Watton air cadet spots aircraft oxgyen leak on visit to RAF Mildenhall

A 13-year-old air cadet on a visit to RAF Mildenhall spotted a serious oxygen leak in a pilot's cabin that could have scuppered a mid-air refuelling mission.

Watton cadet Natasha Cowles was in the pilot's seat of a KC135 airplane, used to refuel planes travelling at 500mph while 30,000ft above ground, when she noticed something fluttering and asked the pilot if it was supposed to be doing that.

After a quick examination, the pilot found it was a leak in an oxygen regulator – leaving the level of on-board oxygen too low to take off and potentially aborting a high-priority flight, leaving another aircraft in need of fuel.

Cadet Cowles was later presented with a station crest badge at the crew rest room as thanks for spotting the problem.

She said: 'I didn't realize it was so important, I saw something fluttering and asked the question, but I'm really pleased I spotted something so important.'

Her alertness came as Watton's 864 Squadron air cadets visited the home of the 100th air refuelling wing of the American air force, where they also examined an MC130, which is used to support US special forces operations around the world.

For information about 864 Watton Air Cadets email oc@864.aircadets.org, follow @oc864 on Twitter, call 01953 885531 during parade hours, or visit on a parade evening on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7pm and 9.30pm.

Most Read

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter