Having not come from a hugely ‘adventurous’ background, I was amazed to find within weeks of joining the squadron, that I was caving, mountain biking, sailing and rock climbing! The squadron massively pushes you to develop yourself and your skillset, and this year I will be completing a rock climbing supervisor (RCS) course which will enable me to instruct other students. Nearly all of the adventurous training we do is led by our own student instructors who have been given the opportunity to get qualifications whilst on the squadron.
Unique to University Air Squadrons we have flying training based at MoD Boscombe Down, where we fly the Grob Tutor aircraft - obviously the highlight of most student’s time with the squadron! Having quite a full timetable I presumed I wouldn’t be able to advance in flying training, but our flying instructors are committed and encouraging and I’m currently working towards my first solo flight. There is also opportunity for regular flyers to complete the flying syllabus to the award of ‘Preliminary Flying Badge’ which can contribute towards a civilian private pilot’s license.
Having no prior experience of military life, I have massively enjoyed our force development training which includes live firing competitions and simulated conflict scenarios in the summer; ‘STRIKE’ exercises, which are designed to physically and mentally push you, developing leadership and followership qualities. We’re kept active with a range of sports including volleyball, football, netball and rugby (to name a few) which all members participate in regardless of previous experience. We regularly compete with the other University service units, and other University Air Squadrons across the country.
At the end of my first year I was lucky enough to be awarded a medical bursary, which was upgraded to a medical cadetship, and has been a massive financial relief whilst at University. However, all squadron members, bursars or not, are paid for their time which means that whether you’re skiing in Bavaria, mountain biking in Wales, or sailing to France, you can still finance your university life.
The aim of the squadron is to develop leaders of the future, whether that be as potential RAF officers, or those who go onto civilian roles post-graduation. Being on the squadron has been a fantastic way for me to develop my time management skills, to challenge myself and experience activities I never thought I would. Despite the demands of my course and involvement in other societies, this year I was privileged to be SUAS Senior Student, and work closely with our student executive committee who work to plan all of our activities throughout the year. The vast opportunities that SUAS has to offer have helped to develop all of our students and I couldn’t imagine what I’d be doing with my time without it!
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