Hatfield teenager takes the controls of an RAF jet
PUBLISHED: 11:28 26 August 2017
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 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.”
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.
“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.”
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 email@example.com