AEF Contingency and Concurrent Activity

Perhaps the more pertinent area for critsism is the shoddy attitude pretty much all AEF pilots seem to have about anything other than advancing the power lever and getting airbourne for “a sortie”.

AEFs should be forced to have as a minimum a relevant bad weather contingency. So if cadets can’t fly ALL the pilots stay and
give cadets detailed aircraft tours in the hanger.
Or take them through check lists.
Or map reading.
Or comms
Or anything aviation related.

Simply turning up, sitting in a seat and repeating the same exercises is not good enough.

EVERY element of cadet activity has changed, why not AEF? The whole AEF experience needs updating badly.

And I am sad to say it but a lot of the AEF pilots need to have the sticks removed from their arses and be shown why they are ALLOWED to do what they do.

For the cadets at HQAC discretion.

I bet the UAS get a better all round experience. But then of course 18 to 21 year olds are more likely to be impressed by “stories” from the old boys.

Sort your house out AEFs!

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some may recall this was the “Vision” of Moulds and the RACs.

I believe it was his son, or friend’s son who as a Cadet up in the tip of Scotland had a ballache of a journey to their nearest AEF, to sit around for an hour waiting for the weather to improve, it didn’t so was turned back for a 3 hour return journey.

He wanted to make that 6 hour return trip worthwhile and have concurrent/alternative activities taking place at a RAC.

Personally I like the idea of AEF pilots taking the lead on the alternative activity. It is all well and good saying a RAC is full of radio kit, or set up for a map reading exercise, leadership tasks, initiative exercises, camp-craft/IET training or other – but if the half dozen escorting staff on the coach are not the CFAVs with the right skills, knowledge or experience (or even authorisation) to teach X, Y or Z then the RAC is a white elephant.

If the pilots have committed to a date of AEF flying then they can turn up and either fly or offer something else within their remit using the RAC kit – be that “advanced” PTT work touching on air or pilot nav, a tour of the aircraft or otherwise.

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You don’t need to tell me anything old chap. Sorry you feel that way.

It’s a bit like a contract really. The visiting staff bring the cadets with all the right paperwork and we fly them.

As stated. We can’t do anything about the weather. It’s unpredictable.

As for other activity at AEF/ VGS, then some sites have other things to do there. The visiting staff can always ask for the extras you’ve highlighted, but in my experience that’s rare and most want to get home ASAP as soon as it’s clear there’s no flying…

I don’t have an issue with doing the extra stuff you’re suggesting.

What you have to bear in mind is that the vast majority of AEF staff pilots / VGS instructors are volunteers and whilst some may wish to stay ‘on duty’ to assist with other activity, some may not and will take the decision to go home.

And what about the volunteers who transport the cadets, run squadrons etc etc!
If I drive 4 cadets hours to fly and it’s cancelled I still have to drive them home. After achieving nothing!

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beat me to it.

we are all volunteers with the same aim - to give Cadets a flying/aviation experience

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We all know there’s a risk that you might travel and the weather affects your day.
So why is that an issue solely for the AEF/ VGS staff. It’s partly your issue.

Why don’t YOU make contingencies for bad weather and think about what alternatives you have if the weather or something else affects your visit?

The attitude that this is a problem for the AEF/ VGS to solve is a typical pass the buck solution…

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Give it a couple of years and your service will no longer be required especially with that attitude.


Well…It was you that came in with both barrels in a rather unbelievable way…

Not quite sure what you find so questionable about my comments?

We bring cadets for a flying experience delivered by volunteers who commit a day to provide that.
If rained off, AEFs should provide a another syllabus relevant activity.

That is the way the RAFAC works now.

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i sympathise with the situation.

however from Paracetamol’s point of view, we CFAVs and Cadets are at the mercy of the AEF’s go/no go decision.
It is the AEF who put us in the situation where an alternative is required, is there not an element of responsibility with that decision of commitment and “providing a service”?

if i go on holiday and the flight is delayed or cancelled and I am force to catch a later flight, it is the flight operator who puts it right, or at least softens the blow by offering compensation vouchers puts me up in a hotel for the night until the situation can be resolved.

I appreciate that if the weather isn’t suitable for AEF activities a hotel stay for flying tomorrow won’t work, and vouchers for McDs although popular wouldn’t be practical either
but given a coach load of people have in good faith made a commitment it is cold of the AEF staff to basically say “tough - better luck next time” and be off home before the coach has reached the motorway junction for the return journey

i think this is the frustration that Paracetamol is letting out

I have been in an odd situation where I have been served by the same AEF living both 30 minutes away and having found a job after graduation 3 hours away.

