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Old 5th May 2014, 19:01   #101 (permalink)
 
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Shotone

I agree there have been some serious Walts in the regulars as well. However, it is my opinion that there are more in the cadet organisations..

I'm sure that these folks are in the minority within the wider organisation, but they definately exist or I need to stop wearing my tin foil hat! .

Edit: removed comments about yoofs!

Last edited by iRaven; 6th May 2014 at 01:39. Reason: Spelling!
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Old 5th May 2014, 19:13   #102 (permalink)
 
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I fear iRaven is sending us off on a tangent with an all-too-familiar chorus that all CFAVs have heard before and just reinforces the idea that those in the RAF just have no real clue about what CFAVs do any more than CFAVs know what the RAF does. (To be honest, you probably know a lot less about us than we know about you.) It's facile, it's tiresome and it makes me want to push peoples' teeth so far down their throat that they'd need to floss with bog roll. Moreover, it's an irrelevance as far as this situation is concerned.

The VGS experience for staff is unique to the ACO. Most VR(T) officers get dressed up in a blue suit for 4hrs and probably work a handful of hours more each week. AEFs have an FTRS Flt Lt OC and enjoy all the support given by the full-time staff of the UAS with which they co-locate.

If you're on a VGS, even as a relatively junior member of staff, you can reasonably expect to have 25-30hrs of your week taken up by VGS ops, admin and general niff-naff and trivia. If you're the boss or an adj (now a non-flying post because of the weight of paperwork coming down the chute), that number is going to be far higher. You will have ZERO full-time staff on your unit to support you, so you can expect to be making and fielding phone calls at your place of employment, to which you have to keep going because the ACO doesn't pay you for the hours you put in. As instructors, we can't palm off any admin/eng/mt/supply/h&s problem to a "bluntie" because there are none. It's up to you to fix a problem or it stays broken. Having spent some time with our cousins at the local AEF, I can guarantee you won't find AEF pilots still at their desks going through paperwork at 2100-2200hrs on a Saturday or Sunday night. Why would they? They have what we'd love to have: a true fly and f***-off approach. Accordingly, they have a lack of drive and initiative to try and find alternative solutions to address their own problems which has, quite frankly, stunned me.

I took nearly 15 years out from the VGS system before coming back a couple of years ago. Although I rejoined the same sqn, the ethos was completely different and everyone there is doing their level best to comply with the new regulations. (Incidentally, it must be remembered that this current "pause" has nothing to do with any mistakes the volunteers have been making- this is the train set belonging to the "professionals".) Those who are struggling to adapt to the new culture are those who have been around the block a few times and have grown up with the can-do/make-do attitude brought about by inadequate RAF support, which has forced them to search for local solutions to problems. They are becoming fewer in number and the day of the well-meaning duffer has thankfully gone.

Let's take Leon's vignette about flying coveralls for one example of poor support. In the mid 90s, I was the inventory holder for a VGS, stuck with about 4 ma-husive boxes of growbags I wanted to get off my inventory. I couldn't return them because they hadn't been conditioned by a squipper- because we had no squipper on our parenting statement. Cut to nearly 20 years later and TGOs have finally decreed that VGS aircrew should carry an aircrew cutter. We're still not carrying them because- we STILL don't have squippers on our parenting statement. That's a fairly mundane example, but you can look at nearly any aspect of running a squadron and find jams caused not by us on the squadron staff, but by the supposed professionals who are tasked with supporting us. This applies to engineering (this current cock-up, not to mention the laughable backlog of aircraft at the Syerston GRP bay); MT; admin; supply and the list goes on. Don't even get me started on the spinning bow-tie extravaganza that is RAF Medical Services and the bizarre set of rules we have been given by them for cadet flying.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for making us a more professional outfit that works in a manner much more like the RAF, but our time, our talents and our resources are limited. Unless we get adequate support from the RAF, we will fail to achieve the targets and objectives set for us. If the RAF is not going to support us, then go ahead and shut us down because, with this extended pause in flying, a lot of us (not to mention our families) are starting to remember how much fun it is to have free time.
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Old 5th May 2014, 19:57   #103 (permalink)
 
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LJ
I appreciate you did not want to single out a single VGS, however your defamatory remarks regarding incidents over the years seem to serve no useful purpose. To post these observations here was unacceptable, especially, if as you say, the alleged incidents had already been addressed by yourself.
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Old 5th May 2014, 21:20   #104 (permalink)
 
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Centrino

Surely to be defamatory then the statements would need to be untrue? I'm reasonably content that the basis of them is true. That's the norm. Also, there would need to be intent to vilify an individual or organisation? I've not named an individual or organisation for good reason - that's not the flight safety way.

