Powered Flying

Joining the Air Cadets opens up lots of opportunities, including the chance to fly! It’s our aim to get you airborne as often as possible, as a passenger in a light aircraft, a glider or even on-board RAF aircraft. On rare occasions cadets have been able to fly in a Typhoon fast-jet and even the Red Arrows; although a Hercules, Chinook, Tristar or VC10 flight are more regular fare. Small wonder the majority of RAF Aircrew began their careers with the Air Cadets!

Air Experience Flying

Most cadet flying is carried out with one of the RAF Air Experience Flights spread across the country. These regular flying opportunities are specifically designed to give cadets the hands-on experience of flying in an aircraft. The AEFs share a fleet of Grob Tutor aircraft with the RAFs University Air Squadrons which are operated by a private company.

An Air Experience Flight (AEF) is a training unit of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) whose main purpose is to give introductory flying experience to Air Cadets or the RAF section of the Combined Cadet Force. There are twelve active AEFs around the United Kingdom, mainly located at RAF stations. 497 Squadron and the Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing cadets, most frequently fly from No 8 AEF, RAF Cosford.

AEF pilots are very experienced and all are either serving or former RAF Service pilots who volunteer to pass on their knowledge and enthusiasm for flying to you. This gives the cadets the best possible experience, being instructed in how to fly a real aircraft by an experienced instructor. During these flights the cadets do not just sit back and enjoy the ride, they will be fully involved. In their first few flights they will be shown the basic controls of the aircraft, turning, climbing and descending.You’re shown how the aircraft flies and given the chance to control it and/or experience aerobatics. The views from 3,000ft are stunning and you will be given the opportunity to following the pilot through on take offs and landings. Each Cadet gets one flight of around 25 minutes each year, which builds on their previous flying experiences. When the pilot hands over the control of the aircraft, you will hear the words “You have control”, no other youth group could offer you such an opportunity.

Every air cadet gets the opportunity to have a flight each year. You’ll join a long list of cadets going back over 50 years – including royalty – who have benefited from this fantastic experience.

AEF’s operate the Tutor Mk1, which has great visibility from its large canopy and is agile enough to allow it to perform full aerobatics. The Tutor Mk 1 – is the first powered aircraft flown by new RAF, Army and Navy pilots is the Grob Tutor T1, which also is the work horse of our Air Experience Flights. This German made trainer is built with modern composite materials and used to teach the basic of flying to Air Cadets, members of University Air Squadrons and new Service pilots. Powered by a 180hp Lycoming engine, the aircraft is full aerobatic and is stress to +6/-3G and provides great views of the world around you.Cadets can also fulfil an Air Navigation Scholarship in the Tutor.

As well as Air Experience Flights in the Tutor, cadets also have the opportunity to fly in many other types of RAF aircraft especially when on annual camp. These flights are generally restricted to the larger aircraft. Occasionally, Volunteer Gliding Schools offer Air Experience Flights too.

Learn to fly Gliders Too!

Gliding is a key part of Air Cadet activities and you can attend a variety of courses. Most cadets experience gliding through certificated Gliding Induction Courses. At 16 they can be selected for a Gliding Scholarship, which involves an 8-10 hour course, following which they may be permitted to go solo. If they are medically fit and have the skills and motivation, they may then go on to develop Advanced Gliding skills and work as a Flight Staff cadet, potentially enabling them with the opportunity to earn their coveted Gliding wings.

All cadets get an opportunity to undertake an air experience flight in a Tutor, once a year. A further flight is usually available at an RAF camp. A significant number of cadets also have an opportunity to fly in operational RAF aircraft each year and for a lucky few, there is occasionally a chance to fly in Fast Jets. At least one ATC cadets has recently enjoyed a flight with the Red Arrows and a number of 497 Squadron Cadets have enjoyed C17 flights from RAF Brize Norton.[/vc_column_text]

Cadets who wish to pursue a career in aviation can apply for the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme(ACPS), which provides the height of flying experience for those cadets lucky enough to be selected. Upon completion of the course the cadet will be issued with their coveted “wings” (pictured above) which is worn on the uniform.

There are three Air Cadet Pilot Schemes available:

Air Cadet Light Aircraft Course involves twelve hours flying training up to first solo standard in a light aircraft at a civilian flying school.

Air Cadet Air Experience Flying Course offers ten hours flying training at an Air Experience Flight on the Grob Tutor covering all aspects of applied service flying including advanced handling and aerobatics.

The third is the Air Cadet Microlight Course.

Air Cadet Microlight Course is the third Air Cadet Pilot Scheme and provides ten hours flying training up to first solo standard in a microlight aircraft at an RAF Microlight Club. The wings badge has an \’M\’ in place of a \’P\’ for this course.

Air Cadet Pilot Navigation Scheme

Every year up to 30 cadets that win a place each year on the Air Cadet Pilot Navigation Scheme – run at Air Experience Flights. The entry criteria for applicants is the same as the Pilot Scheme. It’s a great chance to really expand your knowledge of aviation navigation.

How often do Cadets go flying?

Between the ages of 13 and 3 months -18, cadets normally go flying at least once a year. There is usually through an opportunity to attend the Squadron\\\\\\\’s Air Experience Unit annually. Cadets who attend an annual camp will also normally have an opportunity to fly at a local AEF. AEF flights last around 30 minutes each. Cadets attending camp occasionally get an opportunity to fly in operational RAF Aircraft for longer periods, but this cannot be guaranteed.

At the age of 16, Cadets have an opportunity to attend gliding training. Courses may be available, which last around 8-10 hours. Cadets can also apply for Flying Scholarships schemes, which can result in around 10 hours paid powered flight training.

How Safe is it?

