Hopefully it’s understood I’m playing the ball here and not the player, I get pretty emotive about this subject; however there is a very obvious and key reason why we are called the “AIR Training Corps” and we have the “Royal AIR Force”. Aviation is our raison d’etre, take that element away and what differentiates us from Scouts, ACF etc.?
Pilotless technology is still very much in its infancy, despite drone use increasing rapidly IMO the spread of machines taking over everything is rather overstated. Pilots will still be around for quite a while yet. By your logic everything is getting automated, so we should give up doing everything because it appears computers are going to do it all for us. So what do we all do? Do we stop shooting, because robots will do that for us, or cyber warfare will make weapons obsolete? Do we give up learning to drive, because the machines will do it themselves? Do we give up adventure training, because we can stick on some VR goggles and be anywhere we like? Devil’s advocate, like I say playing the ball not the player.
Completely understood, but some try hard, bright spark in the House of Commons is going to ask “why spend all this money on training aircraft for cadets when more and more training for ‘the actual RAF’ is done on simulators?”.
We need a better answer than “waaah, we’ve always done it that way, give us back our toys”.
There is no better way to develop an interest in aviation than to get kids flying. For the ATC this isn’t an optional extra and it isn’t just about recruiting pilots for the RAF. I’ll bet that many of the engineers developing the unmanned aircraft of the future, will be those who themselves have an interest in aviation. Maybe even a few ex cadets.
To promote and encourage among young men and women a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force (RAF).
To provide training which will be useful in both the services and civilian life.
To foster a spirit of adventure and to develop the qualities of leadership and good citizenship.
Flying encourages a practical interest in aviation [tick]
Flying helps gain skills or at the very least an understanding of, planning, decision making, understanding limits, (in the format of traditional gliding) teamwork, that are useful in service and civilian life [tick]
Flying fosters the spirit of adventure [tick]
The skills gained in the Cadets are equally relevant to civilian life and are a ideal platform for those wanting to go into private aviation/GA flying…
Flying is expensive there is no doubt about that, despite EasyRyan etc flying people for the cost of round.
The question I’ve asked myself is as a teenager with a keen interest in aviation (as I was and still am) would I join the AIR Training Corps, and hang around with so little chance to get away from a paper trail or computer screen. No.
I was lucky and joined the ATC when flying was front and centre in terms of activities, maybe aided and abetted by an RAF that had more than a handful of aircraft and places they flew themselves.
Trying to sell flying as something you do in a simulator to today’s teenagers has little or no real appeal as it is something they can do in their bedrooms. Using the line ‘the RAF uses simulators’ is empty as a rationale, as the RAF have been using simulators for years, but we never lost the real flying experience. My cadet squadron had a link trainer that had fallen into disrepair, but two of the staff remembered using it as cadets. We did try and get it working, but it never happened. So simulated flight has been around for decades, BUT we still had the real stuff. The only thing today is, the RAF has shrunk (in all ways) and can’t facilitate the needs of 30000+ teenagers and so rather than looking to make it happen throw up all and any barriers to stop it happening, to try and keep what they have got, the know nothings at HQAC come up with a “progressive” tick box system of training of classroom (yawn), simulator (yawn) and if you are lucky getting in a real aircraft, to validate some poxy badge system. By lucky I’d want them picking my lottery numbers.
When I had my first Chippy flight I was 1st Class Cadet and it was awe inspiring and cadets that actually get into Tutors have that same experience. I do not understand how or why fannying around on a simulator adds anything to the experience.
I agree with you to the extent that simulators and ground school should not replace flying. But done properly they should certainly augment the cadet flying experience. I recall my chippy days, the flying was great but the sitting in a crew room most of the day was a bit boring. Imagine cadets doing a lesson on aerobatics then getting instruction on a simulator Just before doing them for real at 20,000ft- that would be awesome.
I use an EASA Level III (or maybe it’s IV) FFS for professional recurrent trg / instrument rating check.
The PTT is nowhere near a simulator of any kind; in conjunction with the gnd school lectures, it helps cadets understand / demonstrate basic effect of controls & a few other simple aspects. They have cost a great deal of money; personally, I think that their “benefit” is over-rated.
The VGS we attended for this (PTT) allocated 4 cadets for the morning session. From memory, it was 0900-1300 = leave sqn at 0730-ish, get back 1430-ish. Seven hrs for 4 cadets + one staff member - best use of resources?
