I first heard about the Air Squadron while still at school through a family friend who had joined when he had got into university. Hearing his stories of how much he had enjoyed it made me keen to find out more about what it had to offer. The idea of being able to learn how to fly – which has been a lifelong dream of mine – as well as being able to take part in so many other activities from sports to trips abroad seemed great and the decision to apply was a no brainer! I knew that the Air Squadron would help develop personal skills such as communication, goal setting and teamwork, essential in today’s world and that joining would be a great addition to my CV!
To join I had to go through a rigorous selection process, so it was clear from the beginning that they were looking for individuals who stood out from the crowd and showed a real interest in what the Air Squadron was about. This year there were over 100 applicants applying for roughly 30 places. In order to apply we had to sign up for an interview, which also included a fitness test and this all took place at UGSAS’s (University of Glasgow & Strathclyde Air Squadron) headquarters in Park Circus, Glasgow. During the day we were tested both mentally and physically. We were interviewed by some of the senior staff in the Squadron and also had to work in a team with other applicants in order to complete a set task. As much as it was a serious group exercise and brain teasing it was actually quite a fun experience. In the afternoon we took our fitness test which sounds as fun as it was!
Once I found out I was accepted into UGSAS then the fun began. I was sent on an induction weekend where I got to meet the rest of the course participants. On the weekend we were given the chance to fly a ‘Grob G115 Tutor’ aircraft out of Glasgow Airport and over towards Loch Lomond. Once over open airspace we were able to do some aerobatics, which included barrel roles, loops and other maneuvers that had you reaching for the sick bag! This was such a thrill and was meant as a taster for what was available for members to take part in throughout your time in the Squadron. The highlight of my weekend however was getting my flight suit. As cheesy as it sounds I did feel a little like Tom Cruise in Top Gun when I put it on and that’s when it really sunk in that I was part of something special.
As a member of the Air Squadron you are given the chance to do so much more than fly. From sailing in the Mediterranean to skiing in Germany there is so much on offer; UGSAS also have a wide variety of sports teams which helps develop teamwork and fitness. Every Thursday night all members of UGSAS are required to meet at the headquarters in order to discuss what’s going on within the Squadron and plan for the future. It’s a great way of meeting up with fellow course members as the Air Squadron covers not only the University of Glasgow but also Strathclyde University, West of Scotland University and Stirling University. Throughout the week there is an extensive list of activities open for members to partake in. This includes sports training as well as ‘Adventure Training’, which includes activities like hillwalking and climbing. It really is a great way of pushing yourself both mentally and physically.
When I first joined I was a little concerned that the Air Squadron would take up a lot of time and affect my studies. However, the Air Squadron stress that University comes first. After all if you’re not in University you can’t stay in the Squadron! This reassurance definitely put to rest the worries I had and in doing so meant that anything I did decide to do was on my terms and that I was able to make sure my studies didn’t suffer.
Joining the Air Squadron has definitely been the highlight of my first year at University. Knowing that I’ll be able to learn how to fly as well as take part in sports I love, meet new people and develop skills useful in the workplace to me puts this way above other societies on offer to students.