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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 3rd Dec 2015, 20:22
  #1141 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Norfolk
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Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
Bobward,austerfan and brokenlink

As an ex611 VGS Instructor I concur. The loss was huge - the question for me was why was Watton closed ?

STANTA still needs an airfield - now they have to use Sculthorpe (miles away) if they are doing any form of airdrops ( not realistic unless you are re-enacting Arnhem with the distances tripled ) and Mildenhall lost their nearest strip for off field strip training. More importantly to me and the ACO was the loss of a great airfield for winch launching and we had just spent a fortune building a hangar and facilities and it was Central for a lot of people travelling (an issue in East anglia)

Another mad decision, all users inconvenienced - another victory for the bean counters !!


P.S. I flew over it the other day - floor to ceiling straw bales on that lovely 6000' runway.

P.P.S. - why not a return to Swanton Morley ??
I'm sure we must know each other then...

I believe Swanton isn't usable now. I haven't flown over it recently but I'm led to believe that the grunts planted trees on the airfield and that both the J Hangar and sports hangar have been demolished. Shocking waste of one of the largest grass airfields in Northern Europe...
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Old 4th Dec 2015, 07:22
  #1142 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
P.P.S. - why not a return to Swanton Morley ??
You gotta be joking. When the Army takes over a former RAF base, they invariably go out of their way to make the airfield unuseable, especially if it's not paved.
Wonder if Wattisham is a possibility although it's a bit of a long trek for Norfolk based squadrons and an airfield the Army (for once) hasn't ruined.
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Old 4th Dec 2015, 07:53
  #1143 (permalink)  
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New thinking needed

Perhaps some new ideas are needed to bring gliding yo the cadets ? While most of the current VGS sites should be retained as a base level of service why not boost the level of service avalable at peak times ?

Gliders are easily moved by road as is 90% of what is needed to run a gliding training operation, the peak demand is during the summer and during ATC summer camps so why not move say Four gliders a winch and the support equipment to locations that can easily be accessed by cadets on camp ?

These units would not have to use exclusively MoD land as I am sure for a modest fee most gliding clubs would welcome a three or four week visit from such a unit. These units could also be used to boost the conventional VGS units during peak demand.

Staffing would be a mixture of full time instructors and normal VGS staff from the area that the unit was operating in.

During the winter the glider transport equipment and full time staff would be used for collecting and delivering gliders from VGS units and taking the gliders to a central servicing vacility for annual checks and maintenance.
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Old 4th Dec 2015, 11:19
  #1144 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2015
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VGSs already increase delivery during the summer and Easter by running continuous courses over the period. But I agree that this could be ramped up to maximise utilisation during these periods. If say an average of 50 gliders could be made available over the 6 week summer holiday, and 4 GSs completed per aircraft per week, you very quickly complete 1,200 GS - very close to 50% the annual target for the entire organisation. Replicate that at Easter - potentially another 2 weeks as well as half term holidays, you see how you could maximise the delivery of training in the most efficient way possible. But this would need investment - particularly for staff. You would probably need 100-150 instructors.
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Old 4th Dec 2015, 13:55
  #1145 (permalink)  
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If say an average of 50 gliders could be made available over the 6 week summer holiday, and 4 GSs completed per aircraft per week, you very quickly complete 1,200 GS - very close to 50% the annual target for the entire organisation. Replicate that at Easter - potentially another 2 weeks as well as half term holidays, you see how you could maximise the delivery of training in the most efficient way possible.
...and in the process put hundreds of cadets in the air at the exact same time as every other man and his dog is puttering round the sky in flying machines various. This might cause some hesitation from the hierarchy. However your plan will never happen because, as you rightly say, there aren't enough instructors available and it's hard to see how this will change.
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Old 4th Dec 2015, 13:57
  #1146 (permalink)  
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This thread just runs and runs........

