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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 27th Mar 2016, 19:30
  #2081 (permalink)  
 
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Cat

Ok, I'll answer your question; we could used conventional gliders at the following closed down VGS:

RAF Honington - plenty of real estate there and nearby good 'ole Uncle Sam doesn't fly that much at weekends.

Dalton Barracks (former RAF Abingdon) - plenty of grass as well as 2 runways at ~90 degrees to each other

RAF Halton - plenty of room and the GSA winch launch to well above 1,000ft on most weekends.

RAF Henlow - plenty of room from 3 grass runways.

RAF Odiham - the RAFGSA's Kestrel Gliding Club manages quite nicely at this site.

RMB Chivenor - no other users now that SAR has gone, plenty of room.

RAF Cosford - the RAFGSA's Wrekin Gliding Club manages quite nicely at this site, although it does have a UAS/AEF operating at the same time.

MOD St Athan - plenty of room if using the grass and leaving the tarmac for UAS/AEF.

RAF Topcliffe - plenty of real estate for gliding.

Swansea Airport - the first one where this might not be possible.

RAF Linton-on-Ouse - plenty of room on the grass.

RMB Arbroath - they have been comventionally gliding there for years!!!

Kinloss Barracks (former RAF Kinloss) - there is even a main runway and a parallel taxyway runway to choose from and plenty of grass.

Newtownards - the second one that would be an issue.

So Cat, I note that conventional gliding would only not be possible at Swansea and Newtonards. For Wales I would suggest setting up K21 VGS at Llewen Parc, Talgarth or Rhigos Gliding Sites. For Northern Ireland then Bellarina is about the only choice, or seeing if there is a GA airfield happy to have gliding.

Make sense?

LJ
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 19:48
  #2082 (permalink)  
 
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Leon, Bellarina is only suitable for aerotow and the only other GA airfield in NI is Enniskillen and that is not suitable for winch gliding as it is as busy as Newtownards.
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 20:29
  #2083 (permalink)  
 
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Why did Condor close ?? And Kirknewton stay open ??

Arc
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 20:35
  #2084 (permalink)  
 
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I am hoping that the future set-up envisaged by 2 FTS does at least have some flexibility, i.e it is a starting point and could evolve if problems come to the surface with cadets and VGS staff travel time and availability. If they treat it like that then it may have some viability otherwise a cynic might suggest that they have just thrown the 'ball back into our court' and eventually blame VGS staff for failing to support the new arrangements. If they are so inflexible and demanding, then I could see that happen and provide an excuse for further cuts. You would call this constructive dismissal in civvy street I guess.

I do have some misgivings about the CGI / Staff Cadet move into a much more formal structure. I would not be surprised to see 'contracts' being signed (including the official secrets act), a minimum and inflexible amount of attendance being demanded and little choice about duties (e.g. whole weekends of PTT and cadet supervision plus a committment to local ATC squadrons). All very good but probably a bit too much like actually joining up and not able to cater for people's real lives. We all have people in our own VGS who may not be able to attend for a couple of months but then play a blinder during the full time summer courses etc. In fact in our squadron we are fairly loose with attendence (once past probation) and most people have their own little 'deal' which actually makes the system work and which caters to their circumstances, abilities and stage in life.

I also have some misgivings about the AEF on the staffing front. If they can't attract enough pilots already, how are they going to man an extra two squadrons? Vigilant pilots will no doubt do a good job but are they going to be enough? I think the RAF will have to have a think about what the minimum pilot requirements really are as the RAF is now so small. I understand ex-service pilots are paid around £40K (correct me if I'm wrong, although FOs at airlines can get less than that) to fly at AEFs but still the RAF are short. Seems strange for such a fun job!!

If they are going to make more use of volunteers I would imagine they would have their pick of applicants from civvy street; we are only talking about day VFR single-engine piston aircraft. It seems like only the RAF can have a recruiting problem like that!

