The most obvious difference between the Air Cadets and any other youth organisation is our access to flying opportunities and flying training.
Air Experience Flights
The Royal Air Force provides twelve Air Experience Flights (AEF) squadrons around the UK that are specifically tasked with providing flying opportunities to Air Cadets. Flying sessions typically last thirty minutes and are part of a structured training syllabus. Air Experience Flight (AEF) instructors are all current or former RAF service pilots who volunteer to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm for flying to cadets. It is usual for cadets to be offered the chance of taking control of the aircraft and also to experience the thrill of aerobatics. The aircraft currently operated by these units are Grob Tutor T1, which is a single piston engined propeller aircraft, with side by side seating to allow cadets to get the most out of their instructors.
Once cadets have completed First Class training they are eligible to fly in the Grob Tutor, so in all probability, all cadets should have the opportunity to
fly within the first twelve months of their Air Cadet career.
From the age of sixteen cadets are eligible to apply for flying scholarships that make it possible for them to be solo flying before they are even old enough to hold a driving licence.
Prove that you have the aptitude for flying and you could bag yourself a prestigious flying scholarship.
There are several scholarships available to air cadets each year. These are sponsored by the Royal Aero Club, the Air League Educational Trust, the RAF Charitable Trust, the Geoffrey DeHaviland Foundation, Babcock Defence Services, the RAF Association and the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.
For many cadets these courses are the stepping stone to their PPL (Private Pilots’ Licence) – and potentially a career as a pilot with the RAF, the Royal Navy, Army, or commercial airlines.
Some cadets achieve their PPLs before they even get their driving licence, meaning they can’t drive to the shops but could fly there!
Cadet Aviation Familiarisation Course (FAM): Aimed primarily for new cadets, the FAM course provides an introduction to basic principles of flight, aircraft instrumentation and airfield layout. These subjects are consolidated in a Part Task Trainer (PTT), which is a dual control simulator. Upon completion, cadets will be eligible for the award of a FAM certificate.
Blue Wings Aviation Training Package (Blue ATP): Blue ATP builds on the FAM course introducing further aeronautical concepts. Expanded ground school training is consolidated in a PTT before a glider flight at a Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS). Upon successful completion of all three elements of the Blue ATP cadets will be awarded a certificate and Blue ATP (G) wings.
– Blue ATP Wings
Bronze Wings Aviation Training Package (Bronze ATP): The Bronze ATP continues the cadet’s aeronautical development. The course develops previous course tuition with expanded ground school training. Further utilisation of the PTT will consolidate ground school training elements. This is followed by gliding sorties demonstrating and reinforcing previous syllabus tuition in the air environment. Upon successful completion of the Bronze ATP cadets will be awarded a certificate and Bronze ATP (G) wings.
– Bronze ATP Wings
Silver Wings Gliding Scholarship (SGS): SGS provides the opportunity for cadets to learn how to fly a glider up to solo standard. Completion of a Bronze ATP (gliding specific) course is an essential pre-requisite for selection. SGS will be awarded to cadets who demonstrate aptitude for further training and strong motivation to continue with flying training. Upon successful completion of the course and attainment of solo flight, cadets will be awarded a certificate and Silver wings.
– Silver Wings
Gold Wings Gliding Training (GWGT): There are 2 stages of GWGT; Stage 1 covers advanced turning and landing techniques and Stage 2 introduces soaring techniques. The aim of GWGT is to provide opportunities for selected cadets each year to undertake training in advanced gliding techniques, with the aim of developing individuals who have expressed an interest in becoming future VGS staff. To be eligible to complete the GWGT a cadet must have successfully completed the SGS and also be a Flight Staff Cadet (FSC) on a VGS; due to the training investment in the cadet. On successful completion of the GWGT Stage 1 the cadet will be awarded a certificate and a Gold Wings badge.
– Gold Wings