One of the activities that make the Air Training Corps unique, is flying and gliding, which comes at no cost to the cadets, allowing young people to experience something they otherwise may not. The types of flying are:
• Air Experience flying
• Gliding induction course
• Gliding Scholarship
• Flying Scholarship
• Pilot Navigation Course
• Gliding Instructor Course
The aircraft we fly:
• Grob G115E Tutor
• Grob G109B Vigilant
• Grob Viking
As a cadet who has flown 3 times and who has been gliding 5 times, I can easily say that flying and gliding are my favourite activities in the corps, before each flight you will watch a pre-flight briefing to ensure you know how to escape the aircraft and what to do in an emergency. You will fly from RAF Topcliffe in North Yorkshire. Having completed all 3 gliding induction courses, you are able to have control of the aircraft for the full length of your next flights, and you are able to do some manoeuvres such as inducing and recovering from stalls, and pulling high G turns, if you want too. Before your first flight in the tutor you will watch a pre-flight briefing and learn how to safely escape the aircraft in an emergency, how to work your parachute, and while flying, on your first flight in the tutor you will take off from the airfield and climb too around 4000ft, and the instructor will show you the control, and teach you a little about the aircraft. And after this flight you will then be able to ask the instructor for things such as aerobatics, such as barrel rolls and loops, which are really fun and are a once in a lifetime experience, not to miss out on.
Way back in May 2013, I joined as a brand new cadet, and three weeks later I had signed up for my first flying slot. Being at that point, almost entirely new, the day I woke up at 5:30am to get to the squadron for 7:00am I spent so much time worrying about if I was going to be allowed to fly, if I’d get control, or even if I was going to crash the plane! And I can tell you pulling into to the gates at RAF Topcliffe’s barracks didn’t help those feelings at all. However after we were taught on a mock-up cockpit exactly how to eject the canopy, bail out, pull the parachute, and absorb the energy of landing with a parachute. That deep set worry slowly began to turn to excitement.
And then the time came. The ATC fly two aircraft, the G115 Tutor, and the one I flew in, the G109 Vigilant. The pilot was a genuinely friendly person, and so the minutes from me clambering into the aircraft, to holding on the runway blew by. The throttle was opened, the flaps were down, and suddenly the shuddering stopped, I was flying! For pretty much one of the first time ever. Certainly the first time I had ever been in a cockpit. A couple of minutes later the infamous line was uttered, “How do you feel about taking control?” And by god was I keen, so keen in fact that within seconds the pilot I had, took back control as I was on the brink of “stalling” it (I later learned a stall is where a wing loses all lift, not a good thing). Nevertheless it was completely brilliant, and I have to say, the experience of pulling 3G, where your hands are glued to your lap, is a totally unique, and surreal experience. All too soon the time came for landing, and I just heard “hold this” and was presented with a strange blue lever, I can tell you I held onto that lever for dear life until well after we had landed. And so concluded one of the best experiences of my life at that point.
Since then I have been on more flights than I can currently remember, and recently our squadron has got arrangements with both Border Air Training, and Northumbria gliding club, meaning even more flying! In both powered aircraft and gliders, and I have fantastic memories from both.-Cadet Rice.
It had only been a week since I had been flying for the first time, so I was nervous to see if gliding held the same experience and exhilaration.
Being in a glider was completely different. The purr of the engine was absent, the hum replaced by the beautiful flood of silence. The take-off was like no other I had felt before, bumpy and joyous, then smooth and weightless as the wings of the aircraft caught the wind and lifted us higher and higher. The tug dropped away and we were free, soaring isolated, ruling the skies.
We flew as the sun was setting. Wisps of cloud ran in ribbed lines back into the pomegranate pink of the sky, then trailed away in gestures of vaporous white. The sun set beneath the canopy, painting the aircraft’s underbelly in a glorious golden yellow.
Aerobatics was something I had asked to do, and so it was aerobatics we did as we made our descend. The rush of adrenaline was unbelievable; the aircraft began pushing and pushing upwards until it could climb no higher. For a few seconds, time stopped, allowing only for one breath of air before we were plummeting back towards earth in a superb act against gravity. The dive was graceful and controlled, a delicacy in flight.
As we floated back towards the ground, I sat back in my seat, gave a nervous laugh, and really appreciated the meaning of being an Air Cadet.