Mark Goes Plane Crazy!

While many teenagers have been spending their half term breaks catching up on sleep and computer games, Grosvenor Year 14 pupil Mark Woods has been tackling something altogether more memorable.

Mark, who is a Cadet Flight Sergeant with 1137 (East Belfast) Squadron, is amongst sixty Air Cadets from across Northern Ireland working together to build a ‘Sting S4’ plane at Ulster Aviation Society's Lisburn hangar.

The year-long project 'Centennial Wings', supported by funding from Boeing and the Air League, is giving the talented teens the opportunity to build a plane from scratch.  The completed, two-seater aircraft will be capable of a maximum speed of 177 miles per hour. To add to the challenge, the plane must be ready to fly over to The Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military air show, this July.

As that all-important Summer deadline approaches, the pace of work is hotting up and so, too, is the Cadets' enthusiasm for the task. Taking a break from the work, Mark says; "I couldn't believe my ears when we were told about the project ... that they were actually going to let Cadets tinker with thousands of pounds worth of aircraft and we'd actually make it fly in the end! How good is that? "To be able to come down here and not only see the aircraft up close, but actually to put a plane together ... there's just nothing I can compare that to!"

Wing Commander Mike Miskimmin, Officer Commanding Northern Ireland Wing RAF Air Cadets, is delighted to see local Air Cadets involved in a key project to mark the 100th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Air Force and he is impressed at the skill and enthusiasm which the teenagers have brought to the demanding task, guided and supported by the Ulster Aviation Society and engineers from Boeing UK.

He says; "No matter what we throw at them, our Cadets always rise to the challenge, combining a great sense of fun with an incredible appetite for learning.   I have watched with admiration as these young people have put their STEM subjects to use in the most dramatic way possible, plus they have taken on a wide range of new, practical skills.

"The Cadets have also sharpened up their team and leadership skills and can look forward to their hard work and determination paying off in fine style when their plane is on display at the world-famous RIAT show.  As they build their plane, they are also laying down firm foundations for their next steps in education ... and stocking up some priceless memories into the bargain!"=

Mark's detachment - 1137 (East Belfast) Squadron, which meets at 7pm on Tuesday evenings at the Clonaver Park Army Reserve Centre, is currently on a membership drive.  It may be too late for newcomers to sign up for the build-a-plane project, but the Squadron promises no shortage of high-flying adventure, camaraderie and achievements for new members.

We look forward to the much anticipated ‘Sting S4’ reaching the skies this summer but, for now, all at GGS are extremely proud of Mark’s achievements as a member of the elite 'Centennial Wings' project, and wish him all the best in his future aviation-related endeavors. 

Year 14 pupil Mark Woods hard at work on the prestigious 'Centennial Wings' project at the Ulster Aviation Society's Lisburn hangar.