From a young age, my aspirations lead me to seize opportunities to develop my interests. The Air Cadet’s is one such example, I joined in 2011 with the purpose of working towards a Flying Scholarship. After joining however, I realised the organisation could provide so much more. I worked through the ranks to Cadet Warrant Officer whilst making the most of opportunities given to me. I cannot thank the organisation enough for such opportunities. The pinnacle of my career however, aside from leading the squadron as the senior cadet, was the 12 hour flying scholarship named the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme.
I applied for the scheme via an application form named ACTO34 for any current cadets interested. All I can recommend to such cadets is that although the box giving asking you why you want the scholarship is small, that doesn’t mean you can’t write a minimum of a page and attach it to the application. Most of the cadets on the scheme with me had written far more than the box would have allowed them to. Following this, I was successful to the next stage, a selection day involving an aptitude test at RAF Linton On Ouse, near York. This involved a flight with an RAF Instructor to determine my ability to absorb instruction and information whilst observing how enthusiastic I was about flying. I tried my absolute best, even performing aerobatic manoeuvres as asked despite not being entirely comfortable with them at the time. A few weeks later I received a phone call from the officer in my wing responsible for flying and gliding to inform me I had a place on the scheme! I was over the moon!
I travelled to Dundee to Tayside Aviation in early August of 2016 to begin my two weeks of flying. We were even put up in a luxurious Doubletree Hilton Hotel which was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, poor weather meant I only achieved 4 hours in two weeks and therefore, I and my course mates had to return later on in summer to complete the course. I returned to Dundee in September and cracked on with my flying. The flying is tough and the standards are very high, however there is nothing better than flying around with the beautiful scenery of the Tay, Fife and the Cairngorms surrounding you. I will never forget my first take off, my grin was literally ear to ear, I was finally in control of a powerful machine. Aside from the flying, we were required to take an exam which covered technical aspects of the aircraft, the brand new Aquila A211’s alongside some Air Law and Communications. I passed the exam allowing me to solo should I pass my solo check. The solo is a circuit around Dundee airfield, taking off and landing just once then allowing the instructor to jump back in.
My solo check came and I was extremely nervous, I had sat in an Aquila on the ground running through all aspects of the circuit. Fortunately, after what seemed like forever, we landed and my instructor said “Right I think that is sufficient for first solo” I kept thanking them, I was so excited but equally suddenly nervous. They then said “Dundee tower, Tayside Delta one seven request taxi student first solo.” After taxiing to a safe position and being briefed, the instructor jumped out and left me to it! From then, I stuck to my checklist and remained concentrated until I became airborne and the aircraft rolled to the right slightly because of the sudden lack of weight on that side, I smiled to myself and looked at the empty seat. After that, I again became concentrated on the procedures I had learnt and trying to perform a textbook circuit. That was the 13th of September 2016, a day I will never, ever forget!
Until the next time!