Gliding in the Air Cadets is carried out at one of the many Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS) around the country. As the name suggests these are run by volunteers, who are a mixture of RAFVR(T) officers, ATC Adult NCOs, Civilian Gliding Instructors and some serving military personnel.
155 (Maidenhead) Squadron is flown by No 612 VGS at Dalton Barracks near Abingdon in the Grob Vigilant T1 motorised glider. Cadets first gliding experience is known as a Gliding Induction Course (GIC).
Cadets over 16 get the opportunity to apply for a gliding scholarship, allowing them to earn their wings. You could go solo before you've passed your driving test!
Grob Vigilant T1
The Grob G109B, or Vigilant T1, is the next step in your flying experience. The best of both worlds, it's a motor glider with an engine and propeller, so can launch itself like a normal powered aeroplane but still be flown as a glider. The engine isn't powerful enough for rapid climbing (or aerobatics) but Vigilant is an agile aircraft, capable of soaring in thermals under the right conditions.
Instead of being seated in front or behind your instructor like in the Viking, the Vigilant seats two, side-by-side. It also needs less ground staff as it can take off and land under its own steam. Flights last much longer too - usually about 45 minutes and each could should get the opportunity to fly in a glider at least once per year.
Grob Viking T1
the Grob G103A Twin II Acro - better known as the Viking T1 - is a modern, high performance two-seat glider. It's perfectly suited to seat you and your instructor.
The Viking has no engine and the main method of getting airborne is via a winch-launch. A steel cable, up to 1,500 metres long is pulled and wrapped around a drum by a powerful turbo engine. It winds slowly at first and then (when the winch operator receives the "all out" signal) at high speed, allowing the glider to catch the wind and launch upwards. After the glider is at the right height the cable is released and, aided by a parachute to slow it down, falls to the ground ready for the next launch. The height you reach depends on wind strength at the time, but a winch-launch flight normally lasts around 5 minutes. In warmer months the pilot can use thermals (warm rising air) to stay aloft for longer periods of time - circling to gain height.
The gliding scholarship is aimed at cadets over 16 years old. The training is more advanced than the GIC with cadets instructed in the core skills of a glider pilot. Cadets completing the course receive the blue GS wings.
Gliding Scholarship solo
Cadets on the gliding scholarship who show aptitude for further training and a strong motivation for gliding will be invited for more training to allow them to go solo. Any cadet completing a solo flight will receive the silver solo wings.
Advanced Gliding Training
After completing the GS to solo standard it is possible for cadets to go on to do the advanced course. It is aimed at cadets that show an ambition to either join the RAF or the VGS as a staff member. The AGT consists of 3 stages, the first two stages completed at the VGS and the third at the central gliding school. During the AGT cadets will learn advanced gliding techniques including soaring.