A new high flying initiative which initially got off the ground in Grangemouth aims to show youngsters the sky is the limit – no matter their circumstances.
Air cadets from the Scotland and Northern Ireland region gathered together at Tayside Aviation in Dundee to mark the launch of the Flying Aces scheme, which aims to build the confidence and career prospects of youngsters, not just air cadets, of all abilities and from all backgrounds through the experience of learning to fly.
A number of special guests from the Falkirk area attended the event, including Provost Pat Reid, Grangemouth Rotarian Iain Mitchell and Squadron Leader Tom McMorrow, the driving – or should that be flying – force behind the Flying Aces idea in his role as special projects officer for the Scotland and Northern Ireland region.
Squadron Leader McMorrow also played a key role in helping Grangemouth air cadets create their world famous Spitfire Memorial while he was in charge of 1333 (Spitfire) Squadron.
He said: “The important thing is the kids get flying and get personal development out of it – the things we do are all for them. What we want the youngsters to feel with this scheme is ‘If I can fly and aeroplane, is there anything in life I can’t do?’.
“The original pilot scheme for Flying Aces was in Grangemouth and we saw the potential of it so we took it to the whole region. At the moment this is a regional initiative, but it may expand.”
Group Captain Jim Leggat, Regional Commandant for Air Cadets in Scotland and Northern Ireland, was full of praise for Squadron Leader McMorrow, referring to him as a “terrier” who would not stop until the Flying Aces dream became a reality.
He said: “A big thank you to Tom – young people will continue to benefit from all your outstanding efforts. This scheme will give youngsters self confidence helping them down positive career paths in the future.”
Edinburgh air cadets Lawrence Bradley (18) and Finlay Taylor (19) were also present at the launch.
Lawrence said: “This is an opportunity you just wouldn’t get without the cadets. It really teaches you about responsibility – being in charge of an aircraft and knowing you have to get it back on the ground – and gives you confidence too.”
Funding for the project has been provided by the Robertson Trust, individual benefactors including former air cadet Lord Robert Smith and through a fund-raising dinner organised and sponsored by Grangemouth Rotary Club.
The flying will be delivered by Dundee Airport-based Tayside Aviation, a Ministry of Defence-contracted training provider of Air Cadet Flying Scholarships.
Jim Watt, managing director of Tayside Aviation, said: “This scheme is now up and running and every two weeks cadets and other youngsters will come here to experience flying.
“Logan Air has kindly agreed to fly some of the cadets here from all over Scotland and Northern Ireland for free.”