SACT Tom Miller, 29 of Ilfracombe, applied for the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association (RAFFCA) Junior Rank Pilot Scholarship Scheme (JRPSS), which will enable him to receive 15 hours of flying training, with the view to achieving a Light Aircraft Pilot’s Licence (LAPL).
Tom, a Weapons Technician at RAF Benson, applied for the scheme as flying has been a life-long dream. He said: “To be given the chance to have free flying tuition was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. I didn’t believe it at first when I was told that I had won a place on the JRPSS – I walked into my crew room after a lunch break and everyone was staring at me. My work colleagues looked at each other and said: ‘he doesn’t know yet’, then went on to tell me I’d been selected for flying training. I immediately dismissed them and it was only when I checked for myself online that I believed it.
“To be honest I was gob smacked, I had applied for the scheme in previous years but with no luck so I had pretty much written-off my chances of being selected – I knew it was an amazing scheme and hundreds of people would have applied. I don’t tend to win things!
“I just want to say a massive thank you to the RAF Charitable Trust, RAFFCA and everyone involved – I’m immensely proud and extremely thankful for this great opportunity. In what other profession are opportunities like this available? It’s a great scheme and I can’t wait to get started!”
Tom’s flying instruction will begin in April at a selected RAF Flying Club and once he has successfully completed the scholarship, there is also the opportunity to apply for the JRPSS Top-Up-Scheme, which provides additional funding to continue flying training.
When he has completed the scheme, Tom hopes to further his knowledge and training by applying for the Top-Up-Scheme. He also plans to use his enhanced learning credits to help him complete flying training and, as a qualified parachutist holding a British Parachute Association (BPA) A Licence, his ambition is to be able to pilot an aircraft to dispatch parachutists.
Justine Morton, RAFCT Director, said: “Firstly I’d like to say a big congratulations to Tom and all those who were selected for this year’s scholarship intake. They have a very exciting few months ahead of them and I wish them the best of luck.
“The Trust sponsors the JRPSS each year to provide more flying opportunities for young personnel who otherwise may not get the chance. The success of the scheme over the past two years shows the difference this funding can make to the lives of our JRs, as well as highlighting just how much appetite there is for youngsters to get involved in aviation.”
In 2017, the RAFFCA and RACFT awarded 30 applicants places on the JRPSS. To be in with a chance of receiving the training, applicants had to prove that they had the right credentials for the scholarship, as well as demonstrate their thirst to improve their knowledge of aviation and to experience what it’s like to get airborne.
RAFFCA Project Officer Flight Lieutenant Chris Hives said: “It’s great to see so many young people with an interest in aviation getting excited about the scheme, and this meant that the competition for this year’s JRPSS was tougher than ever – we received a record total of 468 applications. All of this year’s scholars should be extremely proud to have got through such a robust selection process.
“Since the JRPSS began we have already seen three scholars achieve their full Private Pilot’s Licence (PPL), with many more completing their final steps, and nine personnel have been accepted at OASC (Officers and Aircrew Selection Centre) for commissioning and officer training.
“The scheme provides a fantastic opportunity for JRs, which this year has been enhanced even further with the support of Aeros Flying Training, an RAFFCA Training Partner, so we’re really looking forward to seeing just what our new scholars can do.”
The CEO of Aeros Flying Training, Mr Tom Dunn said: “We are delighted to be associated with the RAF and look forward to hosting the 30 lucky JRs at one of our training centres – our new DA 42 Diamond Star Simulator and large aircraft fleet offer a clear pathway for those JRs wishing to go beyond their PPL and become Professional Pilots”
The JRPSS was launched in 2015 to improve the air mindedness 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 www.jrfly.co.ukFollow