Gliding "paused"


I’d ask OC 2FTS but… oh… he’s left the building.


There’s a much more in-depth version on Pprune.

The bloke ‘Engines’ really knows his stuff - read his précis of the Pilot editorial. It’s not nice reading…


The more I read the more I’m convinced it’s not a pause, but an end.

Vigilants aren’t coming back, and the Vikings - once their OSD is reached - won’t be replaced.
AEF won’t be covered by MFTS training contracts, Tutors won’t be retained by the RAF.

Flying in the ATC will be once in a blue moon RAF opportunity flights, or state of the art for the mid-90s flight sims.


They should have bitten the bullet and gone to the BGA years ago but pride made them continue to pour money down the bottomless hole that is the recovery programme.


Apart from the BGA don’t have 50 gliders to dedicate to the task of cadet flying do your be in a similar situation for overall numbers of slots.

Alright SERCO and 2FTS aren’t hitting the numbers either but if the new Comdt can make the plan work it is viable


Spot on, we could have had cadets gliding and because it wouldn’t be locked away like the VGS’ cadets would have had potentially more access to gliding and likewise with AEF.

It makes me laugh that they are keeping “VGS” going to fanny around doing flight sim nonsense, which could be done at the squadron.

The biggest thing is they can get away with rubbish like this as there no accountability to the end customer and the end customer has to put up and shut up and be grateful with whatever dross they feed us.


At least there are BGA clubs in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland unlike VGSs…



They’re in Wales and NI, flying for their members without huge air ex capability so still little capacity and not.the silver bullet


Thank the Lord


Yes but of you go to an external provider and say we would like X and the can only provide Y you then pay for and get Y rather than paying for X being promised X and. Getting Z.

The VGS system is broken beyond repair, so let’s get rid of it and either use the funds for something else or with someone else.


Why do they need 50 gliders dedicated to cadets?

We peel up and crack on with whatever is there and rather than spend all day with most of sitting around or the cadets running around, it could turn up do and go.
Just because the VGS model was have x gliders etc, doesn’t mean that’s the model you stick on an external provider. A phrase I hate but fits perfectly is think outside the box. I thought this was a stock in trade for the armed forces to develop and push things forward, except it seems when it comes to the ATC and those from the RAF put in charge of the ATC. All of a sudden it all becomes very inward looking, which does the cadets and volunteer staff a massive disservice, and doesn’t actually put senior ranking officers in a very good light.
The cost benefits to using an external supplier would be huge; no gliders to maintain, no contracts for servicing etc, no massive infrastructure which is a white elephant gobbling taxpayers money. Two or three to check compliance, which given the BGA must have to comply which some rigorous civilian rules/regs would be a few jollies and tick box exercise for people well below the rank of Gp Capt. If it was still deemed necessary to do the flight sim stuff it wouldn’t need the infrastructure we currently have.


Exactly do away with 2FTS and all the infrastructure,. Spend the savings on putting a PTT into every Wing and providing the staff Training.

Then pay BGA to provide what they can as far as gliding goes, it would still be more than we are getting now. Plus Supply and Demand would start to kick in if we show a consistent need for a certain level then clubs will begin to expand to accommodate it, especially if we are paying £X per Cadet sortie.

You would need a couple of people for auditing purposes, Commandant AC can be the DDH and these inspectors can work out of HQAC.


You’d need 50 because that’s what you’re suggesting to replace. The BGA didn’t have the capacity or will to do it when they were approached a few years back, not much has changed.

They’re a sports gliding organisation, air experience is a small part of what they do.


It is the RAFAC that asked for the synthetic training (PTT) and the Blue/ Bronze syllabus to get as many cadets wings as possible, this was driven by the Regional Commandants rather than 2FTS.

Yes, it could be delivered by SQEP individuals within the Wings and Regions but not sure if this is what the organisation wanted and asked for. However, the funding to provide a suite of PTTs (that are all the same, realistic and supported for any breakdowns) may be the issue.

Part of why the VGS’ have been retained is to provide “military” training in a military environment, with uniformed staff, etc… This isn’t the case at a BGA club and whilst cadets get flying, it doesn’t help to provide the active interest in the military, this being one thing that sets us apart from the scouts and other youth organisations.

I believe that getting the cadets involved (VGS rather than AEF) in the operation is a valuable insight into teamwork and gets them actively involved rather just turning up and going through the sausage machine. Indeed to get a lot of cadets through also requires an amount of ground support, something that the civilian clubs may need to recruit for as I am not overly keen the club members would want the additional workload.


Three clubs in Scotland by my count:

That’d be great but we’ve not had a gliding slot for five years and don’t imagine we’ll get one anytime soon. Our nearest VGS is over two hours away, and whilst that’s not that far in context, it’s still ridiculous when you consider there were two much closer which were axed/converted to an AGS.

The system is ridiculous and reflects the continued anglo-centric nature of opportunities in the RAFAC. The bulk of the cadets may be in England but that doesn’t excuse the shocking disparity in the cadet experience offered in different parts of the country, especially when it is an experience notionally provided by HQAC and isn’t reliant on an external body.


My squadron (42 cadets) has, this year, had 3 gliding slots offered, each for 2 cadets at a time. One slot was cancelled due to weather.
On the first occasion we went to the VGS, the other sqn of 2 didn’t turn up! Not the fault of the VGS, but if they had turned up it would have meant the whole day at the VGS was dedicated to just 4 cadets! They had 16 staff on duty.
4 of the 6 PTT were broken and they only booted up 1 for my 2 cadets.
Throughout the whole morning the cadets only spent 20 minutes in the PTT before moving out to the field in the afternoon to have their 3 glider flights.

I have 22 cadets who have done sortie 1 at a AEF and with the ground package could be awarded their blue wings. Do you think we can get a ground package for them?

Looking back at that day I spent at the VGS, I now think to myself, why couldn’t some of the 16 staff stayed indoors and just turned the PTT into a sausage machine for cadets who needed the groundschool, getting 2 or 3 cadets through the package EVERY hour, instead of just the 2 over the whole day?


Was it really just flying those 2 cadets? They only did 6 flights the whole day then packed up? Or in reality were there many other tasks going on throughout the day SGS, Gold wings, Staff training?

None of the VGS are operating at steady state so there is a disproportionate training burden that as it clear releases more cadet flying. Without clearing that backlog there is only terminal decline and no gliding at all.


Well since I haven’t seen any gliding for my Cadets in 5 years+ I’m not sure how much further things can decline.


As suggested by @daws1159 if we used the BGA and putting business their way, they would have the confidence to develop.

Unfortunately a narrow-mined, blinkered and protectionist mindset within HQAC / RAF means it won’t happen. Other than losing some well paid (if not overpaid) roles, there is nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of the flying experience for cadets, denied for so long.
I said to staff when the pause became more than a pause, if they get the gliders back in the air within 4 years, I’d fall over, now it’s nearly 5. Gliding RIP.


Gliders have been back in the air for two and a half years already but let’s not let that spoil the story.

And as has been said before the BGA do a fundamentally different type of gliding to that which the RAFAC require. They weren’t interested in providing it in 2013 they maybe a supplement in some areas but not enough to replace.