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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 28th Mar 2016, 09:05
  #2101 (permalink)  
 
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Condor's future is probably as secure as any other MoD site. About as a secure as a chunk of real estate on the outskirts of Edinburgh would be you might say.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 10:20
  #2102 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by BossEyed View Post
"... taking into account affordability, the needs of the cadets ...".

As part of the ATC front line I am very aware of, and responsive to, the needs of the cadets. How did the ACO determine the needs of the cadets w.r.t. to gliding (as distinct from the - quite legitimate - needs of the RAF/ACO/2FTS)?

CB
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 10:31
  #2103 (permalink)  
 
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Like many of those who have posted, I spent a very happy period of my youth in the ATC, and first got airborne in Chipmunks, then got the chance to go gliding at Manston. The ATC was instrumental in keeping my ambition to go and work in aviation alive, even if I did end up as an air engineering officer in the RN.

So, here's my two pennorth worth.

Like many, (and reluctantly) I can't take Sir Christopher's statements at face value. To be plain, this looks to me like a classic snow job. Reasons why I think this:

1. I can't honestly see why this issue would merit a Ministerial statement. Reorganisation of ACO gliding bases and fleet should have been announced at Department level. But if an organisation is trying to avoid embarrassment, a Ministerial statement handily stifles debate, shifts blame from those in the organisation responsible for the problem, and is a perfect platform for VSOs to issue statements along the lines of ' this is where we are now, stop whingeing and get with the programme, the Minister has spoken'. A bit like what's happened here.

2. Matters of fact, or the lack thereof. Firstly, this problem arose in 2014, five years after the Haddon Cave report. Did it really take the RAF five years to recognise there was a problem? Did they really leave Air Cadets at risk for five years? Secondly, the Regulations have not been 'stiffened'. When you get down to the business of keeping aircraft in an airworthy condition, the MAA has not actually changed anything that happens in the hangar. And thirdly, what were the 'engineering governance' problems? That's a weasel phrase if ever I heard one. What were the actual problems? Where's the MAA report? Who failed and what is happening to them?

Why the cover up? In my view (and that is all it is), it's this.

The Royal Air Force has allowed a fleet of the simplest possible aircraft to degenerate into a non-airworthy condition. The RAF, for crying out loud. if they can't keep these aircraft up to spec, what the heck is happening to the rest of their aircraft? I'm not at all surprised that they would rather not answer that one. (Please note that I've regularly posted my admiration for the RAF's technical and professional standards - I'm as mystified as anyone else at this)

This has cost money. A lot of money. That's bad enough. But it's also probable that the situation took a number of years before 2014 to develop, so Air Cadets were put at risk. That's not a small issue.

I sincerely hope that a couple of Parliamentary Committees get their teeth stuck into this. I'd like to see a few more facts out there.

Best regards as ever to those picking up the pieces at the sharp end

Engines
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 10:48
  #2104 (permalink)  
 
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Cat Funt

I sincerely disagree that NONE of the sites I mentioned are suitable for winch launching (and I have visited over 50% of these in the last 12 months):

RAF Honington - there is nothing to stop a safe winch launched operation there. The airfield is infrequently used and most of the airfield furniture was either removed or is no longer required.

Dalton Barracks (former RAF Abingdon) - the Army are quite precious about the grass that they use for running around on. However, there is no reason not to use at the weekends. Indeed the Army have embryonic plans to use it for parachuting.

RAF Halton - an extant winch launching site up to 2,000ft AGL.

RAF Henlow - plenty of room from 3 grass runways. There is no reason not to winch off of it.

RAF Odiham - the RAFGSA's Kestrel Gliding Club manages to winch launch quite nicely at this site. The gliding site notifies winch launches to 2,600ft AGL.

RMB Chivenor - no other users now that SAR has gone, plenty of room. There is no requirement for any of the airfield furniture to remain.

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 but Rekin are able to operate concurrently (although seperated). The winch launch site is notified to 3,000ft AGL.

MOD St Athan - plenty of room if using the grass and leaving the tarmac for UAS/AEF. This might be the first 'show stopper' due to the airfield furniture, but if they manage at Odiham and Cosford then why not here?

RAF Topcliffe - plenty of real estate for gliding. No requirement for any airfield furniture.

RAF Linton-on-Ouse - plenty of room on the grass, so same argument as St Athan.

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. The RAFGSA used to winch launch there as the Fulmar Gliding Club.

