KELSO’s Dan Barnes is flying high these days after being awarded one of only 14 flying scholarships available to air cadets in Scotland this year under a special cadet pilot scheme, writes Mark Entwistle.
The air cadets provide 130 flying scholarships across the UK on an annual basis, but competition is fierce with 40,000 cadets hoping to capture a place.
Dan, a pupil at Kelso High School, is a senior NCO (non-commissioned officer) cadet at 2180 (Galashiels) Squadron and has just returned from spending two weeks at Dundee Airport where he has been based with Tayside Aviation, who provide the aircraft and tuition for air cadets from across the UK.
The scholarship gave Dan 12 hours of flying instruction and many more hours of ground school in a Grob 115b Heron single-engine, two-seat training aircraft.
So after the 12 hours of dual tuition, Dan was offered the opportunity to go solo.
After the usual round of pre-flight checks and clearance from air traffic control, Dan opened the throttle and took off from Dundee Airport for a circuit and landing to qualify for the coveted wings badge.
A bonus for the Borders youngster came in the form of a visit to the airport by two RAF pilots in a Tucano training aircraft from the Central Flying School at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. They had arrived to undertake quality assurance checks on the training given to the air cadets.
Dan was selected to take one of the Central Flying School instructors for a flight during which he was required to demonstrate the skills and procedures he had learned during the two-week training course. An extra hour’s flying saw Dan prove to the satisfaction of the RAF instructor all that he had learned was up to the standards required by the air force.
Dan, who has only recently passed his driving test, has already flown solo in the Grob Viking Glider to achieve his silver wings, having completed a gliding scholarship course at HMS Condor Arbroath last summer.
Meanwhile, cadets and staff from 2180 (Galashiels) Squadron were involved in supporting the main UK event for Armed Forces Day 2011, which was held in the Queen’s Park, next to the Palace of Holyrood, in Edinburgh.
The Galashiels lads and lasses were one of only four Scottish air cadet squadrons invited to attend the main event at Holyrood and were on duty to run the Air Cadet Community Engagement Platform Flight Simulator and staff an air cadet recruitment stand.
The prestigious event, which drew more than 35,000 visitors, also saw a number of VIPs and those seen passing the air cadet stand included Defence Secretary Liam Fox plus the Scottish Secretary and Borders MP Michael Moore.
Staff and cadets alike were delighted when General Sir David Richards, Chief of the Defence Staff, who was accompanied by Air Commodore R. J. Atkinson, Air Officer Scotland and Station Commander RAF Leuchars, visited the air cadets stand.
Sir David and Air Cdr Atkinson took a considerable amount of time to talk to cadets, meet staff and fly the Tucano Flight Simulator, and also spoke to Galashiels squadron cadets Aaron Kerr from Melrose and Calum Brydon from Blainslie.