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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 5th Jan 2017, 10:03
  #3081 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Norfolk
Posts: 1,008

The 525 per hour is misleading as it includes the cost of the entire organization amortised per asset. So multiple sites, staff, aeroplanes, winches, engineering backup (Hmm) etc. So actually 525 is probably not as bad as it appears (although still very expensive) whereas the 70 per hour for a local Grob 109 is based on much smaller outlay and dare I say it a lower engineering requirement etc................. (I'm not saying that the 525 is cheap or good value BTW.......... I'm just saying it is what it is - ' a number')


The real issue is the numbers required. No Civilian Club can do the number of launches per day that a VGS does and still meet the requirements of the members (who pay a fair rate for the privilege). I can soon see a bit of a riot when members are told that there is a requirement to fly cadets (which would be underpinned by a MoD contract I am sure) or equally Cadets not getting flown and the contract soon being binned and the cadets back where they are now (no flying). Also a VGS has up to 6 or 7 two seaters on the line fulfilling the flying task of doing cadet training. I can't see any club having anything like that number of 2 seaters available for the task of training cadets - let alone members, as well as the lack of instructors available every weekend for full days, where I live the local BGA clubs are struggling to provide instructors for their members on a regular basis and they are also struggling with the usual problems regarding the membership age profile. (Edit: Not to mention 6 or 7 gliders and retrieve vehicles clogging up the landing area all day long !!) Lastly we come to the other problem and that is that Cadets are doing mainly low level training - BGA clubs teach training but always with a view to the student progressing up the badge ladder - really the two are not super-compatible.

I've broken my New Year resolution already and replied to this thread !!!


Last edited by Arclite01; 5th Jan 2017 at 10:26.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 10:17
  #3082 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: UK
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"No Civilian Club can do the number of launches per day that a VGS does and still meet the requirements of the members (who pay a fair rate for the privilege)."

Really? Have you looked into how many launches per day a well-oiled setup with 1 more instructor than glider and plenty of helpers who know what they are doing can achieve, even if it's a 2-wire winch?

Granted you would need to look at the larger clubs, but there are a number of clubs that can provide a very impressive service. Even if it's not what the VGC did provide it's infinitely better than what they can currently provide... Also, most BGA clubs do air experience flying, generally about 20 minutes flying, and are generally happy to do something out of the norm if asked to do so.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 10:30
  #3083 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Norfolk
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The VGS would require an additional 100 launches a day on top of whatever is being done already to meet the requirements of the members.

It's the logistics and training model required by HQAC and ACO that kills the idea...............

I'd love to see it work - I think a bit of occasional AEF is one thing, a structured week in/week out operation similar to what the VGS provided is quite another..........

Just my 2 pennyworth.

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Old 5th Jan 2017, 11:04
  #3084 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 203

You really have no understanding of what the objectives of Air Cadet gliding was/is.

As a 16 year old living in central London I wanted to fly. The only way to achieve this dream was to join the ATC as my parents were unable to afford for me to travel on a regular basis to either Lasham or Dunstable, and to pay for my gliding.

I went on a continuous (5 day) course at Hawkinge in Kent, had a travel warrant to get there, overnight accommodation provided by the RAF, and went solo in two days! No, I did not know how to thermal and would not have recognised a thermal if I saw one! What I did was to fly one of Her Majesty's aircraft (albeit a lowly Cadet MkIII) safely around the circuit three times. That boost in confidence has been remembered all my life, I was not able to drive a car but I was flying a glider. All for free!

Having gone solo I became frustrated and investigated how I would be able to continue gliding and wrote to the CO at Hawkinge and asked how I could follow my dream of becoming a gliding instructor! He replied that I could join a BGA club and gain experience that way but it would cost a lot of money! Or I could join an Air Cadet Gliding School (which operated at weekends) as a Staff Cadet. This involved doing the labour intensive jobs on a gliding site, opening the hangar doors at 08:00h, getting the kit out, DI the ground equipment, refuel as necessary, driving the retrieve Land Rovers during the day, driving the winches, putting kit away at the end of each day etc. All this in return for one or two flights (maybe) at the end of the weekend,

I contacted my local gliding school and was taken on as a Staff Cadet and I was able to travel to the gliding site using a "Forces Leave" ticket courtesy of British Rail from Clapham Junction because I was in uniform!

