CCF Takes to the Skies

14 February 2018

One of the key attractions of being a member of the RAF CCF section is the regular opportunity to go flying.  On Sunday 4 February four Fifth Form cadets; Cpl Harry Kirby (Temple), L/Cpl Sean Carslaw-Tricot (Grenville) L/Cpl Max McLeish (Walpole) and Cadet Rupert Mathers (Grenville) travelled to RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire to spend the day gliding.

RAF Syerston is a station of notable heritage: a Lancaster bomber base during the Second World War, for a while it was the home station of Wing Commander Guy Gibson VC of ‘Dambusters’ fame.  After the war, Syerston hosted jet flying training before becoming the RAF’s centre of gliding excellence in the mid-1970s. It is currently the home station of No 644 Volunteer Gliding Squadron.

The cadets spent the morning completing mandatory parachute drills and learning about the aerodynamics of glider operations and principles of flight. This indoor element culminated in each cadet completing several landings in the Viking T1 glider simulator and prepared the cadets very well for their flying experience in the afternoon.

The main aim of the day was to progress towards the RAF’s initial gliding qualification, the Cadet Blue Wings brevet.  To achieve this, pilots need to log 20 minutes airborne gliding time or three winch launches; this was a tall order to achieve on a cold February day but conditions proved to be far better than expected.  By the end of the afternoon, all four cadets had logged sufficient airborne time to qualify for their brevet, with Harry Kirby’s 32 minute soaring flight being declared by his flying instructor to be the best sortie that the whole club has conducted so far this year!

To have the opportunity to experience as exciting, dynamic and enjoyable a thrill as unpowered gliding was fantastic in its own right; but to do so at an airfield with such a distinguished operational history was truly memorable.  Congratulations to all four cadets on their award of the Blue Wings, which is all the more significant in that they are the first Stoics in memory to have achieved this feat.

Mr Jon Murnane, RAF Section Commander, Stowe CCF