Flight safety requires us to be open and honest about mistakes in the past to be better for the future. Others have said they know of other goings on (not at the same unit, I add) and are unwilling to mention them due to the obvious nature of their moniker. I do not seek to embarrass anyone, in fact the examples I use have all seen progress being made with the improvements that 2FTS bring.

There are dozens of lessons from things that have happened in the past that are discussed on Prune, what makes the VGS a subject that is forbidden? These lessons are free to read in publications like the excellent Air Clues. Other types of open sharing of these types of mistakes go in Airprox publications (now Clued Up) and human factors publications like CHIRP. None of the lessons I mention are confidential and could be talked about in any one of many aviation safety and aircraft operations meetings that I attend - there is no closed shop on matters such as these when mentioned in a wider context (ie. without mentioning individuals, dates, times, places or specific organisations).

I would offer that if personnel from the VGS are so sensitive to airing mistakes/errors that I mention then maybe they should consider why the rest of the RAF and wider UK mil aviation see fit to share each other's mistakes without so much concern?

I refute that my comments are defamatory. I've even spent some of my own time (and fuel) to try and address some of the issues I've mentioned. If I was out to score points then why would I bother? All I want to do is to fix things.

Finally, I have apologised if my comments caused offence, they were not aimed at any individual in particular - they were meant to answer a specific point that was made implying that the VGS is as safe as it can be because it hasn't had an accident in 30 years. I believe this view is flawed. Past performance is no guarantee of future success. We know where holes have existed in the support for VGS, it is now time to plug these gaps - I include myself in part of this process.

Once the other issues that have caused this 'pause' are dealt with then the ongoing series of improvements that the MAA, and more recently 2FTS, have brought about will continue to be rolled out.

Doing nothing, like the 'good old days', is not an option.

LJ

Last edited by Leon Jabachjabicz; 5th May 2014 at 21:41.
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Old 5th May 2014, 22:06   #105 (permalink)
 
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It's not quite true to say that the VGS have suffered no accidents in 30 years, I recall one very serious accident at RAF Sealand in 1995 where two Vikings collided resulting in two fatalities and one serious injury. I believe this is what prompted the high-vis orange stripes on the wings.

I'm ex VGS from the mid 90's and I do recognise some of what is being reported here, although a very different culture existed back then. I don't recall seeing any 'walts' at my unit, most of the instructors were professional pilots for a day job and had no need to pretend to be anything else. Now I come to think of it I can think of only one 'walt' and he joined the RAF where he continues to be a very active 'walt' and PPRuNe member to this day.
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Old 5th May 2014, 23:00   #106 (permalink)
 
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Let's get this straight, raven, and I apologise for diverging from the important safety issue; you've spent a couple of posts deriding VR's for exaggerated self-importance -yet admit to spending your own free time wandering about ticking off cadets who you're not in any way responsible for.??
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Old 5th May 2014, 23:32   #107 (permalink)
 
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If I see it whilst on duty and ignore it then I'm disobeying QRs

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An officer is responsible at all times for the maintenance of good order and discipline.
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Old 5th May 2014, 23:38   #108 (permalink)
 
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An officer is responsible at all times for the maintenance of good order and discipline.
It's a youth-club.
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Old 6th May 2014, 00:02   #109 (permalink)
 
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Trying to keep things on-thread as much as possible, we should not forget that this current pause is precipitated by a failure not of the volunteers but of the structures and processes put in place by the professionals who are supposed to be supporting them.

For what it's worth, I'm with Leon on the need to reform- just about everyone I know is. I'm on the staff of a VGS and, broadly speaking, we welcome the changes that are being made. I also hope that with the new regime and change in culture that the VGSs will finally be given the support they need to implement these changes so that they can operate iaw with the diktats from upon high.

If precedent is anything to go by, I'm not optimistic, though. I have a sense that more regulation and admin will get dumped upon unpaid volunteers whose resources of time, talent, enthusiasm and goodwill are finite and, as always, we will be told to crack on. We will, as always, do the best we can to address what's being thrown at us, but without more people and better parenting, there's a good chance we will not succeed. It's already commonplace for even relatively junior staff to be giving up 25-30 hours a week in addition to their full time jobs, and it's now being suggested that the adjutant post is a non-flying post. It takes a special brand of masochist to sit in an office for free, doing what is essentially a second full-time job, so other people can go flying.

