Members Stories – Joel Riley

22 Dec 2023

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Dad, Grandad and I have been coming up the Mynd since I was a toddler

–  Joel Riley, aged 16

Dad, Grandad and I have been coming up the Mynd since I was a toddler, flying our model gliders from the modeler’s bowl by Pole Cottage, but my first experience of the Midland Gliding Club was in 2013 when I was 6 years old. My Grandad had been bought a gliding experience for his 60th birthday and I came along too. I remember standing in the hangar as a lovely lady approached us and explained the club and its history whilst I looked longingly at the gliders wishing I could have a go. I had my very first taste of flying gliders at another club in Warwickshire with an air experience flight on my 13th birthday. The tranquility of gliding combined with the excitement of flying without an engine was the perfect mix – needless to say, I was hooked. That club was aerotow only which is more expensive than winch launching and as a self-funded 13-year-old working at my Uncle’s sweet shop on Sundays – I wasn’t exactly on a killer wage so my progress was thwarted. By my 15th birthday, I had saved enough money to begin my second ‘go’ at gliding, which was kick-started by a trial lesson at the Mynd. After my first winch launch, I wondered if I could ever be truly in control of something so exhilarating! Dad and I began to make gliding our fortnightly outing and once I had used up my three months of free membership that comes with every experience flight, I joined the club as a permanent junior member. I progressed quickly with my flying during the late summer and autumn of 2022, at which point dad got sick of waiting around all day and decided to join the club as well! I have really enjoyed flying and training at the same time as my dad. It gives us time to spend together and provides a bit of friendly competition and a good debrief in the car on the way home.

I won a Caroline Trust Award’s launch point grant of £250 towards my gliding fees which helped towards me going solo in February 2023 on my 41st launch, a moment I had looked forward to since the very start of my training. That spring I got my first taste of real cross country flying when I attended the Junior Gliding’s winter series at Dunstable in a 140km dual flight with an instructor. After my GCSE examinations I made the Mynd my second home over the summer vacation, volunteering as a ‘hangar rat’ around the airfield and working in the kitchen. I managed to get signed off to fly all three of the club’s fleet of single seaters, pass my BGA Bronze Theory examination, and at the very end of my stay, my General Flying Test. I am now almost ready to tackle those cross-country flights on my own! I am very happy to be a part of such an amazing club at the age I am. I have been welcomed with open arms and have a massive bubble of support. The Midland Gliding Club really is my second home and I do not think I will ever stop coming, so I owe all of you my thanks for making the Mynd such a massive part of my life now and for years to come.