RIAT 2022 and 2023

So, there’s a lot of information flying around this forum, and SM, about RIAT 2022. Some amazing stories. Some rather horrifying ones. Were you there, and what was the good, the bad and the ugly?

I hear the Commandant was on site but didn’t even visit the main camp…? I’m really hoping that isn’t true.


Go on. I’ll reduce my anonymity. I was there.

The good
The campsite itself was (IMHO) very well set up. Catering on site (see below for showside) was good and plentiful. Shower/toilet facilities were good, clean (by temporary facility standards), and generally well stocked.

Over the whole event, staff and cadets on the ground (at least, the ones I interacted with) did the best they could to do what was asked of them. I believe RAFCTE were happy with the service provided.

We should probably leave detailed discussion of climatic injuries prevention to the other thread, but (objectively) significant control measures were put in place with easy access to water and juice, plentiful supplies of suncream, the “stargate” (I’m sure there’s a picture somewhere), and access to the bunkers (which stayed pretty cool, even on the 30+ days).

It’s worth saying that the Sunday afternoon was heavily reduced (all cadets not on task were called back at 12:30), and Monday was effectively cancelled at around ~12:00.

The cadets I spoke to (both within my flight, wing, and generally around camp) ultimately had a good time.

While there were injuries (which I feel is to be expected on a camp with this many attendees), I didn’t hear of anything major. I had to visit first aid for a minor issue, which was dealt with quickly and effectively.

I also interacted with the welfare team, who were very helpful.

In general if I asked the right questions of the right DS, I got very helpful responses.

The bad
This year has revealed, I think, how dependent on institutional knowledge the camp has been. A lot of staff I spoke to felt that they didn’t know what was expected of them, or exactly what they should be doing for many tasks. I felt thrown in at the deep end, and briefings were lacking detail.

This issue was exacerbated by poor communications. The cadet radio operators got better over camp, but weren’t particularly effective at finding information that was being asked for (e.g. if I asked for clarification on the meeting point for a task, I’d be told the same place that had been given on the briefing screen… which I already know).

Outwith the camp’s control, but there was very poor mobile phone service from Thur-Sun (presumably overloaded). This didn’t help matters.

Cadets had issues charging phones (despite provision of a “charging tent”) and ironing facilities were very limited (I think 4 irons between 1000 personnel). I believe that the incorrect number of generators were supplied, but I may be wrong.

The ugly
There were definitely command and control issues, with either too many cooks or none. On several occasions I was given conflicting instructions, then being shouted at for following the “wrong” one. Equally, there were times when no-one took charge.

Talking of shouting… there seemed to be a lot of that. Several DS seemed to skip the “suggest” and “request” phases of giving instructions, for no particularly good reason. This was one of the most frequent complaints I heard among staff.

RAFCTE provided packed lunches on show days (Fri-Sun), which were awful. There was a significant logistics issue on the Friday which wasn’t resolved until ~12:30 IIRC. Friday and Saturday meals included items with mould growing on them.

I have heard rumour of theft in cadet tents.

For a number of staff, this will have been their first experience of a RAFAC camp. Indeed, there were several flight commanders who had been staff for < 12 months. I think that showed, a lot, and the DS weren’t really prepared for the level of support that needed to be provided to first time staff.

I had no idea he was at the show, even. I didn’t come across him, and am not aware of anyone that did.

I’ve probably missed bits from all sections, but that’ll do for now.


That would of made me bite back.


@Squirrel’s is probably a fair summary. Although most of the issues I was aware of whilst there didn’t affect me personally because of the nature of the duty I was on, there were moments where I, and a good proportion of the other staff, got stressed and/or frustrated. Think the heat and long days probably played a part in that.

But … it was the first RIAT since 2019 and many of the issues were outside of the DS’ control. Where issurs arose, the DS appeared to be trying to resolve them dynamically, and I’ve no doubt the lessons learned will inform next year’s event.

It wasn’t perfect, but it was still probably the best camp I’ve been on in almost 20 years within RAFAC, both in terms of organisation and my personal enjoyment of it.


Feedback from the cadet that went along from my squadron was mainly positive with lots of exposure to the aircraft which is what she went for - her flight IC got them to trade badges with pilots and getting them on to aircraft.
She said there was a prize for the best younger cadets that should have been a ride in a Chinook but instead they were told they had to settle for a goody bag as the RAF have banned cadets from flying (why even tell them that they could have done that, why have they been banned?)

