Wayland Junior pupils decorate model jet for RAF Centenary

Pupils at Wayland Junior Academy Watton have contributed to preparations for next year’s Centenary celebration of the Royal Air Force by colourfully decorating a model of a F-35 Lightning II jet, which will go on display in the town from March until September next year.

The 4-feet long fibreglass model of the jet has been covered in more than 300 individually-coloured versions of the Wayland Junior logo, which is a letter ‘w’.  Some pupils incorporated words and phrases into their designs, to reflect the values of their school community or as messages of appreciation for the RAF.

The chance to decorate the model Lightning, and put the pupils’ own colourful stamp on it, came about thanks to the RAF Centenary project that is being led by the 42F (King’s Lynn) Squadron Air Training Corps.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 40 schools and air cadet squadrons throughout Norfolk have been invited to decorate their own model aircraft, ready to go on public display during the RAF’s Centenary year. 

For the project each school has been given a nearby RAF base which their model aircraft will commemorate, with Wayland Junior being linked with RAF Bodney, 4.5 miles west of Watton.  Bodney served as a base for both the RAF and United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War. 

Mike Hillier, a volunteer for the project, visited Wayland Junior recently and led an assembly in which he talked to pupils about the aircraft and personnel who were based at RAF Bodney

The site where the Wayland Junior pupils’ F-35 Lightning II will go on public display is still to be confirmed.  It will join other model aircraft, including Spitfires, as part of a trail across the county which members of the public will be able to follow. There will be 4 different types of aircraft featured throughout the trail - Spitfire, Tornado, Victor and the new F35 - to span the 100 years of the RAF.      

Wayland Junior pupil Carter Chapman said:

“I thought it was good because we are doing something for the 100-year anniversary of the RAF and it was great that each and everyone of our school had a part in it. The 100-year anniversary is a long time; I was surprised it was that long ago that it started.”

Faith Ball added:

“It is great that the whole-school got to be part of something so important not just a small group. I enjoyed helping stick all the letters on to the model. I even gave up some of my lunchtime to do it!”

Nicola Kaye, Principal, Wayland Junior Academy Watton, said:

“This project has provided a creative and engaging way for our pupils to learn more about an important period in history and the role played by Bodney and other RAF bases throughout Norfolk.  We are looking forward to taking part in further educational activities linked to the RAF Centenary and everyone at the school is eagerly anticipating our Tornado going on display in Watton in the Spring.”