We regularly fly three main aircraft within the Air Cadets:
Grob Tutor T1:
The Grob 115E, known by the RAF as the Tutor took over the role as the RAF’s basic trainer from the Bristol Bulldog. It is used for Elementary Flying Training by the 14 University Air Squadrons and 12 Air Experience Flights throughout the UK, and is also used by the Central Flying School at the RAF College Cranwell. The Tutor is constructed mainly from carbon fibre reinforced plastic, which combines high strength with light weight. Like its predecessor, the Bulldog, the Tutor has side-by-side seating. Unpressurised, and powered by a Textron-Lycoming 180hp piston engine driving a 3 bladed propeller, the Tutor can cruise at 130kts at sea level and climb to 5,000ft in seven minutes. The aircraft has a very clean airframe and has a three-minute inverted- flight time limit, making it fully aerobatic. Air Experience Flights (AEF) are tailored to cadets desired, from smooth sightseeing, to full on aerobatics, the Grob Tutor is well suited for all.
Grob Viking T1:
Providing most cadets’ first piece of airborne action, the Grob G103A Twin II Acro – better known as the Viking T1 – is a modern, high performance two-seat glider. Different to the Tutor, the Viking has Tandem seating where the two pilots sit one behind the other. This gives you the best views possible allowing you to get the best experience from your flights.
The Viking has no engine and the main method of getting airborne is via a winch-launch, or commonly known by the cadets as the “Slingshot Approach”. A steel cable, up to 1,500 metres long is pulled and wrapped around a drum by a powerful turbo engine. It winds slowly at first and then (when the winch operator receives the “all out” signal) at high speed, allowing the glider to catch the wind and launch upwards. After the glider is at the right height the cable is released and, aided by a parachute to slow it down, falls to the ground ready for the next launch. The height you reach depends on wind strength at the time, but a winch-launch flight normally lasts around 5-10 minutes, and you can get anywhere between 800ft to over 1500ft. In warmer months the pilot can use thermals (warm rising air) to stay aloft for longer periods of time – circling to gain height.
Grob Vigilant T1:
The Grob G109B, or commonly known as the Vigilant T1, is the other type of glider Air Cadets have the opportunity to fly in. Different tot he Viking, the Vigilant is a motor glider and as such has a propeller engine at the front. Some see this as the best of both worlds, as you can experience the thrills of unpowered soaring, however also having the capability of and engine means the Vigilant can launch itself like a normal powered aircraft. The engine isn’t powerful enough for rapid climbing (or aerobatics!) but the Vigilant is an agile aircraft, capable of soaring in thermals under the right conditions.
Instead of being seated in front or behind your instructor like in the Viking, the Vigilant seats two, side-by-side. It also needs less ground staff as it can take off and land under its own steam.
Flights last much longer too – usually about 45 minutes, as when the aircraft gets to low the pilot can simply use the engine to get back to a safe height and start gliding again.
Whichever aircraft you’re in or whatever way you get off the ground, your cadet flying experience can’t be beaten, and may be just the beginning!