We've done a fairly good job of weeding out the numpties and the cowboys in recent years, but without adequate support the best, most committed people will sack it and those left behind will be the Walts and the strutting throbbers who are in it for the growbag and the rank slides and who don't give a cowpat with a cherry on top about what the TGOs have to say.
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Old 6th May 2014, 00:04   #110 (permalink)
 
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It's a youth-club.
Well said, that man!
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Old 6th May 2014, 01:40   #111 (permalink)
 
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Alright, alright, I've toned down my opinion and they're all wonderful.
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Old 6th May 2014, 02:24   #112 (permalink)
 
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Originally Posted by iRaven
Alright, alright, I've toned down my opinion and they're all wonderful.
Their organisation is also considerably larger than yours, too.
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Old 6th May 2014, 07:14   #113 (permalink)
 
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IRaven
Of course they are all wonderful!! These ladies and gents are totally unselfish when it comes to devoting their own time for a very good purpose.
For somebody that is happy to enforce QRs, it should also be your duty to support and encourage this superb organisation.
'Walts' as you refer, appear in all walks of life. Your organisation is no exception!
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Old 6th May 2014, 08:36   #114 (permalink)
 
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LJ

I am pleased that you wish to have things fixed.
Having an honest and open flight safety culture is a good thing, provided it takes place in the right environment and with all parties having the opportunity to participate in an equal capacity.
As an ambassador for flight safety do you consider it sensible to "spill the beans" before consulting the party involved in the alleged incidents. Confidential publications generally involve the third party before going to print. In this instance, despite your genuine concerns to help improve the unit's flight safety culture, I feel the observations you make do not provide a full and detailed account and are very much of your opinion. Other observations are merely trivial and pointless.
Having a 'Big Brother' approach to flight safety on an airfield where every movement is being scrutinised can lead to flight safety issues in itself. Pilots become wary of their every movement and this can detract from the task in hand. I don't wear a flying suit, but should I find myself in one and I find myself at your airfield then I'll confess now that it will have badges in the wrong place and as I can't sew they'll have been stitched on by my Mum with thread from her sewing basket!
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Old 6th May 2014, 11:38   #115 (permalink)
 
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Having read all the messages here, and seen the thread drift onto bashing of VR / CI's I feel the need to post a comment or two.Allow me to explain why I'm more than a little hacked off by the attitude of some of you.

I joined the ATC as a cadet in 1965. Apart from a two year break to get married, I've been with them ever since. I've held every rank, and done every job (apart from Padre!) from cadet second class to squadron commander in the last 49 years. Based on that experience I offer the following thoughts:

1 There are poseurs in all walks of life, including the RAF and the ATC. Just reading back through PPRuNe archives will support this. Having spent all my working life in the offshore industry I have met one or two (dozen)

2 Yes, we are a "uniformed youth club", however, we try to instill service ethos and values at all levels.

3 In my experience there are more than a few in our parent service who treat us with disdain. I can recall being on my officer training course at Air Cadet Training Centre, where we were intriduced to one of the Corps 'wheels'. When he opened is talk by telling us he'd not actually seen an ATC cadet for 20 years, he rather lost the audience.... We also met the then AOC (Peter N**) who was less than impressed with that attitude.

4 As a squadron commander my greatest fear was that I'd take cadets on an activity and something would go wrong. Thus we all take their health and safety very much to heart. I'm told that the latest restriction on cadet over night activities is due to Army Cadets not following the rules (I'll willingly stand correction from thse who know more).

5 What many of you seem to overlook is that we work on the squadrons in our free time. Many of us work a full week,then pull on the blue suit and get on with the job.

6 We are very frustrated that we can't fly the kids in either the Tutors, or at the gliding schools. It's costing us cadets, as we have had minimal flying for a year or more. Whilst we know and understand the reasons why, try explaining that to a 13 year old who just wants to fly.

Having had my rant, let me end on a more positive note. Back in February, I took some cadets up to RAF Wyton to get their first flights. Juat after we got back I saw something one of the kids had written about their experience. Their closing comment was "...it was the best day of my life". Comments like that make aged instructors proud, and not a little humbled, and mean that the scorn some of you have shown will just bounce off.

