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The Seahawk Glding Club course with Lt Bob Neill RNVR
Preparing the gliders at Seahawk Gliding Club
LAET McInerney is handed the ‘most progress’ award by Lt Bob Neill RNVR

FAAOA sponsors Seahawk Gliding Club

Published: 24 Aug 2022

Junior sailors at Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose in Cornwall have been leaning to fly thanks to generous support from the Fleet Air Arm Officers Association.

This year, for the first time, the association agreed to sponsor a pair of five-day gliding courses for ratings with Seahawk Gliding Club.

The first course were held at Predannack Airfield on the Lizard peninsula, close to RNAS Culdrose.

The Monday morning was taken up with safety briefings on the airfield and gliders after which it was straight into deploying the gear to set up the airfield and they were soon up and away on their first auto tow wire launch.

The weather was not great but good enough to give each student a couple of launches.  On day two the weather was even worse, but time was not wasted as briefings on the take-off, circuit and landing filled the morning followed by a video on glider performance and competition flying.

Day three was blessed with clear blue skies which allowed each student two aerotow launches to 2,000 feet to cover the basic upper air work of the syllabus and provide a hint of what it is like to soar the Cornish cliffs on just a breath of sea air from the southwest.

The final two days, in hot sunshine and the wind in the north, were a glider pilots’ stairway to heaven with big cumulus clouds and thermals up to 3,500 feet on which the newly fledged pilots learned to soar and travel cross country for hours at a time. The lift was so strong that coming down was the problem.

Lieutenant Fred Warren-Smith, the course leader, went solo on day four, however, as a Hawk pilot and ex-736 Naval Air Squadron, that was not a surprise. Leading Air Engineering Technician Sam McInerney was presented with a silver-banded and engraved glass prize for ‘most progress’ by Lieutenant Bob Neill RNVR from the FAAOA.

LAET McInerney said: “It was great being able to do something a little different and I will certainly continue flying with the club and hopefully at some point start flying solo”.

Aircraft handler Naval Airman Christan Briffa added: “We all had a blast and I think it’s a great idea. I love the fact the navy has invested in junior rates. The course played a key part in building a good relationship with other team members and building our teamwork skills, which is vital for the Royal Navy output”

Gliding instructor Chris Bryning said: “They were a great team who worked very well together to get the most out of the week and had fun into the bargain. The second course in the last week of August is, not surprisingly, full but I’m sure that after the success of this week the FAAOA will sponsor similar courses next year so get your bids in early.”


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