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RAF Air Cadets reach for the stars in UK youth rocketry challenge

On Tuesday 30 April 24 a group of Air Cadets from 1801 (Alnwick) Squadron travelled to Elvington Airfield in York to compete in the North of England heat for UKRoC – the largest Youth Rocketry Challenge in the UK.  

UKRoC is organised by ADS and has been running annually since 2006. The challenge is a great way to engage the next generation of engineers with practical experience of building and executing complex missions. The challenge is aimed at students aged 11 – 18 from any secondary schools, colleges, educational facilities, or youth groups to design, build and launch a model rocket with a fragile payload.

The rocket must reach a set altitude with specific total flight duration and must adhere to the specific set rules. This year the challenge was set to reach an altitude of 820 ft with a flight duration of 43-46 seconds.

Cadet preparing their rocket

Team1801 have been working hard on the challenge since October last year where they launched their first ever model rocket during these cadets learnt about how a model rocket motor worked and the basic anatomy of a model rocket.  Over the next six months the cadets build six prototype rockets and completed more than 20 test launches, adjusting their designs each time before  settling on their final competition rocket.

The regional heats were an exciting event with 24 teams coming together from all over the north of England to complete two qualifying flights. Team 1801 had two successful launches with the first reaching a height of 897ft in 37 seconds, totalling a score of 97, which put the team into second place going into the lunch break.  The teams second launch reached a height of 727ft in 44 seconds and would have gained the team 93 points however the flight was disqualified due to the egg payload gaining a crack during the flight.  The team didn’t finish the day in first place so will now have to wait to see if the score of 97 will get them into the national finals in June.

Rocket Launch

The lead instructor, Warrant Officer Dan Rogerson-Parkin, said “These cadets should be immensely proud of their achievements today, to come away with such a fantastic score on our first attempt.

The cadets have learnt so much and had a great experience on the build up to the competition I cannot believe that we haven’t competed in the competition sooner.  We have been the first Air Cadet Squadron in the North of England to enter the competition and I would highly recommend it to other squadrons across the region.

It all would not have been possible without the funding we received from a grant from the Plattern Family Fund administered by Tyne and Wear Community Foundation and our fantastic Sponsor 3S Northumbria Ltd a Space company based in Alnwick.

I would also like to extend my thanks to the Station Commander at RAF Station Boulmer who supported the team by allowing us to regularly use the station to complete our test flights”.