Gliding "paused"


…Anyway, to bring things back on track.

Has anyone who has had a refusal under ACTO35 had a justification, out of interest? I do know there are a lot of hoops to jump through which is enough to put many off sadly.

It seems the easiest way to get cadets flying is to still tell them to save their pocket money and go to a BGA club at the weekends.


I’ve spoke to several colleagues from across the Corps since April all of whom were pursing ACTO35 based flights (as were we - hence the discussions about just how to evidence it all!). I don’t know anybody who actually had a successful application (although I’m told there are 2 BGA sites in the South who’ve been authorised (but we don’t know how, who or which Sqn/Wg organized it to contact and use). The collective reasons included:

“We’re too busy to authorize every applications”
“Sorry - we didn’t receive your application” (always a tough one to swallow when it doesn’t actually leave the MOD server farm!)
“We can’t authorize this you need to give us 6-8 weeks notice” (perhaps related to the top ones?)
“We’re only authorizing X applications per year”
“We’re paused until the new version of ACTO35 is released” (I didn’t know there was a new one coming out?)
“Didn’t meet our criteria” (no indication as to which criteria wasn’t met - nor whether this is a legacy of a previous application to that club, or that specific application)

Our squadron were told 2FTS is only able to vet so many BGA sites per year and are only willing to sanction X BGA clubs as a result (I think the number was about 18?) - ours wasn’t one of them as we’ve got a VGS nearby (nearby being a very relative term!). Oh, and said VGS is still non-operational. So we missed an entire summer of gliding because we have a non-functioning VGS 90minutes away from us.


I was told that AOC 22 Grp and OC 2FTS had a meeting of SQEP who brought up the idea of potential risks of letting other providers fly cadets. To ensure safety they therefore had to inspect every site approved under ACTO35. OC2FTS felt that as he uses to have 26 VGS and now has 10, he had space to inspect 16 sites nationally. Because we have VGS within 2 hours (non operational and won’t be for a while) he was unwilling to inspect the site (we had already used them at that point, so they’d suddenly become dangerous overnight).


“Risks” that are already more than adequately managed by the BGA. Meanwhile cadets are continuing to be denied reasonable and safe flying opportunities due to the spider’s web of ACTO35.

How many VGSs are now operational with aircraft?


Has anyone looked at CWC Grants for cadets to be used for gliding at their local BGA Club?

Activity is then completed as a member of the public and not RAFAC so falls out of ACTO 35 & 2FTS


Yes but if a squadron is actively paying for its members to fly somewhere, that sounds like dodgy ground.


What’s really frustrating is te military obsession with Risk and ALARP.

Out in the real world we look at Threat and Risk, with Risk being the dangerous thing that could happen a dan threat being the likelyhood of that thing coming to pass. If something is high & high you don’t do it, if it’s high and low or vice versa you do it but you keep an eye on it and if it’s low low you do it without question. You accept that some risk is inevitable and you don’t attempt to manage all risk to the Nth degree.

So if the Risk is “death by aircraft falling out of the sky” and the threat is “it’s a BGA site they have sufficient systems already in place so not very likely” that would be a high but low, you would therefore do it but might ask to see their insurance and whatever document the BGA has to audit them. You would not however go down there and fully inspect it all in person as that’s already being done.


Surely it’s not dissimilar to RAFAC advertising Air League Schloarships etc…

It could always be a separate fund where the trustees are the CW Chairman / Treasurer / Secretary, we either need a working solution or we will work around the system


It’s a mess - we managed, after a whole row of hoops to jump through, some limited BGA gliding under ACTO35 last year. So, all looked promising this year (provisional application pending), but then there was a “pause” followed up with ACTO35 being frozen. Bam. No gliding for us this year.

“Our” site was being reviewed in order to provide a longer term pre-approved option (with minimal application paperwork) but again, all currently frozen out pending the review by those on high (last meeting was 31 Oct, no feedback yet, I have asked our R Av O & FTS).


Technically 5.5


I must admit that I have pretty much given up hope about the whole Air Cadet Gliding Organisation. Four years ago we had a system that worked well with the volunteer staff at its disposal. There were senior very experienced instructors that gave the organisation gravitas, a corps of hard working younger instructors who worked hard and a lot of staff cadets who learned how it all worked and became graded pilots and eventually instructors. It was a system that had evolved over decades and worked.

