With 15 hours of flying training safely under his belt, SAC Karl Cassar has achieved his first solo flight under the Junior Rank Pilot Scholarship Scheme (JRPSS), sponsored by the RAF Charitable Trust (RAFCT).
Karl, of Leeds, is one of just 30 serving RAF Regular and Reserve Junior Ranks (JRs) to receive the 2017 RAF Flying Clubs’ Association (RAFFCA) flying scholarship, which granted him 15 hours of flying training, with the view to achieving a Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL).
Karl’s flying instruction began on April 3 at RAF Halton. He said: “My training started with getting to grips with the aircraft’s controls and during the first week of my training I completed my Air Law and Operational Procedures exams, familiarised myself with the theory of all the emergency procedures and became more comfortable with the aircraft in general. We even had the chance to meet ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber who gave us an insight to his adrenaline fuelled career.
“The second week started on a high, practising circuits and stalls. Throughout my remaining lessons I perfected my circuits and my landings were becoming smoother and more consistent. I was taking more control, leaving my instructor with fewer corrections. I also passed another one of the nine exams and got to grips with my radio calls.”
Karl pinpointed his first solo flight as one of the highlights of his JRPSS experience. He added: “Friday morning was a day I will never forget. First thing in the morning we went flying and after just two circuits I was told to pull up whilst my instructor jumped out. As I took off, I remember glancing over to the empty seat and thinking how far I’d come. I had never done anything like this before and on the first day of the scheme I was unsure how to even fasten the harness. By the end of it I was flying the aircraft on my own.
“The scholarship has given me a huge sense of achievement and pride so I’d like to thank the Trust and RAFFCA for this amazing experience – it’s one I’ll never forget and has given me a new hobby that I’m passionate about.”
Now that Karl has successfully completed the scholarship, there is also the opportunity for him to apply for the JRPSS Top-Up-Scheme, which provides additional funding to continue flying training.
Justine Morton, RAFCT Director, said: “It’s great to see how far each of our scholars has come since beginning the JRPSS scholarship and the sense of achievement the scheme brings. The feedback I’ve received from our JRs since their training began has been inspiring, with all of them eager to progress their flying training, which is fantastic.
“The JRPSS is making a huge difference to young people who may not otherwise have the opportunity to get in the air. I look forward to seeing them progress even further, and who knows, one day achieving their full pilot’s licence.”
The JRPSS was launched in 2015 to improve the airmindedness of Junior Ranks. The scheme has already benefitted 40 personnel, with the ambition of supporting 100 scholars through the scheme by 2018 – the RAF’s Centenary Year.
To find out more information about the JRPSS, please visit;