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Report of the 2022 Sponsored Gliding Course

Published: 27 Dec 2022

FAAOA Gliding Scholarship

Report of the 2022 Sponsored Gliding Course

The 2022 Gliding Course was provided by Portsmouth Naval Gliding Club and took place at AAC Centre Middle Wallop and Upavon Airfield (Trenchard Lines) between 19 and 25 August 2022.

Eight places were offered to the FAAOA and 36 applications were received. I applied fair and unbiased selection tools to the process but, this year, new limitations were unfortunately imposed on age and gender. All applicants had to be above 18 years of age due to problems with the number of available adult ‘guardians’ and safeguarding rules. Also, due to the withdrawal of Officer Mess rooms for the applicants, only a small number of females were allowed to be selected due to limited access to single rooms. In essence, the latter restriction did not affect the selection choice, as only one female applicant was over the age of 18 years, and she made it to the final selection, along with seven young men.

All of the successful applicants arrived on time and stayed for the entire course. No incidents or adverse reports were received, and the beneficiaries of the scholarships enjoyed 5 ?2 days of good weather. In fact, only one day was a washout and the other half day was lost because of the closing ceremony, held at the Officers Mess of Middle Wallop on the final Friday.

I visited the students at both sites, the first was on Wednesday 23 August at Upavon, under blue skies and sunshine. I managed to talk with each of them, albeit that they were fully engaged in gliding activities and keen to get back to their tasks. Spirits were high and it was plain to see that everyone seed to have gelled with their fellow ‘scholars’ as well as the gliding club personnel and the members of a parallel group of eight being sponsored by the Company of Air Pilots. One thing that struck me about the group is that none of them were absolutely sure who their sponsor was! A lesson learnt! I will try to make it clearer next year.

I was delighted to meet the eight again two days later at the closing ceremony. Dave Howell, the PNGC Course Manager, spoke highly of everyone in the group and confirmed that there had been no problems with any of them. He also stated that all eight were good enough to have gone solo and may well have achieved it if the weather hadn’t let them down for one whole day. Having said that, Dave added that one member of the group stood head and shoulders above the rest in all respects, i.e. socially, teamworking, leadership, flying skills and general officer’s qualities.

Jack Panter was therefore nominated as the ‘Best FAAOA student’ and was awarded a prize by Bob Neill. All eight group members were awarded a certificate of successful completion of the course. These were made up and printed on the day by two holding pilots who were ‘on loan’ to the PGNC whilst awaiting the start of their Shawbury flying course.

Postscript. Dave Howell added that 3 students had returned after the course and had successfully accomplished solo flight. I received 4 completed feedback forms which were highly complimentary with two letters and two emails of gratitude. Only one student applied for the travelling allowance that was offered by the FAAOA. I look forward to a re-run in 2023, now that I’ve learnt what to do! Thank you to Bob, Phil, Dave H and David D for encouragement and knowledge.

Terry Martin (Retired Wg Cdr RAF)

11 Oct 2022


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