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Air Cadets grounded?

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Air Cadets grounded?

Old 25th Jan 2016, 21:30
  #1461 (permalink)  
 
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I have also heard of the Minsub and that the likely reveal date of its content will be this Friday if it meets the deadline for Ministerial consideration earlier in the week. So fingers crossed there might be news this Friday or Monday.

If you want my best guess then I suspect we are looking at minimal Vigilants returning (maybe Syerston only for instructor course work?) plus most of the Vikings returning to a reduced footprint of airfields (10 or so given the 80-odd Vikings); and the majority from 2FTS/22Gp run airfields at that. I also hear rumours of the EFTS Tutors being considered for enlarging UAS/AEFs and standing up more on the MOBs, which would sound logical - if my maths is correct this would see 40 Tutors on UAS/AEF duties grow to around 80. The only question hanging over Tutors is where to get the UAS/AEF pilots from unless they change the criteria from Qualified Service Pilots and Qualified Service Navs (with PPLs and VPP difference training). With a plan like this is one wonders where the aircrew are going to come from given the extra required for the P8s, 'Protector' RPAS, the run on of GR4 and the extra Typhoon Sqns?

If I'm right then there will be a big training burden for the VGSs left to get the staff current or retrained (if they come from Vigilant). I would also not expect a full return to flight for some time yet. Also, if I'm right and 10-12 VGS remain, what ones will go and where?

My hunch is based upon multiple sources, all of whom said there were many plans in progress - so it could be utter hoop!!!

The B Word
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Old 25th Jan 2016, 21:53
  #1462 (permalink)  
 
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I flew my first solo at RAF Merryfield - in a T21 with the RAF GSA.

But these days there's a lot of helicopter activity, which couldn't really move elsewhere.

Also all the hangars have now gone and the only permanent structure is the ATC tower.

A far cry from the Vampires of my earliest memories!
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 09:20
  #1463 (permalink)  
 
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B word

I am being told the same sort of thing.


When I was a CI at an ATC unit I was not a fan of motor gliders as the cadets had to spend most of the day in the Crewroom awaiting their turn to fly, with pure gliding they had to get involved in launching and recovering while waiting to fly. This IMO was a better team building excersise.

To see gliding and power flying clearly split I think is a good thing and I would hope that with more AEF time avalable to cadets I would hope that rather than the six monthly "Jolly" that it is now the AEF could offer a bit more basic flying instruction and building on the flying skills that cadets learn when flying gliders.

While now having little doubt about the technical recovery of the gliders I am finding it a little more difficult to see how the operation is to be staffed without finding a route to get some VGS gliding instructors flying the Tutor.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 09:41
  #1464 (permalink)  

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where to get the UAS/AEF pilots from unless they change the criteria
finding a route to get some VGS gliding instructors flying the Tutor.
A lot of logic there methinks!

ISTR quite a "family resemblance" between Das Teutor and the Vigi, although it's a while since I've flown either of them

Contrary to our current rules, but they are our rules so we can change 'em. Why shouldn't some/many/enough Vigi instructors convert to the Tutor.......
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 10:49
  #1465 (permalink)  
 
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Viking vs Vigilant vs Tutor ops and ......the future

There is NO simple easy one size fits all. The hierarchy may think that there is a simple "numbers" solution, but simply put, there isn't !

"Conventional Glider" ops using the Grob 103 Viking require much more of a staff quorum to commence safe operations, e.g., as well as a DI, requires Winch driver, cable pulling driver, recovery drivers, signaller in Caravan etc, and various strong people around the launch point. Additionally, on a day where sink is more prolific than lift, then beneficial training time in the air is necessarily limited. Even to run a meaningful one week course requires an awful lot of man hours, organisation and sheer hard work on the airfield, not to mention the additional factors of feeding the troops and ensuring Cadet safety off airfield at the end of each flying day, not to mention coping with non airfield entertainment on bad Wx days.

Set against that, Grob 109B Vigilant ops are more productive with far less staff, and have the luxury of determining sortie length and profile iaw operational efficiency and Cadet training needs. The aircraft were efficiently used with 100% training application whether that was GIC, BGT or SCT. There were NO Air Experience passenger flights other than on Staff or Station Open days. Hard work still needed on the ground with staff and Flight Staff cadets in vital work before flying- e.g., OOPS checks, refuelling.Same constraints apply with regard to continuous courses, organisation, but usually can be done with less staff than that required for a conventional VGS.