We could start gliding ops on any of these in days few. Certainly the 5 extra VGS IF we had placed orders for K-21s in late 2014 when the situation was known how much work the Viggis needed. I suspect that the 2012 report had its own agenda and reported sites as unsuitable - non-independent internal reviews do that often. I do have some glider time (more solo than dual - all in K-21s) and so I hope I do know about 'gliding more than the rest of the RAF' (if we want to be that sweeping).

LJ
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 12:30
  #2105 (permalink)  
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A mate on FB who was up there for some
Techy training on Vikiing recently said they have failed some big engineering audit in massive fashion only just recently and MAA put them on special measures or something? Big letters issued to bosses. Apparently it means that no schools away from the big base can start up? Don't know if the president chap been told this as he seems a good sort
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 13:04
  #2106 (permalink)  
 
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Trigger's New Broom

Like many here on this Forum I am frustrated with the whitewash that is currently being spread about the basic reasons for this cluster f*ck.

Why were simple aeroplanes (mostly without an engine) grounded (and have remained grounded) for two years?

Missing paperwork (as an excuse) does not cut it with me as we all know how important paperwork can be. But the use of unauthorised spare parts gives me cause for concern. But surely not enough concern to keep them grounded (and volunteer staff unable to fly) for two years.

The actual reasons are being hidden with weasel words coming from people who should know what they are doing.

The boys and girls of the ACO have been seriously let down - the volunteers have been well and truly let down. I feel for you chaps (and lady chaps - so as not to cause confusion with some readers).

I would not trust anything that is coming down from the existing management at the moment, they have miscommunicated from day one.

There needs to be a new broom, both head and handle (not Trigger's broom which lasted 20 years. But he did get a medal!)


Last edited by Freda Checks; 28th Mar 2016 at 15:42. Reason: Badly worded original caused confusion!!
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 13:31
  #2107 (permalink)  
 
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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.
Inverness to Arbroath is only a couple of miles less than Inverness to Kirknewton. And it's not just on paper that Kirknewton is better for the masses. Central Edinburgh to Kirknewton - 11 miles. To Arbroath - 78 miles plus having to cross the Forth. The figures for Glasgow are 38 and 97 miles. It's also about twice as far to Abroath from Stirling, and only a few miles less from Perth. Also Perth to Kirknewton involves crossing the Forth. I found a cartogram which gives a good indication of where the population is:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scotla..._cartogram.png

The people who lose travel wise are those in east Scotland, north of the Forth.

Missing paperwork does not cut it with me, however the use of unauthorised spare parts gives me cause for concern.
I have heard there are some undocumented repairs as well. And whilst missing paperwork may not cut it with you, I know what sort of pickle I would be in if the paperwork for my glider was found to be missing. It would be grounded until it had had a very through inspection and the paperwork reinstated from that point in time, which is exactly what is happening to the Vikings and (I presume) the other aircraft.

Yes, the paperwork is a pain, and as an owner it's my responsibility along with the insurance & radio licence. It's also up to me to check through after it's had an annual, or if it has to go for repair, to make sure I'm happy it reflects what has been done, or in the case of repairs what I have paid for.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 13:33
  #2108 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Leon Jabachjabicz View Post
Cat Funt

I sincerely disagree that NONE of the sites I mentioned are suitable for winch launching (and I have visited over 50% of these in the last 12 months):

RAF Honington - there is nothing to stop a safe winch launched operation there. The airfield is infrequently used and most of the airfield furniture was either removed or is no longer required.

Dalton Barracks (former RAF Abingdon) - the Army are quite precious about the grass that they use for running around on. However, there is no reason not to use at the weekends. Indeed the Army have embryonic plans to use it for parachuting.

RAF Halton - an extant winch launching site up to 2,000ft AGL.

RAF Henlow - plenty of room from 3 grass runways. There is no reason not to winch off of it.

RAF Odiham - the RAFGSA's Kestrel Gliding Club manages to winch launch quite nicely at this site. The gliding site notifies winch launches to 2,600ft AGL.

RMB Chivenor - no other users now that SAR has gone, plenty of room. There is no requirement for any of the airfield furniture to remain.

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 but Rekin are able to operate concurrently (although seperated). The winch launch site is notified to 3,000ft AGL.

MOD St Athan - plenty of room if using the grass and leaving the tarmac for UAS/AEF. This might be the first 'show stopper' due to the airfield furniture, but if they manage at Odiham and Cosford then why not here?

RAF Topcliffe - plenty of real estate for gliding. No requirement for any airfield furniture.

RAF Linton-on-Ouse - plenty of room on the grass, so same argument as St Athan.

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. The RAFGSA used to winch launch there as the Fulmar Gliding Club.

