As part of the 80th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, we are profiling a number of the Regional Staff Officers and their journey from Cadet to their current role. This time it is the turn of Wing Commander David Miller, Senior Staff Officer. Read his story here ….
With an aspiration to follow my father into the RAF as aircrew, I joined the Air Cadets in 1975. It was an era of longer hair and was run by ex-wartime staff. The opportunities for cadets were more limited than today, but nevertheless it afforded me the chance to attend Summer camps at Vulcan and Lightning stations with flights in the former being available. I spent the summer of 1979 at RAF Coningsby working on the Lancaster bomber in the BBMF (H&S was yet to arrive!).
I was fortunate to be on a Squadron with an ex-RAF navigator who nurtured and supported my aviation interests. I gained my Wing/Regional sporting blues at football and athletics (100m) and was appointed as a CWO at the age of 18 years. My highlights were Captaining the Wing’s winning football team against others in the Region, gaining an Experience flight aboard a VC10 as aircrew to Cyprus and achieving my RAF marksman on the old SLR weapon.
In 1981, cadets could remain until their 22nd birthday. However, and in a similar parallel to now, the Corps were short of uniformed staff particularly those at the lower age range. Having been told of poor eyesight, my Aircrew hopes were dashed and I agreed to take a RAFVR(T) commission at 20. Appointed to Beccles Squadron in Suffolk, the first 10 years saw me gain many qualifications including shooting, Canoeing and Hill walking. I was also able to undertake multiple camps including RAF camps and AT in the Peak and Lake District or Wales.
My 10 years in command were such fun with a great crew of can-do friends in all cadres. As a result, my Squadron was adjudged the best Squadron in the Wing 5 times and we gained a third place in the prestigious Lees trophy for the overall best Squadron in the Corps. Bringing a small Squadron like Beccles, to be able to compete with those bigger and better resourced units was a real buzz. In 1993, I was chosen to command the ATC contingent that paraded with the RAF for the Queen at their 75th birthday celebrations. A week’s sword drill and parade training at RAF Swinderby followed, but was time well spent.
I was promoted to Sqn Ldr in 2000 when I became the Wing Training Officer, Sector Commander and Deputy OC Wing. In 2010 I was appointed OC Wing and I have had the most enjoyable time with some good friends working to develop the Wing, introduce initiatives and required policy and competing across the Region.
What has changed since you were a cadet?
- The level of staff professionalism has improved partly due to governance but also because they are better informed, trained and supported.
- The breadth of vocational and physical opportunities are now so broad with something for everyone regardless of aptitude.
- Introduction of girls in 1980.