Young pilots fly high in solo gliders

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Two students from Christ’s Hospital recently had the opportunity to complete their first solo flights in Viking gliders.

The young pilots flew the aircraft alone for the first time having completing a week of intensive training provided by the Royal Air Force (RAF).

Cadet Corporals Tom Higginson and Seb Baker-Graves – who are both members of the School’s cadet force – received their flight training after being awarded RAF Cadet Gliding Scholarships.

Both cadets are now entitled to wear silver wings on their air cadet uniforms, which were presented by the Head Master following their return.

The cadets received many hours of tuition before attempting their solo flights, including ground work, aircraft handling and emergency procedures.

Much preparation training was also completed at School before they began the course.

The students were accompanied by their instructors for up to 40 launches before being assessed for their ability to fly the aircraft on their own.

Tom was identified as a particularly outstanding performer after his solo flight with 615 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, and has been invited to return to complete his advanced glider training.

Lieutenant Alistair Goddard, CCF Adjutant, commented: “Little comes close to the nerves, excitement and sense of achievement having flown solo for the first time.

“It was an extraordinary experience for them and one that they are unlikely to forget quickly.

“The cadet force provides many opportunities for students to challenge and develop themselves,” he added.

“Other Christ’s Hospital cadets have recently performed with the National Army Cadet Band and completed tough leadership courses with the Royal Navy and British Army.

“Next month, more than twenty cadets from the School will undergo their army parachute training course and hopefully earn their cadet parachute badges.”

Tom and Seb are not the only Christ’s Hospital cadets to benefit from flight training.

Cadet Sergeant Anna-Marie Stanley has been awarded a Gliding Scholarship with 616 Volunteer Gliding Squadron at RAF Henlow and will complete her solo course over the summer holidays.

One hundred and twenty students are members of Christ’s Hospital’s cadet force, which includes Army and Navy sections as well as an RAF unit.