645 VGS have restarted Vigilant operations, starting with staff refresher training, under the supervision of 2 FTS.
News from September 2016
Since the announcement in Parliament about the future of gliding in the Air Cadets, 621 VGS has known that it was unlikely that air cadet gliding would return before the airfield was sold. This week it was confirmed that the bulk of the airfield will be sold very soon.
625 VGS were first to start operations from Hullavington in 1992 with 621 VGS arriving the following year. 625 VGS became part of 621 VGS in 2013 shortly before Air Cadet gliding across the UK was “paused” in 2014. Since then we have tried to remain ready to resume operations, the continued operation of the 621 VGS Historic flight has enabled the squadron to retain both staff and the skills required to operate an airfield. This will also now cease to operate from Hullavington.
In over 23 years at Hullavington the two VGS would have flown over 200,000 launches and completed over 2000 Scholarship courses. As well as the scholarships, for the majority of cadets an Air Experience flight or Gliding Induction Course would be their first experience of flight, leading many into an aviation career.
621 VGS will continue to inspire the next generation to achieve, with a new home for the squadron to be found in the coming months.
This year marks the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadets. As part of the celebration a Torch has been doing a relay around the UK visiting all the Regions from John O’Groats to Lands End. 621 VGS were honoured that Hullavington was chosen for the Torch to be handed over from Dorset and Wiltshire Wing to Bristol and Gloucester Wing within the South West Region.
After a quick photo it was handed over to Alumni Mr Tony Eve a retired Flt Lt and squadron OC along with current cadet CDT Dimond from 1446 (Clevedon) Sqn. The torch spent the next 24 hours visiting squadrons through B&G Wing, before being handed over to Devon and Somerset Wing on the Clifton Suspension Bridge.
The original plan was for the Venture from the 621 VGS Historic Flight to fly the torch from Hullavington to 3 AEF at Colerne, and for them to fly it on to Gloucester Airport at the North of the wing. However the weather had decided not to play with low cloud hanging across the area all day preventing us achieving the delivery by air. The torch did get airborne briefly in a small gap – just enough for a photo.
Another fantastic week at the Royal International Air Tattoo with success for both 621 VGS and the 621 VGS Historic Flight.
The gliders were de-rigged on the Tuesday and loaded into their trailers. A lot of work had been done to get the Historic flight trailers serviceable which was completed as the aircraft were being loaded. The convoy headed to Fairford on Wednesday and after a mass rigging session, the Venture arrived by air and a Vigilant arrived by road with one of the new Skylaunch winches. The display set-up was finalised and then the hanger (large marquee) stack attempted – was a bit of a squeeze.
With the aircraft surviving their first night under canvas, they were again arranged in the display area ready for Thursday’s initial round of the Concourse D’Elegance. With the aircraft and MT getting a thorough clean and polish before the judges arrived. We even smartened up the display area with a lawn mower and maybe got a bit carried away with a little 621 branding exercise (see the photo further down)
We had entered the Viking and the Sedbergh into the competition. At the Aircrew Meet and Greet evening event it was announced that both aircraft had made it through to the next round.
This year Friday is not just a VIP day, but open to the public as well. It’s also the day the RIAT Crew Challenge event is held. We had entered a team and once again they did there best – just how good would be revealed later at the Gala Dinner.
The RIAT Gala Dinner is a back-tie event attended by VIP’s and dignitaries from around the world, as well as selected Aircrew and participants from the Crew Challenge. It starts with a Sunset Ceremony, this year performed by the RAF Band and RAF Regiment Display team, with a Spitfire overhead before guests sit down for dinner.
After the food and speeches came the awards. By now we knew, from the number of judging visits, that our entries were in with a good chance. What we didn’t know is that the Sedbergh WB922 of the 621 VGS Historic Flight would win the Best Civilian Aircraft in show! Being instrumental in it’s creation and continued operation, Flt Lt Adam Clarke collected the award. The awards for the Crew Challenge were then announced. With our team “Fly 621” winning the Aircraft Recognition trophy collected by the team leader Flt Lt Derek Kitcher.
Saturday and Sunday are both full public display days. Despite being at the very end of the flight line we were visited by lots of people over the weekend. Many had stories to tell about their first flights in the historic aircraft as well as those in the current VGS aircraft – including one ex 621 staff member and current RAF Red Arrows pilot Flt Lt Mike Bowden!
After the display had finished we packed up our display, loaded the aircraft into their trailers ready for the trip home. By the end of Monday we had the aircraft rigged back in the safety of the hanger at Hullavington.