Putting the ‘Air’ into the Air Training Corps, flying and gliding are probably two of the most exciting activities offered to cadets. As an Air Cadet there are plenty of opportunities to experience flying and gliding. From flying in RAF aircraft on camps to Air Experience Gliding on a weekend. The ATC also has its own fleet of gliders as well as receiving support from the RAF for flying. You will, as a cadet be lucky enough to be given the opportunity to go flying at least once a year.
The Sky’s The Limit!
Before you can get airborne however; you must undertake training at the Squadron about how an airfield is organised and why. You will also learn about basic navigation techniques – which will be very useful on your first flight. Undertaking these ground lessons enable you to assist the pilot when enjoying your first flight. As you progress through classroom training other subjects including Principles of Flight help you understand how huge aircraft such as a ‘jumbo-jet’ can stay in the air. These subjects will really help you should you wish to take part in a gliding scholarship.
Your First Flight
Your first experience of flying with the ATC will often begin with an early morning start. Once at the RAF Station it’s straight in for a safety brief followed by a tour of the aircraft you will be flying in. This tour covers the safety points raised in the video and recaps what to do in the case of an emergency. When it is your turn to fly you will be kitted out in safety equipment before being taken to meet your pilot. After getting airborne your flight will last around 20 minutes (depending on the aircraft type) and the pilot will show you how the instruments work and to control the aircraft. The more adventurous of you may want to experience aerobatics, which the pilot will take you through. Once back on the ground you will have plenty of time to discuss with the other cadets the best part of your flight.
Air Experience Flying
Air Experience Flying has got to be one of the most exciting activities offered by the ATC. Opportunities to fly occur all year round and Squadrons are usually allocated a weekend of flying at least once every three months. When it is your Squadrons turn for Air Experience Flying you will head off to a nearby RAF station for the day. By the end of the day you will have learned how to fly in the Grob Tutor with some of the RAF’s most experienced pilots.
The Grob Tutor is a light aircraft where you sit side by side with the pilot. This not only gives you great views out of the cockpit but also allows you to see the instruments used by the pilot to control the aircraft. This layout also helps when the pilot gives you control of the aircraft as you can see exactly what the pilot wants you to do.
The closest Air Experience Flight for 2121 (Abingdon) Squadron is located at 6AEF at RAF Benson. Once at RAF Benson cadets are shown a safety video, fitted with flying suit, parachute and helmet and then you’re ready to go flying! Once airborne your flight will last between 20-30 minutes and you will have the opportunity to take control of the aircraft or take part in aerobatics.
If you are keen to do more flying; the ATC offers access to different scholarship schemes, where cadets can gain flying hours towards a Private Pilots License (PPL). If you would like more information on the schemes available and how to apply, speak with a member of Squadron staff.
Air Experience Gliding
VGS’s are manned and provide cadets opportunities to take part in Air Experience Gliding, Gliding Induction Courses and Gliding Scholarships. Air Experience Gliding may be your first opportunity to experience what it feels like to glide.The Air Training Corps is lucky enough to have its own glider fleet. Throughout the United Kingdom 27 Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS) provide cadets with gliding opportunities at holidays and weekends.
The ATC has two types of glider (the powered Vigilant and conventional Viking gliders) which are used to familiarise cadets with how to handle an aircraft and what the different cockpit instruments do. The cadets of Abingdon Squadron are very lucky in that the nearest VGS is just around the corner at Dalton Barracks (formerly RAF Abingdon).
Like Air Experience Flying you will have an early start when off gliding for the day. The day starts with the required safety briefings, issue of safety clothing and then it’s time to glide. Gliding tends to be more hands on than flying in that you may be asked to help manouver the aircraft or help with the logging of flight times. Unlike Air Experience Flying there are numerous different courses available in gliding. Check out the other tabs above for more information.
A Gliding Scholarship will provide you with up to 8 hours flying time in either the Vigilant or Viking glider at one of the Volunteer Gliding Squadron’s dotted around the UK. You will usually complete your GS over a number of weekends or a continuous course over the school holidays.At the age of 16 cadets can apply to undertake the Air Cadet Organisation Gliding Scholarship (GS). The GS is a great opportunity to learn how to fly a glider up to solo standard. If you have the ability you may even be able to fly solo before you can drive a car!
When you arrive at the VGS you will be kitted out with a flying suit and taken through the safety checks for the aircraft. As well as time in the air you will have to spend time consolidating what you have learned with ground lessons. As part of the course the instructors will cover:
- Ex 4 – Effects of Controls 1,
- Ex 5 – Effects of Controls 2,
- Ex 6 – Turning,
- Ex 7 – Take off and initial climb,
- Ex 8 – Medium Turns,
- Ex 9 – Landing,
- Ex 10 – Stalling,
- Ex 11 – Circuits.
Once you have completed the training syllabus your instructor will make a decision as to whether you get to fly solo or not (this is dependent on your progress and other factors such as the weather and time left on your course). If given the go ahead you will receive a briefing on completing the circuit before being strapped in and sent off for your first solo flight!