The Vigilant T1 is the next step up in flying experience. The best of both worlds, it’s a motor glider with an engine and propeller, so can launch itself like a normal powered aeroplane but still be flown as a glider. The engine isn’t powerful enough for rapid climbing (or aerobatics!) but Vigilant is an agile aircraft, capable of soaring in thermals under the right conditions.
Instead of being seated in front or behind your instructor like in the Viking, the Vigilant seats two, side-by-side. It also needs less ground staff as it can take off and land under its own steam. Flights last much longer too – usually about 45 minutes.
Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGSs) are Royal Air Force Flying Training (FT) units, operating military Viking TX.1 (conventional) and Vigilant T.1 (motor) gliders to train cadets from the Air Training Corps and the Combined Cadet Force. The majority of 497 Squadron’s training takes place at 633 Volunteer Gliding Squadron located at RAF Cosford, set in the quiet and beautiful countryside of Shropshire.
The bulk of 633’s Volunteer Gliding Squadron’s workload is to deliver air cadets the Gliding Induction Course (GIC). This is a series of three short flights lasting between twenty and thirty minutes at a time and will allow the cadet to learn the basic controls of an aircraft with hands on training. In addition to delivering GICs we are also tasked to deliver the Gliding Scholarship (GS) and in doing so most cadets will complete their first ever solo flight and be awarded “Silver” wings.
Post Gliding Scholarship, 633 takes on a small number of successful cadets for more advanced training in the form of the Advanced Glider Training (AGT). Following AGT, further training is delivered to achieve Grade 2 and then Grade 1 pilot status. The Grade 1 pilots role is to deliver the GIC syllabus. Further training then becomes available to become an instructor who will deliver the Gliding Scholarship syllabus.
The squadron currently has four Grob 109B Vigilant T.Mk.1 Motor-gliders and provides training to the air cadets of West Mercian Wing, Staffordshire Wing, Warwickshire and Birmingham Wing and the RAF Combined Cadet Force. The squadron is active at weekends but also hosts 3, 10 day courses throughout the year for cadets to complete a Gliding Scholarship (GS).
Volunteer Gliding Squadron’s are made up of volunteer staff. Each is headed by a Commanding Officer and several executives, all of whom are commissioned into the Training Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Instructors comprise a mixture of regular RAF/RN/Army personnel, Reservists, Civilian Gliding Instructors (CGIs) and Flight Staff Cadets (FSCs).
Provided you have no medical conditions that could prevent you from flying safely, all you need is a high level of motivation.