For most people flying means going on holiday. They will never take control of an aircraft themselves. As a cadet with 400 Squadron, on your first Air Experience Flight (AEF) in the Tutor aircraft of No.10 AEF at RAF Woodvale, the pilot will taxi out to the runway, take off and find some clear airspace. Depending on the conditions at the time the pilot may offer you the opportunity to try some aerobatics, alternately you may be given the chance of taking control of the aircraft yourself. When the pilot hands over the control of the aircraft, you will hear the words "You have control", no other youth group could offer you such an opportunity.
Cadets can later apply for a Flying Scholarship and Air Cadet Pilot Navigation Scheme courses to gain 'wings' to wear on their uniform (see below). You could end up being able to fly an aircraft before you have learnt to drive! Flying Scholarships are normally taken at a flying club, and take you within reach of gaining a Private Pilots Licence.
Your gliding experience starts with a Gliding Induction Course at your local Volunteer Gliding School which is RAF Woodvale. Here, Vigilant motor gliders are used. These are different to the normal gliders as they has an engine which allows you to take-off without the need for a winch. Once the required altitiude is reached the engine is switched off then the aircraft flies like any other normal glider, using the thermals to keep it in the air.
You've done your Gliding Induction Course (GIC), so what's next? Getting your Gliding Scholarship Wings.
This course gets you deeper into flying and gives you more flight time. To be nominated for a Gliding Scholarship (GS) just let your squadron or unit staff know you want in and it's open to anyone over 16. Once you pass the standard medical check, it's just a matter of waiting for a place on the course to become available.
Courses can be taken either over successive weekends until completed, or as a continuous week-long course (usually in the summer). Course time can vary due to your progress and the weather, so motivation and commitment are key. Typically, in summer, a course will take 3 weekends to complete. If you're successful, you can look forward to wearing your blue GS wings on your uniform with pride.