We could start gliding ops on any of these in days few. Certainly the 5 extra VGS IF we had placed orders for K-21s in late 2014 when the situation was known how much work the Viggis needed. I suspect that the 2012 report had its own agenda and reported sites as unsuitable - non-independent internal reviews do that often. I do have some glider time (more solo than dual - all in K-21s) and so I hope I do know about 'gliding more than the rest of the RAF' (if we want to be that sweeping).

LJ
Leon, perhaps you do know a bit more about gliding than most of the RAF at the moment, but you are certainly flawed in many of your ideas. Take it from myself as a BGA FI that many of these sites are unsuitable.
Honington I donít know much about and you have valid points about Abingdon, however being army owned I donít know what state the ground is in, some airfields like RAF Keevil where RAFGSA Bannerdown operate out of cannot use the grass because of the damage caused by military use to the land.
Halton + Odiham + Cosford are GSA sites, from my experience theyíre not big fans of ACO operations as first solos can be quite disruptive and communication poor. Thereís also the problem as mentioned in quite a few places that mutual operations are now subject to flight test trials by the MAA which cannot occur until VGSs stand up. Plus Cosford can only operate on alternate weekend because of traffic, Odiham does have quite a bit of airfield furniture which heavily restricts the landing area available compared to what you see and Halton isnít the biggest place for ACO Conventional operations. Remember that the GSA abide by BGA regulations and people who fly there have to get used to the confinements of their sites unlike the VGSs which can land wherever they want in the DLA.
RAF Henlow do have an active flying club which you havenít taken into account.
MOD St Athan had itís conventional gliders removed some years ago when the big buildings were built. Odiham and Cosford do not have these problems as there is more space and also Odiham and Cosford do not share themselves regularly with large aircraft. Itís quite easy to see
Chivenor + Topcliffe, Kinloss, who knows what the grass state is like and also where itíd be safe to set up as unless you have actually visited the site you cannot tell what and what isnít a hazard. Please do remember that though it may be perfectly safe to launch gliders in narrow places, as soon as the cable breaks you have absolutely no control over where the debris lands, I have known Buildings, cars, aircraft and people to get damaged/seriously hurt by winch launching going wrong when the cable breaks.
Linton on Ouse? Wouldnít work particularly well if any weekday operations were required and also just a look at google maps shows enough airfield furniture to cause a headache. Remember that Air Cadet Gliding operates to very stringent safety standards quite rightly as cadets are being sent solo with not loads of experience, need the safest sites possible.
Arbroath is a great shame and I really donít understand why that has been wiped off.
K21 mass production is a non starter. Many BGA clubs are ordering some at the moment, my club has had two deliveries in a year and a half because of production for the Australian Air Cadets who arenít ordering anywhere near as many as you suggest for the ACO. The whole reason the Vanguard T1 was dropped was because Schleicher did not want to open a production line for the Air Cadets, Iíd be surprised if that viewpoint has changed, if you visit the Schleicher factory youíll see itís a hive of activity producing K21s as well as top competition sailplanes which are in demand and are very valuable to the business of a sailplane manufacturer.
Finally your earlier post about Welsh Gliding sites unfortunately demonstrated your lack of experience in Gliding Iím afraid, I have flown from Lleweni Parc, minimum standards to fly there is Silver C and 100 hours in gliding, hardly suitable for most people below B cat really, it is a soaring site, there is not a gliding club there and the grass is unlandable now, only the runway, huge clutching hand effects on final approach. Talgarth and Rhigos have already been discussed by others here, look at Google Maps for some clear indications of where and where not to set up gliding sites.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 13:37
  #2109 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Engines
The Royal Air Force has allowed a fleet of the simplest possible aircraft to degenerate into a non-airworthy condition. The RAF, for crying out loud. if they can't keep these aircraft up to spec, what the heck is happening to the rest of their aircraft? I'm not at all surprised that they would rather not answer that one. (Please note that I've regularly posted my admiration for the RAF's technical and professional standards - I'm as mystified as anyone else at this)
Engines ... I think it's more to do with the MOD, and RAF in this instance, not being fully equipped to 'manage' outsourced contracts. I have former experience in managing multiple High Value outsourced contracts as a COO. So often is the case that many CEO's (read Mil VSO's in this instance) believe everything is 'solved' as soon as the ink is dry on the contract and payments flow.

The reality is that this is just the beginning ... Assuming (big assumption there) such contracts are constructed in the first instance with specialist outsourcing knowledge ... Unless you have a robust Supplier Risk & Supplier Performance Framework in place things will deteriorate rapidly. Not only do you devise robust reporting metrics but you actively (unannounced) test those metrics provided by the supplier and test/inspect 'on the ground' to be sure you are getting what you have paid for.

