London Elstree Aerodrome inspires the next generation of aviators


London Elstree Aerodrome, with funding from The William Gibbs Trust and in partnership with the Air League, has launched a career focused outreach programme to inspire, stimulate, and encourage young individuals in and around Hertfordshire to consider a career within aviation and aerospace.

Soaring to Success® is a staged programme, and over the past few months hundreds of young people have taken part in virtual career and skill conferences that aim to showcase the vast range of incredible roles and opportunities available within UK aviation, aerospace, and space.

Individuals have then completed industry led and academically designed virtual modules, that give an in-depth understanding and further insight into roles and pathways available. Modules cover topics including employability skills, cybersecurity, propulsion, and future sustainable technologies, as well as career and apprenticeship information.

Those who successfully complete the first two stages are then given the opportunity to progress onto further enhanced career workshops and taster flights, therefore experiencing first-hand the different aspects of aviation learned previously, and the opportunities available.

Jessica Allen-Back, Trustee of the William Gibbs Trust and Director of London Elstree Aerodrome, who fund the Soaring to Success Programme, comments:

“Hertfordshire has a rich history of innovation in the aerospace industry, and at the Aerodrome we are proud to be helping to make a career in aviation more accessible to young people through our Soaring to Success Programme. Together with the Air League, our aim is to inspire local pupils and help them understand the breadth of career opportunities available within aviation and that there are pathways available to make these accessible to them. Living so close to the last licensed general aviation airfield in the county means that pupils from this area have an even better opportunity to access this exciting and rewarding sector. The Aerodrome is open for anyone to visit, but our Flight Experience Days give young people the chance to fly in a small plane, access the Control Tower, watch our mechanics working on fixed wing engines and learn first-hand from our tight-knit team of ground crew and air traffic control. There has been a fantastic uptake locally, with over 400 pupils from Borehamwood accessing the programme, and next year we look forward to expanding this to schools in Watford, Bushey, and North London.”

With the support of the William Gibbs Trust and London Elstree Aerodrome, 30 students from Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood participated in two Air Experience Days as the third stage of the Air League’s Soaring to Success programme with flight experiences provided by Flight Training London.

The Soaring to Success programme is designed to enrich the careers education of 13- to 17-year-old students in state-funded education by introducing less visible roles, spotlighting relevant role models, and providing direct interaction. encouraging young people to consider a career within aviation and aerospace. This programme aims to challenge stereotypes and to overcome barriers for young people engaging with the industry.

Iain Sands, Deputy Head and Head of Careers at Hertswood Academy, adds:

“We always encourage our students to aim high and to push themselves, to truly explore what they are capable of. Today has been a great example of this as the students have moved beyond their comfort zones to learn first-hand about flying and the aviation industry.

Hertswood Academy would like to thank all the staff at the Air League and Elstree Aerodrome who have made this incredible day possible. We would also like to thank the Hertfordshire Careers and Enterprise Company who work tirelessly in the background and without whom we wouldn’t be working with the Air League. It has been an amazing experience for our students, with support and opportunities like this allowing them to expand their knowledge and grow as people.

We hope to be able to give this opportunity to our students next year and we are already working with the Air League on ways to make this possible.”

Shea Costello, Enterprise Coordinator for Hertsmere, Three Rivers and Watford for the Careers and Enterprise Company, notes:

“I am really happy, proud, and excited to partner and facilitate a very exciting “pilot” program with Soaring to Success from The Air League a truly unique and exciting opportunity for students from Hertswood Academy. To have this much synergy from one program is absolutely incredible and impactful to the students.

I look forward to creating a lasting partnership between The Air League, Hertswood Academy and the Careers and enterprise company. Moving forward it would be fantastic if we can create more opportunities such as this for our young people.”

Andy Jervis, Education and Outreach Officer at the Air League, adds:

“I am pleased to work so closely with Hertswood Academy and the Careers and Enterprise Company to ensure the programme has a real and meaningful impact. We aim for this to be the first step in forming more concrete relationships between the local aviation industry and more schools within the local community. My thanks to the William Gibbs Trust and London Elstree Aerodrome for making this project possible.”

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