Flying High at Halton!

Did you know that Junior Ranks and Junior Officers can apply for flying scholarships through the RAF Charitable Trust? The training consists of 15 hours flying training on a light aircraft as well as ground study and examinations. Some Junior Ranks scholarship winners may also be awarded a further Top-Up Grant allowing them to achieve a full Light Aircraft Pilot Licence. 

The Junior Ranks’ Pilot Scheme Scholarships (JRPSS) are available to Cpls or below and the Junior Officers’ Pilot Scheme Scholarships (JOPSS) are available to Flt Lt or below. Both are available to RAF Regular or Reserves, under 25 years of age and not in Flying branches; details can be found at including other eligibility criteria. Although details of the 2022 scheme have not yet been announced, it is hoped that it will go ahead in a similar vein to this year, but keep an eye open as applications are usually invited during Dec and Jan for flying between Apr and Aug.

Halton Aero Club (HAC) trains Scholarship winners every year, with 10 scholars at the airfield this summer. Some were this years’ winners, with some of last years’ scholars also returning for Top Up hours, plus the first JOPSS scholar to fly at Halton. Most scholars achieve solo flight, and more than half of this years’ scholars at HAC have been recommended for Top Up hours. Some of the Halton Scholars have reflected on their summer…


SAC Erin Theyer, Northolt

The Junior Ranks Pilot Scholarship Scheme was a great opportunity to take part in and I was so fortunate to come across the application; with 30 applicants per scholarship year being chosen, you had to make sure yours stood out, and I never expected my name to be on the list of 2020 winners!

The Scheme was everything and more, throwing you right into the deep end and providing all the equipment and ground school learning time you need and I have the RAF Charitable Trust and the Halton Aero Club to thank for the experience.


SAC(T) David Brown, Coningsby

Going solo, a moment I will never forget! The first flight, your heads on fire, there’s so much to do and so much to learn. Take-off after take-off, landing after landing, the instructors no longer commenting. Next thing, instructor abandons ship, do it again, the feeling of having nobody beside you, it’s all on you. Taking off, within minutes you’re at 1000ft and it finally kicks in, I’m actually flying! It’s a surreal moment I will never forget. The sense of achievement, you land, finish the radio calls and that’s it, you’ve done it. I can’t wait to do it again!


SAC James Swinger, Brize Norton

Learning to fly isn’t just about the effort you put in whilst in the air. It’s also the hard work you put in on the ground. You can’t simply hop into an aircraft and expect to go flying for a few circuits in the hope of building up your hours toward your own licence. Some days, in between the 2, maybe 3 flights a day, you need to learn and revise the principles of flying, and the knowledge required to pass the exams needed in order to reach certain milestones in your training, such as your first solo. It can be a tremendous amount of work, making for some very long days. Is it all worth it in the end? Absolutely! Nothing beats that feeling of accomplishment when it comes to the pursuit of flying an aircraft.


SAC(T) Matt Meikle, Coningsby

After completing the 15 hours of the JRPSS to achieve solo standard, each of the 30 scholars had the opportunity to apply for a Top Up (JRPSS TUS). Combining a mixture of instructor reviews, examination results, Scholarship promotion and a challenging application process, 10 scholars are picked and awarded another 15 hours of flying training to achieve their Light Aircraft Pilots Licence (LAPL).

Being fortunate enough to be awarded the JRPSS TUS, I am working towards my LAPL, with only my Skills Test and Qualifying Cross Country to be completed. After this, my aim is to fly my friends and family so they can experience the feeling of flying, the same feeling that got me hooked when I first started!

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