The Next Generation of RAF Pilots Take to the Skies

22nd April 2020

8 lucky cadets from Chatham and Clarendon’s CCF RAF contingent travelled 160 miles to RAF Wittering on the 3rd March for their first ever air experience flight.

They began their experience as soon as they walked through the door of the air experience flight briefing room, which showed them all the dos and don’ts of flying in the RAF’s chief training aircraft- the Grob Tutor. The Grob Tutor G 115 is a single-engine training aircraft used a lot by the RAF to train its pilots in, before they are allowed to fly fighter jets and other aircraft. It has a top speed of 343 km/h! Many of these aircraft have been built and have played a crucial part in training the next generation of pilots in the RAF, as well as introducing Air Cadets, both from the ATC and the CCF, to the joys of flight.

Cadets went through a thorough safety demonstration, each having to try on a parachute and practise the emergency procedure, if anything were to go wrong in the air. For some, this was nerve-wracking to consider, but soon all were prepared to fly and uniform fitting began.

While the others waited in the briefing room (complete with Wii and ping-pong table), two cadets at a time entered the fitting room to get their flying suits, gloves, parachute and helmet on, the last of which was fitted with a microphone for the cadet to talk to his or her pilot. After a few minutes of nervous waiting, they were ready to get into the air.

Making sure not to step on the wrong part of the aircraft, the cadet chosen to fly was strapped in and had their microphone turned on. The pilot completed the final checks and with that, they were up. Lance Corporal Chambers was one of the last to fly, and her experience was potentially career-changing, like many others:
“We were up in the air in an instant and it felt like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Unlike a passenger jet, you could feel every movement in the plane- and very unlike a passenger jet, you were in control most of the time. Once I’d been told the basics of manoeuvring the aircraft and what instruments I needed to check, I was given control and the freedom to choose where I wanted to fly. Talking to the pilot and having the stick in my hands made me realise how much more of the world there was to explore, and opened up so many doors for me that I would never have considered previously. Before I flew, I was terrified of being up in the air (despite being an air cadet) but I returned with curiosity to explore the world- and maybe even turn it into a career.”

For those lucky enough to experience adequate weather, aerobatics were part of the fun of flying. There were loops and Cuban stall turns for the cadet thrillseeker- and for those who were feeling extra confident, a chance to perform them themselves.

30 minutes airborne was allocated for each person, but when they all walked from the plane with smiles on their faces, it was clear to see that they wanted more.

This was the first air experience flight for CCGS CCF RAF section, but it certainly won’t be the last. They have plenty more activities to keep them going until the next trip, including shooting, gliding, fieldcraft and first aid training- to name a few. The students at Chatham and Clarendon are extremely lucky to access these once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, and their contingent continues to grow. To those considering applying their children to CCGS, this is another benefit, and to those who currently study at the school- why not give it a go?