Not for Profit

Young people sought for a career in aviation

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 03 September 2020 6:50

Young people sought for a career in aviation

The first and only female member of the famous Red Arrows - the Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team – was on hand yesterday to support a campaign to encourage county youngsters into aviation.  

Young people in Gloucestershire may not have been able to attend as the county continues to face up to its pandemic related responsibilities, but when they can...  

It was one of the county’s many small, but brilliant charities which was behind the launch.  

Building on its years of success helping introduce the teenagers of Gloucestershire to all-things aeronautical, Fly2Help saw its part in this year’s Reach for the Skies Aviation Skills Programme quietly take off from Weston Aviation’s Staverton hangar.

Fly2Help is at the controls of the Department for Transport backed initiative which this year is focusing on primary school age pupils, and is seeking schools, youth groups, clubs – and businesses who want to support it – to contact them.

It will then visit with its giant hoardings – which double as props to take young minds on journeys through such occupations as engineers, air traffic controllers, and yes, even pilots. Its broad spread covering almost every subject on the academic curriculum.  

At its disposal is access to individuals from industry and aviation who have been there and done it.  

Yesterday’s launch also boasted none other than Kirsty Murphy, a former RAF fast-jet pilot, who flew missions in Iraq on active duty, is the first and only ever female Red Arrows Pilot, and as a working mother now makes her living flying for The Blades – an aerobatic flying display team.

The lack of children at the event – which was expected – only underlines the challenge facing the aviation sector.  

Kim Lewington, of Fly2Help, compared the challenge to one of the last great shockwaves to hit the world-wide economy.  

“When 9:11 happened, aviation almost shut down. It was really noticeable three to four years later when there was a huge gap in recruitment,” she said, acknowledging the incredibly tough times currently facing the sector.  

For Gary Murden, a former aerospace engineer now representing the county’s Jet Age Museum, the initiative was crucial to ensuring organisation he represents does not become the only trace of aerospace left in a county once known world-wide as a centre of excellence in the sector. 

In the Weston Aviation hangar too, catching everyone’s eye, were planes such as one belonging to Richard Goodwin (of Rich Goodwin Airshows), the pilot who captured the public’s imagination by sky-writing a giant smiley face into the sky above Gloucestershire.  

On hand also was Harry Pembridge, a student at Sir Thomas Rich's School in Gloucester who was part of a previous Air High event staged by Fly2Help.  

“Taking part has opened a lot of doors to me already," he said, explaining he had completed a similar scheme at Cotswold Airport in Kemble and work experience at an aerospace engineering firm at Staverton which had then offered him a Saturday job.

Pictured: Harry Pembridge and Kayte Wall, of Fly2Help

Reach for the Skies describes itself as “committed to raising the profile of aviation, creating new and improved career pathways and developing enhanced outreach activities within the sector”. 

In the past the Fly2Help’s Aim High events have been supported by staff from household names including Safran, Dowty Propellers, GE Aviation, Airbus and Rolls-Royce at Filton who have opened their facilities and talked about careers and apprenticeships 

“Our Travelling Airport display is a unique visual display activity and brings the wonder and excitement of aviation into the classroom.   

“We bring our airport to your school and using various activity stations for children to look and understand who and what it takes to get an aircraft off the ground,” said Fly2Help’s Kim Lewington, who has been working within the aviation industry and at airports for more than three decades 

“As well as the excitement of the Travelling Airport, we also bring along positive role models from the aviation industry for the children to meet and chat with, such as pilots, engineers and other aviation experts who can offer advice, guidance, experience and above all inspiration to youngsters of all ages.”   

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