The idea that Grob 115 Tutor ops could act as another suitable alternative would require some changes and is probably a pipe dream, based on the concept that we have some contracted flying hours under the Babcock contract that we are not fully burning off. For instance, at the moment, the Tutor ops are basically an Air Experience sortie - i.e., backside off ground for 25 mins tops, with the passenger ( as opposed to student) being asked what they "would like to do" after watching the self brief video etc, and sitting in the air side crew room for up to 50% of the day. The pilots are NOT instructors, nor are they formally instructing in any structured sense.

Currently the AEF set up requires full Service qualification as a pilot, or ATPL and substantial flying experience, but those so qualified are NOT undertaking any structured formal training of Cadets ( be that basic or to solo standard ) as prescribed in VGS operations, where all staff are trained by ACCGS to instruct to RAF standards - i.e., B or A Cat. Whilst there are a few VGS instructors who have the required RAF/ATPL qualifications that would, on the face of it, permit them to apply to an AEF unit, it is doubtful whether little more than a mere handful would ever be accepted by an AEF Unit OC.

If there were any moves to make the AEF's perform any structured training, then the pilots would necessarily be required to be trained and qualified to instruct to a structured syllabus.

If, as has been suggested by the Serious Rumour Squad on this thread, we are looking at a limited Vigilant contingent perhaps confined to ACCGS plus one north and one south hub, due to restricted serviceable airframes, then the ACO will lose a major resource of productive flying training for Cadets. They will also lose a very well qualified staff contingent, many of whom would be unable and /or unwilling to travel afar to Viking VGS units where they may find that they would need to start again in terms of coping with Conventional Gliders and instructing in that demanding environment.

The Viking contingent may also find themselves somewhat decimated if we are to reduce operating units to possible more regional hubs or VGS's.

The overall losers will be..................of course..........the Cadets, many of whom could have passed through the ATC in the world record "pause" without ever having been in the air in the VGS at all !!! Regional hubs also have a hidden cost and efficiency issue - costs of greater distance travel, and the gamble of whether the Wx will be suitable when they arrive - with lots of disappointment when they arrive, tired from a long weary road journey.

Even were there to be an announcement of structure/sites and numbers of aircraft in the next month, the chances of any sustained recovery are driven much towards 2017 as ALL staff are out of Category, and many have found other things to do, ( or their wives have found them other things to do !!!) and some have merely been appalled by the whole proceedings.

Not, I would suggest, the cause for any great excitement just yet, but we'll have to see what the Spin Doctors come up with !

Sad times................
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 11:30
  #1466 (permalink)  
 
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Enigma

Well summarised, balanced piece.

Arc
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 11:58
  #1467 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Arclite01 View Post
Enigma

Well summarised, balanced piece.

Arc
I concur with Enigma, a well thought out post, and by somebody who has obviously been there, done that. Like many posters, I guess.

But we are the last people that would be involved in any potential Air Cadet flying/gliding decisions 😂
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 12:46
  #1468 (permalink)  
 
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As a former VRT officer, now turned Ci, I often get the chance to meet and greet the new cadets as they join our unit. The best thing that the ATC has to offer the next generation is the opportunity to fly, after a bit of basic training on the squadron. This is what sets us apart from the other cadet forces and youth groups.

For the myriad of reasons set out in this enduring thread, we (the organisation) have not given our cadets the joy of flight for some time. I now see cadets I welcomed, quit, because they can't fly. Has anyone at headquarters Air Cadets actually looked at how this 'pause' has effected cadet recruitment and retention?

If they have, what has been the effect?
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 13:46
  #1469 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by bobward View Post
<snip>
The best thing that the ATC has to offer the next generation is the opportunity to fly, after a bit of basic training on the squadron. This is what sets us apart from the other cadet forces and youth groups.

<snip>
Every civilian glider club I know will teach young people to fly, and will send them solo at 14 if their flying is satisfactory. They can progress o Bronze badge, but have to be 16 to get the pre-requisites for solo XC flying signed off. I'm sure plenty are tugging at the leash on their 16th birthday to get those done so they can try their 50km Silver badge flight. AFAIK they can do the height gain & 5 hour flights before 16 as those don't require XC flying.

The differentiator for the ATC isn't flying gliders IMHO, it's the basic training on the squadron.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 13:55
  #1470 (permalink)  
 
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Thanks Arclite01 and Frelon

I concur with bobward and many others. The rather encouraging thought about this ongoing thread, is that it's rather like the aftermath of a catastrophic fire, that despite a disaster, the glowing and burning embers continue to glow, burst into flame and continue to cause outbreaks of fire.

