AIR CADET FLYING opportunities will be increased as a result of a decision made to reorganise cadet glider squadrons in the UK.
While defence minister Julian Brazier announced last week that 663 Squadron based at Kinloss was one of 14 cadet flying squadrons being disbanded, he stressed that he was confident this would lead to greater opportunities for young men and women in the cadet force to experience flight.
Moray’s MP yesterday expressed his disappointment at the decision – but the defence minister stressed that it will allow flight experience for cadets to resume after it had been paused in April 2014 over fears for the airworthiness of the Viking conventional glider and Vigilan motorglider fleets.
Cadets in Moray would once again have flying experience opportunities from the only remaining unit in Scotland – 661 Squadron at Kirknewton.
Mr Brazier said that at least 73 of the Viking gliders would be recovered to flying alongside 15 Vigilants, adding: “The reduced glider fleet will be operated by significantly fewer, but larger, Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS), which will have a regional focus and be better integrated with synthetic training and increased Air Experience Flight (AEF) locations.
“The number of Grob Tutor aircraft beyond 2017 for AEF or University Air Squadron (UAS) use will go from 45 to 70 airframes, enabling the enlargement of existing AEFs and the formation of two new AEFs. Regional VGS hubs, which have the facility to provide overnight accommodation, will be also created across the UK.”
Angus Robertson MP criticised the move, saying that he was “very concerned” at the cutbacks in glider squadrons, adding: “The UK Government has already reduced Scotland’s airbases from three down to one and now they have followed suit with the VGS.
“Not only is this extremely disappointing for all those who have been involved in the glider squadrons, either as cadets or volunteers supporting the cadets, but there is also a question over the impact this could have on future recruitment.
“Gliding is frequently the first flying experience for potential air force recruits and by making that experience much less accessible there has to be a risk to the flow recruits further down the line.
“The MoD talk about best value for money but they have not addressed the potential impacts of this decision in any detail in their statement.”
However, last night insideMoray learned that Cadet Force leaders were happy with the arrangements as the number of AEF’s were being increased and glider numbers enhanced, allowing many more air cadets to get airborne than is the case at present.