After 8 years, Sea Cadet Corps Aviation has awarded its last pair of Gold Wings to eight successful cadets. But according to staff, the graduation of their final course signals a beginning, not the end.

Since 2009 the Sea Cadets have offered a little-known scholarship scheme under the Sea Cadet Corps Aviation Award. Involving ground school instruction and a mixture of light aircraft flying, the initiative has offered places for up to 40 cadets per year.

The Sea Cadet Training Centre at Inskip, Lancashire provided accommodation until 2012, when the infrastructure was relocated to Weymouth. In the same year, the Royal Navy’s Flying Grading Squadron, 727 Naval Air Squadron, began supporting the award with several hours of Air Experience Flying.

Top Student – Cadet Corporal Ella Bryan awarded for achieving the best results on the course.

Training was tiered into Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, with participants in each tier competing for selection for the next. Up to twenty candidates per year over the age of 15 were selected for the Bronze award, which involved a week of technical ground school on a variety of topics from the history of the Fleet Air Arm to Airmanship and the Principles of Flight. The final element being an hour of air experience flying in the Grob Tutor aircraft of 727 Naval Air Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, in Somerset.

For the silver award, training took place at Lee-on-Solent Gliding Club, the week’s ground school being supplemented by around two hours flying in Grob 109 motor gliders. This phase was carried out entirely by Sea Cadet Corps Aviation instructors, utilising their own flying qualifications.

Top performers from these courses were invited to return for the Gold course, again at 727 NAS, where they undertook a demanding week of flying the Grob Tutor during the workdays – racking up some 5 hours flying – and ground school in the evening. Cadets were awarded their Gold Wings upon successful completion of the course.

Cadets take advantage of poor weather to plan their navigation routes.

“The Gold Award course delivers a lot of training in a short period of time,” 727 NAS Operations Officer Lieutenant Jonathan Duke said. “Sorties are one and a quarter hours long, and progress from effects of controls revision through to navigation and circuit work. It is a steep learning curve and these cadets should be proud of what they have achieved.”

With the final Gold course now complete, and no more scheduled, the future of the Sea Cadet Corps Aviation Award is uncertain, but Sea Cadet Aviation Staff Officer Lt (SCC) Marc Pether was optimistic about the future of youth flying in the organisation. “We’ve got exciting plans for 2018 that we hope to announce soon,” he said. “I’m confident that we will be working with the Fleet Air Arm and 727 NAS for some time to come.”