My 12 hour flying scholarship, awarded by the Air Cadet Pilot Scheme, was for a 10 day course held at Tayside Aviation in Dundee, starting on a Tuesday. After a seven hour train journey on Monday, I checked into the four star Doubletree Hilton in Dundee. The warm chocolate cookie at reception was delicious. At dinner I met the two others on the course, and for the first week we were joined by a cadet on their second week of training. After an early breakfast we met the minibus at 8am and were taken to Tayside Aviation for a briefing and to collect our log books, air side authorisation and to hand in our CAA Medical certificates and consent forms.
The first lesson, and part of our daily tasks was to unpack the Warrior aircraft for the other pilot courses by taking the covers off. This was followed by a primary briefing that explained safety details. Our base was the crew cabin where we played monopoly while waiting our turn for an instructor. The cabin walls were covered with graffiti from previous courses, and we designed our course flag for the 37th course and added it to the others. At sunset at 4pm we packed up the aircraft.
On the second day we unpacked the Warriors again, and pulled the two seater Aquila aircraft out of the main hangar. I then had my first training flight which started with doing all the initial checks, and then taxiing to the runway. Lesson one was learning the functions of the controls, speeds, manifold pressure and trim. Training was in three different Aquilla’s, but we were assigned to our own aircraft. On the second day, we were also allowed to take off and land. It felt kind of scary the first time, but by the fifth day it was much easier. We learned how to call up the control tower to be allowed access to the apron. From there we did our engine checks and then asked for clearance to taxi to the runway.
Over the week our training consisted of different scenarios to prepare for accidents, like a burst tyre, engine failure or cabin fire. Each flight we were given more control of the aircraft, until, by hour eight or nine we had full control and were taking off, doing circuits of the airfield and landing again. Most evenings before dinner we were able to use the hotel gym, swimming pool and steam room, as well as the sauna. After dinner we studied for the following day, learning mid flight checks, radio calls, and revising for tests.
We were fortunate with the weather to only have three non fly days, and were lucky to complete our 12 hours of flying. In the second week there were only three of us on the course, as we didn’t overlap with another as it was Christmas. This gave us more access and time in the air. It was an amazing experience, and I hope to continue flying in the future through the RAF.