The most obvious difference between the Air Cadets and any other youth organisation is our access to flying opportunities and flying training.
Air Experience Flights
The Royal Air Force provides twelve Air Experience Flights (AEF) around the UK that are specifically tasked with providing flying opportunities to Air Cadets. Flying sessions typically lasting thirty minutes are part of a structured training syllabus and it is usual for cadets to be offered the chance of taking control of the aircraft and experience acrobatics. The aircraft currently operated by these units are Grob Tutors which have been in service for around ten years.
Once cadets have completed First Class training they are eligible to fly in the Grob Tutor, so in all probability, all cadets should have the opportunity to fly within the first twelve months of their Air Cadet career.
From the age of sixteen cadets are eligible to apply for flying scholarships that make it possible for them to be solo flying before they are even old enough to hold a driving licence.
Apart from the AEF aircraft, many Air Cadets also get the opportunity of flying in a variety of other RAF aircraft.
Some lucky individuals are put forward for passenger flights in 'fast jets'.
During their 'careers' many Air Cadets will have flown in a variety of Service aeroplanes and helicopters - sometimes in the capacity of Supernumerary Crew. It is not unusual for some of these flights to include trips overseas. Most of these flights take place during Annual Camps when cadets visit an RAF Station.
Those Air Cadets with an aptitude for flying can apply for a number of courses, including Flying and Gliding Scholarships.
Cadets can undertake elementary flying training at a Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS). The staff of these squadrons are qualified service gliding instructors and are usually made up of a mixture of regulars, reservists, Civilian Instructors and even cadets. Our cadets attend 644 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) at RAF Syerston.
Gliding initially consists of three one day Gliding Induction Courses (GIC 1, 2 & 3). Each GIC consists of learning about controlling the aircraft in one of the three axes of flight. GIC 1 is pitch, GIC 2 is roll and GIC 3 is yaw and a demonstration of stalled flight. A VGS will either fly the winch-launched Viking T1 glider or the Vigilant T1 self-launched motor glider.
At age 16 onwards cadets can apply for gliding scholarships through the squadron, subject to passing a medical examination by their GP. If selected, the cadet will receive up to 40 instructional launches on the Viking conventional glider or up to 8 hours of tuition on the Vigilant motor glider. Cadets who successfully complete these courses will be awarded their blue wings. Cadets who show the required aptitude and ability may go on to perform a solo flight and be awarded silver wings. Award of the silver wings, is an important step towards gaining a powered flying scholarship.
Further glider training is available to a select few cadets who show potential to progress onto Advanced Gliding Training (AGT) where on completion they are awarded gold wings. Usually these cadets will be enrolled as Flight Staff Cadets (FSC) and further training to instructor categories is possible.
All gliding and training is free of charge.