...and to those at RAF Wyton, thanks!
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Old 6th May 2014, 12:49   #116 (permalink)

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I'm told that the latest restriction on cadet over night activities is due to Army Cadets not following the rules (I'll willingly stand correction from thse who know more).
Then you are told wrong bobward. We cannot blame the Army this time - I'll say no more.
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Old 6th May 2014, 21:32   #117 (permalink)
 
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I think some of us have the same viewpoint that I so clumsily tried to inform. The new ways of doing business have increased the work load and the regular full-time staff need to find some time to help wherever possible. I agree that a lot of the stuff that I mentioned before can, at least in part, be put down to poor support, expecting part-time personnel to know how to sort things out and probably expecting too much overall. (As full-time staff on the same station it took me too long to realise this and I guess I'm not alone).

In answer to some previous posts..

Quote:
we STILL don't have squippers on our parenting statement.
And...

Quote:
Cut to nearly 20 years later and TGOs have finally decreed that VGS aircrew should carry an aircrew cutter.
A while back I searched for and found the telephone number on Dii (which most cadet guys don't have access to - which is a problem in itself) of a very helpful Flt Sgt in 22(Trg) Gp that looks after all VGS AEA/SE and had a good chat. I found out that all non-flying MOB VGSs should have an AEA/SE parenting unit and he put me in touch with the VGS's local SES bay at another station. Once the comms were established it was just a matter of rounding up some flying suits at the end of a weekend and running them over during a week day. There were quite a few to do - so much so that the station ran out of cutter stowages sorting them out! But at least they now have a good set of flying suits to meet the TGO requirement. Collecting them a week later on the way into work involved a 15 mile detour which isn't exactly a disaster (about 3 of fuel and time). I managed this because I had the contacts to do so, rang a few mates and then made it happen (with my SFSO hat on, I was also keen to ensure that their AEA had been serviced/accepted - but that is my responsibility to make happen once I had discovered the problem). I don't blame the VGS for not having compliant AEA and I understand how they ended up as they were. I decided they needed my intervention to help solve the problem. I guess you could call it 'taking ownership'?

As has been mentioned, I hadn't realised that there can be so few, if any, personnel on a VGS with any experience of regular full-time service - all of which normally comes with a network of mates that they can call up to try and get help to get things done. I think a FTRS or ADC (ie. 180-200 days a year) Flt Lt for all VGS might be considered to serve as an Adj/XO to the OC VGS. AEF is one good example already mentioned where FTRS works, and also I believe that most Air Cadet regional HQs have an XO that is a full time employee and a Wg Cdr OC that is the VR(T) officer that seems to work well. I guess it all comes down to a bit more funding - hopefully showing improvement gains in ensurance/assurance and the knock-on effect of improved safety? If it happens I'll claim it as a GEMS!

Whatever the solution that 2FTS come up with, I can't see the old status quo being maintained (nor would I want to). The full-timers are going to need to try and help wherever they can and keep an eye on the VGS to try and offer advice before events occur; such as the ones that I used as examples at the very start. Full-time staff on stations need to be a pro-active part of the solution. Of course, the solutions they come up with need to be sustainable and also simple enough to allow part-time staff to maintain them with minimal effort - now that is the challenge!

Despite some of the carping from some on here, I'm pretty sure that most full-time service personnel want to see the continuing success of the Air Cadets and VGS. So if you have a problem then ask them for help - you may be surprised with the answer you get!

LJ
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Old 7th May 2014, 05:44   #118 (permalink)

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I believe that most Air Cadet regional HQs have an XO that is a full time employee and a Wg Cdr OC that is the VR(T) officer that seems to work well.
What you say is true of Wing HQs Leon (of which there are 35/36). The Wg XO is a Sqn Ldr.

Regional HQs have a full time Gp Capt - FTRS or MSF - (JM was one such before 2 FTS) and a full time Sqn Ldr. All the HQs have also 1 or 2 CS Admin support.

The vast majority of Wg XOs are ex-regular - I know of at least one ex gp capt and one ex wg cdr - both GD. Each VGS is allocated to a Wg HQ for admin purposes.

One of the problems in the past was that 27 VGSs sometimes did things in 27 different ways. That is just one of the things that 2FTS has changed for the better.
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Old 7th May 2014, 08:46   #119 (permalink)
 
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Tutor problems

I am hearing talk of cracks in the new Props fitted to the Tutors....... Any comments from the floor ?
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Old 7th May 2014, 15:34   #120 (permalink)
 
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Tutors have been flying from Boscombe Down for the whole of today.

TCF
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