IFS Mike Cross has recently returned from a flying scholarship course in Scotland where he was taught to fly, courtesy of the Air Cadets. His report is below, and he is the middle cadet in the photo in the very Top Gun shades!
"The Air Cadet Flying Scholarship is a prestigious scholarship awarded to 125 of the 45, 000 cadets in the country. The course involves 12 hours of flying training over a 14 day period which culminates in a solo flight – if you are deemed suitable to fly solo! 13 nights accommodation with dinner, bed, breakfast and packed lunch are all included in the cost which is paid for by the Royal Air Force.
I arrived by train in Dundee at approximately 5pm and along with the two other cadets on my course we were picked up by Tayside Aviation and taken to the hotel. The Airlie House Hotel bared similar resemblance to Fawlty Towers and even came with its own Manwell, real name Ziad.
The courses are staggered so that there is always a senior and a junior course present on the scholarship. This proved quite useful as any questions we had were quickly answered by the previous course that had already been there for a week.
Each day we were collected from our hotel and driven to the airport. Tayside Aviation who run the course, operates out of Dundee International Airport. Although called a international airport it had two flights a day with a total of 40 passengers and the furthest they went was to London! On our arrival we were given a welcome brief and issued with our logbook and booklets to help us study towards the Air Law exam. We were then free to relax in the cadet crew room until it was our turn to fly.
The flying programme was displayed in the clubhouse and you would usually expect to get either one or two flights a day. As well as flying we had several ground school lectures which we would have to attend, before practising what we had learnt in the air. We were also expected to study on our own for the Air Law exam which we had to pass before going solo. A few bad weather days meant flying had to be cancelled and we were left to explore the delights of Dundee – the 24/7 Tesco was regularly visited to stock up on supplies.
The learning curve was pretty steep and was harder for me since I hadn’t completed a gliding scholarship whereas the other cadets on my course had. One was a G1 glider pilot which meant that he could take cadets up on their first gliding flight – quite an achievement considering he was only 17 and hadn’t paid a penny towards his training!
After 8 hours of flying my instructor decided I would be ready for a solo flight. After signing off that I was safe to fly on my own I went out to the aircraft and began the relevant checks before starting the engine and waiting for my instructor. We would first do a pre solo flight to check that I was still capable of going solo. About 50 minutes later I was told to land and taxi to the apron. Then my instructor donned his high vis jacket, gave me a new callsign, said good luck and jumped out to walk across to the ATC tower. It felt weird to be in charge of an aircraft worth tens of thousands of pounds as I began my pre take of checks before taxiing to the runway for take off.
I was thankful for my instructors “direct” attitude to training as I remembered all the relevant checks, heights and speeds I was supposed to be at throughout the flight. Without the instructor in the right hand seat the views are pretty amazing as the visibility is increased a great deal. Its also much quieter as you haven’t got someone telling you what you’re doing wrong through your headset! On my final approach my heart rate increased slightly because the busy radio traffic meant that I finally received clearance to land at about 100ft. After a successful landing I taxied back to the clubhouse to an instructor with a few more grey hairs and a well done from the other guys on the course.
The ACPS is open to all cadets aged 16 or above who have GCSE grade C in Maths and English. To apply all you need to do is complete an application form which is available from the Squadron."