Any form of Flight Training is not entirely risk free. Our personnel are highly trained and our aircraft are regularly inspected and well maintained. Thousands of Cadets enjoy Air Experience Flying and Gliding activities safely each year, without incident.

We do not take unnecessary risks. Those who undertake solo flights must be medically fit and are only permitted to do so, after considerable practice and following assessment by at least two different instructors.

Do I have to pass a medical to go flying?

AEF Flights

A certificate of medical fitness is not required, but certain medical and physical conditions are incompatible with flying as they could place the cadet at risk and compromise flight safety. It is the squadron\\\\\\\’s responsibility to check that the cadet does not have a history of any condition likely to cause sudden incapacitation in flight or which might be aggravated by the flight environment. If the cadet is believed to suffer from any of the conditions listed below, he or she is not to fly. The cadet’s doctor is to be consulted, and details of the problem together with supporting notes from the GP forwarded to HQ AC (AO Fg Admin) in good time. The Command Flight Medical Officer (CFMO) at HQ Air Cmd will then decide on the cadet’s fitness. (Note that current legislation requires the written consent of the parent or guardian, or the cadet personally if over 16 years of age, before a GP is allowed to discuss the cadet’s medical history with a third party).

(1) Chest or Heart Conditions. Not mild chest infections but any history of chest or heart problems, including wheezing, asthma or bronchitis.
(2) Epilepsy.
(3) Loss of Consciousness or Blackouts. Including a history of fainting episodes.
(4) Ear and Sinus Problems.
(5) Diabetes.
(6) Severe Headaches.
(7) Major Illness or Injury.
(8) Any Condition Requiring Regular Medication.
(9) Any Condition Resulting in a General Anaesthetic.
(10) Any Condition which may affect Swift and Successful Evacuation of the Aircraft in an Emergency.

Cadet Weight Requirements. The passenger weight limitations are based on parachute considerations. For the Tutor EB85 parachute, the cadet fully clothed but without parachute must weigh between 35 and 114 kg.

Cadets (or their parent/guardians) should declare any other special considerations, which may result in a danger to the pilot, aircraft or the cadet.

Gliding Courses

For Gliding Activities a Cadet must have a certificate of fitness signed by their GP. a blank F6424 medical form will be sent to your child. This needs to be taken to your family General Practitioner who should be able to complete the form from the medical records, no physical examination is necessary. The charge for this service will be paid by Headquarters Air Cadets (HQAC). The doctor will return parts A & B of the form to you, part C is retained by the doctor and used to claim payment. Once you have the completed form back in your possession, please follow the instructions and return it to your child’s Squadron or Section Commander for checking. If the doctor makes additional comments of a medical nature then approval to attend a GS will need to be sought from the Command Flight Medical Officer (CFMO). This will be carried out by HQAC on your child’s behalf but you may need to give approval for the CFMO to contact your doctor for more information. The referral may take some time and therefore needs to be done well in advance.

4. A medical form is valid for two years and will not be renewed within its period of validity as
public funds cannot be used to pay the doctor twice. It is vital therefore that you safeguard this
certificate as without evidence of medical fitness cadets will not be allowed to join a course.

5. Once the form is completed and returned the cadet can then join the waiting list for the course.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to Cadets.

What is the criteria for an Air Cadet Flying Scholarships

Air Cadet Pilot Scheme

1. The aim of the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme (ACPS) is to:

a. Provide a pinnacle of flying experience for selected cadets in pursuit of the primary objective of the ACO.
b. Encourage cadets to remain in the ACO as they progress to young adulthood, thereby increasing the chances of them joining the Regular Services or volunteer staff.
c. Encourage cadets to pursue a career in aviation.
2. No charges are made for accommodation or messing on these courses and, subject to budgetary approval, the cost of mainland UK public transport may also be met from public accounts.

a. Air Cadet Light Aircraft Course (ACLAC). Twelve-hours flying training up to and just beyond first solo in light aircraft at civilian flying schools.


b. Air Cadet AEF Course (ACAEFC). Ten-hours flying training at an RAF Air Experience Flight (AEF). Currently, this course does not include solo flight, but does expose the student to aspects of applied Service flying, including advanced handling and low level flying skills.

3. To be eligible for the scheme, a cadet must:

a. Be at least 16 years old to start the course.

b. Hold, or be predicted to pass, GCSE Grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics, or the equivalent in SCE. A BTECH in Aviation Studies is an acceptable alternative for the Mathematics qualification.

c. Have achieved a gliding solo standard (silver wings). Exceptionally, cadets who have completed a non-solo (blue wings) course or who have not completed a gliding scholarship may be considered; the latter to take account of the deserving cadet who, for example, is a member of a remote squadron from which it is difficult to regularly attend a Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Such cadets must, however, have demonstrated in some other way their flying potential.

d. Have their parent’s or guardian’s written permission to attend the course.

e. Be able to attend for a continuous residential period of up to 14 days (not necessarily during school holidays).

f. Be a member of the ATC or CCF (RAF) at least until training is completed. For those leaving school CCF (RAF) membership may be extended to include the course, until the commencement of the next school term.

What Flying Scholarships are available from other organisations?

Flying Scholarships

Cadets who are able to demonstrate that they have the aptitude for flying may be able to gain a prestigious flying scholarship. There are several scholarships available to air cadets each year. These are sponsored by the Royal Aero Club, the Air League Educational Trust, the RAF Charitable Trust, the Geoffrey De Haviland Foundation, Babcock Defence Services, the RAF Association and the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators. For many cadets these courses are the stepping stone to their PPL – Private Pilots’ Licence – and potentially a career as a pilot with the RAF, the Royal Navy, Army or commercial airlines.


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