As a Cadet I flew on my birthday picking up a last minute available flight when my CO phoned up as we were a “local unit”

Later as a CFAV I was up on the weekend to catch a coach to get me to the same AEF 3 hours coach trip away and was sat in the briefing room knowing full well flying wasn’t going to happen. The morning flying was binned off due to the fog and we were told they [the pilots] expected it to lift late morning. After an hour it hadn’t improved and so trundled our way back home having achieved nothing.

The pilots, ground crew and aircraft were all in place and equally were sat around.

No one had achieved anything that day – what is stopping those AEF staff from achieving something for the Cadets and provide “something”??

At least then something could have been rescued from an otherwise pointless excuse for the day…

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Because you are supposed to be the experts when it comes to flying, the ‘real life’ aviation link, something that, for the majority of cadets, they’ll never experience again. When they see the attitude of “well, I can’t fly, so **** it, I’m off”, it’s incredibly disheartening. You’re a different crowd that do something more interesting than their normal staff, and they look to you to give them a different experience.

If you’re abdicating that responsibility, fine.

I’m certainly not abdicating my responsibility, just pointing out that you have a responsibility to provide alternatives as well.

A lot of visitors don’t want to stay if their visit is curtailed. If a group of staff and cadets decide they don’t want to stay then the AEF won’t insist they do to do some aviation ground training. If you’re supervising a group of cadets, you’re still responsible for them and what they do if you decide to leave early.

Personally, I’m more than happy to give cadets and staff some training if that’s what they want.

There’s politics involved here as well of course. The aviation ground training package is controlled by 2FTS so the AEFs aren’t allowed to deliver that package. There are potentially other things that could be achieved on the ground for visiting cadets and staff but this is dependant upon other factors. For example it may not be possible to show the cadets around an aircraft in the hangar if engineers are working on them.

The AEF could give you access to a computer and you could do some training with your cadets. This is an alternative you could consider? Some AEF sites are located near to other facilities that with some planning or thought could be used as a contingency?

Or YOU could provide another syllabus relevant activity?

Or isn’t that the way the RAFAC works now?

A couple of personal points to add to this discussion.

I have in my 10 years flying spent far more time waiting for met/aircraft/instructors/slots than I have had flying. It’s a part of aviation and it will not disappear at any point of your career so you have to learn to manage the disappointment. As an AEF pilot I am continually disappointed that we can’t deliver for whatever reason on the day. It’s not just the cadets who feel that way.

Secondly I agree that a contingency plan is a good idea however I have taken cadets for an aircraft tour and it’s not heartening. Unless we are provided with reasorces there is little you can improvise. Certainly most cadets I have shown around would rather have been going home earlier.

I’m not an instructor, I can talk for hours about airplanes but not in an accessible way! If we had a Sim it would be different but unfortunately we have airplanes and a kettle an not much else.

Personally the best solution I could see is for staff to bring some equipment for alternative activities. Leadership activity’s spring to mind.

Unfortunately what it boils down to is that if I’m not flying airplanes I’m not much use to the ATC! If the RAFAC isn’t satisfied, the solution is to ask for change from your provider I.E. 6FTS and also provide a budget. This isn’t going to be solved by personal attacks on volunteers.


Also I suggest that focusing on flying is a good thing. There is a lot of discussion that the AGS is a sticking plaster so why divert efforts when we have aircraft to fly.

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If you’re not an instructor… why are you taking cadets flying!

The issue is attitude at AEFs. There is absolutely no reason pilots cannot teach a flying related subject.
You just don’t want to.

That’s fine.
Personally I would shut AEFs, kill off the completely worthless and expensive UAS and put all that resource into cadet gliding.
But thankfully for the sky gods it isn’t my train set.

Get as many cadets flying as cheaply as possibly.


It’s obvious you know little about AEFs

On one hand you want us to do more and on the other you want us disbanded? Which is it?

Are you seriously suggesting we start putting the RAFs most precious cargo in aeroplanes after negotiating the cheapest option??

Have you heard of Haddon Cave??

I.E. don’t waste time and resources on ancillary activities?

As to being an instructor, I am a qualified pilot. I volunteer to fly kids for an Air Experience, I do not and am not qualified to instruct. That is true of most AEF pilots. The training and currency burden per person would be huge if you wanted all instructors.


As listed above - the AEF would be in by far the best position to deliver a relevant alternative activity. Yes, visiting staff could probably come up with something if necessary, but the AEF are already familiar with the facilities (being their unit they know what is available), could easily come up with a standardised format (10 AEFs coming up with a plan rather than 1000+ RAFAC units) and have the knowledge to deliver it.

As a fairly close analogy, if I was running a fieldcraft exercise and weather (or some other factor) meant that we couldn’t go outside for a while I’d try my hardest to provide a relevant FT-related - rather than just deciding I didn’t want to and expecting the admin cell or some CFAVs who had just attended to provide transport to keep the cadets amused.

I don’t see why AEF should be any different…

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