@Auster fan - we probably do know each other then !!. Flew over Swanton Morley last week - it appears that the Army have removed some trees !!, however there is the hangarage issue. Also I notice now that on the 1:250,000 it shows microlights at Swanton (never seen any though). I am told that the GSA Club at Wattisham are considering running summer courses there this year (aerotow only)

@Chevvron - highly unlikely as Wattisham is too busy, even at weekends now. Note that the issues with winches and cables and active airfields, lighting and aerials still exists................. weekday ops are virtually zero for gliders and weekends can be a bit fraught I am told (see my comment above about GSA)

@A&C - it's been tried (AKA the Challock 'Experiment' for 618VGS). sadly summer is busiest time for civilian clubs also with many doing their own 'holiday courses' which are big revenue earners for clubs.They don't want any aircraft interfering with their own activities, Also it's the competition season so again, not really feasible for many sites to mix the two............. there is also rafts of paperwork from MoD and ACO so just rocking up with a winch, some gliders and a few people to a site really isn't feasible or a practical training proposition. Actually it wouldn't even get past first base................. (you should see the paperwork associated with the Portmoak 'detachments' for a few weeks in the summer - now discontinued I think.....)

@Thorr - I like your idea - when I was on 625 VGS and we shared Hullavington with 621 VGS we would often lend each other aircraft for courses. An extra 2 airframes pushed the productivity up for the course cadets and also we could so more SCT with the staff cadets to move them upo to 'AGT' or through to G2/G1 or doing some soaring training. Often our limitation was instructors to man them !! (So successful that they merged the 2 schools Doh !!)

Just my 2 pennyworth on a variety of subjects/topics..............

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Old 4th Dec 2015, 17:23
  #1147 (permalink)  
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A self-congratulatory email went out today, with 2 FTS patting themselves on the back for getting a Viking airborne in just 19 short months from the beginning of the fiasco.

IIRC, three quarters of a century ago, North American designed, built and flew the Mustang in about 1/6 of the time.
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Old 5th Dec 2015, 09:40
  #1148 (permalink)  
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First of all, I never intended any slur upon those trying so hard to get the whole mess sorted out. My closing statement was based on hard cold facts. As an ATC squadron training officer I regularly check cadets record of service books, so I can offer the following:

Fact 1: The only cadets who have had powered flying in light aircraft under RAF sponsored conditions in the last year are three senior NCO's who achieved flying scholarships in September this year. A few others did get trips whilst on annual camp. However, since less then ten went to camp, from a squadron of around 30, that's a low number to me.

Fact 2: When cadets decide to leave, I'll go through their record of service books,to make sure they get credit for what they might have achieved with us. Sad to say, in many instances, the flying sections have no entries in them.

Adding up my cadet service, and subsequent instructor time, I've now spent 50 years with the ACO. I consider it to be the pre-eminent youth organisation in this country and am fiercely proud of having had the privilege of being part of i. I grow increasingly angered, saddened and disheartened at the way I see 'the system' taking violin lessons whilst the organisation smolders.....

End of rant.
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Old 5th Dec 2015, 09:51
  #1149 (permalink)  
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BW - IMHO ranting entirely reasonable in the circumstances. I suspect that this whole fiasco is a disaster from which the ACO will have difficulty in recovering, if ever. As an ex CCF and ATC cadet, VR(T) officer, regular RAF officer (twice) and avid supported of the ACO, I too am greatly saddened.
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Old 5th Dec 2015, 13:21
  #1150 (permalink)  
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Saddened to Death

Wloo I to am appalled at the way that the volunteer element of the organisation that has worked so well to provide the 'AIR' in Air Cadets has been let down by the paid element that have destroyed any confidence that they are qualified to organise a suitable ongoing operation.
A lot of highly paid full time people are being paid lots of money to 'head up' the organisation and provide a facility that has failed in its basic delivery of the goods.
They have broken a facility that was working well and are so inept they have no idea how to fix it. Using the 'safety' card is an easy way out: however even that does not stack up as an excuse.
Unless someone capable is brought in to sort this then the existing 'team' will just cascade from one meeting to another rearranging the deck chairs.
The lack of expertise is staggering and is replaced by what Roger Bacon in the old Flight magazine called 'YUK SPEAK'.With the 75th anniversary year a few weeks away Monty Python would be proud. Staff Cadet Baldrick says it was a pretty poor show when he let a parachute go into the rollers;but now thinks this 'new lot at the top' have taken incompetence and lack of leadership on to a new MBA level.

Last edited by POBJOY; 5th Dec 2015 at 15:40.
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Old 5th Dec 2015, 14:00
  #1151 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2015
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Well said Wander, Arclite, Pobjoy and others, whom I recognise from their postings as ex VGS instructors with vast experience between them.

We used to look up to the Centre instructors, many of whom came up the same way as the rest of us, by starting as weekend gliding instructors at the "schools". We had great respect for them having worked through the system, and they had great respect for us.

