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Trust Extends High-Flying Scholarships

Published: 19 Aug 2015

A scheme enabling Junior Ranks service personnel to learn to fly has well and truly taken off. Inspired by the number of applications for the Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme (JRPSS), the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust (RAFCT) is extending the project and increasing the number of scholarships available.

Initially the Charitable Trust, in partnership with the RAF Flying Clubs' Association (RAFFCA), granted £20,000 to enable eight Junior Ranks based at RAF stations across the UK and Cyprus to learn to fly. The JRPSS proved so popular, however, that the grant was quickly doubled to enable 16 scholars to fly.

At a presentation ceremony to the first scholars at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Charitable Trust Chairman Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson announced the continuation of the scheme, with the charity granting funds for 24 scholarships next year.

The Junior Ranks' Pilot Scholarship Scheme 2015 attracted more than 135 applicants, each hoping for the opportunity to learn to fly and achieve solo standard in a light aircraft. All of the flying undertaken can be logged towards the award of a full Flying Licence such as the Private Pilot's Licence (PPL). The training is currently taking place at Flying Clubs based at RAF Halton, RAF Cosford, RAF Waddington, RAF Leuchars and Kinloss Barracks.

At the presentation, seven Junior Ranks service personnel received certificates marking their selection for the pilot scholarships from the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford. The recipients were: SAC Simon Avery, RAF Benson; SAC David Barry, RAF Wittering; Cpl  Amy Foster, RAF Brize Norton; SAC Andrew Jones, RAF Leeming; SAC Daniel Mumford, RAF Marham; SAC James Becker, RAF Digby; and SAC William Tichband, RAF Coningsby.

SAC James Becker said: "Winning the scholarship was fantastic. It meant that whenever I had free time I was able to go to my local club to put in some more hours flying. All seven of us have put in about 15 hours so far, so we're half-way to our PPLs: I'm enjoying every minute and would like to say a huge thank you to the Charitable Trust."

SAC Simon Avery said: "Thank you to the Trust for your generosity, support and belief in me. I am determined to work hard and give something back to future Junior Rank Scholars, both as an instructor and ambassador for the Charitable Trust."

SAC William Tichband achieved his first solo flight in 11 hours. He said: "I am thoroughly enjoying my flying and am looking forward to gaining my PPL. I know that many members of my squadron will be applying for the 2016 scholarships after hearing of my experiences, which is fantastic."

SAC Daniel Mumford added: "My day-to-day job is to maintain and service the Tornado fleet, and it has been amazing to be able to get behind the controls and learn to fly an aircraft. I now plan to get my PPL and hope to become an RAF pilot. All the scholars feel the JRPSS has been a great success, and hope it will continue in future years."

Air Marshal Sir Chris Harper, Director General, NATO International Military Staff and President of the Royal Air Force Flying Clubs Association, added: "The Charitable Trust has made a dream come true for 16 young men and women in today's RAF to enable them to learn to fly. The scheme has met the objectives of both the Trust and the Association in encouraging air-mindedness and flying for all at the lowest possible price."

The competition for the 24 scholarships funded for 2016 will open later this year.

CAPTION: Seven participants in the Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme are pictured after receiving their certificates at RIAT with Air Marshal Sir Kevin Leeson, Air Chief Marshal Sir Andrew Pulford, Air Marshal Sir Chris Harper, Air Cdre Alistair Seymour and RAFFCA Project Officer Flt Lt Chris Hives.

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