Through an apprentice’s eyes

I’ve been Mechanical Aeronautical Apprentice here since September 2011. During this time I’ve experienced and learnt so much about a huge array of things. Once qualified, I’ll be able to work on airframes and engines of any of the aircraft here at MOD Boscombe Down.

Living locally, I knew about MOD Boscombe Down; when I was younger I’d searched online to see what actually happens here and found that aeronautical apprenticeships were on offer. However, before applying I thought I’d finish my A-levels and get some work experience, two weeks of which were with an aeronautical company at Thruxton. After that, I just knew that university wasn’t for me and that I wanted to work with aircraft.

Towards the end of my A-levels I applied for an apprenticeship here and was successful. What a great day that was – a real sense of achievement! However, knowing I was in meant that my A-level revision dropped off sharply as attaining them was not essential. Nevertheless, I managed to get an A, a B and a C.

Starting at Boscombe I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but I was still looking forward to it! The first few months consisted of core units such as health &safety, core maths and science, and the theory of flight; once these were completed, the aeronautical apprentices parted ways. There were 19 of us at the beginning of the year, 10 Avionic Apprentices and nine Mechanical (like me). As mechanical apprentices we began learning everything that makes up our trade (airframes and engines), and along the way carried out a lot of practical assessments and general work on the training aircraft we have available to us (Gazelle, Lynx and a Bulldog).

I’ve been involved with lots of projects, not least of all the Brathay Challenge, which mechanical apprentices entered in a bid to become UK Apprentice Team of the Year. This is ongoing so we’re still hoping to win and bring some prestige and the award to the Apprentice Training School.

Since I’ve been here so much has changed, and my year of apprentices have been heavily involved with the school expanding and moving in to its own hangar; I’m proud to have been involved with so many excellent changes.

Later in the year we have a placement to the hangars; this means we’ll be put under an Apprentice Master to learn our trade on live aircraft on a one-to-one basis. I’ll be keeping you up to date on the ups and downs of this apprenticeship, and what the apprentices are up to here at the QinetiQ Apprentice Training School.

Dean Sowerby, Apprentice, QinetiQ Apprentice Training School at Boscombe Down


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