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Air Cadets have the opportunity to fly with Royal Air Force pilots in Tutor aircraft. Flying takes place at one of 12 Air Experience Flights (AEFs) where cadets are shown how the aircraft flies and given the chance to control the aeroplane, experience aerobatics or simply admire the view. All Air Cadets get the opportunity to fly with the AEF each year.The ACO has had the benefit of powered aircraft since 1957 with the introduction of venerable DeHavilland Chipmunk aeroplanes which were replaced by the Bulldog in 1996. The latest replacement – Grob Tutor – recently entered AEF service, replacing the Bulldog. The AEF task is based on 25 minutes per cadet per year, plus an allowance for staff continuation training, etc. AEF aircraft are flown by volunteer pilots, all of whom are current or former service pilots.In addition to the Tutor, Cadets also have opportunities for flying in other Service and Civilian aircraft when visiting RAF camps.
The backbone of the glider fleet is the Grob 103 or as we know it, the Viking. A two seat glider used for GIC, GS and AGT training.The Viking has no engine and is accelerated to its flying speed by different means. One method is aerotowing whereby a powered aircraft acts as a tug and pulls the glider off the ground and up to a predetermined height by means of a towing cable. However, as a cadet, it is unlikely that you will experience this method of launching a glider. Another method is a winch launch. A winch is a series of drums on which are about 1,500 metres of strong, flexible, steel cable. The winch is powered by a powerful turbo engine.The Grob 109 or Vigilant as we know it, differs from other Air Cadet Gliders in that it has an engine and propeller, so it can launch itself. The Vigilant can taxi, take off and climb under its own power to a height selected by the instructor. It can be flown as a glider by allowing the engine to idle or, for some advanced exercises with the engine off all together. It can soar in thermals given reasonable thermic conditions. The engine is not powerful enough for rapid climbing, taking some five minutes or so to reach 2,000 feet. However, the ground handling time is reduced and manpower requirements are less than the Viking.