The Countdown to touchdown: Carol Vorderman to jet into Norwich to open aviation academy – Business

PUBLISHED: 13:57 27 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:02 27 July 2017

Carol Vorderman at the Staverton Flying School at Gloucester Airport after passing her private pilot's licence (PPL) test in 2013. Picture: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Carol Vorderman at the Staverton Flying School at Gloucester Airport after passing her private pilot’s licence (PPL) test in 2013. Picture: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

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The countdown is on to the official opening of Norwich’s aviation academy – with guest Carol Vorderman set to cut the ribbon.

The TV presenter, a keen pilot, will fly in to do the honours in her role as honorary ambassador group captain with the Air Cadets, and will be joined by air commodore Dawn McAfferty, the group’s commandant.

Ms Vorderman, best known for her role on long-running TV show Countdown, has previously spoken of her ambition to fly around the world, having recently revived a childhood dream by earning her pilot’s licence – though she is unlikely to fly to Norwich herself, said organisers.

The event on August 5 will be open to the public and mark the opening of the International Aviation Academy – Norwich, a joint venture to train the aircraft engineers of the future between the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP) and Norfolk-based services company Norse Group.

They will be taught on the site of a former Second World War aircraft hangar at Norwich Airport, where a full-size Boeing 737 has been housed so that students can hone their skills.

Twenty-six degree-level students began training in April, and will be joined by a further 100 16-year-old engineering students when the new academic year starts in September.

ASP chief executive Simon Witts said the event would be a chance for people to learn more about a “world first, right here in Norwich”.

He said: “This is putting Norwich back on the map of the aviation world. This was the home of the first metal-built aircraft, of Boulton & Paul. “People have forgotten that as recently as 20 years ago we were the world centre for training in the aviation sector. Since then, numbers have been dropping, which is why we are facing a skills shortage.

He added: “It’s a personal passion of mine to see young people coming through, progressing their careers and meeting the needs of the industry.”

Other partners on the £12m initiative include Norfolk County Council, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, KLM UK Engineering, City College Norwich and the University of East Anglia.

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