For many aspiring young reporters the dream is to chase a good story, but for one JMU Journalism student the goal is to take to the skies in pursuit of a high-flying RAF career.
Ayden Feeney, a second year Journalism student who comes from Preston, has always wanted to become a pilot and follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a crew member on a Lancaster bomber in World War II. ‘‘Ever since I was about three years old I’ve wanted to do it and I want my grandad to see me get there,’’ said Ayden.
As a backup plan, Ayden decided to tread the same path as his father and study Journalism at Liverpool Screen School before he is hopefully ready to join the Royal Air Force when he graduates in 2011. ‘‘My dad works in the newspaper industry so I’ve seen what he does and I enjoy doing it too,’’ said Ayden. ‘‘I’ve always enjoyed writing. I was good at English at school so I thought I’d rather do something I enjoy for the next three years.’’
The 19-year-old is a member of Liverpool University Air Squadron (LUAS), which is a group of around 60 students who form the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. LUAS is one of 14 university squadrons of its kind across the country. Members meet every Tuesday evening at their base in Woodvale, Formby and have dinner in the officers' mess with qualified RAF officers and pilots. The students have lectures from various helicopter and fighter jet crews to teach them about real life in the RAF. Ayden has also met the Red Arrows at the annual Royal International Air Tattoo held at RAF Fairford.
Having flown 14 times already, Ayden is no stranger to the cockpit. He completed his maiden solo journey in July 2009, saying: ‘‘I had so many different checks to do but I felt so in control of myself. My first solo flight was in the evening and the sun was just setting so it made it an even better experience.’’
The RAF dream can prove quite rewarding. Students of LUAS are required to attend 30 days a year at the squadron and as volunteer reserves they are paid £35 a time, totalling just over £1,000.
Although Ayden’s only real ambition is to join the RAF when he leaves university after the next academic year it doesn’t stop him getting the most out of his Journalism course here at LSS. Last week he was one of 50 young adults invited along to a meeting with Prime Minister Gordon Brown in the city. ‘‘Mr Brown had lots of good things to say about Liverpool," said Ayden. "He shook hands with everyone on the front row but I was in the second row so didn’t get to meet him properly. I still managed to write a story for our website though.’’
By Amy Swift, News Editor
Ayden's favourite websites
Journalism student Ayden spends his weekends flying planes, like his movie star inspiration Tom Cruise