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Flying & Gliding

Probably the most exciting activity we have to offer, flying and gliding opportunities with the Air Cadet Organisation are something not to be missed. The opportunity to take part in flying and gliding activities stands the Air Cadet Organisation miles apart from other youth organisations. On your first flight you could be learning how to control the aircraft or taking part in aerobatic manoeuvres, the choice is up to you. Check out the sections below for an insight into the different types of flying activity offered by the Air Cadet Organisation.

Air Experience Flying

Flying in one of the RAF’s Grob Tutor aircraft has got to be one of the best activities that our cadets get to experience. Once you have completed some basic training on your local Squadron you are ready to experience what the Air Cadets is all about. Your first trip Air Experience Flying will usually involve an early start for you and your fellow cadets as you head to a nearby RAF Station (the Air Cadet Organisation has 11 locations around the United Kingdom where AEF takes place).

Once at the Air Experience Flight you will be given an all important safety brief followed by a demonstration on what to do in the case of an emergency (don’t worry – you’re more likely to win the lottery than experience an incident whilst flying). Once it’s your turn to fly you will be kitted out with flying suit, helmet and parachute and then escorted out to meet your pilot. The Air Experience Flight Pilots are usually current or ex pilots in the RAF and are there to make sure you have a fantastic time on your first flight. From taking control of the aircraft to experiencing aerobatics the choice is yours.

Your Air Experience Flight will usually last around 20-30 minutes and the pilot will spend time talking you through what controls the aircraft in flight. The opportunity to take part in flying is a great way to put into practice what you have learned in the classroom in subjects such as Principles of Flight. If you are keen to do more flying; the ATC offers access to different scholarship schemes, where cadets can gain flying hours towards a Private Pilot’s License (PPL). If you would like more information on the schemes available and how to apply, speak with a member of Squadron staff.


As well as flying, we offer the opportunity to go gliding. The ACO has several glider squadrons around the country and these are ran by Air Cadets for Air Cadets. Whilst the glider is not as adept at aerobatics as the Grob Tutor, Cadets get the chance to experience flight with no engine, listening to the rush of wind over the canopy and soaring aloft using just the air, just like the birds in the sky!

From age 16 Glider training is available. Gliding scholarships, potentially culminating in solo flight, will be awarded to cadets who demonstrate to gliding course staff aptitude for further training and strong motivation to continue with flying training. Those cadets who have achieved the required standard will be awarded blue wings and a certificate to show that they have successfully completed the course. Cadets showing the correct aptitude may be invited to continue to solo level. Cadets who go solo will be awarded silver wings and a certificate.

Gliding is yet another opportunity for you to develop your flying skills. Gliding is similar to powered flight except that a glider does not use an engine -- it instead uses thermals, pockets of rising air, to keep it in the air. The two most common types of Glider are the Viking and the Vigilant. We use the Vigilant glider which has an engine used to launch the aircraft which is then turned off once in flight. They are flown from VGS (Volunteer Gliding Schools) across the country.

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