Recently the service, with very little knowledge of what they were doing, has tried to impose a new and untried system that, from where I am standing, is never going to work.

The idea that CFAVs from squadrons are going to give up entire weekends just to be on call overnight if Johnny needs help is farcical. You may get the odd one or two to do it, but you will need to find a whole new bunch (which shouldn’t take too many years)

The “duty of care”/“Camp Commandant” bit was always taken up by the VGSs who either had someone on strength who could do it (me some of the time), or found someone from a squadron. To me it is obvious; the new super VGSs will need a number of CFAVs on strength to cover this requirement, people who do not have squadron commitments the rest of their spare time, who’s job is specifically to cover this requirement. People who identify with the VGS and can be useful as drivers etc as well.

Is that a bit too revolutionary?


One thing we have found over a couple of years is the lack of squadron following ACTO31 guidelines

  1. Cadets under the age of 13.3 attending
  2. 3822’s not signed up
  3. No Av Med forms presented
  4. No 6424s presented
  5. Squadrons not filling their allocation and not bothering to advise the WGLOs so they can back fill
  6. Squadrons not showing up at all.

In the year 2016-17 we lost over 400 Cadet slots to the above and it’s not just our AEF that have this issue.

If Squadrons followed the guidelines given and even bothered to check all was correct in advance rather than on the day it would make our life much easier.

To sum it up, Squadrons don’t help themselves!!


In the interest of fairness, how many were down to cadets not meeting the squippers’ body size requirements on the day?

The guidance we got gave a very rough idea of what the minimum requirements were, but finished with the caveat that went something like “…the final decision to let small cadets fly lies with the survival equipment fitter on the day…”

The second to last time I took cadets flying, I saw two cadets (who had previously flown with 10AEF) refused a flight because the squipper wasn’t happy.

No beef with need for safety, but I do get hacked off with the Sqn Commanders getting the blame for wasting slots, when all they are trying to do is give the cadets opportunities.


How many squadrons actively pay and are encouraged to do so for AT and sports? We do.
We pay for cadets to do swimming proficiencies so they can go canoeing and then contribute to the canoeing, if we’re having to wait for someone in the ATC.
We pay for cadets to use climbing walls and contribute to using an outdoor activity centre.
So flying, where’s the problem of paying for ‘experience flights’? Except within the protectionist bubble.


Yes but when we are paying for AT we are doing so within the regulations and we still have to seek aproval.

In the circumstances that were being described they were talking about the Squadron paying for cadets to go flying not as members of the organisation. That would be the same as the Squadron paying for cadets to use a climbing wall but not putting in an application.


You’re on seriously dodgy ground with that one…!


But you seem to have a vested interest in keeping the status quo, I don’t.
When people have vested interests in maintaining something that doesn’t work, they lose all objectivity.


Yes. I have a vested interest. We all do.
I don’t have any control over what might change in the future, but it’s a matter of opinion whether something works or not. We have different roles and experiences. What I see of part of the system works well. There’s a balance to be had somewhere…? You appear to have a vested interest in wiping out what we’ve got and introducing something different that may or may not be any better than we’ve got?
Suggesting that we go and do something outside of the rules isn’t going to sit well with anybody, especially if something goes wrong? Is it really me that’s losing objectivity??


I do have to wonder why we make it even harder for cadets to fly by adding an apparently completely arbitrary age limit.

Going flying is one of the key selling points of the ATC - telling prospective cadets that you can go flying but not for a year and a quarter does take the shine off of it somewhat.


I think that is probably going too far - BUT currently - & looking at VGS capabilities / locations even for the future (& geographically, some regions will be very badly hit) - we have limited options if we want to augment the number of gliding opportunities for cadets. I’m waiting for the 2FTS personnel figures to show how many VGS instructors there are left, & how that will affect manning, etc. A link-up with BGA 3 - 4 yrs ago would have kept instructors current & cadets flying…

One of our cadets (aged 14 - 15) has gone solo (personal payment, etc, 100+ launches I think) at a local BGA centre; just rubs salt in the wound for what could have been done for other cadets. :cry: