Precision plastic injection moulding firm Icon Plastics has pledged to fund the running costs of a hovercraft that will be used as a training aid by 1869(Middlesbrough) Squadron Air Cadets.

The hovercraft was salvaged and turned it into a working project for training by 1869(Middlesbrough) squadron, who are based at Army Reserve Centre in Coulby Newham, Middlesbrough.

The vessel was first assessed by Territorial Army engineers to find out what restoration work needed to be carried out.

The cadets, who range from 12 to 20 years old, dismantled the old hovercraft so that restoration work could be started. Aircraft engineers from Bagby Airfield near Thirsk, volunteered to restore the hovercraft, and eventually the cadets sanded down and painted the finished hovercraft in Air force colours.

Cadets have held fundraising bag packs at local supermarkets to help fund the restoration work.

The annual running costs including insurance are expected to run into the thousands, but Icon has pledged its support to the vessel as long as it is in use. It will also be branded with the Icon logo.

Phil Walker, Operations Director of Icon Plastics, said: “We’re delighted to be able to fund the running costs of the hovercraft. It’s a vital training vessel for the young cadets and will help them to gain useful experience as well as building on other skills. We’re always happy to help with local projects that benefit young people and the entire community.
“The project to make the hovercraft seaworthy again has been a true labour of love, and we thought it was important that we played a part in securing its future.”

Flight Lieutenant Robert Gaw RAF VR(T), Officer Commanding the squadron said: “The hovercraft is a valuable addition to our complement of training aids and equipment. It will be used to help and train our cadets with hands on training sessions, which will include how engine, propellers and also how the aerodynamics of the hovercraft work. Cadets will also learn how to drive the hovercraft, which will obviously be an exciting and valuable skill to learn. It will also help cadets to learn vital skills such as teamwork and the real-life scenarios where hovercraft may be deployed.”

Currently, the Royal Marines use the Griffonhoverwork 2400TD hovercraft, the replacement for the Griffon 2000 TDX Class ACV as a tactical craft. The 2000 was deployed by the UK in Iraq.

1869 (Middlesbrough) Squadron Air Cadets is recruiting now. See the website for details,

Pic caption: In the driving seat: Icon Operations Director Phil Walker with some of the cadets