Flying slots

On average, how many flying slots go ahead per year?
(I was told there were 2 flying slots that actually went ahead per year)

Flying slots per cadet, per squadron, per wing, per AEF or per RAFAC.

The number of allocations vs the number which actually successfully fly a cadet will also be determined by a number of factors - weather, aircraft servicability, pilot availability, contractor availability, airfield staffing, pauses, other events etc.

Lots of variables that will impact on the answer!!!


CFAV availabiltiy too! Being told about a flying slow with 5 days notice and no staff that are free…

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We were allocated 16 slots last year (mix of VGS and AEF) and all resulted in cadets getting in the air with no other factors in the way.
but i know others in the wing were not so fortunate.


Well, never going to be as many gliding slots.

How many airframes before the “pause?”

I know you know the answer already!

doing the maths

47 airframes (by the end of the year) per 40,000 Cadets = 851 Cadets per airframe
(40,000 ÷ 47)

if there are 104 flying days (52x Saturdays and Sundays), each aircraft needs to fly 9 Cadets per day
(851 ÷ 104 = 8.18) to reach the “one flight per year” expectation.

9x Cadets per day, per aircraft does not seem unreasonable - even more so when each flight is ~20 minutes so 3 hours flying per day - and we all know that a VGS slot is a full day commitment.
if we assume change over time between flights takes it to 30 minutes between take offs, this equates to a 4.5 hour flying window between first take off and last landing.

However all of that is assuming every aircraft is available every weekend and every weekend offers flying conditions.

this is only the VGS, given that “one flight per year” could come from the AEF also that potentially halves the number of Cadets to fly, or more realistically reduces the number of available flying days

suddenly flying 20,000 Cadets across 52 flying days (on the assumption its half the capability allowing for weather or pilot/aircraft availability) with the expectation of flying 9 per aircraft per day (within a 4.5hour “flying window”) seems very achievable - what is it that I am missing?

why is there such a shortage of VGS opportunities?

when i have been to VGS we’ll get 3-4 slots and will see at least 12 Cadets there hoping to get in the air…have i wildly overestimated the number of flying days?

I think there are a few bits of missing info (NB not a VGS pilot myself) - e.g. no, there aren’t 52 flying weekends a year due to various factors including of course weather; and you’ve not allowed for staff training, otherwise we’d quickly have no actual pilots; and of course gliding scholarships account for some of the launches and are an essential part of developing future glider pilots…

As a rough guide AEF capacity should be about one flight per cadet per 2 years, but for lots of perfectly good but annoyingly coincident reasons we aren’t achieving that at the moment.

i’ve taken that into account - suggesting there are 52 flying days (26 weekends) rather than a full year

but even so that is still only 9 Cadets in a 4.5 hour window. If flying starts are 1100 that is the last flight at 1530 which is an early finish during BST (when most flying will take place)

I do, somewhere, but still can’t find it!

This will do, from 2016:

The current air cadet gliding fleet comprises 81 Viking conventional—that is, winch-launched—gliders and 65 Vigilant motor-gliders.

So, 146 airframes then , now they are boasting 52… That’s a drop of 29 on the Vikings, have they scrapped the others?? Vigilants were a different “argument” of course.

Gliding slots for us were as rare as rocking horse :poop: before the pause.

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I think you’ll find there are a huge range of issues here - you’re assuming that every day has good weather, that there are no stand downs for service use of the airfield, that all the staff can get medicals from the defence medical services (a significant issue at the moment being reported back to us through regions, the military have utterly stuffed up their medical system and the VGS are the lowest priority), that the same cadets are not repeatedly sent (I’ve recently seen some stats from a region - it shows some wings keep sending the same 5 sqns when none of the others get a look in).

The VGS’s are ramping up as is being seen at the moment but it’s never as simple as things look at wing level

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People aren’t unaware of these things, but there are only certain assumptions that can be made about the relevant variables.

What you describe only makes the situation even more dire than anyone’s quick maths - quick maths that is generally pointing to a poor 100% capacity.

With just under 2 / 3 of the overall fleet either dispersed (Vigilant) or having unknown status (Viking), other factors are but a small hindrance in the numbers game.

am I though?

i have taken the 100% capacity and then instantly cut that in half…to allow for everything else.

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The fact that 1 flight per cadet per year is a target and a stretch target at that, really shows what a state we’re in :confused: Is flying not our unique selling point? We should really be aiming a lot higher. Reaching for the stars if you will… We should be aiming for a minimum of 2 gliding and 1 AEF slots per cadet per year IMHO. (preferably more!!) Yes, that’s going to take a decent amount more £££ and a rejig.

And further than that, we should be looking at ways of supplying good simulators at a squadron/wing level. There’s some units that have sit in cockpits with 360 degree screens etc etc and some units that have nothing in terms of simulation.

What about drone flying? A great introduction! Some sort of national scheme maybe? HQAC supply some drones for squadrons at a discount (buying in bulk?) and properly signpost staff on how to get qualified and get cadets learning to fly them. But no, we’re banned from flying drones outside…

Something really has to be done to make our USP actually sell. And that’s not just new BTECs and ‘school’ style qualifications. They are great too, as an addition, but as an organisation we need to focus on getting cadets flying.


Happy to be the first sqn to take part in an MQ-9 AEF


Time to push (again) for approval for flights in non-Service aircraft…


Maybe with a new AOC22 group we can get off the ground again (ironic pun intended).


Is that where the problems are or lower down?

Last weekend, Cadets from 1074 (Ellesmere Port), 400 (Birkenhead), 1439 (Skelmersdale) & 1908 (Bootle) Squadron had the opportunity to go to 645 Volunteer Gliding Squadron at RAF Topcliffe for their Cadets to complete their first flights.

After a very early morning start, three Cadets and a Staff Member from each of the four Squadrons arrived at RAF Topcliffe to begin the days programme and to get the twelve Cadets there for the day up into the air. Following safety briefing…

See more

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Three hour plus journey to Topcliffe from the Wirral for the cadets and staff assuming no hold-ups in either direction as @MikeJenvey says time to start considering civil aviation inputs. The cost alone for travel is scandalous.

There are 8 civilian gliding clubs within a 50 mile radius of Liverpool, Two within an hour of the Wirral.

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Yep, scandalous that we can’t use BGA facilities - it’s not as if there are only a few.…even if you filter it down to youth centres.

Very annoyingly, the Gransdens are rather close to us. :frowning:

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