One of the significant issues is that even looking at the future, this (PTT + gliding / AEF) will not be a “joined up” event; allocation of slots / availability of same cadets / timescale between events / differing locations will not link up. I’m trying to cast my mind about 5 yrs before the “pause” hit us; give or take a couple of slots, for the year we were allocated something like 6 - 8 AEF & 4 - 6 VGS slots. Our AEF was about 45 mins away & the VGS about an hr.
Now you have to add in the PTT requirement to move forwards to the blue badge AND far less VGS options (locally for us, we don’t have any idea about our VGS “facility” future / location). Of course, the priority will be to try & schedule cadets so that they get the best options to achieve the blue badge soonest (i.e. if they have done PTT, they get first dibs at AEF / VGS) - but that might penalise other cadets who have to wait longer?
It is such poor planning not having them at the same location. You should be able to get your blue badge in one trip which would be easily done with the PTT at the AEF /VGS. Possibly an extra hour to be added at one end of the day but if the cadets were getting it all done at once I’d happily do that and avoid having to give up another day later. (Though I think all of these blue badges are completely meaningless other than as a stepping stone)
As you may well be aware, there isn’t a Tutor PTT.
The anomaly lies with the fact that to gain blue/bronze A wings cadets have to have completed a PTT session…! The PTT is Vigilant/Viking glider.
The progressive training has been implemented with little thought for the practicalities. 2FTS appear to have had full influence on this…?
Yep… But “co-location” of facilities is sub-optimal, to say the very least. Whichever way you look at it, the PTT is a very simplistic trainer; if it could be used with motion, proper “feel” & all associated integration, then yes, keep it specific to VGS.
That’s not possible - so, if PTT use is going to be limited by location or allocation, move it to the associated AEF & get a staff cadet or 2 to be responsible for associated instruction. Otherwise, it is not optimising the best use of resources.
Even co-locating doesn’t help that much as it’s fine for the afternoon detail, get to VGS in the morning do PTT then fly in the afternoon but that’s nonise to the morning details. If we were insistent of going down this route we should have put the PTT into Wings so that they could be used easily before the cadets go to AEF or VGS. (I appreciate the cost/staffing issues involved in this, but it makes more sense than what we are doing now).
At an AEF (if you get to one) the day is the same as it was 40+ years ago, sit around waiting to go, trying not to have lunch before you fly and then recounting what you did with your mates. Trying to relate that to a simulator session more than a week ago would be almost impossible. As for doing aerobatics in a simulator, unless you have simulation of g forces it is a computer game.
What is all this talk of co-locating PTTs on AEFs or putting a PTT on every Wing, common sense talk like that is never on the agenda of the ivory towers. I do think the PTT on every Wing idea is a far better idea and much more cadet friendly.
Like incubus and no doubt many others, our potential VGS location and AEF are nowhere near each other, we could get a day at the VGS and AEF 2 or three months later, so that would be 2 days out for staff and cadets and no matter how you try and dress it up a lot of sitting around to achieve one little badge, this of course means that you turn up at the AEF and these all align; the weather is good enough, planes are serviceable and enough pilots. Get anyone of those not happening and it would be a day wasted, with the next opportunity another 4/5 months, by which time anything the cadets picked up on a PTT would be as vague a memory as their 5th birthday party.
I would sooner turn up wait around have a flight and go home, like we have for years. Over the last few years, there seems to be a theme of doing lots of things to keep cadets busy all day when going to places. I quite like going to a VGS or AEF and watching a vid, reading the paper, doing a crossword, racking some zeds and so on. Having to faff around coming up with and organising things to try and keep cadets busy, in case they get bored isn’t what I’m into. If they are going flying / gliding that should be enough ‘excitement’ to prevent them getting bored. I have never got bored having a relaxing day, even as a teenager in a pre-device world, we needed little more than a ball and an area to kick it around on.
I don’t disagree with you.
The progressive Flying/gliding syllabus has been implemented with little thought. In particular prior to the planned 10 VGS sites becoming available for use.
It would’ve made more sense to continue with Flying/gliding as before, waited until all VGS/AGS sites were in place and then planned how to deliver the progressive stuff?
What has happened has created chaos, a lot of it due to little or no planning as to how to deliver with limited options, and no release of information to AEFs regarding what was required.
There was very much a ‘get on with it’ attitude so how this stuff is managed from site to site differs.
2FTS are responsible for all PTT delivery. If you look at how that is managed it’s not as simple as putting a couple of staff cadets in charge of them…!