Gliding "paused"


I’ll second this sentiment, and go a little further by asking how many people from backgrounds where private flying is not something which seems likely at all. It becomes like comparing doing a degree at a Russel group uni, compared to a grant from princes trust. Even if the air cadets only gives youngsters a broader perspective on things like scholarships etc, it surely has to be worthwhile. And not just pilots, but engineering, logistics, business management. Even though I’m an ex-regular, it amazes me how many people in my current profession were cadets and site their stint as a driving force to achieve.


So what about the ‘special relationship’ with the RAF CAC rambles on about? Doesn’t seem very special does it.

The special relationship is all very well, but in this case something at this particular base had to be sacrificed in order to complete the core EFT task: training pilots. The RAF isn’t exactly overflowing with them, has just had a requirement to produce about 25% more and, as I’ve mentioned before, the regulatory goal posts changed several times both during the gestation and then around the actual move of units to Wittering, in particular post 2009.


Or look at it on the other foot and, ignoring the great achievement for a moment, who in their right mind decided to write regulations stating 14years old is an appropriate age to be responsible enough to be sharing the sky with all the other traffic out there.

Not saying it’s right or wrong, just suggesting a debate. :wink:


Looks like the Vigilants have been grounded again


Care to give us more details?


So if you are serious about learning to fly you are better off paying money and working with a dedicated flying traing organisation, rather than a cheap, aviation-themed youth club? You don’t say!

If you have the brains and the limb-length to operate the aircraft correctly you can fly the aircraft.

However, taking that solo requires an understanding of personal responsibility to obey the rules of the air and to operate the aircraft in accordance with your training and the operator’s manual - it is not a car that you can thrash around the back roads or do doughnuts with in a supermarket car park.

The flip-side is that flying an aircraft solo does not benefit particularly from life experience; only time flying is of any real benefit. To me, 14 does sound a little young this is based on the psychology of responsibility and not any concept of wisdom, but where would you set the bar? You drive at 17 in the UK but the psychology is still there, so would it need to be older?

Maybe the experience of flying is sufficiently different that 14 is a reasonable bar. I wonder if there is a higher age limit for taking a passenger.


A work colleague, knowing what i do twice a week and on the weekends, with an eager to get in the air son asked which was the better route to get into, private club or the ATC. It was about three years ago, which as we all know is around the time of the pause…

i suggested if he was “mad keen” get him on a trial flight privately and if the ATC returns to gliding soon it maybe a cheaper way in (the lad in question was 15 so very close to applying for a GS in the near future).
with the extended pause he stuck with the private gliding and is now at instructor level at 17 and aiming to enter the nation junior championships summer 2017…

opportunity missed by the ATC? or a bullet dodged by the individual making the most of what the industry offers?


We can help give young people the flying bug. If they already have the bug they need to satisfy it elsewhere if they can afford to do so.


Even if they develop ‘the bug’ in the ATC, the ATC is hardly the place to realise your dreams, unless you become a blue-eyed badge collector.


In response to your comment, this “aviation-themed youth club” promotes itself as being able to send many cadets people solo in gliders, because until this whole debacle numerous did every year! So it was viable if people were serious about flying! This clearly hasn’t happened since 2014 but the promotional material hasn’t changed an awful lot, false advertising?

You talk about ‘affording’, this is where time and time again people forget the thousands of pounds of civillian scholarships given out by fantastic organisations like The Air League/Royal Aero Club/RAES etc. You don’t have to be able to afford it, because if you show enough enthusiasm and promise the money is there to at least get to solo and in some cases beyond. These fantastic opportunities are very often hardly pushed by squadrons…


In response to queries about 14 year old pilots, this policy brings us in line with EASA standards. As a BGA instructor at only 19 myself, age is no factor, if they can fly to the required standard, deal with any emergency and show the maturity required then there’s no reason to hold them back. For years at civilian clubs people had to wait until they were 16 burning money and really not gaining lots.
14 year old’s can get Bronze (Aka Glider Pilot Licence) but cannot go cross country until 16 under current legislation. Passenger carrying would be Bronze and generally a decent amount of solo hours (50?), but generally the CFI is involved anyway, so they have the final say.
Of course it does take a very mature 14 year old for this all to happen, you can’t have teenage problems with flying, but generally you don’t get people like that if they’re seriously interested. But unlike driving the accident statistics get worse with age. Sorry but I feel far more relaxed sending a 14 year old off on their first go than someone who’s decided to start flying very late!


