Since joining the Air Training Corps in 1995 I have always had the view that when flying opportunities turn up, get your name down and get the chance to go. The first time I flew with the ATC was in a Bulldog, the flight was only 20minutesbut it gave me the incentive to want to fly again and again. After that flight I started to read things in magazines and on posters about cadets who had obtained Scholarships and other flying courses, like everyone else I took the view of "that wont happen to me". Then I flew in a Vigilant Motor Glider for the first time, on a Gliding Induction Course (GIC),again this was only 20 minutes but at the end of the flight my instructor told me to go for a Gliding Scholarship (GS). At this stage I knew very little about it, a few months later quite a few places came up for GS courses. I went off on a GS, not knowing what to expect. I flew from RAF Little Rissington, an airfield steeped in history and right in the heart of the Cotswolds. The GS is an 8-hour course, in that time you are instructed how to handle the aircraft and how to fly circuits of the airfield. At the end of my 8 hours I was assessed and did a ghosted solo circuit, basically I flew from take off to landing without my instructor saying anything. I was awarded the Silver wings; I was lucky really, as the whole aim of a GS is to obtain the Dark Blue wings.

Dark Blue GS Wings - Awarded on completion of a GS
Silver GS Wings - Awarded on
completion of a GS
including Solo circuit.

I really wanted to continue my flying, as it was something that I really enjoyed at the time. However, I knew that to get to the next stage, the Advanced Gliding Training (AGT), would be very difficult as the courses are very few and far between. I took a 2-year gap and then decided to push for the AGT.

In January 2001 I got on to an AGT course back at Little Rissington. The AGT is 9 to 10 Hours in length in which time you have to do 5 true solo circuits of the airfield. It takes quite some time to get to a standard at which the instructor is happy to send you solo. When you get to that standard and your instructor asks you if your happy to go solo, the feeling is very strange, it's a mix of excitement and pure fear. I took off and looked across and there was no one, just me at 800 feet in control of £125,000 of aircraft, then it suddenly sinks in that you have to get this thing down and your training takes over. It's the best feeling there is when you get out of the aircraft for the first time after a solo, you can't help but grin! I completed my AGT in 9 hours 15 minutes; I had become one of only just over 100 cadets in the country to be authorised to wear gold wings. On the same day I completed my AGT I asked if I could stay and continue my flying training. This would mean massive commitment, and a lot of hard work, but well worth it when you get to fly for virtually nothing!

From then on I have tried to work hard at my Volunteer Gliding School (VGS), the harder I work the more flying I get, its worth it, and its something I would recommend any cadet to do. I feel very proud of myself to have got to the stage I have in the time I have. After only 9 Months I have now done nearly 40 hours in the Vigilant.

My flying training now is preparing me to be able to take cadets on their first 20-minute flight. Hopefully when I get to take that first cadet on a flight they too will see what flying is all about and they will think about it the same as I did. I hope flying with me will inspire that cadet to push and work hard to get out of the ATC what I have, and will like me get the chance to put something back into an organisation that is the only one to give you this sort of opportunity.

This is the crest of
637 Volunteer Gliding School

Vigilant TMk1
Self Launching Touring Motor Glider

An aerial view of RAF Little Rissington, where I conduct my flying training. Set in the heart of the Cotswolds, there are very few more beautiful airfield settings in the country.
RAF Little Rissington was once home to the Red Arrows and the Central Flying School as well as the USAF.

Article Submitted by:-
F/S Ben Pinner - 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron, 637 VGS - RAF Little Rissington

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