Thursday 10th June 2010 by C. Freeman
Student Chris Perkins is getting his first taste of flying after being awarded an RAF scholarship, and he hopes one day to become a fully qualified pilot.
Chris, who is in Year 12, was awarded a gliding scholarship through the Kettering Air Training Corps. Since January he has been flying regularly at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. He passed the first phase that enabled him to fly his first Solo circuit and is now building up his flying hours and experience, which will enable him to eventually become an instructor.
He said: 'My gliding scholarship covered everything from basic controls to flying one solo circuit. I attend RAF Henlow at least four days a month, I have recently finished my advanced glider training and have now started grade 2. So far I have done 17 hours flying and two hours of which were solo. I go to RAF Henlow pretty much every weekend. You get to see the same people and there's a really good camaraderie between us.'
Chris trains on Grob Vigilant motor gliders, but hopes that this is just the start of his flying career. His aim is to fly RAF fast jets, such as Tornados or the new F-35 Lightning II that is being introduced.
Chris at RAF Henlow.
'On the first flight I learned basic controls and pitch, roll and yaw. That went really well. Once you get the hang of the general flying concept then I think that flying most light aircraft is reasonably easy and will stand you in good stead for other types of aircraft. I've started to get to the point where I'm looking around a lot more at the surrounding area, whereas before I was concentrating on the height etc and keeping my head in the cockpit. I think anyone can be a pilot, all you need is the drive to be able to push yourself and you need to be willing to learn.'
Chris, who is studying double IT, Physics and Maths at A Level, plans to fill in his RAF application as soon as he gets his AS results this summer: 'I always wanted to be a pilot and when I started GCSEs I realised I could do it. You just need five GCSEs C-A including maths and English language and two A Levels C-A. As a pilot in the RAF first you must complete Initial Officer Training and then go on to start your pilot training. Depending on which route you follow, you then progress on to transport planes, helicopters or fast jets.'