Has the possibility of using University Air Squadron graduates been considered? After all they have been selected, taught from the ground up to fly the same aircraft (aerobatics, formation?) in the way the RAF wants it done and presumably would have the same kind of volunteer weekend availability as they expect from an ex-Vigilant instructor.

Just hoping for a bit of imagination and flexibility in getting the best out of the new structure!

Flug
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 21:01
  #2085 (permalink)  
 
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Flug

The Flt Lt OC AEF is one of the only paid - that's about £40k/yr plus flying pay. The rest are Reserves, some VR(T), that are paid the normal rate for when they turn up. The Regular Officers just get Home to Duty who fly AEF.

I believe that the UAS student is now a shadow of their former selves regarding flying skills - many are barely solo.

I too fear that the requirements to fly a SE aircraft for the AEF will be too hard. They make it hard enough already by insisting on a fire category consistent for a small passenger carrying aircraft and full visual/radar air traffic control - both completely uneccesary for operating a small light aircraft!!!

LJ
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 21:06
  #2086 (permalink)  
 
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LJ - Talgarth would be a non starter unless you are going to aerotow. Further more it is a difficult site to fly from and I can't imagine the ATC doing many first solos there. I don't think Rhigos is particularly clever either.


Kinloss used to be the home of Fulmar GC RAFGSA which re-located to Easterton.
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 21:12
  #2087 (permalink)  
 
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WE992 is right LJ. I was the Tug Master and manager at Talgarth for several years - its quite a demanding site, and also far too short for a winch.
Not sure how much gliding is happening at Rhigos right now either.
You're right about the AEF requirement for full Fire and Radar etc etc though - completely OTT, IMHO.

Last edited by DaveUnwin; 27th Mar 2016 at 21:15. Reason: Missed a bit!
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 21:32
  #2088 (permalink)  
 
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Letter in the Telegraph today:

Air cadets will still get a seat in the cockpit
SIR – Ben Farmer’s coverage of the future of air cadet gliding in Britain captures the dismay of many gliding instructors, for whom years of dedicated service will come to an end.

However, it is wrong to imply that the current grounding of the glider fleet was motivated by cost savings.This change has come about with the stiffening of flight safety regulations following the Nimrod accident review by Charles Haddon-Cave QC, and the subsequent discovery of significant shortcomings in engineering governance in the glider fleet.

After months of deliberations, final decisions were taken by the senior executive of the RAF, taking into account affordability, the needs of the cadets and volunteers, and a vision of the future. There has been criticism of how the decisions were announced. However, government rules prohibit any advanced notice of sensitive decisions until ministers have made formal announcements. There have been extensive consultations between senior officers and the volunteer gliding community.

While there will be fewer gliding locations, this will be largely offset by increasing powered flying opportunities, and by deploying more fully refurbished Viking conventional gliders at additional sites. New high-speed winches are being procured to increase launch rates; the training packages will be better, and the remaining gliding centres will boast vastly improved infrastructure, including bespoke accommodation.

Sir Christopher Coville
Air Marshal (Retired)
Hon President, No 2 (Gliding) Flying Training School
Sherborne, Dorset
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 21:54
  #2089 (permalink)  
 
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Definition of a condradiction ?
1st paragraph

However, it is wrong to imply that the current grounding of the glider fleet was motivated by cost savings.

2nd paragraph

After months of deliberations, final decisions were taken by the senior executive of the RAF, taking into account affordability
As I have said before - they had a few choices - two of which were either...


Spend gazillions,not fly for 4 years and end up with 20 odd year old gliders or...


Spend gazillions,not fly for 4 years and end up with new gliders.


K21's would have got my vote.
And to the people who posted that they would have had to order the new fleet at the same time as the Grobs - well they still have not ordered any new gliders as far as I know !
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 22:22
  #2090 (permalink)  
 
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Ok, how about Usk for gliding? Or maybe Llanbedr, Aberporth, Mona or Valley? Sounds like a bit of a drama in NI though! However, let's face it, to start a gliding strip froms scratch you only need ~20-30 acres of flat and well-drained land. Surely there must be somewhere suitable???

