Air Cadet gliding
Dave Unwin is right to highlight the lack of powered flying and gliding currently provided to air cadets. Whether it is the fault of HQ Air Cadets or the Ministry of Defence is a moot point. I suspect it was the bean-counters at the MOD who took the decision to outsource the servicing of the aircraft; it appears that servicing record-keeping was very poor, so whoever had to sign to say the fleets were airworthy would not do so, resulting in the current situation. It is ironic that Dave should suggest as solution the outsourcing of the provision of gliding to the BGA and the RAF Gliding and Soaring Association, when it was the outsourcing of servicing which led to the current situation.
It must be remembered the Venture Gliding Schools are part of the RAF and therefore are policed by the RAF. Why would the RAF set lower standards for gliding instructors than for its regular pilots? One cadet killed or injured in a flying accident is one cadet too many, hence the regular checks of personnel involved in flying cadets.
In 1987 I was taught to fly at an RAFaffiliated flying club which was run then on a fairly informal basis. Recently I rejoined the same club to find that it had become quite bureaucratic with a formal out- and in-brief system for each flight. After many years of pretty informal GA flying, this came as quite a shock. However, I have come to appreciate that this bureaucracy adds to flight safety. I now make fewer mistakes than I did in the informal GA environment. Maybe after a century of flying, the RAF has developed the right approach to flight safety? I certainly believe so.
RAF Syerston might be ‘gold plating’ but if it avoids a single flying accident I would suggest it represents value for money. The provision of Typhoonquality flying kit does seem a little OTT but I wonder if it is PWS (part-worn serviceable) handed down from failed trainee pilots. Dave will be pleased that the Syerston staff are not issued with anti-g suits!
As a former air cadet who experienced three flights within six months of joining, I really feel sorry for today’s cadets who might not get a single flight within a year or so of joining what is the best youth organisation in the world. I was fortunate as my first flight in a Chipmunk was with Group Captain Willie Tait of the Tirpitz fame and the second, just six weeks later, was with the CO of the Black Arrows aerobatic team, who introduced me to aerobatics in a flight lasting nearly an hour. When we landed I was well and truly hooked on flying. Ian Lindsey, by email