All aboard the Flying Classroom!

Wednesday 10 May 2023

On the last week of the Spring Term, six Year 8 students travelled south to Cranfield University – the only university in Europe with its own airport and runway.  We were to be the first school students in the country to visit the National Flying Laboratory centre!

After a six-hour coach journey, the students arrived at their accommodation for the night – a medieval church converted into a youth hostel, set in beautiful, peaceful countryside.

The following morning, the group made their way to the University and to the new Digital Aviation and Research Technology Centre which boasts one of the largest TV screens in the world and a host of advanced telecommunications technology.

On arrival, the students were greeted by Professor Dame Helen Atkinson, who gave the introduction for the day.  The exciting itinerary included a full-access guided tour of a Boeing 737 by ex-RAF Squadron Commander Robert Harrison and the chance to board the SAAB 340B Flying Classroom.  This plane was fitted with experimental instruments giving real-time data on a range of experiments, allowing students to become flight test engineers during their flight.

The day finished with two STEM activities: designing an aeroplane wing and testing it in a wind tunnel, plus an exercise in discovering ways to make aviation more environmentally friendly.  It was a simply mind-blowing day and a truly unique opportunity for the students to explore the world of aviation.