There are not many 14 year olds who can say they have tried being an air traffic controller as part of their work experience.
Even less, that they have done it on an airbase responsible for multi-million jet fighters.
But Downham Market Academy student Philip James got a dream placement when he was one of more than 30 lucky pupils taken by RAF Marham in the past two weeks in its work experience programme.
Competition is tough as places are limited. Students must provide a hand-written application letter and attend an interview before a place is secured, the programme primarily takes students from across Norfolk.
A range of trades are available, from engineering and the Tornado Maintenance School through to catering and photography and this year the HIVE and Media Comms teams also offered placements.
RAF Marham has been running the initiative for more than 10 years now for Year 10 students.
Philip successfully applied for a work placement in air traffic control.
He said: “I wanted to come to Marham because when I am older I hope to become a fighter pilot and fly fast jets.
“Seeing as it would be difficult to shadow a pilot, I have been working in the air traffic control tower and have been watching how the aircraft go out flying and how they speak through the radio to the tower.”
He added, “I’m taking physics as well as the two other sciences and also maths and geography.”
RAF Marham station commander Group Capt Harv Smyth was happy to be interviewed by students placed in the media and comms office for the station magazine.
And he told them that he valued highly good work experience. “It gives them an overview on what the real world is like and they get to take more responsibility for themselves. It gives them an opportunity to pick an area of interest and allows them to make a decision on what they might want to do in later life.”
He also said: “Marham has a big footprint in Norfolk so it’s good to have kids on base so they can understand what we do. RAF Marham receives a lot of support from the local community and projects such as the schools work experience programme enable us to give something back to our community. People drive past the gates and look in onto the base thinking it’s a big mystery what goes on inside, but then we can give kids the opportunity to come inside and see how it all works and what the lifestyle is like on the base.
“They are able to learn good life skills, information about the RAF and hopefully they leave with a really positive experience.”
Details for the 2015 programme will on the RAF Marham website from mid September.
Full details on how to apply will be on this site. The closing date for applications will be December 19.
Photos: SAC Phil Dye