At 7:15 on a cold Sunday morning, 9 Cadets embarked on and adventure to Tern Hill airfield and 632 Volunteer Gliding School (VGS).
The mission: To learn about the function and effect of flight controls in a glider, and put them into practice. All looked good until we hit a fog bank on the A41, which stayed with us until Tern Hill. On arrival, the Cadets were put through a training session on fitting the parachute and exiting the Glider in an emergency. Once completed, the Cadets received a briefing on the effects of the Elevators, Ailerons and Rudder on an aircraft.
Training complete we waited, and waited, and waited for the mist to clear. As 11:00 drew near we were invited to attend an impromptu parade with the VGS to support the Cenotaph parade for Remembrance Day. At the end of the parade, and as if by magic, the fog became mist and then disappeared.
Once on the airfield, the Cadets were shown around a glider, including how to attach the tow cable and support the glider on launching. Soon the Cadets were in full flow, launching and recovering the Gliders as each started their trip to the stars (well 1000 feet at least). By 3:00pm, all was looking good for all Cadets to fly when we were told that a wind at 400 feet meant that we needed to reverse our launch direction. So, with all hands to deck, 1 caravan, 2 winches, 1 minibus, 3 gliders and a tractor were all relocated on the airfield ready to restart operations. At this point, a sudden downturn in temperature caused flying to cease, as it caused the canopies on the gliders to mist up in a similar way to cars on a cold morning – the key difference being that the gliders don’t have windscreen wipers or heating. The effect was that 2 Cadets didn’t fly. Undaunted, plans were immediately made to return these Cadets at a later date to get their flights.
Once all the kit had been recovered to the hanger, the Cadets who had flown were then presented with their blue wings as a symbol of their progress on the aviation training package.
The military and poetry have a long history going back thousands of years, through to the famous poets of the First World War and right up to modern engagements. It is therefore very fitting that Sgt. Bew was inspired to pen these lines which tell the story of the day…
A Glider’s Tale
Twas the 14th November
And not a sound to be heard
‘Cept 9 young Cadets
Who sought to be birds.
For today was the day
That they hoped to fly
Up in the air in a glider to distances so high
Mother Nature reminded us, that she is the boss
For a ground mist descended, we are at a loss.
Fear not said the pilots, learn how flight is done.
Then cometh the hour, the mists came undone
And gliders went soaring
And Cadets had much fun.
Connecting the cables and running the wing,
Recovering an overshoot,
They took part in everything.
One by one, they went soaring
High into the sky.
“It’s like a rollercoaster”,
I heard Cadets cry.
Mother Nature again descended
Her hand once again,
And with two fledglings left,
She decried: this must end.
So two must return, in a week or few
And venture the mist and stand in the dew.
For they will once again
Hear “take up slack” and “all out”, those most shouted words
And go hurtling skywards
In those plastic birds
And see earth from a height and other great things.
And also to earn those precious blue wings.