The Duchess of Cambridge travelled to an RAF airfield in Cambridgeshire to check in on the cadets and learn the basics of flying. She was carrying out the engagement alone, as royal patron and honorary air commandant of the Air Cadet Organization, roles she has held since December 2015.
Kate was introduced to air cadets from the Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire Wing Air Training Corps, who were taking part in a development training session. She was given the chance to climb into the cockpit of a Tutor aircraft and happily tried her hand at the controls of the simulator. The Duchess, who was dressed casually in black jeans and a red coat, fitting for Valentine's Day, saw how the simulator mimics the performance of a Vigilant motor glider that the air cadets use. "It's exactly like it feels in the air," explained Flt Lt Michael Salter before Kate arrived. "At the end of a day I have to manage the stress levels of the cadets because they get so enthusiastic."
Kate took over from Prince Philip as Air Commodore in Chief two years ago. Tuesday's engagement marked her third visit to the RAF Air Cadets. Last summer, Kate and her husband Prince William visited cadets at an air show in Gloucestershire. The couple brought their son, three-year-old Prince George, for his first official UK engagement. George was absolutely in his element as he put on a pair of ear defenders and inspected the aircraft with his parents. "Mummy, can I fly the Red Arrow now?" he sweetly asked Kate, with William gently telling him, "Not right now."
The RAF Air Cadets is made up of the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force. It promotes a practical interest in aviation among both young men and women, providing training and encouraging the development of life skills including leadership and teamwork. The organisation currently comprises 41,000 air cadets aged 12 to 19, and 15,000 adult volunteers across the UK and abroad.