Air Cadets Gliding, with 631 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS)

The Air Cadets provides an alternative to Flying in the “Grob Tutor” light aircraft by providing one of the biggest gliding organisations in the British Islands. There are a number of Volunteer Gliding Schools (VGS) located all over the United Kingdom that provide opportunities for Air Cadets to experience the fun of gliding in a motorised glider called the “Vigilant”.

No 635 VGS is based at R.A.F Woodvale and provides Glider experience flights for our Cadets and the possibility of achieving a “Solo” flight at the age of 16 years old, before you can even learn to drive a car.

Of course as with most things in life you have to “earn the right” to be selected for the opportunity to attend the Gliding experience by completing our Squadron’s basic recruitment course (1st Class Classification) and the second stage of Air Cadet training schedule (Leading Cadet Classification). The courses are set to give you the knowledge you need to make the most of the Gliding experience and to take the first steps along the “Gliding Induction Course” (GIC).

The Gliding Induction Course (GIC) and Gliding Scholarship Course (GS).

The Gliding Induction Course comprises 3 stages GIC 1, 2 & 3. At each stage there is some classroom work to be undertaken, the principle to being to learn about the theory of aerodynamics, parachute instruction and the controlling of the glider in the air before the flight. Once the theory lessons have been completed a flight in a “Vigilant” glider with a qualified instructor will take place allowing you to put the theory you have learnt into practice.

Generally the GIC 1 will last approximately 20 minutes in which you will experience the feel of positive and negative “G” (Gravity) as well as the air handling of the glider.

On your second flight (GIC 2) the flight will last approximately 25 minutes and will include further instructional training including taking control of the glider itself.

Finally the GIC 3 will last approximately 30 minutes in which you will put all the training you have received in GIC 1 and 2 to good use and will give your Gliding Instructor an indication of whether you are suitable for a Gliding Scholarship.

Once you have completed your GIC Course the next stage will be the “Gliding Scholarship” Course to get your ‘Wings’. This course can result in you being able to fly the glider solo at the age of just 16 years. The course is open to any cadet who is over the age of 16 and has completed the GIC Course. Once you have completed the standard medical you can begin the course.

The course will be run over individual weekends or for a single week (usually during the summer) Flying times may vary but generally the Vigilant Glider you can expect to be airborne for 8 hours plus. At the end of the course, if your instructor thinks you are capable, you will be allowed to fly the glider solo, achieving your silver GS wings. Successful completion of the course without a solo sortie, will allow you to wear your blue GS wings on your ATC uniform.

If you are successful in achieving your Silver GS Wings you may then progress to another follow on course called the Advanced Glider Training (AGT).


A No 611 Squadron Air Cadet in the Vigilant Glider cockpit, during her GIC 2 flight.

No 611 Squadron – Air Cadet following her flight in the Vigilant.  (Below)