16th January 2018, aspiring astronaut and Flight Lieutenant, Kerry Bennett spent an afternoon inspiring children, staff and parents when she came to School to talk about her journey to becoming an RAF Pilot and the challenges she faced on the BBC Two television series: ‘Astronauts: Do you have what takes?’
Initially, Kerry visited the Pre-Preparatory School where she talked to children, aged six, as part of their current topic ‘Flight’. She explained to them about the different planes she has flown, including the jet planes; flying important people like the HM Queen and her current role as a Voyager Pilot – a plane that can carry up to 300 passengers or is used for refuelling jet planes. Kerry then explained to the children about her dream to become an astronaut and some of the skills that are needed to be successful: patience, problem solving, teamwork and the importance of staying calm in a challenging situation. The children asked some fabulous questions such as, How many buttons does your current plane have?, How fast can voyager go? and what different uniforms do you have?
Kerry then spoke to the older children, parents and staff about her journey to becoming an RAF Pilot and the challenges she faced on the BBC Two television series: ‘Astronauts: Do you have what takes?’ using her experiences to demonstrate the themes of dream big, work hard and don’t give up when things don’t go to plan. Kerry explained how she wanted to be a Jet Pilot and after four years of training didn’t make it through the final selection process. Whilst this was a huge disappointment, it meant that she went on to be part of the Royal Squadron, flying VIPs around the world. Some of her passengers have included, Prince William and actor Daniel Craig.
However, Kerry is best known for her participation in the BBC Two series ‘Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?’ where she made it to the final three. Kerry explained some of the challenges she faced including learning to fly a helicopter, making thousands of origami birds, learning Russian and the ‘dunker’, a simulator that tests astronauts in an underwater crash situation. Kerry’s favourite task was the zero gravity experience, during which contestants had to assemble an old polaroid camera.
Kerry explained, “There are so many opportunities for children today and many different career paths open to them. Whichever route each individual chooses there are bound to be challenges along the way and unexpected bumps and curves in the road. I hope from the experiences I have shared today they will embrace the challenges they face with bravery and positivity. The children were a pleasure to talk to and asked some challenging questions, I wish them all well with their adventures.”
Throughout the afternoon Kerry demonstrated times in her life, where she felt intimidated, overwhelmed and not good enough and still pushed on to succeed. She still dreams of being an astronaut and is working hard to achieve her goal. We wish her well and very much look forward to following her progress.