The Combined Cadet Force at Glenalmond College

The Combined Cadet Force is a national youth organisation funded by the Ministry of Defence. There are currently around 42,000 cadets in the CCF in the UK.

Most of these units are in Independent Schools. The aim of the Cadet movement is to develop such qualities as leadership, self-reliance, teamwork and good citizenship. A secondary and not insignificant aim is to foster and engender an interest in the role of the UK Armed Forces. All of this is achieved by means of a combination of military type training and adventurous training.

All pupils at Glenalmond have to spend one year (Fourth Form) in the CCF. This activity takes place on Wednesday afternoons. Pupils can elect to join one of three services - The Royal Navy, The Army or The Royal Air Force. Cadets can, and many do, stay on longer and the idea is that the senior cadets run the Wednesday afternoon activities under the supervision of the CCF Officers. The majority of the CCF Officers are members of staff, although this is not always the case. During the year there are CCF camps which cadets can attend. The Army camps tend to be centralised and many schools come together to undergo a week of activities. These camps take place at Training Camps that are normally adjacent to large Training Areas, e.g. Wathgill in Yorkshire or Warcop in Cumbria.

RAF cadets attend camps at operational RAF stations. In recent years RAF cadets have attended camps at RAF Brize Norton, Lossiemouth, Odiham, Kinloss, Cranwell and Cosford. There are many flying opportunities for RAF cadets, both in powered aircraft and in gliders. Some cadets are able to fly solo if they make good progress.

Royal Navy cadets do not attend camps as such, but there are numerous courses that cadets can attend. A list of these courses is published annually. Many cadets get the opportunity to spend some time aboard one of HM's ships during the course of their service in the CCF.

Apart from camps there is a range of other courses which cadets can attend. These include leadership courses and adventurous training courses at one of the Cadet Adventure Training Centres (there are three in the UK). Cadets have the opportunity to attend overseas training in countries such as Canada. Most of this is free or at very little cost to cadets.

For more information, you may wish to visit the following websites:

CCF is optional for those in the Fifth Form and above. Pupils in the Fifth and Lower Sixth Forms choose from a variety of activities on a Wednesday afternoon, all involving an element of service to the school or the wider community. These activities include Duke of Edinburgh Award, stagecraft, conservation, community service in Methven and Perth and helping with the Second and Third Form activities.

Contact: Commander Roger Benson ( or 01738 842108

For recent events and news please follow the link CCF Events and News




















































RAF News

RAF section visit to RAF Leuchars

Thirteen cadets from the RAF section along with section commander Squadron Leader Gardner and contingent commander Commander Benson were lucky enough to visit No 6 squadron at RAF Leuchars on Wed 23 May. We were hosted by Flight Lieutenant Ed Morris, deputy A Flight Commander. A veteran of 12 years with the RAF, Ed gave the cadets a brief overview of the aircraft's extraordinary capabilities, as well as a brief outline of the squadron's air superiority role - gaining control of the battle space in the modern jargon. The 6 Sqn aircraft are still optimised for the air to air role, unlike the aircraft based at Coningsby which have been re-roled for the air to ground role.

The cadets were also shown the special equipment worn by the pilots to help them overcome the tremendous G forces that are imposed during aggressive manoeuvring in a turning dogfight. The new anti-G suit features chest compression and forced oxygen. In fact, Ed told us that he felt more comfortable at 9 Gs than at 6 Gs, as the new suit really starts to kick in at that point.



Finally we were taken to the hanger to view the magnificent machine itself. It certainly looks beautiful on the ground. As the old adage says, "if it looks right, it is right". And the Typhoon certainly looks right. The cadets told me afterwards that it was bigger than they expected. Each cadet got to climb into the cockpit followed by a "guided tour" of the cockpit by Ed. The cockpit is dominated by three large Active Matrix Multi-Function Displays, and the throttle and stick are both bristling with rocker switches for weapons systems. It really feels like you are sitting on it, rather than in it, since the canopy rails are low down. Situational awareness is maintained by the (to my eyes) enormous Head Up Display (HUD) in front of the pilot.

The pilots love it, and it certainly looks as though the RAF have got a winner with the Typhoon. However, cheap it is not. At around £80 million a piece they certainly are a national strategic asset, that will form the cornerstone of the RAF fast jet inventory for many years to come.


My thanks go to Ed for giving up his time to show our cadets this incredible piece of engineering. Maybe one of the cadets was inspired enough to make it his or her dream to fly her one day!






