On an early Saturday morning on the 16th of February, two Cadets from 1936 (Newton) Squadron attended the pre-gliding scholarship course at RAF Wyton Regional Activity Centre in Cambridgeshire.
The day started at 7:30am (very early for a Saturday). Once meeting at the Squadron HQ, myself and Cpl Ellison jumped into CI Sherwin’s car. He kindly volunteered to take us to and from RAF Wyton. Both cadets looked and felt tired but were still raring to go. After about an hour’s drive, we arrived at RAF Wyton, a lot more alert and awake than before for the day’s activities. After a quick stop at the Station Guard room, we drove to the Regional Activity Centre.
As we walked through the door, we saw a large variety of senior RAF VR (T) officers (Wg Cdr’s and Sqn Ldr’s) and a Civilian Gliding Instructor. As soon as we walked in they told us to take off our berets and relax, stating: “Don’t just stand there on parade, relax”. Within the next 5 minutes, the other three cadets from 51 (Orton) Squadron arrived. I was surprised by the fact that there were only 5 of us on the course in whole Region, but then this was explained to us. The Regional Aerospace Officer said that to get the most out of this course, they limit the numbers to six cadets at very max at any one time.
Once the initial brief was finished, we were taken into the room next door to see what we would be spending the rest of the day doing. As we entered the room we saw a £14,000 flight simulator, built especially for training potential Gliding Scholarship cadets for their actual course. The simulator consisted of 4 computer monitors, 3 at eyes level, with another screen at chest height, on the left showing all the flight instruments, when sat down. On the left of the seat was the air brake and thrust lever, while on the right was the trimming wheel.
The Civilian Gliding Instructor from earlier spent the rest of the day showing and getting us to perform different control procedures, which we would need to know if we ever want the chance of going solo. We were shown everything from the very basics of flying e.g. the effects of the Rudder to pre-flight checks to knowing how to fly the glider without elevators using only the Rudder pedals.
After a couple hours of instruction, we were challenged to the ultimate task of doing a solo circuit by ourselves… The room was tense as all 5 of us took it in turns to: perform pre-flight checks, take off, fly back down the runway, turn 180 degrees over a village and then finally land.
Fortunately everyone landed, although some landed better than others. Let’s just say my landing was by the seat of my pants. Once all five cadets completed their circuits, the instructors selected their top three circuits and then made the selected cadets have a final ‘fly-off’. Cpl Evangelina Ellison was one of the select three.
In the end one of the Cadets from 51 (Orton) Squadron won the covert ‘gold’ trophy. He was allowed to hold for ‘five minutes’ then had to give it back. Cpl Ellison came in a respective joint second place.
Overall, the day was exciting and a lot better than I expected. We all initially thought it would be a ‘Death by PowerPoint’ type course. I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in aviation and would like to go on and do their Gliding Scholarship. 99% of the cadets who do the Pre-Gliding Scholarship Course go onto get their Silver (solo) wings, so I further recommend it.
By Cpl Connor Levers
Media Team Leader
1936 (Newton) Squadron