RAF Air Cadet Ambassador, Honorary Group Captain Carol Vorderman has taken a trio of lucky cadets to Fort Worth, Texas to see the inside of the mile-long Lockheed Martin factory which makes the RAF’snextgeneration aircraft the F-35.
Carol arranged the trip with contacts at Lockheed Martin which sponsored the once-in-a-lifetime trip for the cadets.
And Carol then used her amazing links with the BBC’s prime time “One Show” to arrange for a film crew to follow the cadets as they went inside the famous factory which makes the RAF and Navy’s latest fighter jet.
The cadets, all aged 19, are the best in the UK. Each cadet is a top award winner from within the RAF Air Cadets which comprises the Air Training Corps (ATC) and the Combined Cadet Force (RAF).
They are Cadet Warrant Officer Darrell Kovac, from 31 (Tower Hamlets) Squadron of the ATC, Cadet Warrant Officer Lauren Rysnburger of 150 (Oxford) Sqn ATC and Cadet Warrant Officer Charlie Apel of Merchant Taylor School, Combined Cadet Force (RAF).
Ahead of the coveted trip to the Lockheed Martin factory, Darrell and Lauren visited RAF Marham, Norfolk with Group Captain Vorderman to see the F-35 up close and personal and meet the Station Commander Group Captain Cab Townsend, himself a former air cadet.
They were filmed by the BBC during their visit and even had a surprise dial-in telephone chat from Charlie who had just started university and was unable to make the trip across country.
Their excitement was palpable as they were given the rare opportunity to stand up inside the bomb bay of the F-35 with a tour from Gp Capt Townsend.
Lauren, who is studying languages at Southampton University, said: “With the RAF Air Cadets, I been lucky enough to have obtained a flying scholarship which allowed me to get my Private Pilot’s Licence and being up close to an aircraft like this is really quite immense.
“The factory was pretty amazing and it was a brilliant opportunity to gain an insight into how these aircraft are put together. Obviously there’s a lot of technology that was off limits to us but just seeing it in general was amazing.”
Darrell, who currently works in a London law firm, said: “You see these aircraft on the news but to stand next to one takes your breath away – it’s brand new and is so pristine and new that it looks like a model but it’s phenomenal, a masterpiece.
“In Texas, at the mile-long production plant, I was absolutely thrilled to see all of the Americans and explore the Lockheed Martin factory. A massive thank you to our wonderful Ambassador, Hon Group Capt Vorderman and to Lockheed Martin for making this possible.”
“Hopefully, I will be joining the RAF in a couple of years and I may be flying an F-35 one day.”
Charlie said: “I am very excited to have this once-in-lifetime opportunity to see the future of aviation.
“The technology inside the factory was totally mind-boggling, I never imagined I would get the chance to see the F-35 actually under construction. I can’t thank Carol enough for pulling this all together. I will remember it forever.”