Storrington scouts take to the air

Scouts from the 1st Sullington & Storrington Scout Group at Southdown Gliding Club
Scouts from the 1st Sullington & Storrington Scout Group at Southdown Gliding Club

A group of scouts had the opportunity to sample the joys of gliding thanks to the team at Southdown Gliding Club.

The scouts, from the 1st Sullington & Storrington Scout Group, took part in the event at Parham Airfield whilst working on their Air Activities Staged Activity Badges.

It was the first time that any of the scouts, all of whom were aged between 10½ and 14 years, had been gliding. A total of 22 scouts and two young leaders took to the air in winch-launched gliders, whilst a further four scouts had the opportunity to sample a motor glider.

The evening began with basic instruction in handling the gliders during flight and a full safety briefing. Using a stationary ground-based winch mounted on a lorry, the exhilarating winch launches saw the gliders, climbing at a steep angle and having had a very rapid initial acceleration, being taken to approximately 1,000 feet in a matter of seconds.Once they were released, the gliders then undertook a circuit of the airfield and its environs, the instructors often indicating points of interest on the ground and showing their passenger the effects of the controls during flight. Some of the scouts were given the opportunity of taking control themselves.

Fitted with a front-mounted engine similar to a normal aeroplane, the motor glider was able to get airborne under its own power. Once aloft it is capable of cruising like a normal aircraft or, with the engine turned off, soar like a glider. During the event, the pilot instructor took each of the four scouts on a route that followed the South Downs south-west to Littlehampton and then back to Parham.

After each landing, the scouts assisted in recovering the winch cables and returning the gliders to the take-off area for the subsequent flights.

Scout Leader Paul Mace said: “The evening was a remarkable success. The hugely experienced and efficient team from Southdown Gliding Club put together an event and flying programme that allowed the scouts to enjoy a completely new experience – which, of course, is what scouting is all about. On behalf of everyone in the troop, I want to extend my thanks to all those club members who gave up their time to help create an evening to remember.”

Duncan Stewart, chief flying instructor at Southdown Gliding Club, said: “It is always great fun to fly the scouts. Their excitement and enjoyment of the flight is infectious. Quite often it is the first time they have ever flown and it is a great privilege to be able to share that unique experience with them.’