Cadet Sergeant Anna Culshaw took to the skies at RAF Leeming in a Hawk Jet with 100 Sqn in recognition of winning the Northern Region Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) 2014 Young Person of the Year.
Anna from the 1918 (Ruthin) Squadron, Air Training Corps based in North Wales was nominated for the award by her Squadron Commander and was shocked to be picked as the winner.
Anna overcame a rare cancer in childhood and spent a year in isolation recovering.
At the age of 12 she joined the Air Cadets which gave her the chance to be with other youngsters which is something she missed while recuperating and has gone on to support other children.
Her commitment to Squadron duties and support for others is why she was chosen to receive such a prestigious award.
Squadron Leader James Errington, Officer Commanding Operations Squadron and RAFA Liaison Officer at RAF Leeming attended the RAFA Northern Area Conference when the award was presented.
He said: “At the formal dinner on the Saturday night I was sat with Anna and her parents. As the citation was read out, every man and woman in the audience remained absolutely silent.
“They listened to what Anna and her family had been through at a young age and what this extremely brave young lady has achieved since her illness.
“What struck me most was her determination and courage coupled with a natural modesty that was humbling from someone so young.”
On returning to unit, Squadron Leader Errington put forward a case to give Anna the opportunity to have a flight in a Hawk Jet.
He said: “It is rare in this job to be able to give something back to someone so deserving, but on this occasion I wrote to OC 100 Sqn and included the citation.
“We sought the appropriate authority and fortunately it was granted. I was lucky enough on the day to stand next to a very proud if a little anxious family as we all watched Anna get airborne in the Hawk.“
Anna and her family spent the day at RAF Leeming and were surprised to see how much planning went in to enabling her flight. With a mixture of nerves and excitement and fully kitted up Anna took to the skies as part of a routine training sortie.
On landing, Anna said: “It was so amazing, words cannot describe it. I can’t believe pilots do this everyday as a job – I feel so honoured that this was arranged for me.”