The UK’s Air Cadet Volunteer Gliding Squadrons have been reduced by over half in a move that will see Cadet gliding moved to regional basing, with increased reliance on simulator training and residential courses.
In early 2014 all gliders used by the UK’s Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS) as part of the Air Cadet Organisation were grounded. VGSs use aircraft owned by the Royal Air Force to provide basic gliding instruction to members of the Air Cadet Organisation. Youngsters can join Air Cadet squadrons or Combined Cadet Force with opportunities to apply for gliding and powered flying experiences, including scholarships and staff posts where they can become instructors themselves. For almost the last two years however, this system has been in a state of limbo after the new Military Aviation Authority discovered irregularities in the maintenance documentation of the gliders and grounded the fleet.
A few days ago on the 10th of March, it was announced that while Air Cadet Gliding would be ‘re-launched’, it would take the form of a much reduced fleet with fewer locations; deleting entirely any presence in Wales and Norther Ireland, and reducing the number of VGSs in Scotland to just one. With over 50% of Squadrons now set to be disbanded, there has been uproar from the Air Cadet community, with many hailing it as “the end of Air Cadet Gliding”.
Details have yet to be released about where the new VGS units will be positioned, pending an MoD decision on basing no doubt linked to an ongoing rationalisation of Defence Estates across the UK.