Gliding with St Helen’s and MTS cadets

Once again, cadets from St Helen’s and Merchant Taylors’ School came together – this time for a gliding excursion at RAF Kenley in Surrey. In this piece, Flt Sgt Shenoy, Cdt Lones and Cdt Dodhia describe their exhilarating experience.

On 15th January, three RAF Cadets had the opportunity to go gliding in the Grob Viking T1 with 615 Volunteer Gliding Squadron at RAF Kenley.

Despite the early 7am start, we were all excited and ready to set off. Upon arrival, we met with three cadets from another Combined Cadet Force (CCF) contingent and quickly began the training for our flight. This included practising abandoning the aircraft in an emergency using a parachute.

In addition, we saw a brief overview of how the glider works using the Partial Task Trainer, which is a flight simulator made from the body of a real glider. Each flight began with a winch launch, by which the glider was attached to a winch to pull it along the ground and send it up into the air before the winch detaches.

Battling the winds

Unfortunately, due to intense winds we were only able to take part in one flight each, as opposed to the originally planned two. Nevertheless, the flight we did manage to take was astonishing, and we could see all the way across to central London. We even saw Heathrow Airport in the distance. We rapidly ascended into the clear sky for a relatively smooth flight and safe landing, despite the powerful winds.

A spectacular trip

While the first air experience flight in the Grob Tutor T1 took place at RAF Benson in September 2022 for those in Year 13, this gliding opportunity marks a significant turning point for the RAF section, pointing towards a return to normality, as the last time the RAF section went gliding was more than eight years ago. Even one of our youngest cadets in Y10 had achieved a place on this exclusive trip.

Overall, it was an amazing day, and we really hope for many more cadets in the RAF section to be able to experience such a spectacular trip.

We greatly appreciate Sgt Anderson, CI Heavyside, Fg Off Shirley, Flt Lt Ryan, and Lt Cdr Firestone for organising this wonderful opportunity.