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I picked up Suffolk County Councillor John Goodwin from his home in Felixstowe on what had started as a sunny morning but on the drive to 614 VGS at Wethersfield past Braintree in Essex it changed dramatically to forked lightning, torrential rain and overcast dark clouds, not typical gliding weather.


On arrival at Wethersfield,a former Second World War American Base, all seven Gliders and equipment were still inside the Hanger. The Officer Commanding the Gliding Squadron, Squadron Leader George Capon introduced himself to Councillor John Goodwin and myself. He explained the history of the Air Cadet Organisation with particular reference to the Gliding side of operations.He mentioned that one of his Glider Instructors was a 39 year old Group Captain in the RAF. Also that by 2015 he expects to have 12 gliders at the Squadron. The Gliders when new in 1983 cost £28,000 each but are now worth £35000 each second hand.
 

130802 Cllr Gliding P1030692 `] 130802 Cllr Gliding P1030693


Councillor Goodwin was shown around one of the Grob Viking Gliders in the hanger by Olly Marshall-Camm, one of the Squadrons Staff Cadets who explained how the various parts of the Glider worked and their purpose. Eventually the bad weather abated after more than a couple of hours and we saw the Gliders being towed out of the hanger by the bright yellow Land Rovers.

 

 

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Sqn Ldr Capon drove us out to where the Gliders were to be winch launched at the beginning of one of the old runways on the large desolate airfield. Felixstowe squadrons Flight Sergeant Chris Bearcroft is a staff cadet helping at 614 VGS on alternate weekends where he gets involved in all operations including operating the winch. He is seen in the pictures holding the wing tip ready for launching Counciller Goodwins flight. Councillor Goodwin was able to talk to several of the Adult Staff members and several of the 10 Air Cadets who were attending a Residential 9 day GS, Gliding Scholarship Course. Three of the ten Cadets had managed to go Solo already including Cadet Warrant Officer Rowan Saunders from Bury St Edmunds Squadron who only took 25 launches to go Solo on the Wednesday before.


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Sqn Ldr Capon apologised that he would not be able to fly Councillor Goodwin despite putting back a prior arranged meeting so CGI (Chief Gliding Instructor) Adam Barber was tasked with the job.After putting on a parachute and getting strapped into one of the Gliders Councillor Goodwin took to the skies on a couple of launches. I took several photographs with my camera and also with Councillor Goodwin,s camera so he had a photographic record of his day.

 

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On return to Felixstowe, Councillor John Goodwin told me that " I really want to thank you for making me feel so very special today, the flights were really enjoyable but the whole day reinforced what I already knew, the ATC is a wonderful organisation turning  young people into the very best in our society."

 

Civilian Instructor - Roger Causon.

 

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