By Calli Forbes Sherwood Park News
A Sherwood Park-based air cadets squadron was given some help from Strathcona County on Thursday, as they look to raise funds to send them soaring over to England this summer.
The 12 Edmonton Royal Canadian Air Cadets Squadron received $5,500 from the county in order to help send the group to represent Canada at the Schools Aerospace Challenge at Cranfield University in England this July. The program is designed for youth ranging from 16 to 18 years old to provide solutions for a real Royal Air Force. The 12 Squadron was chosen by the Alberta Aviation Museum.
This is the first time Canada has been invited to the competition. In celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, organizers decided to invite Commonwealth countries to this year’s challenge.
“I think I speak for the rest of the team on how very proud we are to be accepted to this challenge and how it’s not one of those things that many people get the chance to have,” said Sgt. Matthew Mclean, a member of the team being sent to England. “Being in cadets, it also really heightens the chance of this kind of thing happening, because we are well known.”
The 12 Squadron has been in operation for 70 years, making it the second longest serving cadet unit in Canada.
This year’s challenge requires contestants to create a design concept for an unmanned air vehicle (UAV) that could potentially be used by the Royal Air Force.
Four cadets from the 12 Squadron are being sent to challenge, including Mclean, 16; Warrant Officer Second Class Richard Oxlade, 18; Flight Sgt. Tyvon Harvey,16; and Flight Cpl. Harry Bayrock, 16. Each member has been involved with cadets for three to six years.
The group has started and will continue to undergo an intense training regimen to prepare for the challenge. The team has spent time at NAV Canada at the Edmonton International Airport to learn about aerospace concepts, and will also receive training and insight from engineers in the Edmonton-based 408 Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron.
Prior to their departure, the team members will be training at the Alberta Aviation Museum where they will test out their UAV design concepts and use the flight simulators to learn how to operate aircraft.
“We’re also going to be planning on a building a UAV for the competition itself and, using the facilities at the Alberta Aviation Museum, we want to try to create a sort of UAV using a remote-controlled helicopter or something like that,” Oxlade said. “We essentially want to show the public what we’ve been doing over the next few weeks and we hope to represent Canada well in England once the competition comes around.”
Harvey said he is nervous about the competition, but is certain that, with their training and dedication, the team can be successful.
“I walked into this and I was like: ‘Yes, I know it’s going to be hard. I know I’m going to have to train myself, show a lot of dedication and just give it all I got, but in the end it’s worth it,’ ” Harvey said. “We’re the first team in Canada. We’ve been chosen, our squadron, so we get to go to England and just represent, so we want to be ready as much as possible. That’s why were preparing so much… so that we will win with our dedication and our persistence.”
Due to the time frame of this year’s challenge, the Sherwood Park squadron did not have to compete in order to attend the event. In future years, the selection process will become a competition between the Greater Edmonton area air cadet squadrons, and eventually evolve to a national competition.
“It’s a lucky shot that we were chosen this year, with the no-competition thing, but I do believe, for next year, that we’ll definitely have the one edge,” Bayrock said.
The members all agree that being apart of the squadron has taught them self-confidence and dedication.
“I think it’s helped me to become a lot more mature than I used to be before I went into cadets, and self-discipline and maturity will bring you very far in this world,” Mclean said. “I also think that it’s changed me a lot, but there’s lots of people in Canada that don’t even know about this program that I think people should know about, because this is an awesome program. The kind of stuff that you do here and the kind of stuff that cadets teaches you, you can’t get anywhere else.”
The Squadron is hoping to raise $45,000 over the next 60 to 90 days before they depart for England in July, having already raised $10,000, which includes the donation made by the county.
The Alberta Aviation Museum is asking the public for help in raising the funds. All donations to the project should be directed specifically to the Alberta Aviation Museum Schools Aerospace Challenge Program and are eligible for a Canada Revenue Agency-accepted Charitable Tax receipt.