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Wales' ' two aircadet centres to have their wings clipped.

Byline: Heledd Pritchard Reporter heledd.pritchard@walesonline.co.uk

WALES' two aircadet cent-tres are being forced to close, meaning young people will have to travel to England for glider activities and to learn to fly.

The centres - in St Athan and Swansea - train cadets in Wales W aged between 13 and 20 and many have gone on to follow a career in the air force.

The closures come after the government announced 14 air-cadet gliding squadrons across the UK were due to go as part of an overhaul of the RAF scheme.

Defence Minister Julian Brazier confirmed a further 11 squadrons will be retained, with a "number of regional gliding hubs" to be created.

But the only two centres in Wales are bW oth set to close. An aircadet volunteer said: "Young people in Wales will now w have to travel along distance and that means reduced opportunities.

"A lot of those who have trained with us have gone on to have a career in the air force as pilots, engineers and in air traffic control, and many have gone on to work for airline companies.

"Not only does the air cadets give them the chance to learn to fly, but it also teaches them other skills and I've seen a lot of them come out of their shell during their time with us.

"Now the parents will have to arrange to take them to other centres, and the nearest ones will be in the Midlands and in Oxfordshire.

"Wha W t used to be available to them in Wales will now w be unattainable."

The centres are run by volunteers, who hold weekend courses for groups of up to around 15 young people and organise summer holiday training.

Flying has been on hold since April 2014, and following this week's announcement, will never recommence.

"We wer W e cadets and had a great experience," he added. "We wanW ted the next generation to have that same opportunity. This is going to impact the potential of young people in Wales from hW aving an insight and a future in aviation."

Conservative frontbencher Mr Brazier announced the restructure after the RAF's Air Cadet Organisation halted gliding almost two years ago due to "airworthiness concerns" with some of its glider fleet.

In a written statement to Parliament, he said: "Substantial operational, technical and commercial negotiations with a range of aerospace leaders in this field have failed to find a value-for-money approach to successfully repair and recover all 146 gliders.

"Consequently, a comprehensive Air Cadet Organisation review has proposed restructuring this activity." A message was posted on the 634 Volunteer Gliding Squadron: "It is with our deepest regret that we have been made aware that as of today [Thursday] 634 VGS will be disbanded along with several other VGS nation wide. "After along association within Wales W for many decades, Air Cadet gliding in Wales will bW e no more.

"On behalf of the 634 VGS the staff and instructors would like to thank all those involved who have dedicated time to the squadron during its operation."

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<BThe aircadet centres in Swansea and St Athan are set to close following a government announcement

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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 12, 2016
Words:532
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