We used to do an awful lot and one of the most impressive things that we used to do was develop cadets to the point where they were assisting in the running with VGSs and flying the junior cadets whilst still cadets themselves.

Although those opportunities did exist they were relatively rare and only for the elite. I would not consider that to be equivalent to going directly to a flying school and realising your dream which is, theoretically, open to everybody.

The ACO no longer has the fleet, the finances or the will to go back to those days. We are now utterly tangled up in a military flying world which is tying itself in knots and refuses to accept even the most trivial or unlikely of risks in some areas.


Things being brought in line with EASA weren’t always for the best!:slight_smile:

I struggle with the concept of the responsibility. For example there is an incident, perhaps in the worst case a mid air collision, in which someone this young is involved. The fall-out and their ability to be accountable for their actions is what would concern me, particularly if it involved death of another party (the same argument could be made for young drivers). If I send a 19 or 20 year old off solo (admittedly in a powered sense) I can be fairly sure they are competent and mature enough and be accountable for their actions; could I be so sure with a 14 year old?

I suspect a lot of it is down to the difference between the civilian and military mindset.


If were to be unsure of someone’s concept of responsibility and general behavior they will not fly solo, generally this would be made visible anyway from the teamwork side of Gliding such as driving vehicles, helping launch etc as it is made clear from the beginning that it isn’t school or a youth group, it’s an adult environment and in order to progress you have to have an adult mind to it, irrespective of age.


The special relationship is all very well, but in this case something at this particular base had to be sacrificed in order to complete the core EFT task: training pilots. The RAF isn’t exactly overflowing with them, has just had a requirement to produce about 25% more and, as I’ve mentioned before, the regulatory goal posts changed several times both during the gestation and then around the actual move of units to Wittering, in particular post 2009.

My Bold - is this the same Air Force which binned a large number of Pilots and potential Pilots - some with only hours to go before being qualifed - a couple of years ago?


You miss my point. Could they deal with that responsibility, aftermath and the consequences at that age? It’s not about the day to day stuff, but when it goes wrong.


That was 2010 IIRC.

Now (2015 onwards) isn’t 2010! If you have a better crystal ball I suggest you offer it to the MOD!:grinning:


Whatever the personal misgivings of some, the fact this young lady is considered sufficiently able to fly solo at 14 should be celebrated. The fact it would never happen in the ATC should be lamented.
I can’t imagine that any instructor worth their salt would send someone solo in an aircraft unless they were absolutely happy they are able to do it and understand their responsibilities, whatever their age, after all they must have to sign them off.


Not just flying we are ‘utterly tangled’ in the military and become so risk averse as an organisation that cadets are losing out. Shooting, once a an almost weekly squadron activity has been downgraded to monthly at the very, very best IF cadets and staff have got all the relevant signatures and enough staff are available. I used to run ranges solo, couldn’t do that now. Now because of something outside of our control FMS now needs people to be qualified via a made up course (quite what their qualified in loses me) to instruct and take cadets out.


While I fully accept that cadet training must be safe I agree that sometimes the most trivial of excuses are brought into play to prevent exciting training taking place.
An example, in the early 2000 a ACF Exercise included a river crossing. The river was more of a babbling brook, less than 8ft wide and only 3” deep and could easily be crossed without getting your boots wet. The activity was stopped because a safety boat could not be deployed.