Cadets of the Glenalmond College CCF RAF section enjoy a fascinating visit to the 6 Sqn hangar at RAF Leuchars. In the background is a Typhoon F2 of No 6 Sqn. Pictured with our cadets is Flt Lt Ed Morris 


































































May 2012

In April cadet corporal Archie Ogilvie became the latest cadet from the RAF section to attend camp at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. RAF Air Cadets are lucky in having the possibility of attending various overseas camps. Two of these are located in Germany - Rheindahlen, near Holland, and USAF base Ramstein near Kaiserslautern in southern Germany - and one at RAF Akrotiri. This is Archie's report, which I hope visitors to this page of the website will enjoy reading, as well as looking at the accompanying photographs. JAG


I was recently lucky to represent the RAF section of Glenalmond College CCF for ten days at RAF Akrotiri on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. The trip exceeded even my most optimistic expectations.

The adventure began on Easter day flying south to RAF Halton near Aylesbury where other CCF and ATC (Air Training Corps) air cadets from schools and squadrons around England spent the night before setting off at 3.30am on the following day on the next leg of the journey from Heathrow to Larnica. It turned out I was the only cadet from Scotland, so I was proud to be representing my country.



We landed on a glorious Cyprus afternoon under blue skies ( a change from the sullen skies blanketing Scotland) and were taken to RAF Akrotiri along the coast, enjoying great views of the Mediterranean which looked very inviting. Once at the base we were taken to the accommodation. We were allocated three to a room in the billet which was of by far the best standard compared to other camps I have been on. The course combined activities directly related to aspects with the RAF as one might expect, along with social and cultural excursions. We got to see a lot more of the island when we went over to the Turkish side, a legacy of a conflict that occurred some thirty eight years ago. There we were given a tour of the Exclusion Zone where the UN operates and keeps the two sides (Greek and Turkish) from fighting. This was very interesting as the old city of Nicosia lay in this zone. It has been totally deserted since the conflict and it looked like a ghost town.



On one day we went around the base paying visits to 84 Sqn, the fire station, the Dog Section and the Red Arrows, who were there to perfect their show for the summer season. It was great to get to see all of these up close, especially the Red Arrows as they are definitely a highlight at air shows, and always a head turner. They were a highlight of the trip as they gave us our own private display above the cliffs of Cyprus in front of a recently built memorial to the two Red Arrows pilots who tragically died in accidents last year. The display of precision formation flying was brilliant as well as moving in this setting.





Another memorable day was when we were given demonstrations by the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) team. Here we were able to try on the protective suits used for IED disposal and to use the robots that they operate remotely as well. It felt very similar to being in the film The Hurt Locker. As a finale of the visit they demonstrated the power of explosives on the gunnery range. This was very impressive, and after seeing this we all had much more respect for this area of the military and for the explosives themselves. A piece of explosive no larger than a sick of chewing gum causes a lot of damage!



At the camp we all learnt a lot, as well as having a good time. We participated in a leadership courses and exercises that would not only to give us good knowledge for the CCF but good core skills for life outside the cadets and at school.


The camp was the perfect combination of cadet based activities and tourist trips and I learnt a great deal that I can bring back to our CCF. Also going there, not knowing anyone was nerve wracking; however I made many great friends that I shall keep in touch with. For these reasons I encourage other cadets to take the opportunity, if they get the chance, to go to RAF Akrotiri.


I would also like to thank Glenalmond for the opportunity to go and Mr Gardner especially for organising the trip and the journey from Scotland to Heathrow.


Cpl Ogilvie


Gliding in the Air Cadets

One of the core activities in the Air Cadets is gliding. This is run by the Central Gliding School at Syerston in Nottinghamshire. Central Gliding School is responsible for running and maintaining the 27 Volunteer Gliding Squadrons that are located throughout the UK. Some VGS are located on disused airfields, such as 661 and 662 VGS who operate out of Kirk Newton and RM Condor (Arbroath) respectively. Other VGS use active flying stations and are co-located with the Air Experience Flights / University Air Squadrons, such is the case at RAF Cosford. The VGS are staffed by volunteers many of whom are Volunteer Reserve officers in the same way as CCF officers. These good people give up most weekends to fly cadets, but in return they do get to fly for free...


