Hatfield teenager takes the controls of an RAF jet

PUBLISHED: 11:28 26 August 2017

Fifteen-year-old Kirsty Hawkes was selected out of 37 cadets for the honour of flying in an RAF jet. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets

Fifteen-year-old Kirsty Hawkes was selected out of 37 cadets for the honour of flying in an RAF jet. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets

Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets

Hatfield teenager Kirsty Hawkes earned the opportunity of a lifetime this summer when she was selected out of 37 air cadets to fly in a Royal Air Force jet.

Cadet corporal Kirsty Hawkes had never flown an aeroplane before her trip in the RAf jet. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets Cadet corporal Kirsty Hawkes had never flown an aeroplane before her trip in the RAf jet. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets

Cadet Corporal Hawkes, just 15 years old, was selected for the honour after she excelled at a cadet training camp in Anglesey.

“She was the best cadet on the camp, by far,” said Flying Officer Troy Ratcliffe, who runs 2203 squadron of over 30 youths, including Kirsty, in Hatfield.

“It was an easy decision for the officers and NCO staff to nominate her to receive the flight.”

Troy continued: “She showed all the attributes of someone the RAF would look for in a non-commissioned officer - it made me proud.”

Cadet corporal Kirsty Hawkes is now considering a career as a pilot. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets Cadet corporal Kirsty Hawkes is now considering a career as a pilot. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets

The Hawk T2 jet is the same one used to train all of the RAF’s frontline pilots, including the Red Arrows.

Kirsty, who had never flown an aeroplane before, underwent rigorous preparation for the trip on August 18.

She was prepped with fittings, medical tests, measurements, and safety briefings before receiving the base commander’s clearance.

During the flight over Wales and the Isle of Man, she was allowed to assume control of the aircraft under the supervision of the pilot.

The Hawk T2 fast jet is used to train all the RAF's frontline pilots. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets The Hawk T2 fast jet is used to train all the RAF's frontline pilots. Image supplied by Hatfield & de Havilland air cadets

“I spent the day preparing, including thirty minutes in a flight simulator - so I did have a little bit of an idea what I was doing!” Kirsty told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

The experience has made her think about a career as a pilot.

“Before I went on that flight I was looking at RAF intelligence or policing,” she said.

“But going on the fast jet was a really nice experience and taught me a lot, so I’m considering it.”

Cadet corporal Kirsty Hawkes underwent rigorous preparation for her flight. Image: Troy Ratcliffe Cadet corporal Kirsty Hawkes underwent rigorous preparation for her flight. Image: Troy Ratcliffe

2203 Squadron is one of thirty in the Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire wing of the youth cadets.

For further information on joining, contact Flying Officer Ratcliffe on oc.2203@aircadets.org

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