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Flying High

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Oxford teenager Jake Witchalls can't drive yet, he's not even old enough to take his first driving lesson, but he can certainly fly solo. Jake, aged 16, is a Cadet Sergeant with 150 (City of Oxford) Squadron Air Cadets is celebrating after becoming one of only a handful of cadets and possibly the youngest within his Squadron to have ever gained the Air Cadet Advanced Glider Training (AGT) Gold Wings.

What's even more remarkable is that since starting his Gliding Scholarship (GS) course on the 19 th of February this year Jake has worked his way through the stages of Air Cadet glider pilot training, gaining his Silver GS wings after just a weeks training and eventually replacing them with the coveted Gold AGT wings. Jake's cadet glider pilot training began when he was awarded a Gliding Scholarship course with 612 Volunteer Gliding School at Dalton Barracks in Abingdon.


 The Gliding Scholarship course for cadets of 16 years of age or above consists of up to 8 hours of flying training after which cadets are awarded their Blue GS wings. Those cadets showing the necessary aptitude can be selected to undergo additional training up to a ‘solo' standard.


Jake said, “I was eventually allowed to fly on my own, with no pilot. I was really excited about going solo and was confident that I knew exactly what I was doing.  ”.

”My solo flight only lasted 6 minutes, but I managed to complete a full circuit without anything going wrong, however landing the aircraft was somewhat harder than my training flights as it was a lot lighter without an instructor. In fact the aircraft responded differently throughout the flight, the controls were a lot more sensitive and the nose had a tendency to pitch up. But once I was safely back on the ground I finally realised that I had successfully achieved my very first solo flight and gained my Silver Wings”.



Full of success and determined to progress even further Jake applied for and was granted a place on an Advanced Glider Training course which required him to complete a further five solo flights before he eventually managed to get his Gold Advanced Glider Training Wings.



Jake's Commanding Officer Flight Lieutenant Mike Levett said, “We are absolutely delighted with Jake's progress through the different stages of his glider pilot training. I think it's the first time I've known one of our cadets to be awarded the Gold Wings at the age of 16. This is a real achievement for him and a fantastic example to other cadets. Jake has shown that he has the determination and ability to progress even further with his flying training and has been invited to apply to join 643 Volunteer Gliding School at RAF Syerston as a Staff Cadet. Who knows, one day Jake could eventually qualify as a flying instructor and help to train the next generation of Air Cadets”

Gliding Courses have been the first step in the flying career of generations of young Air Cadets. If you think you've got what it takes to become one of the ‘Next Generation,' the Air Cadets could be just the thing you've been looking for.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 07 August 2012 20:50