Despite all that has happened, there have been over 270,000 hits on this thread,over 70 pages of contribution and lots of "interest" in the collective remarks in the pages. Indeed, I understand that some of the dissidents have been advised to cease their public utterances !

This is really a topic that requires the detailed examination by the Commons Defence Select Committee as there are important scrutiny issues e.g.,

1. Spending public money efficiently and waste.
2. Whether there have been any breaches of contract in civilian sub contracts for maintenance of the ACO fleet, and.... If so......
3. What action if any is being taken for any of the possible failures in contract e.g. Recovery action in civil court.
4. What , who or where and by whom, has there been any failures of contract supervision by RAF Engineering staff.

These and many more, but I guess what we'll hear, is "the most important thing at the moment is to get Cadets flying again" ( true but....) and then see " if lessons can be learnt" ( a la child abuse / social services scandals every other year ! )

This way it kicks it into the long grass never to be seen again, the tea and medals follow, and it's all forgotten, just like many other scandals.

Out in the hard old business world, if a sub contractor cocked up, then it's not only no pay, it's possible legal recovery action, and £££££ implications. Also those supervising pay the ultimate penalty......cards and P45. In HMG, it's a world apart, cover up all cock ups, start an inquiry that takes years, take no action but say "lessons will be learnt" , move miscreants, promote them or retire them with full final salary pension ....oh and an appearance in the New Year Honours list followed by a possible Non exec appointment / advisor in .......GUESS WHERE ? one of the sub contractor organisations !

Seems some MP's need to take a bit of interest in a referral to Select Committee and some awkward but well informed questions in the house, after taking their subsidised lunch and bar break.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 15:05
  #1471 (permalink)  
 
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Enigma Code

Enigma,

Excellent article! I think you have absolutely covered it all. After a career in the service starting as an Apprentice and finishing as an Engineer Officer, I was inspired by soloing in a Venture when they weren't very old at age 16 (I can remember pushing the throttle forward and taking off at South Cerney after less than 6 hours training as though it were yesterday!), having joined the VGS as the pause arrived, it is disapointing not to be able to give something back at a time of life when I now have experience, time and am still fit and healthy. Fortunately, I own said Venture and will continue to instruct via an RAFGSA club, we have been fortunate enough to run some courses on a private basis between the club and cadets parents funded by the ACO and even sent a solo in our K21. I'll await Friday, but my current geographic location makes transfer and travel time to an alternate unit an unlikely option. For a very small amount of money it looks as if alot is to be lost.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 15:41
  #1472 (permalink)  
 
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Great post Scottish Mil.

Reminds me of my own thoughts and my emotions on my first solo - Sept 24th 1981 in a Venture.................. do we really want to deprive future generations of Air Cadets of that feeling of achievement and associated emotions of the 'first solo' ? - I really hope not.

Arc
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 17:21
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A few years ago, as a B767 Captain with Air Canada we were given a hold at the end of a Red Eye flight from Edmonton Alberta to Heathrow, we were given a rather odd place to kill time whilst some bod with an unsafe gear made up his mind where and when to put it down, {to the frustration of the Heathrow director I might add} From my left seat I gazed down at a familiar looking airfield below us, then the penny dropped, bloody hell, that's KENLEY! the place where it all started on a road which led me to the left seat flying this amazing aircraft! It all came back, the little silver gliders, the long days retrieving, launching, splicing cables, the friends, but most of all the instructors and staff to whom I owe so much! Now I read all this has been put in jeopardy by folks who don't seem to be able to organise a piss up in a beer store. Many times I have been asked "what would you be doing if you were not a pilot?" my answer was always the same, "I would be in jail". I"m sure I'm not the only wayward kid that owes so much to the Air Cadets, so for heavens sake folks, get your act together and get back in the air!
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 18:32
  #1474 (permalink)  
 
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Kenley

Well said Clunck, you will find many Kenley supporters here on PPRuNe, ex cadets, ex staff cadets and ex instructors.