Anyway, it's all academic as the decision has been made and even if gliders were ordered now they wouldn't be here in numbers until 2018. If only we had something to celebrate on that date for the roll out of an expansion of Air Cadet gliding again...

LJ
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 22:23
  #2091 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Failed_Scopie View Post
CB, an absolutely fascinating first post; I would like to carry on this discussion via PM if that is okay with you? F_S.
F_S - I have the pleasure of spending Easter at one of the RAF’s more remote stations with limited internet and zero mobile data. In any case I am rather busy ‘commanding’ things at the moment. (This is my first chance to logon since my previous post.)

I signed-up just to make my point, because I feel strongly that it needs to be taken into account. How much of it is fact and how much anecdotal can easily be verified by those with access to the data.

I agree – and have experienced – how some lukewarm cadets can be stimulated and inspired by their first flight. But others will be put-off by the prospect of having to ‘sign-up’ to a long and highly structured course of training.

Perhaps it’s a bit like the QAIC. Many cadets would like to participate in most of the constituent parts in bite-sized chunks (I would!) but most are put off by the sheer ‘size’ of the whole package.

There will, in my view, always be a place for just a cheap and cheerful plain old GIC to catch the fancy of those cadets who are not already aviation-minded. Many will then become hooked and eager to get on the full-blown package.

CB
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 22:29
  #2092 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks for the update LJ! Sounds like an adjustment of the regs at the lower end may be needed.

I well remember the Vikings all being grounded along with the Vigis during the ash-cloud debacle and wondering how on earth the RAF could justify that on 'risk' grounds?? Still, it's their train set and I hope they care enough about cadet gliding to make some practical allowances for the reality of the new structure.

Flug
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 22:41
  #2093 (permalink)  
 
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And how relevant is gliding to flying in the RAF??? Why the preciousness about needing long skinny wings? Just use a normal powered FW (God knows there are enough available) and get on with it. Maybe just bring back the Chipmunk
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 22:52
  #2094 (permalink)  
 
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And how relevant is gliding to flying in the RAF??? Why the preciousness about needing long skinny wings?
I'm guessing you never worked your way up through the ACO gliding world. However, the "long skinny wings" as you put it, comes from cost effectiveness. As I'm sure you are aware, the vast majority of the winch launched gliders are (until it all got screwd up) very low cost aircraft. But why do I think you know that.

XA
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Old 27th Mar 2016, 23:31
  #2095 (permalink)  
 
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Sounds like a bit of a drama in NI though! However, let's face it, to start a gliding strip froms scratch you only need ~20-30 acres of flat and well-drained land. Surely there must be somewhere suitable???
Old airfields etc ,Ballywalter, surrounded by trees and a quagmire, Ballyhalbert caravan park and building site, Bishopscourt republican area would need armed security, Toome would need even more security, Ballykelly industrial development, Limavady same, there is a small airstrip at Carrickmore the locals tried to kill me there a few times Fermanagh you would need seaplanes for half the year, Armagh nowhere, Antrim plateau nowhere, Kirkistown racing track, Greencastle caravan park, Nutts Corner, market, race track and chicken farm. Langford Lodge Martin Baker , industrial and farming, Maydown, industrial and police, Cluntoe do you have a spare rockape Sqn? Magaberry prison, Maze IRA skinny fecker of the year shrine plus showgrounds.

The answer is nowhere for winch launch.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 02:08
  #2096 (permalink)  
 
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Sorry, LJ, but you seen to be about as well informed about Air Cadet gliding as the rest of the RAF, including the 2FTS brain trust.

If you go back and peruse the 2012 report, you'll see that just about every Vigilant base was ruled as unsuitable for conventional winch-launched ops. Some airfields are too small to winch launch, others (like St Athan) have had stuff built on them and/or have airspace restrictions, or would pose a hazard to other activities. Station commanders also get quite upset when cables and drogue chutes start ripping airfield fixtures out of the ground. (This has included a radar on at least one occasion.) Similarly, it can get scary to see falling cables and strops hitting powered aircraft or, God forbid, helicopters. Convention Air Cadet gliding sites, using winches, require a good sized patch of flat land, in good condition, free from obstructions, with little to no concurrent activity. Not much of that about these days. Vigilants, on the other hand. can fit in quite easily with other activity on the airfield.

