Gliding "paused"


Yes. Presumably trained up by the same personnel who train CFAVs


VGS staff (of a certain category) can train PTT instructors. The training required is dependent on the trainees prior experience (i.e are they a current QGI who just needs to learn how to operate the PTT software or is it someone who needs to be taught the syllabus and patter along with PTT operation). The status (cadet or CFAV) being trained is largely irrelevant, the training will be amended to suit the candidate.


Yep. So a function of 2FTS.


Not that it will come as a surprise but the opening article to the January addition of Pilot magazine from the editor includes the suggestion that the RAF and BGA should have worked together…

As the article continues it indicates the drop in “youth” taking up aviation.
and at a BMAA seminar earlier this week the following stats were shared (link)
“the number of licence applications are falling
2010-2016 average - 391
2017 - 354
2018 - 332”

all this got me thinking about the UK’s youth flying organisation (us - the RAFAC) and wonder how close a link is there between PPL applications and the number of Cadets flying/gaining a VGS GS solo in the 2 years prior.

ie numbers would have dropped for GS solos in 2014 - was there a drop in 2016? (did it even take that long?)
when (if) the VGS recovers to a level where we really are instilling interest in flying/gliding in our cadets to the level they look outside of the organisation for more of the same will we see the trend reverse??


I think I lot of people suggested this from the outset, including approaching 2FTS directly - I certainly did.

A bit like pushing brown stuff up Mount Everest with a teaspoon…


I cannot ever see gliding being what it was, as there isn’t the money for aircraft or infrastructure as it has to essentially start from scratch.


Brief details from latest Aviation Customer Executive Board…



End of this FY, 54 gliders, currently 15 in service. Remainder need completion of work (what work / extent??) before return to service.

Three VGS still not yet started return to flying; 614 (Swanton Morley) = infrastructure issues (details unknown) = at least 2 yrs to commence flying.

Northolt & Wittering to get “aerospace gnd schools” (6 already up & running), maybe 4 more in the future?

Flights in Non-Service Aircraft (formerly as per ACTO 35):

Request for sites be authorised has been returned to 2 FTS for more work.

Maybe re-plan to start off with RAFGSA sites then move on to RAF Flying Clubs, RAF Microlight Clubs and, eventually, a small number of BGA Clubs.

Flights in Non-Service Aircraft = no go for the foreseeable future.

To me, it’s a crying shame that there hasn’t been more priority to get cadets flying by using alternative gliding options.

Wrong priority to leave out BGA clubs- very disappointing - more of them, more instructors, better locations & readily available. BGA option looked to be on the cards at least 2 yrs ago - I went to visit one with our Region Av O!!

I can see that summer will have been & gone before this gets resolved (& maybe into mid-2020 too!).


I think we need to accept that no one in our organisation or the RAF with any real ability to approve anything has any desire to provide any level of actual flying experience to cadets.

The organisation is completely risk averse at the cost of its former USP. It’s a ban on private providers to spite people who could otherwise show up the glorious air force and all they’ve done to fail to recover gliding. How many years on are we now?

I thought (mistakenly) that John Middleton was the cork holding back the flow of opportunity but it appears I was wrong. He was merely the crack in the bottle that let what we had slip away.


Please could you source the CEB link - if permissible?


The lack of flights in on service aircraft is a real kick in the bum.

As it was a relatovely staright forward way to get cadets some oportunities.

Risk adverse to the extreme!


We have effectively been the AIR cadets in name only and how long can this continue?

The instance cited

makes you wonder what the hell they’ve been doing for the last 4 (giving the benefit of doubt) years that there are infrastructure issues.

If he had had any sense of urgency in resolving this, rather than just being on the retirement rundown, pocketing the dosh and running down the clock laughing all the way to a cushy retirement for 4 and bit years, we would have had gliding back or ready to go. Not still not enough gliders and locations unfit for purpose. He wouldn’t have lasted at most 18 months outside the MOD bubble of inaction, if there wasn’t significant progress.


