Flying and Gliding

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Joining the Air Cadets opens up lots of opportunities, including the chance to fly! It’s our aim to get you airborne as often as possible, as a passenger in a light aircraft, a glider or even on-board RAF aircraft such as our Typhoon fast-jet or a Chinook helicopter.

There are plenty of opportunities for cadets to get in the air. Air Experience Flights could even see you take to the skies in a Grob Tutor light aircraft.

Aircraft

Aircraft

Imagine floating along thermal air currents with just the sound of wind rushing past your aircraft. You're over 2,000ft in the air and you have the controls of an 8 metre long aircraft in your hands. It's a buzz, and one of the biggest reasons our cadets join up.

The aircraft we use allow your first steps to flying to be totally exhilarating. They're an integral part of the cadet experience, designed to get you trained, confident and ready for solo flying. If you have a talent for flying we'll spot it.

Before you're cleared for takeoff, get to know the aircraft…

The 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. It's perfectly suited to seat you and your instructor. It's even used to train instructors themselves at our Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS) around the country.

The Viking has no engine and the main method of getting airborne is via a winch-launch - a cool experience in its own right. 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 minutes. In warmer months the pilot can use thermals (warm rising air) to stay aloft for longer periods of time - circling to gain height.

Less common is for the Viking to be aero-towed - a small engine-powered aircraft acts as a tug and pulls the glider off the ground and up to a predetermined height using a towing cable.

The Vigilant T1

The Grob G109B, or Vigilant T1 to its friends, is the next step in your flying experience. The best of both worlds, it's a motor glider with an engine and propeller, so can launch itself like a normal powered aeroplane but still be flown as a glider. The engine isn't powerful enough for rapid climbing (or aerobatics!) but 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.

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!

Gliding

Gliding

Your gliding experience kicks off at a Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) flying either Vigilant motor gliders or Viking winch-launch gliders. Your focus, along with others from your ATC squadron or CCF (RAF) unit, will be to complete the Gliding Induction Course (GIC).

Designed to give you a taste for Air Cadet Gliding, the GIC 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.

Course Content

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

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.

Flying

Air Experience Flights

As a cadet you'll have the chance to fly with the best - RAF pilots.

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 you. Flying takes place at one of 12 AEFs around the country, mainly at RAF stations. You're shown how the aircraft flies and given the chance to control it and experience aerobatics. And the views from 3,000ft are stunning.

Every air cadet gets the opportunity to have a flight each year. You'll join a long list of cadets going back over 50 years – including royalty - who have benefitted from this fantastic experience. The first AEFs were formed in 1958 and flew the classic DeHavilland Chipmunk which served faithfully for almost 40 years until it was replaced by the Scottish Aviation Bulldog.

Recently, it's the Grob Tutor that has become the aircraft of choice. It has great visibility from its large canopy and is agile enough to allow it to perform full aerobatics. You'll soon feel right at home in the Tutor and hungry for more flight time.

Scholarships

Gliding Scholarship

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.

Course Content

Aircraft Flight time/glider launches

Vigilant 8 Hours (extra 20% allowed for further training to solo standard)

Viking 40 Launches

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.

Pilot Schemes

The Air Cadet Pilot Scheme

Genuinely interested in a high-flying career? Why not aim for one of nearly 140 light aircraft courses available to air cadets each year at Tayside Aviation in Dundee?

A further 27 places are available at the Air Experience Flights (AEF) embedded with the RAF’s University Air Squadrons across the UK. Take a look at our map to find your nearest AEF.

To apply you’ll first have to complete your non-solo flying course and win your blue wings or, preferably, have achieved a gliding solo and won your silver wings.

Air Cadet Pilot Navigation Scheme

Want to wear the coveted pilot navigation badge? You could be one of up to 30 cadets that win a place each year on the Air Cadet Pilot Navigation Scheme - run at Air Experience Flights. The entry criteria for applicants is the same as the Pilot Scheme. It’s a great chance to really expand your knowledge of aviation navigation.

Flying Scholarships

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, so the sky really is the limit!