I spent my weekends doing this menial stuff (along with other like minded 16/17 year olds) but in return I was trained to fly gliders and supervised by the best instructors.

Yes, we did graduate to thermalling and even did a few cross-country flights in the Swallow, but the objective with the air cadets was still the same - to get them flying three safe circuits around the airfield. If they wanted to progress beyond that they would have to join a local gliding club.

We were well aware that to graduate to a civilian club would need more intensive training, more and better lookout, more spinning, more stalling etc, etc.

But as other posters have intimated no club (even Lasham) would have the capacity to add another 100 plus launches per day in order to achieve the MOD requirements of getting today's Air Cadets off the ground, without upsetting the existing club members.

What this "Pause" debacle has done is to eliminate that group of willing volunteer youngsters - gliding school/squadron Staff Cadets, a pool of switched on boys and girls from which the future gliding instructors would come.

Well done Staff Cadets, old and new, I salute you.

Last edited by Frelon; 5th Jan 2017 at 11:16.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 12:19
  #3085 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2005
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Nice post Frelon.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 13:25
  #3086 (permalink)  
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It's pretty obvious the current BGA club set-up doesn't have shed loads of irreducible spare capacity. But there's a (potential) customer out there who has money, a (reduced) cadre of instructors who could be cross trained to civil requirements, a (reduced) number of gliding sites that could be managed by civilians and a captive audience of about 40 000 kids. It needs to be remembered that the vast majority of excellent VGS work in the past was done by civilians with the only RAF input being a set of regulations, some real-estate and the odd blue-suit.

Think outside the box and think 5+ years ahead. Shoe-horning into Lasham/Booker/Hus-Bos isn't the answer. But transferring oversight to the BGA is surely an option that needs to be seriously discussed? The civil flying precedent has been around for decades in the guise of the Air Cadet Flying Scholarship Scheme; Tayside Aviation have developed a very successful business around flying scholarships.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 14:36
  #3087 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Norfolk
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We have the kit and most of the sites ( a few gaps - Issue 1).

We need the aircraft back on the line (Issue 2) and the staff renewed (Issue 3) or replaced - then we can get the ball rolling again. The Motorglider life (Issue 4) and replacement is a bit of a red herring - we operated for years without them and we can go back to that.

The real major issue (Issue 5) is we need decisions, policies and momentum from the top to get going. The longer the delays or lack of decisions and the harder it is for the ACO to get cadets gliding again.

IMHO there will be an arrangement with some BGA or GSA clubs for some AEF and maybe even some scholarships but I don't ever believe it will scale up to anything like the VGS Operation. The cash side of things is small beer on the defence budget - a Million pounds is lost in the shouting but would get this whole fiasco back on the road............that's why no-one has really mentioned the dosh.

Whatever happens, the halcyon days of Mk3, T21, Venture and Vigilant, grass airfields, sole user sites and summer camps are long gone - we'll not see their likes again I fear..................

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Old 5th Jan 2017, 15:18
  #3088 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: Somewhere
Posts: 6
Originally Posted by cats_five View Post
At my club a cadet pays 8.50 for a launch and up to 30 minutes in a club glider. Travel can easily cost more than flying.
That is exactly my point really, prices are I think the same as at the site I fly from.

To progress you really need to fly about once a week. But first you need to get there which depending where in the country you are could cost your prospective cadet another 10-20 or more a week. 8.50 a launch and 30 mins isn't bad but some days you're not going to stay up for half an hour, either due to weather or training requirements, so you'll be looking at a few launches. Then there's food, club membership which itself can cost more than 100 at some sites. You're looking at a weekly cost that isn't affordable for many young people. - Yes, there are scholarships, but unless you're lucky they won't get you very far.

Added to that, in terms of sheer numbers getting every ATC cadet and RAF section CCF a winch launch a year would be an increase in BGA winch launches of about 20%. That's neither sustainable for the BGA nor good enough for the cadets.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 15:23
  #3089 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 1999
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How are Pippa's so-called 'part-task trainers' going down with those who've been using them?

