Ever Fancied Building Your Own Aeroplane? (Part 3)

NSSA Opening_16

We have reported on the work to date in getting ready for students at the North Suffolk Skills Academy (NSSA) in Halesworth to take on the task of building a Sherwood Ranger aircraft, including the well received and much visited stand at the Friends and Families’ Day held at RAF Marham back in August. As you can imagine, a lot has happened since then – not least the start of the new academic term and everyone settling down to their studies.

However all the hard studying was put aside one Monday in October when the whole Academy came together to celebrate the formal opening of this new venture, where the centre-piece of the day was the formal opening of the Academy by Martin Blaze (Director of Aircraft Maintenance and Support). During the ceremony Martin undertook a ceremonial ribbon cutting, unveiled a plaque and presented a cheque (on behalf of the Academy) to The Light Aircraft Company for the fuselage of the aircraft itself. The event was well attended by local dignitaries and the other departments within the Academy were also involved with the Catering Department providing the food and the Media Department recording the event for a future documentary.

In addition to Martin Blaze, BAE Systems were represented by Dave Ward (Head of UK Fleet Operations – Tornado and General Manager RAF Marham) and Gary Bootle (Head of Maintenance – Tornado), along with Euan Lucie-Smith (Education Ambassador Coordinator at RAF Marham) and Baz Reed (Lead Mentor). Highlighting the joint nature of the support being provided to the Academy by both BAE Systems and our Royal Air Force partners at RAF Marham, the RAF were represented by Squadron Leader Andy Climie (Depth XO) and Corporal Jona Franklyn-Bray (another of the mentors).

Speaking after the event, Dave Ward said “Today was a significant milestone in the partnership between the NSSA and BAE Systems. I was particularly pleased to meet such an outstanding group of students and a team of incredibly dedicated staff. I’m sure this academy will help to inspire the next generation of engineers through innovative programmes such as build-a-plane and close working with partners such as the Royal Air Force and BAE Systems.”

Finally, and yet again, a plea – the Academy still needs mentors to supervise the students during the build and to give talks to the students to ‘bring to life’ the overall project. So if you would like to get involved in this project, please contact either Euan Lucie-Smith on Ext: 7490 or Baz Reed on Ext: 7385 for further details.