As someone who's idea of a good time is to drink tea and paint miniatures, it fills me with dread. I have very little idea what young people would think was fun. Many units go to Cadet Day at Canada's Wonderland. Ugh. I dislike rides at the fair so the thought of a day of them with asphalt, sun and expensive, greasy food just gives me a headache.
Last year the previous command team took them to Toronto for a long weekend. I've seen the pictures, fun was had. So this year would traditionally be the relatively low cost Wonderland day trip. But I wanted to do something cool. My very keen OCdt had the clever idea to go up to CFB Borden and visit 400 Tactical Helicopter Squadron and 16 Wing, the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE).
There was even a slim chance of getting up in a CH-146 Griffon too, so I said "hell yeah, let's do that!"
400 THS is a Heavy Maintenance Squadron doing all of the 300 and 600 hour inspections, overhauls, rebuilds and maintenance on the RCAFs fleet of Griffon helicopters. So we toured the shops and the big hanger with about 7 helicopters in various states of dismemberment.
Here MCpl Pigeon, an AVN Tech explains how the engines work:
This helicopter was finished so the cadets weren't allowed to touch the controls, but the MCpl is pointing things out to them.
We also learned that, yes, there are in fact $1000.00 bolts. The actual precision piece of high quality steel costs $50.00. The other $950.00 is all the inspections (x-ray etc.) to make sure their aren't any micro-fractures or other invisible flaws that would cause a helicopter to fall out of the sky. Because when you've only got one nut holding things together, it has to be perfect.
After lunch we toured 16 Wing, the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering. After the 4 Technicians (AVC-air frame construction, AVN-avionics, AVS-aviation systems, AWS-air weapons) and the AERE (Aerospace Engineer) Officer each explained their trades, we toured the hanger full of cool training aides that the students practice on.
Of course everyone got a chance to sit in the cockpit of the decommissioned F-18 fighter. It was hard not to make airplane noises.
The AWS Tech, an enthusiastic young lady, got to show us her weapons systems and since she is also an EOD tech, we got to try on the bomb suit. Some of the cadets tried to do push ups in them (one young man broke their record of 45!). I didn't try. I felt like a Medieval knight being armed by his page, since these get ups require help to put on and take off..
|Discussing the 20mm rotary cannon|
|500 lb. bomb|
Another amusing story. CFB Borden, being the birthplace of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps, has the Worthington Tank Museum. We had some time to kill so we go look at the tank park.
Cadet: "Sir! Can we go look at the T-34/85?"
Me: "Sure, why?" (Amazed that he knew what it was)
Cadet: "My grandfather commanded one in the Battle of Berlin."
Grandfather served from the Battle of Moscow in '41 until the Battle of Berlin. Then got sent East to fight Japan but was invalided out with an injury.
We stayed in the same quarters I used on my courses and ate in the same Mess, so the cadets were always learning new things from Friday night when the senior cadets demonstrated how to make their beds, getting breakfast and right up to cleaning their quarters (we had a kind of bitchy Leading Seaman as Duty NCM) before we went home. Between a taste of life in garrison and touring the CFSATE they got a good look at what life would be like if they joined the RCAF later.
So year end trip turned into a training weekend in disguise, and I was spared a day of headaches at an amusement park.