Aviation Education Programme: Visit To Farnborough Airport

Our Aviation Education Programme is now in it's Third Term and is proving to be a great success. This pilot project is funded by BBC Children in Need and gives six young people the chance to learn all about the aviation industry, building up a range of transferable skills that they can take into further education or the workplace. 

This term, the group visited Farnborough Airfield to see some of the areas of aviation that they have learned about in the classroom for real. It was a fantastic day and below is a report from Aerobility's Andrea, who we'd like to thank for her enthusiasm in organising this brilliant day...

Farnborough Airport Visit: Saturday 10th May

Everyone arrived at Farnborough Airport Security gate at 10.00hrs on Saturday. All 9 cars including all the boys and their families, our volunteers Sally, Tony, Andrea and Bookajet Aviation pilot Capt. Iain Franks drove in convoy around the long airport perimeter road enabling us to see the vast area of Farnborough airport and one or two aircraft taxiing to the runway.

Watch manager Fireman Peter Powell and his colleagues gave us a lovely welcome and then a brief by Peter telling us all about their Fire Station and their duties and responsibilities regarding the airport, and our safety during our visit. Peter also highlighted  that Fireman are not just a team but a family who looked after each other at all times and we could tell by their banter that they were all a close team.

We were then all briefed on the equipment used by Firemen and specifically their breathing apparatus which everyone was invited to try on and all the boys did this. We were then treated to a look around the garage housing 3 huge Rosenbauer Panther CA5 fire engines and the fireman allowed everyone to climb into the vehicles and sit in the driving seats which the boys loved. What we hadn’t realised was that the Fireman had planned to get the boys and one or two of the parents all dressed up as Firemen for the day too. How cool was that!
A demonstration from the professional

Trying it on for size

An exciting opportunity to learn all about the life of a fire fighter!

Then it was time to do some hose work and get a feel for the strength of water under pressure, the boys soon realised why you need someone helping you to brace or it would knock you over.

Working in pairs to stay upright!

Getting stuck in with the full kit

The boys’ next challenge was to climb on to the platform on the roof of the Fire Engine outside to use the big hose connected to the Fire engine itself, it was great fun with the water pumping out at full pelt! 

On top of the world!

Next was a teamwork exercise in the outside training area connecting hoses and turning the water on from a Fire Hydrant in the ground and then everyone working together to hold the hose, bracing each other and firing at a target (a traffic cone) to knock it over.


We then had a break for refreshments but before long we were back outside for more fun, this time in the Fireman’s ‘Confined space training area’ with light vegetable smoke to get a feel for the type of conditions Fireman have to experience whilst fighting fires.

Everyone taking part went through the mesh tunnels in pairs and in no time at all they had completed their task and looking for the next challenge. This was in the form of the team, one behind the other, hands on shoulders going into a lightly smoked mock up of a house to rescue 2 casualties (life size dummies). The boys were encouraged to tell each other what they were doing at all times.

Not for the feint hearted..

We finished our visit at just after 2pm and Peter and his team presented our young, brave Firemen with ‘Firefighter for a day’ certificates.

Firefighter For A Day

Cheers from the whole group!

Our thanks to Fire Chief Ian Fisher and Watch manager Peter Powell and all the team at Farnborough Airport Fire Station for an awesome visit.

After lunch Captain Iain Franks of Bookajet aviation who had come with us to the Fire Station to get to know the boys took us to one of the massive hangars next to the Airport terminal to visit his aircraft, the Premier 1.

A pristine hangar

On the way we walked through the iconic Farnborough Airport terminal building which had a wonderful view out to the Ramp area where all the aircraft park. Then into the huge hangar which houses Dassault Falcons and Gulfstream aircraft and also Ians Premier 1 business jet. The massive hangar is pristine, so clean you could eat off the floor!

Within seconds of arriving at the aircraft one of Aerobilitys students was doing a walk around the aircraft, like the professional he is. Iain plugged in the ground power unit and switched on the power to the aircraft allowing the boys to see all the cockpit systems lit up. Everyone had a turn sitting in the cockpit and moving the flaps up and down from the cockpit as well as doing PA’s to their parents who for a time were sat in the passenger seats.

Learning lots from Capt Iain

Then Ian got all the boys together to do a proper walk around the aircraft doing all the external aircraft checks. After lots of chatting and questions we all conveyed our thanks and said goodbye to Iain.

Iain said afterwards "It was lovely to show the aeroplane to people who are genuinely interested in how it all works." What a lovely visit it was too!

Our thanks to Bookajet Aviation CEO Jonathan Clements, Roger Hargreaves and Captain Iain Franks

Parents, grandparents and volunteers were so proud of the boys’ achievements during the trip and the boys themselves declared ‘that it was the best trip they had done’ and ‘it was fantastic’ one of the boys also said that he would be looking after another as he was his friend, which was lovely to hear.

Our Aviation Education Programme students were challenged in so many ways on Saturday but they all rose to the challenge and excelled, as individuals, in pairs and as a team. Well done to all of them!

Many Thanks to our volunteers Sally & Tony who gave up their Saturday to assist on the day. 

The gang had a great day!