The most obvious difference between the Air Cadets and any other youth organisation is our access to flying opportunities and flying training.
Air Experience Flights
The Royal Air Force provides twelve Air Experience Flights (AEF) squadrons around the UK that are specifically tasked with providing flying opportunities to Air Cadets. Flying sessions typically last thirty minutes and are part of a structured training syllabus. Air Experience Flight (AEF) instructors are all current or former RAF service pilots who volunteer to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm for flying to cadets. It is usual for cadets to be offered the chance of taking control of the aircraft and also to experience the thrill of aerobatics. The aircraft currently operated by these units are Grob Tutor T1, which is a single piston engined propeller aircraft, with side by side seating to allow cadets to get the most out of their instructors.
Once cadets have completed First Class training they are eligible to fly in the Grob Tutor, so in all probability, all cadets should have the opportunity to
fly within the first twelve months of their Air Cadet career.
From the age of sixteen cadets are eligible to apply for flying scholarships that make it possible for them to be solo flying before they are even old enough to hold a driving licence.
Prove that you have the aptitude for flying and you could bag yourself a prestigious flying scholarship.
There are several scholarships available to air cadets each year. These are sponsored by the Royal Aero Club, the Air League Educational Trust, the RAF Charitable Trust, the Geoffrey DeHaviland Foundation, Babcock Defence Services, the RAF Association and the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.
For many cadets these courses are the stepping stone to their PPL (Private Pilots’ Licence) – and potentially a career as a pilot with the RAF, the Royal Navy, Army, or commercial airlines.
Some cadets achieve their PPLs before they even get their driving licence, meaning they can’t drive to the shops but could fly there!
Gliding Induction Course:
Your gliding experience kicks off at a Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) flying either Vigilant motor gliders or Viking winch-launch gliders. Your initial focus will be to complete the Gliding Induction Course (GIC). These are designed to give you your first taste for Air Cadet Gliding, and consists of three levels of instruction. On your first visit you’ll be taught the GIC 1. Later visits will cover GIC 2 and 3. In these levels you’ll learn all about aerodynamics and controlling the aircraft, first in a classroom, then taking control and practicing what you’ve learned in the air. After you’ve completed the course, you’ll be awarded a GIC certificate.
Amongst other things, you’ll be shown, and have the chance to practice:
- How the pitch is changed
- How the rudder affects the yaw plane
- How to change the rolling plane
- What happens when the glider stalls
Don’t know what some of those terms mean? They all affect the movement of the aircraft. You’ll experience them first-hand with the guidance of your instructors who will explain all. Pretty soon you’ll know it all like the back of your hand.
Provided you have no medical conditions that could prevent you from flying safely, all you need is a high level of motivation. Prove yourself here and you can move on to a Gliding Scholarship (GS) course to continue your flight training.
- Vigilant GIC 1 – 20 minutes GIC 2 – 25 minutes GIC 3 – 30 minutes
- Viking GIC 1 – 3 launches GIC 2 – 4 launches GIC 3 – 5 launches
Gliding Scholarship Course
You’ve done your Gliding Induction Course (GIC), so what’s next? Getting your Gliding Scholarship Wings.
This course gets you deeper into flying and gives you more flight time. To be nominated for a Gliding Scholarship (GS) just let your squadron or unit staff know you want in. It’s open to anyone over 16 and you’re not required to have completed a GIC 1, 2 or 3, but it’s great if you have. Once you pass the standard medical check, it’s just a matter of waiting for a place on the course to become available.
Courses can be taken either over successive weekends until completed, or as a continuous week-long course (usually in the summer). Course time can vary due to your progress and the weather, so motivation and commitment are key. Typically, in summer, a course will take 3 weekends to complete. If you’re successful, you can look forward to wearing your blue GS wings on your uniform with pride.
Going solo and beyond:
Show the necessary aptitude and you could be invited to progress to solo standard and even achieve your silver GS wings for flying solo!
It doesn’t end there. If you’re one of the best you could be invited, or apply, to become a Flight Staff Cadet. Training to a much higher level, your gold GS wings for Advanced Glider Training (AGT) await.
And if you make it that far, it won’t have been easy. You’ll have a real talent for flying.
Aircraft Flight time:
- Vigilant 8 Hours (extra 20% allowed for further training to solo standard)
- Viking 40 Launches