We need a new broom, complete with head and new handle, to bring back the fabulous gliding organisation that we all knew and loved.
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 08:12
  #1152 (permalink)  
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I think that the technical side of the Viking recovery is now well underway, the difficult part was always going to be the quality control paperwork aspect with the new contractors who have had to adapt to the heavy and sometimes inflexible airworthiness oversight expectations of those who's previous experience was with much more complicated aircraft of entirely different construction.

The fact that a Viking has had air under its wheels is a major step forward in that those in control of quality assurance and safety oversight have run out of reasons to keep the aircraft on the ground.

Now the "system" has been established I see the aircraft returning to service as quickly as the industry can manage with the resources avalable.
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 08:49
  #1153 (permalink)  
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I wish I shared your optimism, A&C, but what's going to be done with them when they have been recovered? My cynicism stems from the recurring point that the fact that those who have been operating Viking and Vigilant have gone very nearly two years having been told naff-all divided by six about what is likely to happen to them. They know that changes are coming, but they don't know what, when and to whom. They appreciate that these decisions will need to be taken at the highest levels of the RAF but haven't even been told what the 2 FTS heirarchy is trying to implement for the future and they don't even know what the range of options presented to Their Airships look like. As has already been said, there is a very distinct breakdown of leadership if the hundreds of people you command are a disregarded afterthought and the wider ACO, who ultimately can be seen as one's customers, don't have the first clue what is going on and what you are trying to do.

VGSs haven't been issued any guidance on how to keep staff engaged in the mean time. The more proactive squadrons are doing things, working on activities and lectures to try and keep the knowledge in people's heads. The ones with more passive leadership are staging little more than monthly coffee mornings and are dying a death.

All anyone outside Syertston knows for sure is that a horrible, shouty, little man, who is seemingly only capable of making his subordinates and peers happy when he departs, who has a reputation as a hatchet man, who had made no secret in the past of his distain for volunteer pilots and instructors, and whose only discernible skill thus far is for nest-feathering is now running the show- and we have absolutely no idea what his intentions are beyond the broadest of platitudes which he delivers like they're the Sermon on the Mount.

Last edited by Cat Funt; 6th Dec 2015 at 09:04.
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 08:58
  #1154 (permalink)  
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CF - why don't you let us know what you really think!! But huge empathy for your view, and I don't even know the bloke (OC 2 FTS that is)
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 09:23
  #1155 (permalink)  
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Cat Funt

I too wonder what will happen staff wise, the VGS volunteers ( and their family's ) will have discovered what they can do with the free time that the gliding pause has liberated.

Getting these people back into the units is likely to a bigger task than getting those who come back re-qualified.

I think that the generic term Syerston is not helpful in this conversation as there are two separate operations at the airfield, the RAF VGS management who run the flying part of the show and SERCO who at the moment have the support contract and have the responsibility to maintain the glider fleet.

IMO posts should be precise in who they are referring to.

Last edited by A and C; 6th Dec 2015 at 17:11.
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 16:53
  #1156 (permalink)  
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My grandson had his first air experience flight in a Tutor at Benson last Friday.
A half-hour trip, he felt a bit queasy towards the end of the flight because of the turbulence caused by the very high winds, but he made it and looks forward to the next flight in the new year.

Height-raising cushion.

Instructor with Flying Officer rank (I think) hard to judge the width of the stripe

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Old 6th Dec 2015, 19:40
  #1157 (permalink)  
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Delighted to see the kid flying the Tutor at RAF Benson on Friday - we were flying gliders at Shenington (formerly Edgehill) and it was indeed a lovely day with interesting conditions on approach through some testing windshear.

I am particularly pleased to see that he has his hands on the stick and trust that he had some time in control. Benson being just down the hill from my old gliding club at Wycombe, I've landed there several times; and was always made welcome.
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 19:57
  #1158 (permalink)  
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WT, some great pictures and the AEF at Benson are great! Just wondered why, in the final picture, he is only wearing one flying glove? May be it is Defence savings!!!
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Old 6th Dec 2015, 21:19
  #1159 (permalink)  
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Guessing but... Took glove off to operate mobile phone camera?

Good outfit, 6AEF, efficient and friendly (squipper banter notwithstanding)
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Old 7th Dec 2015, 05:59
  #1160 (permalink)  
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Nice to hear Squipper banter is also available on AEFs. Good luck to the VGS squadrons, hope you get some aviatable frames back soon.
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