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Cdt FS B Slade gets her Advanced Glider Training (AGT)  Gold WingsA Gliding Scholarship is a 10 hour course in which the 'student' learns the fundamental parts of flying. He/she learns how to co-ordinate the controls in a glider, to prevent such occurrences as spinning, how to recognise the symptoms of and recover from a stall, how to take-off and land, what to do if an engine failure occurs, and how to fly a safe circuit. Once all of these principals have been learned they all get put into practise and eventually the student has a chance to go solo, should their instructor think that they are safe enough to do so. Should a student go solo they will receive their Silver Wings, if not they will be presented with Blue Wings.

When I turned 16, I was eligible to apply for a Gliding Scholarship (GS), so I applied, and was accepted. I began my course in March this year at Little Rissington in Gloucestershire. I travelled there every Saturday and flew nearly every week dependant upon the weather. In June I flew my first solo, it was such a thrilling experience, knowing that everything that happens depends on you. Was I scared? Of course I was, but at the same time I was excited, knowing that it's an achievement that not many people get the opportunity to reach.

The next stage after a GS is AGT (advanced glider training). To obtain an AGT the student's instructor must assess that the student is competent to carry on with his/her glider training, also a solo flight at GS must have been flown well. An AGT is where the skills learnt at GS level are built upon, for example, the student learns how to land in a cross wind, by estimating how much the aircraft will be blown off course, and making necessary heading adjustments to suit. Also advanced turning is taught, turns of up to 30° are demonstrated and learnt at GS but turns of up to 45° may be necessary in some situations, such as in a thermal (a pocket of warm air, used by gliders to gain height). Advanced turning is the procedure where a student is taught how to enter, hold and exit a high angle turn safely. Along with the extra 'lessons' a further 5 solo flights are required to obtain Gold Wings.

Once I had finished my GS I was asked if I was interested in doing an AGT, when I said I was, arrangements were made for me to continue at Little Rissington, after all an average of only 3 places per year are given to AGT students. In July I began flying to achieve my Gold Wings. With the weather in August and September being quite windy, I was able to complete my crosswind landings quite quickly, and I did my advanced turning in late September. Once I had finished that I was just waiting to fly solo. Every flight that I had was in the anticipation that the weather might be good enough to fly on my own, however, until the final week in September the weather was not being kind. But I flew a pre-solo check where the instructor simulates an engine failure, to ensure that the procedures carried out are correct and you fly several circuits to familiarise yourself with the 'run', when he/she is happy with the way that you are flying, and the weather condition, they will get out and leave you to continue with the solo flight(s), and he did just that, after 45 minutes in the air my instructor got out and I was left to fly my solo circuits. I flew 2 circuits that afternoon, but the light was going and I made a rather, ahem, 'heavy' landing, so it was decided that I should park up and wait for another day. Needless to say, a certain person's law affected me the following week, because the weather conditions were dreadful, really high winds meant no solo's, but there is always another day, but surely enough, the week after, the conditions were perfect, next to no wind and bright sunny weather. I flew a routine pre-solo check and then my instructor got out, and I flew the remaining 3 solo's, uneventful, I might like to add.

I was so thrilled; I had achieved my Gold Wings. Only 120 cadets in the Air Training Corps have got Gold Wings. I walked around for the rest of the day with a clearly identifiable 'post-solo' smile plastered across my face. My next stage now is to continue through my glider training, and eventually achieve G1 status, where I can fly with cadets. It will be a lot of work but the end result is always worth it.

Article Submitted by:-
Cdt FS B Slade - 121 (Nuneaton) Squadron
12Nov03


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