadets, the Combined Cadet Force as well as Sea and Army Cadets from Harrogate.
The cadet experience
“It’s been a collaborative effort to bring the whole initiative together but its opening is now within sight and we’re extremely excited about the possibilities it will create for our young people,” said Adam.
RFCA deputy chief executive Wayne Pledger: “We couldn’t be happier that our work on the cadet centre has made the aviation centre possible. It’s clear it’s going to bring considerable benefits to the Cadet Experience in the region and is exactly the kind of project we aim to support through our charitable trust and our estates work.”