Gliding is a popular activity within the Air Cadets. Our squadron gets 20-25 opportunities to attend Gliding Induction Courses per year, as well as trips at Summer Camp.
There is also the opportunity to attend a Gliding Scholarship for cadets over the age of 16 – allowing them the opportunity to fly solo – for most before they have even passed their driving test! At present the majority of cadets over 16 have achieved a Gliding Scholarship on the squadron. This page contains information on our Gliders and Gliding Opportunities in the Air Cadets.
The Grob 109 or Vigilant as we know it, differs from other Air Cadet Gliders in that it has an engine and propeller, so it can launch itself.
The Vigilant can taxi, take off and climb under its own power to a height selected by the instructor. It can be flown as a glider by allowing the engine to idle or, for some advanced exercises with the engine off all together. It can soar in thermals given reasonable thermic conditions. The engine is not powerful enough for rapid climbing, taking some five minutes or so to reach 2,000 feet. However, the ground handling time is reduced and manpower requirements are less than the Viking.
The Vigilant is used for GIC, GS and AGT training and unlike the Viking where you may experience a number 5-7 minute flights in order to achieve training objectives, Vigilant sorties typically last for about 45 minutes.
The Vigilant T MK 1 is a self-launching motor glider designed and built in Germany but modified to incorporate RAF requirements.
The Vigilant is the glider operated by our parent Volunteer Gliding Squadron, 612 VGS at Abingdon.
The backbone of the winch-launch fleet is the Grob 103 or as we know it, the Viking. A two seat glider used for GIC, GS and AGT training.
The Viking has no engine and is accelerated to its flying speed by different means. One method is aerotowing whereby a powered aircraft acts as a tug and pulls the glider off the ground and up to a predetermined height by means of a towing cable. However, as a cadet, it is unlikely that you will experience this method of launching a glider. If you are affiliated to a Viking school you will experience the winch launch. A winch (picture left) is a series of drums on which are about 1,500 metres of strong, flexible, steel cable. The winch is powered by a powerful turbo engine.
A series of signals is given from the launch point caravan, instructing the winch driver when to launch. The cable is initially drawn in slowly to remove any slack in the cable, this signal consists of a slow flashing light and the signal is called ”take up slack”. When the cable is taut the winch driver receives another signal called ”all out” at this point the winch driver applies a lot more power to launch the glider into the air.
When the glider has reached its desired height the cable is released by the pilot and falls to earth, steadied by a parachute. It is then reeled in by the winch before the next launch. The height the glider achieves depends on the wind strength, the speed at which the cable is being wound onto the drum and the length of the cable.
A winch launch normally lasts between 5-6 minutes. However, in the warmer months the pilot can use thermals (warm rising air) to stay aloft for longer periods of time. The pilot will try to circle in the thermal to gain height.
The Starting point for your gliding experience will be at a Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) which will fly either Vigilant motor gliders or Viking winch launch gliders. You will begin by attending, with others from your Cadet Squadron or CCF unit, your affiliated VGS to be taught the Gliding Induction Course (GIC).
The GIC has been designed to give you a taste for Air Cadet Gliding and consists of 3 different levels of instruction. You will be shown various aspects of aerodynamics that you will have been taught in the classroom before being taught the â?effects of controls? in the air. You will have the opportunity to take control and practice what you have learned. On your first visit you will be taught the GIC 1 and your subsequent visits you will progress to GIC 2 and 3.
After you have completed the course, you will be awarded a GIC certificate.
- GIC 1 – 20 minutes
- GIC 2 – 25 minutes
- GIC 3 – 30 minutes
- GIC 1 – 3 launches
- GIC 2 – 4 launches
- GIC 3 – 5 launches
You will be shown and have the opportunity to practice:
- How the pitch is changed
- How the rudder affects the yaw plane
- How to change the rolling plane
- What happens when the glider stalls
Gliding Scholarship courses are an opportunity for cadets to undergo further training and achieve Gliding Scholarship Wings. A course consists of up to 40 launches in a Viking or 8 hours in a Vigilant to achieve GS wings. Cadets showing the necessary aptitude are invited to progress to ”solo” standard and hopefully achieve the GS Solo Wings.
If you want to be nominated for a Gliding Scholarship, let your Squadron adjutant know. Ideally you should have completed a GIC 1, 2 or 3, but it is not mandatory. You must be 16 years of age when you start the course and you will need a medical form (RAF Form 6424), which is available upon request from your adjutant. Take this form to your local doctor and ask them to complete it (you must retain the form because you will have to present it to the VGS on commencement of a GS Course). Once completed the Form is valid for 2 years, as long as nothing medically untoward happens to you.
After you have completed the medical (no examination required – it is completed by reference to your medical notes), and your doctor has signed the form to confirm that you are fit to undergo glider pilot training, you are ready for a course. It is then a matter of a course becoming available. Courses are available in two formats, either over successive weekends until you have completed the course or a continuous week-long course (usually in the summer, however they are held all year round at the Air Cadet Central Gliding School at RAF Syerston). You must have the commitment to attend a GS course, as it can be difficult to predict the exact time it will take to complete as it depends on your own progress and the weather. Typically in summer a course will take 3 weekends to complete. Successful completion of the course will entitle you to wear the Blue GS wings. You will have done well to get this far.
For cadets showing the required aptitude, there is the opportunity to progress further and possibly reach the solo standard. Should you manage this and successfully complete a solo circuit you will be entitled to wear the Silver GS wings. For some if they are invited, or apply and are accepted, to become Flight Staff Cadets there will be further training. These cadets will be trained to a much higher level and again, if successful, cadets will be entitled to wear the Gold wings denoting AGT or Advanced Glider Training.
- Vigilant – 8 Hours Extra 20% allowed for further training to solo
- You must be 16 years of age
- Parent”s consent to fly signed in service book or 3822
- RAF Medical Form 6424 completed (if you have a medical condition, you can be assessed for glider pilot training by forwarding, via your unit, to HQAC for further consideration)
- You must have a high level of motivation and be prepared to attend a VGS until your course is complete
- No temporary or permanent medical condition that would make flying unsafe for cadet or pilot.