The overview

On a damp November Sunday morning over 160 Cub Scouts (ages 8 to 10 ½), adult Leaders and parent helpers arrived at the Duxford Imperial War Museum to begin a day of exploration. The Cubs came from across Hinchingbrooke Scout District (which covers an area from Sawtry, through Huntingdon and down to St Neots).  They were there to take on the challenge of the Cub Air Activities badge – learning about different aspects of the aviation world and, of course, having a lot of fun at the same time.

After the initial briefing the Cubs headed off to explore the 8 hangers, packed with historic aircraft and informative displays. The American aircraft hanger impressed many, particularly the enormous Stratofortress, whilst the Battle of Britain displays generated discussions about the ‘The Few’ as well as the many impacted by the bombing of towns and cities.

As usual the inquisitive nature of young people provided some interesting moments. Some struggled to understand how people lived before mobile phones, another suggested that planes with folding wings should flap them to fly!

Over their packed lunches the Cubs completed a quiz, leading them through aspects of aviation safety, airline registration details, and aircraft types. Then back out to explore other areas of the site, including the Land Warfare hanger and watching the demonstration of Concorde’s nose lowering.

All too soon departure time approached. Everyone gathered in Hanger 1, in front a Spitfire, for a District photo and farewells. Aidan Joy, District Commissioner for Hinchingbrooke, thanked everyone for coming and making the event a great success. Now over to the Cub Leaders to award those Air Activities Badges, and to the parents to get them sewn onto uniforms!

A leader’s perspective

“We arrived at Duxford Imperial War Museum for our first Hinchingbrooke District Cubs event to see familiar faces amongst the leaders and plenty of excited Cubs. After the formalities of paying for tickets and depositing our lunches, we headed off to one of the furthest hangers for our first exhibit, walking (mainly running!) the length of the site at a speed rivalled only by Concorde. The sleek hanger 7 houses the American Air Museum. The enthusiasm of the Cubs was brilliant…they enjoyed marvelling at the planes. especially the enormous Stratofortress held there. With plenty of interactive displays and uniforms to try on, we struggled to keep to our busy schedule! Not a good sign (or maybe an excellent one!) for our first hanger!

After grabbing a sneaky coffee we gathered the Pack then headed over to the neighbouring hanger 8 for the Land Warfare exhibit. We passed a number of our fellow Cubs on the way, all equally excited and amazed at the incredible site. Hanger 8 was very humbling and prompted some very interesting discussions about barbed wire and thinking about how it must have felt to have been sat in one of the boats. Even our youngest Cubs were engaged in deep and thought-provoking conversations.

By this point it was nearly lunch time so we headed back to Hanger 1 to find our lunches. Here we were greeted by Aidan, our District Commissioner, with his wonderful assistant for the day, Anne. Whilst eating, the Cubs completed their booklets and we discussed what they most wanted to see – Concorde and Spitfires were top of the list.

Refuelling completed, we headed back to Hanger 5 for the Conservation in Action exhibit, swiftly followed by Hanger 4 for the Battle of Britain. Here we found very engaging museum staff who happily answered all our Cubs’ questions, and who complimented us on our interested and polite Cubs! They also told us to head to Hanger 2 for more Spitfires, as some of our Cubs were Spitfire enthusiasts…so that’s exactly where we headed next. In the Flying Aircraft hanger we saw planes being worked on, with the engine smells that go with that! The Cubs were fascinated by the paintings on the planes and the names they had been given.

We had to skip Hanger 3 with the Air and Sea exhibit so that we could make it back to Hanger 1 in time to see the lowering of Concorde’s nose cone. This was very exciting, seeing how far the nose could be lowered (17 degrees) and seeing the heat shield being lowered and raised (to protect the cabin from the 125 degree heat). At Concorde we discovered the lost Cub woggle that everyone had been asked to keep an eye out for on our District WhatsApp group. Ironically we then discovered one of our own Cubs had lost their woggle too, which had been retrieved for us by another Pack!

A quick whizz round hanger 1 before heading to the promised Gift Shop where Cubs stocked up on important supplies of chocolate, magnets, aeroplanes and aviator sunglasses! Back to Hanger 1 for our District Group photo with the rest of the Cubs, lots of leaders and volunteers, one Supermarine Spitfire F.24  plane and the ever smiling Aidan as chief photographer, Cub noise creator and the reason we were all gathered there together, happy and tired.

We had a fabulous day, as did everyone we spoke to. We only had one disappointed Cub, who was feeling sad because she had wanted to read all the information signs and not had time to! A feeling of ‘one big happy family’ certainly felt apparent on the day, and we are very much looking forward to the District Swimming Gala next year and the Summer Camp. Thanks Hinchingbrooke!”

Thanks to Aidan Joy and Michelle Wootton for these details and photos. If your Section are out and about and you’d like to share the adventure with others (which might in turn provide inspiration for new events and activities to others) please just submit a story.