From 23rd – 27th October 2017, fly2help ran the Aim High programme at London Biggin Hill, Gloucestershire and London Oxford Airports. 29 students were hosted across these airfields – 10 at Biggin Hill, 10 at Gloucestershire and 9 at Oxford. During the week the groups of students were introduced to companies based at each airport, with a few visits off-site to larger organisations too.
The weeks began with an introduction to the host airport, looking at airport operations, handling and Air Traffic Control. We also built in some team building exercises; one of these included a mini ‘networking’ session in pairs, finding out as much about their partner as possible within a certain time frame. This teaches the students a valuable skill of communication and networking, which is essential for any industry.
Over the course of the week each group visited leading aviation companies. On the Tuesday, our Gloucestershire and Oxford groups met at Rolls-Royce in Filton. Here they learnt about engineering and apprenticeship opportunities that are on offer. The tour began with a brief overview of the company with a question and answer session with some of Rolls-Royce’s engineering apprentices. Students were then taken into the Learning Hub to look at the progression of aircraft engineering over time, and what lies in the future, before being taken to see the manufacturing facility.
Our students at London Biggin Hill had the opportunity to visit Signature FBO and Bombardier. Signature hosted us in their Boardroom for the day and showed the students how their facility operates at Biggin Hill. Everyone was taken around Operations, Front of House and the ramp co-ordination roles. In the afternoon we moved to Bombardier, where they gave an overview of the company and the job roles within it. Their Head of Engineering, Paul Barlow, told the students his career pathway and how he’s worked his way into his current job role. The students were incredibly inspired by his story and asked lots of questions! Everyone was then taken into the hangar to meet engineers, whilst they were working on the aircraft. This provided the opportunity to see everything first hand and explore the engineering roles. Bombardier are about to announce an apprenticeship scheme for 2018 and requested that two of our students apply for it. By visiting the company for an afternoon, the students had made an impression – it’s fantastic for fly2help to inspire, encourage and engage these young people in this way and provide the opportunity for their futures.
Mid-week, all three airports met at RAF Brize Norton. This was a first for fly2help and a brilliant way to enable all the students to meet likeminded individuals. We were hosted by the Royal Air Force Careers Team, who gave the groups a fantastic tour of the base, it’s facilities and opportunity to talk to people in a variety of roles. The trip included visiting the Voyager aircraft, gymnasium, Officer’s Mess and the dog handling section. Squadron Leader Jacqueline Millard-Smith, our host for the day, expressed that she ‘enjoys having the fly2help Aim High students to visit because each individual is so interested in aviation – unlike some of the groups we get here. Fly2help interviews and selects appropriate students for the programme, which is an excellent tool for companies and employers as the students are already chosen for their interest and abilities’.
The week concluded with a final presentation to parents and company hosts. Fly2help encourages students to prepare and present the presentation, so that they can represent themselves to each company in a professional way. The week is reflected upon during this presentation and it’s a wonderful opportunity for the students to express their opinions on their experiences.
At Gloucestershire Airport, all 10 students experienced at 15-minute trial flight lesson. This was an exhilarating moment for many as they could put all their learning into practice. Our London Biggin Hill students were going to fly but weather sadly hampered plans! This group will still receive their flying experience and will be re-organised for a weekend date in Spring 2018.
Our London Oxford week is slightly different as it’s sponsored by the Sharp family, in memory of their son William, who sadly passed away. The family provide £500 worth of flying lessons, plus a trophy, to present to the student that shows the most passion, enthusiasm and desire for a career within the aviation industry. This student to be awarded the trophy this year was Ella Peters. She showed true determination, a passion for flying and asked detailed questions throughout the week.
London Oxford and Gloucestershire Airport groups had a visit from a previous Aim High student, Sam Griffiths, who had won a PPL Scholarship with the Honourable Company of Air Pilots since attending his Aim High week in October 2016. Another of the students from that same week is currently on an Apprenticeship with Airbus in Chester.
Once the Aim High week has finished, we ensure each student provides us with feedback and they are then invited to join our Alumni group – a place where the Aim High team post any work experience, scholarships or job opportunities that might be of interest to the group. This forum is where our previous students also keep in touch with us about how they’re getting on.
One of our Biggin Hill students is planning on pursuing her apprenticeship offer with Bombardier. She said ‘I cannot thank fly2help enough for this incredible experience. It has made me realise that a career in aviation is achievable and I’m now very motivated to pursue my dream. I’ve been provided with all the information I need and now know who to contact at each organisation. Thank you fly2help, I look forward to giving back to the charity by helping promote the next Aim High programme!’
We run the Aim High programme during the February, April and October half term weeks. All the latest dates and opportunities that we have available are on our website: www.fly2help.org