A YOUNG flying enthusiast from West Lothian has taken his first steps to getting his career as a pilot off the ground thanks to a Royal Air Force Association scholarship.
RAF cadet Jack Oliphant, 19, says he can’t wait to get back in the air after completing a course of civilian flying lessons courtesy of the charity.
The RAF Association, which this year celebrated its 100th Flying Scholar, rewards candidates for their community fundraising and welfare work.
Jack said flying for the RAF was “lifelong dream,” adding he was “delighted” to start his career in the force.
He said: “It is my life ambition to fly for the RAF, and I’ve now taken a step in the right direction. After only nine-and-a-half hours out of my 12, I was allowed to take the controls of a Cessna 152, and the experience was truly out of this world.”
Jack continued: “I would like to thank the RAF Association for giving me the opportunity to attain my first ever solo flight. I am now going to university and will continue to fundraise at my local branch in order to support the great work of the Association.”
The Association, which provides welfare support to the RAF family, launched its scholarship programme in 2008. It is open to Air Cadets, including the Air Training Corps, Combined Cadet Force and the Girls Venture Corps Air Cadets.
In 2016, the scheme was broadened to include members of the Air Scouts/Air Explorer Scouts.
The scholarships are open to those aged between 16 and 20 who have served at least 12 months with the cadets.
One of the successful applicants receives 35 hours of training in a light aircraft and, depending on their rate of progress, could earn their Light Aircraft Pilot Licence.
The RAF currently has an estimated 56,000 cadets in more than 1,000 different squadrons across the country.
Thousands more also volunteer their time to promote and assist the work of the national cadet programmes.
Molly Henson, who helped to co-ordinate the 2018 scholarships, said she was “thrilled” to see Jack get the opportunity to undertake the flight training and encouraged others to get involved and apply for the scholarship programme.
She said: “We’re thrilled that Jack had the opportunity to get up in the air and undertake this training. It sounds like he had a lot of fun.”
Molly continued: “Entrants for our 2019 programme don’t have to be the next fast-jet pilot, primarily, we’re looking to reward Cadets and Scouts’ commitment to our organisation.
“Of course, an ability to follow instructions and demonstrate commitment to their goal is essential.”
She added that the charity was particularly keen to hear from young people who may not otherwise have an opportunity to learn to fly.
Twelve scholarships will be offered to interested cadets in 2019.