Are they proving sufficient to put the 'air' back into air cadets...??
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 15:41
  #3090 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 114
In a word...... nope!
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 15:47
  #3091 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: United Kingdom
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Skylaunch winches!!

Meanwhile in September 2015 - the last of 25 Skylaunch Evo twin drum (6.6 litre turbo diesel engine) was delivered to RAF Syerston (Air Cadets Central Gliding School). This completed the order placed by the British Air Cadets to replace their ageing Van Gelder winch fleet.

I wonder what the cost of maintaining this fleet of winches is? How are they doing?

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Old 5th Jan 2017, 16:41
  #3092 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
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You are right I have no idea what the ATC do as I was never part of the organisation. I'm looking in from outside. Is that 100 launches per day - across the country or per site? How many sites?

The Skylaunch we have has proved to be very reliable after a couple of early hiccups.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 16:54
  #3093 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Norfolk
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That would be 100 Launches per Winch Launch VGS site per day (6 or 7 aircraft doing 15 launches per day each) x 13 sites across the country = 1300 launches per day.

There was no Aerotow facility at any VGS site although there was a Tug (Leased) at Syerston for Instructor Training and Spin Training sorties.

As an instructor on average I would do between 15 and 20 instructional trips off the winch per day - average 5 - 10 mins each (depending on soaring conditions and student training requirements). Launches capped at 30 per day for Instructors (I did that several times that I can remember).

This did not include the 13 Motorglider VGS which usually had 3 or 4 Motorgliders each and probably did 4 or 5 hours per Aircraft per day. Instructors there probably doing 2 - 2.5 hours a day average.

Limited interaction between Winch Launch and Motorglider VGS since few were collocated or near each other. Hence my knowledge of their Ops is 'Broad Brush'. Unusual to find someone experienced in both outside of Syerston where people qualified to operate both types.

Fairly substantial totals.

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Old 5th Jan 2017, 17:21
  #3094 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Farnham, Surrey
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Frelon, A superb post! (#3084)

The best people to advise the Air Cadets how to run Air Cadet gliding are all those people who have been doing it, as volunteers, for the last 75 years. Input from the BGA and the RAF is likely to be of benefit where appropriate, but there is precious little evidence that Air Cadet gliding instruction was not fit for purpose.

One big problem in perception is that the British Gliding Association is not what it says. Its members glide only when they cannot soar. An airliner can glide, but it takes a sailplane* and a sailplane pilot to soar in normal conditions. The BGA teaches gliding as a stepping stone to soaring and cross country flying. The Air Cadet Organisation teaches gliding as a means to learn take offs, circuit planning and landings, as well as learning teamwork and the discipline to safely operate potentially hazardous equipment.

Whist there is a lot of benefit to Air Cadets experiencing BGA and RAFGSA club environments, it is being the big fish in a small pool that gave Air Cadet gliding the edge it had. Training with senior cadets who are of an age that the trainee cadet can relate to, is very different to having an instructor with more diamonds than De Beers and who helped Percy Pilcher build his first glider.

It should also be borne in mind that BGA and RAFGSA clubs are largely volunteer-run for the benefit of providing soaring, and the training to get soaring, to their members. Those members did not join to be Air Cadet helpers, nor did they elect to sign up to a whole raft of regulations that the Air Cadet Organisation may consider necessary. BGA members are also going to want to know how their organisation and their own gliding is going to benefit by the BGA diverting from its current aims to provide Air Cadet-type gliding to Air Cadets.

*Not forgetting that hang gliders and paragliders are also soaring aircraft.

Last edited by Mechta; 5th Jan 2017 at 17:32.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 17:31
  #3095 (permalink)  
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And how many launches does each cade get? Per day? Overall? What is the point of flying them - an air experience flight, or an instructional flight?
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 17:34
  #3096 (permalink)  
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"Its members glide only when they cannot soar."

If we can't soar we can only glide! Pre-solo is frequently just gliding. Soaring and teaching soaring doesn't happen much pre-solo. Of course a club with a handy ridge is well-placed for teaching through the winter as more of the flying time is spent in the air compared with a circuits-only day, and I'm not sure the fact some (not many) instructors have a diamond or two is a problem, or indeed that they are not a similar age to the cadets.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 19:01
  #3097 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
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It varies. Depends what sort of training they are getting.

