Air Cadets scoop RAF Association national scholarships in all-female first
Three outstanding young women have fought off fierce competition to win a flying scholarship that should help them on their way to completing their National Private Pilot Licence (NPPL).
Members of the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) and the Girls Venture Corps Air Cadets (GVCAC) can apply for the RAF Association national flying scholarships each year, with the person in first place receiving 35 hours flying time and four others 12 hours each.
In a first for the charity since the scholarships began in 2005, a female member of the ACO has taken the top spot with two more as runners-up.
In another record first, there were almost 100 entries from across the UK competing for the scholarships (more than twice the amount in previous years).
Only 12 of those were nominated as finalists and invited to the RAF College Cranwell to attend the Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre. There they undertook a challenging aptitude test and panel interview.
Fiona Ross (pictured), 18, who is a member of the 229 (Farnham) Sqn ATC, took first place -- winning the 35-hour scholarship. Fiona, who lives in Farnham and attended the Guildford High School, will now benefit from the flying time as part of her award.
Her first aim is to join her University Air Squadron at Glasgow University followed by an application to join the RAF. Ultimately she would like to become a civilian or military pilot and the flying hours she has won will set her well on track for just that, with her goal being to use them to complete her PPL.
She said: “I was absolutely delighted to hear I had won the scholarship. It was such a surprise and so unexpected! I can’t wait to start the flying hours in the summer and hope that it has put me on a really good footing for my future career in aviation.
“My squadron has been celebrating too and my commanding officer was just as thrilled as me!”
The other four cadets who won the 12-hour scholarships were:
- Eleanor McBrien, 17, from Wokingham, Berks.
- Kiera Chapman, 19, from Bedale, North Yorkshire.
- Alexander Sansom, 18, from Leicester.
- Ian Hastead, 19, from Tewkesbury, Gloucs.
Former RAF Group Captain, Bob Hounslow, who is the Director of Membership and Areas for the RAF Association was one of the selection panel judges in the competition. He said, “I was extremely impressed by the standard of the 12 shortlisted candidates this year. They were all truly exceptional and a very talented group of young people, who should be very proud of their achievements.
"On behalf of everyone at the RAF Association I would like to thank all the cadets and their staff for taking the time to apply for our scholarships."
The cadets are due to be presented with their awards by the Air Member for Personnel and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Personnel, Air Marshal Andy Pulford at the RAF Association National Conference in Blackpool this May.
The scholarships are open to members of the ACO and GVCAC. They are a form of ‘thank you’ from the RAF Association for all the work undertaken by cadets year on year in support of the charity.
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