“Take up Slack, All Out” – whoosh – “Climbing at 45 degrees, speed 55knots, levelling out, releasing cable” – these glider launching terms became a familiar routine for our West Buckland CCF cadets out on a Gliding Induction Experience in Cornwall last Saturday. Ran by an experienced team of ex-RAF and current glider pilots, the staff at 626 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS), Predannack Airfield, in Cornwall offered their time to take 7 West Buckland cadets into the air whilst enabling them to get fully involved with the launching of the cadet training glider, the Viking T1 – a winch-launched glider. “Open….Closed” – The cadets were shown how to connect the ‘winching cable’ under the main cockpit, pulling tight to check “ Cable On”, followed by holding the wings straight before launching. With lots of safety checks to consider, from clock-checking the landing strip, to looking out for moving aircraft to standing away from a 63mph moving cable. They learnt very quickly.
The cadets were rewarded with stunning views of Mount Bay in Cornwall, seeing as far as St.Michael’s Mount in Penzance, to the sandy beaches of Kynance Cove. The thrill of being launched up to 1,000ft with no engine and relying on ‘thermals’ to stay high, is mind-boggling for many. You are essentially “free-falling” to the ground, though on a warmer day, the Viking T1 can reach 8,000ft following the ‘warm thermal’ patches above woodlands or rising heat from the stunning cliff edges. After the 5.30am start, 5 hours of rosey cheek hard work and a lot of laughs, the cadets had a restful journey home back to West Buckland, still buzzing. Ma’am even got a flight herself!
Written by Pilot Officer Liz Cwilewicz RAFAC