1. Early flying used to be just Air Experience, later on it changed and all flying was instructional. Target was for Cadets on Basic training (GIC) that they got at least 3 launches a day - sometimes 5. Primary Effects of Controls type stuff.

2. If they were doing the later stages of Training then 5 - 7 launches a day, if they were on a continuous weeks course they could do up to 10 launches a day on the Viking - covered the full syllabus including further effects, selection of attitudes, speed and effects on controls, co-ordination exercises, airbrakes, stalling, soaring if conditions allowed, circuit planning and practice, Launch, Approach and Landing, launch failures and solo check plus solo circuit.

3. These were all taught in the standard way of Demonstration, Teach, Task, Check of Understanding and Student practice until a satisfactory standard is achieved. When judged satisfactory a progress check is undertaken by another instructor and training progresses until solo standard is reached. This is then assessed by an 'A' Category instructor and includes checking all the above exercises including Launch Failures. If OK student is sent solo. At all stages assessment is made.

4. Not all students go solo - if they do not reach the required standard they have their training reduced and a lower standard of proficiency award is given. I would think probably 75% of students make it to solo. The remainder are not sent solo - something of the military way of things and there are limited launches per student. Our target is (was) to get them all solo where possible and 100% solo records on continuous courses was not unusual.

5. We would run 4 - 6 1 week residential courses per year and on average sent 30 - 40 students solo on my VGS on these courses, in addition we would train probably another 12 - 20 students to solo standard over several contiguous weekends on top of that number. In parallel we were teaching ground school (basic aerodynamics, airmanship, syllabus specific stuff etc) on the white board. It's hard telling a keen Cadet that he doesn't have the ability to go solo - especially when they really want to go................. but it's something of a life lesson for them there.......

If you multiply the above by 13 (it was the same at all Winch Launch VGS) and then add the same number of solos in the Motorglider at the Motorglider VGS and you can see the throughput/output of the organization.

6. In the old days some Cadets would do 10 -12 launches a day on the Cadet Mk3 and potentially be solo in the circuit within 2 - 3 days. On the Viking it usually took us 4 days to get them to solo standard (included training on Launch Failures and a solo check). On average Cadets went solo on the Viking in about 28 - 30 Launches (unless they had a Soaring trip or two where multiple training exercises would be covered and reduce the Launch total). IMHO the standard of instruction and student experience improved greatly when we went to GRP gliders, although also (IMHO) the general experience of aviation reduced because the Airmanship for the older gliders was higher (people will know what I mean).

7. Advanced training in Thermal, Wave and Ridge Soaring is available to a few students who show aptitude but places are limited as it is not the primary task of the VGS.

8. All of this is undertaken by largely unpaid VGS staff who give up time and money to participate in an organization and operation they feel is worthwhile and changes lives - I know it changed my life and outlook on so many things.

I think that is all for now - but gives you an idea of the capacity and capability of the organization we have destroyed. And also an idea of how hard it would be for a BGA club to replicate (not to 'dis' the BGA at all - I've flown with a foot in both camps so I understand the whole shebang).

Hope this helps you to understand why the thread generates so much passions (anger) over how this has been handled by those above us. Betrayal is the best word.................

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Old 5th Jan 2017, 19:01
  #3098 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: The sky mainly
Posts: 242
Vigilant........525 per hour!

My son has just gone BGA solo for a total cost of 520.50

What did he get for an outlay roughly similar to one hour of Vigilant operating cost?

Two years membership
90 launches
13 hours flying time

..........just saying.
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Old 5th Jan 2017, 19:38
  #3099 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Oxford
Posts: 2,027
Anyone got any experience of the RCAC gliding scheme? Doesn't that run under standard gliding club rules, albeit at military sites?

The Australians manage fine using a civilian gliding scheme:

Gliding - Australian Air Force Cadets
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Old 6th Jan 2017, 09:19
  #3100 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 3,936

I like the dark colours to increase the conspicuity on the Aussie gliders - it must make them so much easier to spot. Although, I'm not sure I would make the cockpit area blue/black as that must get incredibly hot in the Aussie sunshine?
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