614 weren’t at swanton until 2018 when they were moved out of weathersfield after the DIO sell off, they wouldn’t know of the infra issues until then.

The incredibly poor infra and other sites that’s perpetuated for more than a decade is probably a different story though.


The situation is dire. To be in this position after 4 yrs (soon to be 5!) of faffing about is not just sub-optimal, it’s barely surviving. The time & money wasted to get such little progress is staggering; had it been linked to a commercial company, they would have gone bust, with managers fired, ages ago.

There are huge geographical “gaps” in the RAFGSA locations:

There were also huge logistical issues when they were last “used” (Gliding Scholarships) based on travelling time & the need to have a member of staff / parent present (safe-guarding of cadets). It’s not a viable solution; transport / staff / parental input have not really been considered in the overall master plan.

There should be a dedicated focus on using BGA clubs as an urgent priority. Look at how many BGA sites there are (even if you filter to just choose only junior gliding centres):

Even if these are filtered down to larger clubs (our sqn used a local BGA site successfully under ACTO35 - only after I insisted 2FTS incorporate gliding into the ACTO, what another battle that was!), there are still many more locations that could be used.

Incidentally, I directly berated Wg Cdr Flying at 2FTS when ACTO35 was first issued as the requirement for “permission” paperwork was Cadet A could fly only with Instructor A in Aircraft A. Any changes required new authority. When I pointed out that this would cause a major issue on the day of flying if either Instructor A was sick or Aircraft A had a technical issue, the response was words to the effect of “so what?” I pointed out that if you took several cadets, with several instructors / aircraft available, then it would be necessary to have permission linked to all cadets to all instructors & all aircraft = multiple permissions., It was finally agreed that a list of cadets + list of aircraft + list of instructors would validate the process. Consequently, I have very little faith in 2FTS to organise anything with simple planning.

RAF Flying clubs - also very sparse around the UK & undoubtedly will have the same safe-guarding issues.

To me, such blatant protectionism by 2FTS is not justifiable. The various risk mitigation factors were incorporated into ACTO35 & whilst a PITA for the admin aspects, the approach more or less worked. Even 2(?) yrs ago, the basic plan was to approve such larger BGA clubs in order to minimise the admin trail. Now we have gone back to nothing.

We need to do much, much more, & quickly - far too many cadets have not experienced any gliding. Don’t mention PTT, it gets my blood pressure far too high!!


the removal of this element is what i find frustrating.

it worked, not for everyone, but it worked and worked well.
Some units with PPL Staff were able to utilise it - I know of one anyway.

I am lost what is achieved by removing this - certainly no Cadet benefit to it, and removes any enthusiasm and drive CFAVs have to make it happen to “Hi all, if your interested in flying or gliding opportunities Google will be able to help” - ie Cadets have to go about it themselves which for some is too big a step


Air cadet flying is dead. Let’s not pretend otherwise.


Not dead (since it is actually alive), but definitely a sickly, ageing version of its former self.


For some, maybe.

We’ve not had a single flying allocation announced on our sqn (whether AEF, gliding or PTT) in over 18 months. One cadet who got a flying badge did so by pure coincidence of being on a course (completely unrelated to flying) in a different part of the country.

We’ve got a recruitment night coming up. We no longer even mention flying as an option.


It’s definitely not dead, but it’s a huge postcode lottery. We’re doing OK in my neck of the woods, but clearly significant effort needs to be put in to sort out the issues in other parts of the country.


So how do you answer when a parent asks questions about what is portryed on the recruitment brulb.


They generally dont, i tell my parents that flying is currently “under maintenance” and there sons/daughters will probably have to wait a year or two to go flying.

I have never sold the ATC for flying alone, i sell the DofE, AT, sports and shooting (haha!) and everything else first. I normally leave flying to a footnote at the end of my chat and explain the problems. Nearly all the parents understand and are actually really surprised at how cheap we are as an organisation for what we give to the cadets.