A staff members experience was less positive with stories of very shouty (at cadets and adults) camp staff and lots of conflicting instructions. The radio calls were I’m told answered by cadets who didn’t know any answers to questions and took ages to get an update. There were long waits for buses too apparently. They won’t be going back again

No news about the Commandant visiting but was told Carol V came along and was in the paper:

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That’s unbelievably bad if true

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FYI this is not unusual. Only than a handful of tasks, 90% of personnel are “stood down” from Monday lunchtime - once the FOD PLOD is done then it is back to camp for lunch and free time for all (in the hope those leaving Tuesday get their packing done!)

Unfortunately this is not unique…with 20+ per tent there is always temptation

Radio operators typically are that - they operate the radio and ask on your behalf. A large number of calls will be “wait out” as the answer is found out from the person who knows

Its a shame there were contradictory advice/instructions offered clearly a communication breakdown within the CoC if messages are mixed

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I was also told by one of the staff at RIAT that their cadets’ lunches had mould on some items. That’s really poor catering.

The Friday did sound pretty chaotic but I’m told it improved over the weekend. That probably reflects the loss of institutional knowledge that Squirrel mentions.

Shouty staff need to find a new hobby. Completely unacceptable.


Worth noting this was from the RAFCTE lunches, which was a completely different caterer to the camp caterer.

It was fed back, and was resolved by Sunday (despite assurances to DS it would be resolved on Saturday).

Filed under “out of our control”, but definitely not swept under the rug.

@Squirrel really good summary and balance shown there in your report.

I think your info highlights the fairly obvious points for improvement. But also that despite ‘factors’, the event was overall succesful.

I hope that a significant and MEANINGFUL lesson learnt programme will take place, with actions actually FOLLOWED UP ON.

My caps for HQAC benefit.

Well done to all the cadets and volunteers, who made it happen. :+1:

Member of my sqn was there. He backs up the story about theft. A senior cadet NCO caught red handed.


It’s not good reading.

Are you VRt memes…

I wish I was that funny.


Looks as if CRAFAC has questions to answer, any good boss divests him/herself of the ‘wheels’ and talks to the troops to get the feeling on the ground. I know of one ACM who did this regularly, sit and talk with people in the crew rooms without the senior officers being present.


I wonder if calling this all out so publicly will push the CoC into a siege mentality and actually do more harm than good; to reputation and to any outcome from the wash up meetings.

There’s feedback, learning points and satire - and there is declaring war on the organisation… I think this is starting to fall into the latter.


Yeah, there is a fine line to tread. Hopefully the HQ don’t see it as war and see it as social media feedback and take it with the pinch of salt it needs.

Good points, often influenced with anonymity and emotion.


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Also not corroborated and subject to biases. There’s certainly a lot of conjecture in the images above. Official stats and wash up won’t be complete yet.

Remember that people do make stuff up online and/or exaggerate and we have no way of confirming accuracy.

There are also tales of positive heat mitigation measures, and the root cause of any reported problems may not necessarily be at the fault of the organisers but more localised to individuals - either commanders, off-message DS who will provably get found out, or indeed those affected. The reporting procedures exist to work this out.

So, if you (someone) were there and are complaining about length outside and lack of water, did YOU actually try to do anything about it?

Don’t forget - we’re all responsible for welfare.

It’s disappointing that instead of the usual, lighter hearted hole-poking of policy, the page owner has resorted to riling up a mob in this way, encouraging and snowballing a public pile-on.

We can only speak of “if true”.

As for how CAC may have allocated his time, there were likely lots of things scheduled, maybe missed opportunities and misplaced priorities, but equally was this not his first RIAT as CAC and the largest event he’s been involved with? There would have been a lot on his mind and probably a lot of people he needed or wanted to meet for the first time. It’s also the first RIAT back, so it makes sense that there would have been a lot more relationship building and opportunity sniffing to do.

Which, of course, doesn’t necessarily excuse falling short in duties to your own on the ground, but… Variables and factors.

We all have our gripes, but there’s a big difference in tone between some of what is being said and what would actually be constructive, objective, easily actionable feedback.

Should more of an effort gone towards seeing front line CFAV and cadets? If reports are true (and not seeing one or two groups doesn’t mean not seeing any) then that could be the case.

Could more have been done to mitigate heat risks? Only a proper review will tell.


I no longer have any faith whatsoever in this organisation delivering a full, honest and open review of such things.

But yes, the rest of your points are fair. I know that eye witnesses are often not particularly reliable, and a certain amount of fervour has been built up. I only posted those screenshots for those without access to Instagram to see what some here are already talking about. I cannot, obviously, verify all of it.

For me, it comes down to my personal opinion that the CoC has lost a considerable amount of trust in recent days, weeks and months. I do not see how it can win it back in current conditions.


I agree, I’ve seen lots of talk of such things happening but when the event is over these are never followed up on.