We all feel the same about this debacle and want desperately for today's cadets to be able to share our fabulous experiences of Air Cadet Gliding.
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Old 26th Jan 2016, 23:37
  #1475 (permalink)  
 
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KENLEY

Kenley was a great place to start one's journey into aviation.
A wonderful peaceful location on a Surrey common yet within sight of London.
A faithful servant of this country in two conflicts and in particular held the line in 1940.
The spirit of its history continued when 615 Gliding School was its only remaining link with flying and it remains as a testimony to all those who flew from there.
It was a privilege to have been allowed to be part of its continuing story in getting Cadets airborne, allowing then to explore their capabilities and develop a spirit of adventure.
This is why so many of us are appalled at the cretons that have destroyed an organisation that was so good at delivering the goods.
So often in life the real enemy is where you least expect it; in the case of Air Cadet Gliding it is running the show.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 07:48
  #1476 (permalink)  
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you will find many Kenley supporters here on PPRuNe, ex cadets, ex staff cadets and ex instructors.
And those of us who just enjoy strolling over Kenley on a weekend afternoon and miss watching the aerial activities of 615.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 09:18
  #1477 (permalink)  

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the long days retrieving, launching, splicing cables
... which is of course one of the big advantages of "real" gliders, without engines.

Even when there were Vigis to be had, there seemed to be little for the non-flying cadet to do, other than exercise his thumbs on the latest piece of technology.

For me it started at Hendon (617 IIRC??) followed by soloing at CGS at Swanton Morley about 3 weeks after my 16th birthday, and led on to 30-odd years as a regular RAF pilot........
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 09:25
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Hey Chaps,

Don't forget Spitalgate (and many other long-gone VGS locations).

I can still remember my three solos in a Kirby Cadet Mk III as if it was yesterday, even though it was nigh on 50 years ago. It launched me (sic!) into an aviation career and, even though I am now retired I still glide, motor glide (both as an instructor) and fly power.

What a crying shame that the young cadets of today are missing out on such an enriching experience.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 10:14
  #1479 (permalink)  
 
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Some very good points from Enigma

Enigma makes some very good points about the way the RAF conducts its business with civilian contractors and this is NOT confined to the VGS contract and is IMO due in part to military culture.

The general culture in the RAF is that military discipline requires people to put up with what the RAF provides and get on with the job in the best way they can, unfortunately some civilian contractors use this culture to provide service that is not up to the mark knowing full well that with at best the inertia of the RAF/MoD system they are unlikely to be forced to improve the service level beyond anything other than the minimum they can get away with and well short of what in civilian business would be excepatable.

Add the fact that the the contracts are usually awarded on price and so they cut the cost level to the bone. The result of this is the staff are paid very badly, in the past these contractors used a lot of ex-RAF staff who had a service pension to do the work and the tax payer got a good deal from workers who conducted themselfs with a service ethos for low pay........ All subsidised by a hard earned military pension.

The lack of business experience in the RAF was not a problem while the ex-RAF staff kept up the standards but with the increased use of civilian contractors and the falling number of ex-RAF workers to keep up standards the problem has come home to roost.

The civilians who now work for the contractors are vastly under paid so the contractors can only attract the people who can't get a Job with a private sector company........... Because if they could they would be gone in a heartbeat !

The whole thing is a toxic mix, money grabbing companies underpaying lacklustre staff supervised by RAF officers who's service ethic and lack of business practices results in poor oversight and a culture of poor service delivery within the contracting company.

If one did try to blow the whistle on these companies their first reaction would be to get the lawyers involved and dig up all sorts of accusations to rubbish the RAF officer who did so, none of this would stand up in court but is likely to tarnish a career and at best slow promotion.

If a contract is up for renewal and the incumbent contractor has its past failings pointed out resulting in the loss of the contract it is very likely that they will get the lawyers in to claim that the bidding process was unfair due to past "problems" clouding the contract renewal.

The MoD contracts department is not stupid but being confined by the fairness rules results in it being particularly difficult to remove a contractor for just poor service and so has to go about things very carefully in order to not get tangled up to in long leagal actions.
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Old 27th Jan 2016, 10:20
  #1480 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by 1.3VStall View Post
Hey Chaps,

Don't forget Spitalgate (and many other long-gone VGS locations).

I can still remember my three solos in a Kirby Cadet Mk III as if it was yesterday, even though it was nigh on 50 years ago. It launched me (sic!) into an aviation career and, even though I am now retired I still glide, motor glide (both as an instructor) and fly power.

What a crying shame that the young cadets of today are missing out on such an enriching experience.
For me it was Halton. Although the RAF decided not to avail themselves of my services, NATS (or NATCS as it was in those days) kindly paid for my PPL course and sent me to Farnborough where I was able to scrounge rides in many different types eg Hunter, Wessex, Puma.
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