Air cadet lament

Pilot - - FLIGHT TEST -

I read ‘Go­ing... go­ing.... gone’ by Gareth Owens ( Pi­lot, Spring) with a very heavy heart. Like him, I started my fly­ing ca­reer as an air cadet learn­ing the ba­sics on the T21 Sed­bergh, Kirby Cadet Mk3 and Kirby Pre­fect. Now, eight pi­lot log­books later, with over 10,000 fly­ing hours, I’m still thrilled with the prospect of climb­ing into the Cessna Grand Car­a­van at my lo­cal parachute cen­tre to dis­patch a load of sport parachutists, some of them lo­cal air cadets.

Where the blame lies for this fi­asco is de­bat­able, although clearly a prob­lem for those who run the RAF, both those in uni­form and the Min­istry of De­fence civil ser­vants. To have a whole fleet of ser­vice­able glid­ers sit­ting in­side their hangars may im­prove the flight safety sta­tis­tics, but it does pre­cious lit­tle for the morale of our young peo­ple in uni­form. In many parts of the UK the only air force uni­forms are those worn by mem­bers of the Air Train­ing Corps.

Where did it all go wrong? It seems no­body is pre­pared to put their hand up, and there’s a dis­tinct feel­ing that no­body in author­ity ac­tu­ally cares. So here’s an idea; let’s sell all the mo­tor glid­ers, use the money to pur­chase a fleet of ba­sic glid­ers, get back to ba­sics and get our air cadets back into the air as soon as pos­si­ble. James A Cowan MBE, by email

Gareth Owens’ let­ter on the sub­ject of glid­ing in the ATC — or rather the to­tal lack of it — is an­other clas­sic ex­am­ple of dumb­ing down which I would never have ex­pected to see from this or­gan­i­sa­tion.

As a for­mer Air Cadet, who won his glid­ing wings in 1970 fly­ing three solo cir­cuits in a Kirby Cadet Mk3 at RAF Hal­ton GS aged six­teen, I re­ally felt I had achieved some­thing spe­cial, which prompted me to spend a life­time ac­tively in­volved in recre­ational fly­ing. Now cadets wear glid­ing wings with­out hav­ing achieved any­thing worth­while, ren­der­ing the whole thing mean­ing­less.

Young peo­ple need to be chal­lenged; for Air Cadets this should in­volve solo fly­ing, not just a bit of ground school, fol­lowed by fly­ing as pas­sen­ger with an in­struc­tor, which then leads to the ‘award’ of wings! Who­ever made this de­ci­sion needs to think again about what the ATC is all about. Un­less I am mis­taken their motto still re­mains ‘Ven­ture Ad­ven­ture’! Martin Swaffield, Cirences­ter

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