With the exception of a slack handful sqns from 2 Welsh Wing, nobody is within 90mins of Llanbedr, Mona and Valley. The wing's centre of gravity is along the border. Are you really going to ask volunteer instructors (presumably from South Wales or Merseyside) to drive 4-5hrs to get there and fly? It's not the RAF, where you can just post people. These are people living in the real world.

As for Aberporth, 636 was there for about 5 years, before being chucked out when the runway was extended and it became West Wales Airport and a hub for UAV development, which means that it's normally NOTAMed as a no-go area.

Last edited by Cat Funt; 28th Mar 2016 at 02:51.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 02:50
  #2097 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by BossEyed View Post
I know Sir Christopher posts here so I'll choose my words carefully. Anyone who says this is either lying, is delusional, or fundamentally doesn't understand what's going on.

This was done primarily due to cost. Middleton was sat no more than 4ft away from me when told us as such. He said that the plan up until late summer of last year was to recover the Vigilants, but eventually SERCO said the job was beyond them. The RAF went out and got quotes from, IIRC, four other firms whose prices were far outside what the RAF was willing to pay.

The needs of volunteers and cadets were considered? Interesting, because I don't recall any consultation. I don't recall even being told anything meaningful via official channels about the extent of the problem, the difficulties they were having from an engineering point of view,the proposals that were being looked at or even what 2FTS were trying to accomplish or what their vision of the future was- and I don't know of anyone in our Region holding the rank of Wg Cdr or below who was. As for the future plan- I think that was decided before all this even blew up. MAA regs are a convenient smokescreen.

All we got for two years was the odd missive via email from Middleton which was invariably devoid of substance, other than asking for our trust and giving thinly veiled threats against posting on social media. The people you are defending kept us in the dark and fed us bullshit for two years, Sir Chistopher. THAT is what we are really upset about, not that the final outcome was announced by Parliament.

The people you're defending have killed the one thing that made the ACO stand out from all its rivals and competitors. They've come up with an abortion of a plan that has no short-term benefits, will massively under-deliver in the medium term and which will be utterly unsustainable in the long term. I say this as someone being asked to stay on and help implement it. Well, excuse me if I don't hold their hand as they jump off a cliff. I suggest that they instead offer up a prayer to St Jude.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 08:19
  #2098 (permalink)  
 
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Why did Condor close ?? And Kirknewton stay open ??
Hopefully this is an ironic question, but the answer will be demography. Condor is near Arbroath, Kirknewton is on the west edge of Edinburgh so far easier for the majority of the population to reach.

Spend gazillions,not fly for 4 years and end up with new gliders.
There is no glider maker in the world that could supply sufficient (over 60) 2-seat gliders in that timeframe, even if negotiations had started years before and their entire production went to the Cadets.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 08:48
  #2099 (permalink)  
 
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I guess the powers-at-be also had to justify spending a significant amount of money on Kirknewton to improve the airfield surface, drainage etc. Although Arbroath is a larger, flatter and drier airfield on an established military base complete with the facilities that go with that (security, messing etc).

So, in terms of a site, Arbroath is preferable, but on paper Kirknewton is probably a better location for the masses. Not that this is much consolation for those in the north of Scotland.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 08:56
  #2100 (permalink)  
 
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Hopefully this is an ironic question, but the answer will be demography. Condor is near Arbroath, Kirknewton is on the west edge of Edinburgh so far easier for the majority of the population to reach.
Don't forget that thousands has been spent over the last few years on getting the Kirknewton site up to a standard where it can actually be used for flying operations. I think they sorted the airfield out just around the time that all gliding ceased!

Also, is RM Condor's future secure? There has been chatter about moving 45 Commando to Faslane but I'm not sure if that is still on the table.
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