An Air Cadet in Japan!
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By Flt Lt G G Richards - 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron
A North Tyneside RAF Air Cadet has has just returned from a trip of a lifetime, having been chosen to represent the UK on the International Air Cadet Exchange (IACE) in Japan.
As the UK’s ambassador, 19 year-old Connor Price, of Forest Hall, joined a Netherland cadet to enjoy a very busy programme, which included a visit to the Japanese Self-Defence Air Force, a VIP flight around Tokyo and an exclusive visit to the Hokkaido Mountains.
Aviation is a major part of the exchange and Connor embarked on a number of aerospace visits. There was a visit to Japanese Airline JAPA where the youngsters had the opportunity to test their aerospace skills on the flight simulator, a flight around Tokyo and a visit to Iruma Air Base.
"It was the best of experience of my life so far" said Connor. "The flight around Tokyo was incredible.
"Usually, no-one is allowed to fly in the air space around The Sky Tree, the tallest building in Japan, but we were given permission and the view was amazing!" Connor said.
The aviation visits also provided a valuable insight into military aviation in Japan and were thoroughly enjoyed.
"The Japanese Air Self-Defence Force is very different to the RAF and it was really interesting to see their aircraft and their capabilities and I learnt how hi-tech our RAF is and why it's the envy of the world."
Throughout the trip there were numerous opportunities to experience Japanese culture.
"We visited a village area built 250 years ago during the Edo period and it was very different to Newcastle's Grey's Street and the Victorian buildings we live amongst today" said Connor.
To gain an understanding of the system of government there was a tour of the Diet Building, which is the Japanese parliament.
"We got a private tour of the Diet Building, where we met the Prime Minister, Shinz Abe, and had tea with him.
"He was really nice and took an interest in me and what I have done in the Air Cadets; it was very surreal telling the Prime Minister of Japan about Longbenton Squadron!.
"It was really interesting learning how their constitution works and comparing the similarities and differences with ours and that of the Netherlands" he added.
It wasn't all visits and tours though and the opportunity to ski in the Hokkaido Mountains was a particular highlight for Connor.
"For me, skiing in Hokkaido was the best part of the visit" explains Connor.
"I've never been skiing before and the three-day trip was great, I'm just pleased I picked-it up quickly and got to enjoy it with my hosts.
"IACE Japan has given me a great insight towards the culture and life in Japan; I had a great experience which I will never forget.
"I've made some lifelong friends and the hosts were very welcoming, friendly and organised and I sincerely thank them.
"I got to see as much as Japan had to offer in the few weeks that I was there and I'll certainly visit again in the future" said Connor.
IACE began in 1946 between the UK and Canada and it has now grown into a global effort that fosters international friendship and the sharing of cultural diversity through aerospace to develop the character of young people.
To view Connor's i-diary please visit: https://youtu.be
If you're in Year 8 or above and interested in Longbenton Squadron, then please visit the squadron or go to www.2344.org.uk for more information.