This all requires effort, skilled resources and COO's and CEO's who have the commercial experience to manage such arrangements ... Such skills are rarely found in SO's and VSO's who have worn a uniform for most of their career. Neither would I trust a Government Dept to 'manage' my Suppliers ... Because if they were any good they'd be in the commercial world on x3 salary.

But just my humble opinion ...

Coff.

Last edited by CoffmanStarter; 28th Mar 2016 at 14:07.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 14:23
  #2110 (permalink)  
 
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Coff,

Thanks for coming back. Again just my opinion here, informed by my own experience as a Fleet Manager for various types.

The fact that a maintenance activity is outsourced does not absolve what used to be called the Fleet Managers (uniformed engineers) of their basic responsibilities. These days these fall to what I understand is called the CAMO.

Nor does contractorisation or outsourcing absolve the operators (now the duty holders) of their responsibilities. The RAF was happy to advertise how bringing the ACO aircraft into the fold was going to improve things - now they have to carry the can because demonstrably it didn't.

And I come back to the key issue - the simplicity of these aircraft. This cannot have been a complex contract to set up and manage. Where in the name of all that is holy were the regular quality checks on work carried out? Where were the inspections of the engineering records? Where were the aircraft inspections on entry to the contract servicing system? And the inspections on exit?

I certainly agree that the MOD and the RAF aren't properly equipped to manage complex contracts (see the MAA's annual report on lack of 'SQEP' personnel) (incidentally, a contender there for the worst ever abbreviation). Tecumseh and others have been pointing this out some time. But I contend that even if the contract wasn't well set up, normal (and I do mean normal) service engineering practice would have caught the problems well before they led to a grounding.

Why didn't this happen? That, for me, is the question the RAF ought to be asking itself. I also believe that the MAA should be investigating, and publishing their reports. Transparently. Openly. No corners.

Best regards as ever to those who actually walk the walk,

Engines
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 14:32
  #2111 (permalink)  
 
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3rd Easter Course LOST (for ever)

Well here we are folks are on the anniversary of the biggest Aviation cock up (Air Cadets wise) in its entire history.
Another Easter has been frittered away with no gliding courses and nothing on the horizon to suggest a swift end to this debacle.

Why the excessive timescale for action ! Because the people that got us into this mess are still there, and by definition are as clueless to deliver a solution as they were getting us into the situation to start with.

Let us be clear about this;the fleet was not falling apart or having serviceability
problems,the machines were been flown by experienced staff that had the best experience of anyone as to their state,and had not had reason to question any safety issues. The aircraft did not feel unwell or had asked to see the doctors because they were actually in fine fettle by any standards.

However there was this 'glitch' in the paper trail that needed attention,and the way it has been handled shows us how the lack of tech competence in the system allowed an escalation of the situation to a full blown disaster (for that is what it is). What was needed was a swift consultation with the 'operators'(schools) followed by some expertise parachuted in to deliver a rapid return to flying. What we got was more of the same sorry examples of incompetence and poor leadership that has been the hallmark of the situation since day one. No changes meant no improvement and we have all been appalled at how the RAF/MOD seem to have got themselves into such a state with such a simple operation.

The spanners have been replaced with facebook and twitter which are no substitute for practical experience and capable staff,they have killed off a fine facility that delivered the goods and have the audacity to suggest it will be a better service 'in the long term'. The lunatics are still firmly in control and they still do not have a clue.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 14:54
  #2112 (permalink)  
 
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Engines ...

I think we are jointly 'banging the same nail firmly on the head'

Best ...

Coff.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 14:57
  #2113 (permalink)  
 
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Pobjoy,

A long long time ago in an engineering universe far away, I was trained to understand that in aircraft maintenance, the work and the paperwork were indivisible. I am certain that my RAF counterparts were trained in exactly the same way.

Part of the problem here is that no details of the material or documentation 'problems' have been made public. These aren't front line aircraft and details of their condition does not affect national security. So let's see the details. After all, the taxpayers will be the ones footing the bill.

By any normal metric, taking two years to sort this issue out has to be an indictment of the organisation and people involved. And I am extremely sad at that. The public rightly expects better. They should know more about this. I'd hope that some keen young reporter does some more digging.

Coff, thanks and fully agree.