Two types of glider are used in the air cadet fleet. They are the winch-launched Viking, and the self-launching Vigilant motor glider. Both are fitted with dual controls, and can be flown dual or solo. Our two nearest VGS, 661 and 662 operate the Viking. Air cadets follow a gliding syllabus which is laid down in the Air Cadet training manual. The first part of this glider training is called the Gliding Introductory Course or GIC. This is broken down into three parts. On his or her visit to a VGS a cadet will do three launches in a Viking (or 20 minutes if it is summer and the glider gets away in a thermal). The cadet will be shown the correct datum attitude (the picture looking forward) and how to control the aircraft in pitch during these three short flights. On the second visit a cadet will do four launches and will be introduced to the ailerons which are use to bank, and therefore turn the aircraft. On the third visit a cadet will do five launches and will be shown how to use the rudder to counteract the adverse yaw induced by roll (hard when you first start).

 Copyright in all these photos is acknowledged.

The Viking - full view




On the ground there is always a lot going on. On every visit to a VGS the cadets are given a detailed safety briefing about airfield hazards, of which there are many. For a start, you can't hear a Viking on approach, so good lookout is essential. Cables are an ever present hazard. The winch operator is 3000 feet away at the other end of the airfield, and operates the winch as instructed by a set of lights at the other end of the field (the launch point). Needless to say, if a cadet decides to pick up a cable at the wrong moment it could result in serious injury, so cadets are briefed how and when to handle cables. Then there are the dangers posed by a launching glider. A Viking accelerates to about 55 knots in about 8 seconds, so standing in front of the leading edge as the glider begins to launch would be very nasty.



The Viking - a close-uprafUpdate_march2012_viking_copy


The cadets are taught how to handle the gliders on the ground. When a glider lands it cannot taxi back to the launch point as it has no engine, so it must be pushed back by a team of three or four cadets - two or three on the inboard wing leading edges and one on the wing tip. This requires a degree of teamwork needless to say. Cadets also learn how to attach the cable to the glider. On the belly of the aircraft there is a cable connection, which can be opened by either pilot by way of a yellow release knob in the cockpit. The cadets learn the correct procedure for this. Finally cadets are shown how to 'run' a wingtip during the launch. This means that the cadet on the wingtip has to run the first few yards holding the wingtip up. After a few yards the glider picks up enough speed for aerodynamic forces to hold the wingtip up. All this activity is quite a contrast to the AEF experience, where unfortunately cadets (or VRT officers for that matter) are not allowed to be on the flight line for safety reasons (turning propellers). At Leuchars the cadets are escorted from the equipment room to the aircraft by a ground engineer provided by Babcock, the prime contractor in the Light Aircraft Flying Training programme.



The VigilantrafUpdate_march2012_Vigilant_copy


All cadets find the launch an incredible experience. Once the glider reaches 55 knots the nose is pulled back into a steep climb, and the rate of climb indicator settles on the backstop. After about 30-35 seconds the aircraft is at an altitude of about 1000 - 1200 feet, and the nose is pitched down momentarily to take the tension out of the cable before release. Should the pilot get so carried away that he or she forgets to release there is a back release mechanism which will do this automatically!

From this height, assuming the pilot does not encounter rising air (a thermal) the glider will be back on the ground in between five and eight minutes. The glider has no engine, so in order to generate lift over the wings it must put rely on gravity to provide thrust to generate airspeed over the wings. The glider is always flying at the same attitude regardless of whether it is flying level or climbing. A lot of cadets find this difficult to understand, but basically in a thermal what is happening is that the aircraft is in air that is rising faster than the glider is descending.



The TutorrafUpdate_march2012_Tutor_copy


After the Gliding Introductory Course, once a cadet is 16 he or she can apply for a Gliding Scholarship. This is a residential course at a VGS during the school holidays. All training is provided free of charge, which would certainly not be the case at a civilian gliding club. At a Viking equipped VGS a cadet can expect to fly about 40 launches over an eight day period (weather permitting). At a Vigilant equipped VGS a cadet will receive eight to ten hours of flight time. Each sortie has a different objective. For example, when doing stalling exercises in the Vigilant the aim of the sortie might be as follows: i. To monitor the speed and prevent the stall. ii. To recognise and recover from stalls with minimum height loss.


Cadets who show sufficient aptitude may do some extra training in preparation for a solo flight. If the weather conditions are within limits the cadet may be sent off for a solo circuit. This is an incredibly challenging task for a 16-17 year old, and successful completion of a solo circuit is recognised by the award of silver Gliding Scholarship wings. This is certainly something that stands out on a UCAS form!

Gliding can be a very rewarding experience, and can lead to a career in aviation. Indeed, in any season it is likely that at least four pilots from the nine display pilots in the Red Arrows will have been Air Cadets, and will have done their first flying in a glider. The basic stick and rudder flying skills that these pilots learned in a glider will be just as relevant when flying a fast jet.