Glider pilot training is one of the core activities for Air cadets. It's the unique opportunity to fly that makes the Air Cadets so different from any other youth organisation. The Air Cadet Organisation operates 28 Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS), with professional training co-ordinated by the Central Gliding School. Air Experience Gliding (AEG) and flying training for cadets within the Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing is provided by two local VGS.
633 VGS RAF Cosford
637 VGS RAF Little Rissington
Both units are equipped with the Grob 109 Vigilant motorised glider, unlike a conventional glider it has an engine and propeller, so it can launch itself. The Vigilant can take off and climb under its own power to a height of 2,000 feet in approximately 5 minutes. It can then be flown as a conventional glider by allowing the engine to idle or, the engine may even be turned off all together. It's the Vigilants ability to launch itself that makes it such a tremendous training aircraft. The student can spend more time in the air learning how to fly as opposed to being on the ground waiting for the next winch launch.
Cadets have the opportunity to learn to fly the Vigilant glider. Your glider pilot training could start at the age of 13 years 3 months and you could be flying your first solo at the age of 16, before you are old enough to take your first driving lesson.
Cadet Glider Pilot Training Courses
All cadets attending gliding courses must have: -
Gliding Induction Course (GIC)
This course provides cadets of 13 years 3 months of age with the opportunity to learn how to perform basic manoeuvres in the upper air. The course normally a single flight of approximately 30 minutes duration enables cadets to experience practical flying training at a younger age than at that required for solo.
Cadets account of the Gliding Induction Course.
Gliding Scholarship (GS)
A Gliding Scholarship course for cadets of 16 years of age or above is an opportunity to undergo further training and achieve Gliding Scholarship wings. The course consists of up 8 hours in a Vigilant to achieve Dark Blue GS wings. Cadets showing the necessary aptitude are invited to progress with additional training up to a 'solo' standard and achieve the Silver GS solo wings.
In order to attend this course cadets must undergo a medical and your doctor must sign a medical form (RAF Form 6424) to confirm that you are fit to undergo glider pilot training.
Courses are available in two formats, either successive weekends until you have completed the course or a continuous week long course You must have the commitment to attend a GS course as it can be difficult to predict the exact time it will take to complete. This depends on your own progress and the weather.
16 year old cadet gets his Solo Gliding Scholarship wings
Cpl Holland gets his gliding scholarship wings
Advanced Glider Training (AGT)
Cadets who have attained the Solo GS Wings and display the necessary ability to progress may be invited to become staff cadets at one of the gliding schools. As such they will have the opportunity to undergo advanced courses whereby they can attain the coveted gold AGT wings.
This may all sound a bit too good to be true, well, we must admit that not all cadets can expect to get up to the AGT standard. But those who have the necessary aptitude and commitment can do it. We have had several cadets who have progressed beyond the AGT standard and are now training other cadets to fly.
One of our former cadets who completed his AGT underwent further training to enable him to become a gliding instructor. Why not read his account of his glider pilot training.
From first flight to Advanced Gliding Training and beyond, Ben outlines his gliding career.