Best regards as ever to those waiting for some good news,

Engines
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 16:08
  #2114 (permalink)  
 
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Finally your earlier post about Welsh Gliding sites unfortunately demonstrated your lack of experience in Gliding I’m afraid, I have flown from Lleweni Parc, minimum standards to fly there is Silver C and 100 hours in gliding, hardly suitable for most people below B cat really, it is a soaring site, there is not a gliding club there and the grass is unlandable now, only the runway, huge clutching hand effects on final approach.
Quite a hump in the runway as well I believe, just to add to the other issues. LLP was set up as a wave soaring site which it does well, but beyond that...
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 17:26
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Let Down by Those that we trusted !

Engines; I know there has to be an 'audit trail' in aviation; anyone involved with the ARB,CAA,JAA,EASA, knows that,but in those organisations (until recently) the 'hands on engineers' still carried weight and were available for face to face discussions with a view to keep fleets flying.What we have now are aircraft in service where the constructors have gone bust and therefore little incentive for the 'res-erected' 'new company' to get involved. However in the case of GROB i suspect that they could have probably been availed of to come up with an inspection plan for the ATC fleet as apart from anything else they are still very much in evidence as a 'provider' to the RAF and therefore it would be in their interests to show confidence in their earlier products.In the real world someone would have made a telephone call and at least sounded out the options.
I am aghast that what we have ended up with is the possible funding of a 'mini factory' just to inspect simple gliders that were happily flying around before being grounded.This of course is because of the 'mind-set' in the system that really is clueless, and that is what most of us find appalling; in that such a fine institution as the RAF are nowadays unable to actually control anything remotely technical (In house). Sir Stanley Hooker summed it up when he quoted Lord Hives (RR) statement 'If the engineers get it wrong we are all wrong'! Well it appears that the RAF are decidedly lacking in 'engineering' at a top level,and its all come home to roost.

Last edited by POBJOY; 29th Mar 2016 at 00:10.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 17:30
  #2116 (permalink)  
 
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CB, you have asked the $64,000 question. Just don't expect an answer...

I strikes me that some RAF VSOs had an anti-volunteer agenda here - I've seen it all in the Army Reserve over the last ten years.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 17:40
  #2117 (permalink)  
 
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Some time ago I, as an A Category instructor, was on loan to 664 VGS in Northern Ireland. The cadet I was given to check was excellent and I sent him off for his first solo in a Vigilant. It was a textbook solo. Afterwards, as he was recovering from his elation, I told him that I had noticed that he seemed to stay apart from his fellow cadets. I asked him to explain why. He said that he was a different religion to them. He also said that his mother knew that he was an Air Cadet but that he dare not tell his father. I asked him what his hopes were for the future. He said that he would go to the mainland and apply to join the Royal Air Force.
What guts this cadet had and almost certainly still has. Surely we are not going to let him and others like him down by closing their gliding school.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 17:51
  #2118 (permalink)  
 
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Pobjoy, what excellent posts. I am long retired and know little about the situation except what I read here, and what the regulations say must be done.

When you say
What was needed was a swift consultation
I am reminded of my first job in an aircraft office in MoD. My late boss (Assistant Director Helicopters) told me I was to be his "rottweiler". This is one grade above "troubleshooter", which was an actual position I had held some years before (when I first met Engines!). I know that Kevin would have sent us in, told us to crack it by any means possible, and he would back us to the hilt. I have a very nice letter of commendation from the RAF (pre-Alcock) when myself and oppo did precisely this when it was announced the SAR fleet was to be grounded the next day. It wasn't. But I'm afraid you are 100% correct. There just isn't the will anymore. There was keen competition for that post - today they don't exist and most would run a mile. I cannot see resurrection in my lifetime. But I wish you all the best.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 18:15
  #2119 (permalink)  
 
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Telegraph Letter

CB : Letter would have been more impressive if it was from a 'coal face' instructor getting the boot.
As is was it is just another layer of very thick wallpaper going over the great chasm of cover ups.

I am intrigued to find out that the new winches 'will increase launch rate'; in my day that was limited by the gliders optimum climb rate (loading), but mainly by getting the cable back to the launch point. I fail to see how the new winches will make up for a 'reduced' operation or where all the 'jolley' staff will come from not to mention their experience levels. The letter is based upon 'opinion' not the hard facts of the case.
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Old 28th Mar 2016, 20:16
  #2120 (permalink)  
 
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Honington

LJ and others

I believe that the USAF were/are concerned about pop up traffic appearing under the flight paths to Mildenhall and Lakenheath and consequently wanted powered gliders as opposed to conventional gliders based at Honington. Those in Norfolk and Suffolk Wing and/or 611 VGS who post on here will no doubt correct me if I'm mistaken... It was a sad day when they had to leave Swanton Morley....tragic waste of an airfield.
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