Air cadet lament
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