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The Air Training Corps (ATC) is a cadet organisation based in the United Kingdommarker. It is a voluntary youth group which is part of the Air Cadet Organization and the Royal Air Force (RAF). It is supported by the Ministry of Defence, with a regular RAF Officer, currently Air Commodore Ian R W Stewart, serving as Commandant Air Cadets (Cmdt AC). The cadets and the majority of staff are civilians and, although a number of its members do go on to join the RAF or other services, the ATC is not set up as a recruiting organisation. The enrollment age for the Air Training Corps is 13 years and 3 months, however cadets can join at the age of 13, and enter as Junior Cadets. When the cadet reaches the age of 18 they become Instructor Cadets and are subjected to the same regulations as adult members of staff (including duty of care responsibilities). Service as a Cadet ends, at the latest, on the 20th Birthday of the Cadet, when they become eligible to apply for service as an Adult Instructor (see membership).

The ATC has almost 41,000 members, aged between 13 to 20 years, within 926 Squadrons. Its Cadets are supported by a network of around 10,000 volunteer Staff and around 5,000 Civilian Committee Members.

Aims and motto

The Aims of the Air Training Corps as set out in the Royal Warrant and approved by HM the Queen are:
  • To promote and encourage among young men and women a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.
  • To provide training which will be useful both in the Services and civilian life.
  • To foster the spirit of adventure.
  • To develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship.

The Air Training Corps motto is "Venture Adventure".

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has served as honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief since 1953.

The cadet promise

Upon enrollment into the ATC, each and every cadet has to make the following promise, usually at a ceremony presided over by the Unit Padre or Officer Commanding, and by signing the promise in their Cadet Record of Service Book (RAF Form 3822):

"I Cadet *Name*, hereby solemnly promise on my honour to serve my Unit loyally and to be faithful to my obligations as a member of the Air Training Corps. I further promise to be a good citizen and to do my duty to God and the Queen, my Country and my Flag."


The Ensign of the Air Training Corps
Air Training Corps Ensign is hoisted for every parade and hauled-down at dusk. It is treated with the same respect and dignity afforded to the Royal Air Force Ensign.

The ATC Ensign is hoisted and hauled down by a nominated member of the Squadron, sometimes a Cadet NCO, member of staff, or simply a Cadet who has been chosen, with the salute being taken by any commissioned officer, normally the squadron's Officer Commanding. All other officers salute during the hoisting and hauling down.

Most Wings and Squadrons also have a banner, which is paraded on formal occasions. The ATC also has a Corps Banner, which is afforded the same courtesies as (but does not hold the status of) a RAF Squadron Standard.


"Father of the air cadet movement"

Air Commodore J A Chamier is affectionately known as the father of the air cadet movement. He was the son of a major general and joined the army himself as a regular officer. After service attached to the Indian Army, he joined the Royal Flying Corps (the forerunner of the Royal Air Force) where he served as a pilot in World War I.

He transferred to the Royal Air Force in 1919 and eventually retired from the service in 1929.His love of aviation and his tremendous capacity for hard work was such that, following his retirement, he became the Secretary-General of the Air League - an organisation made up of people who could see a bright future for aviation and who wanted to make the British public aware of its potential.

Against a background of rising interest in aviation and with the clouds of war beginning to form over Europe, Air Commodore Chamier thought of the idea of starting an aviation cadet corps.He knew that in the 1914-1918 war, in desperate moments, hand picked young men with only a few hours of training were sent to do combat in the air - only to fall victim to well trained enemy aviators. He knew also that the winning of air power would need the services of many highly skilled and highly trained men using the best equipment and that the sooner such training could be started the better.

Air Defence Cadet Corps

The Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) was set up in 1938 by Air Commodore Chamier.

Its purpose was to train young men in various aviation related skills. These skills were eventually destined to be used by RAF and Fleet Air Arm.

The corps was extremely popular with thousands joining up all eager to help Britain prepare for World War II.

In 1941, in order to provide the means of giving part-time air training to young men destined for the Royal Air Force, the ADCC was formally established as the Air Training Corps by Royal Warrant. The ATC still continues today training young people in all types of life skills.

The Air Training Corps is Established

In 1941 the government realized the true value of the work done by the ADCC and agreed to take over its control. This meant a number of changes to the corps, and in fact brought about the birth of a completely new organization, called the Air Training Corps. So on the 5 February 1941 the Air Training Corps (ATC) was officially established, with King George VI very kindly agreeing to be the Air Commodore-in-Chief, and issuing a Royal Warrant setting out the Corps' aims.

The number of young men responding to this new ATC was spectacular. Within the first month the size of the old ADCC had virtually doubled to more than 400 squadrons and after 12 months it was about 8 times as big. The new ATC badge was designed and, once approved by the King, it was published in August 1941. The motto VENTURE ADVENTURE, devised by Air Commodore Chamier, was adopted by the ATC and incorporated into the badge.

The new ATC squadrons adapted their training programmes to prepare young men for entry to the RAF. Squadrons arranged visits to RAF and Fleet Air Arm stations as part of the cadets' training and to let them fly as much as possible. Everybody wanted to fly but, with so few flights available, many cadets were disappointed. One solution designed to get cadets airborne was to introduce them to gliding. This would give cadets a chance to get the feel of an aircraft in flight and allow them to handle the controls. This obviously could not happen overnight. It would be many years before this dream could be realized.

Admittance of females to the Air Training Corps

Prior to the 1980s females were unable to join the ATC, although they were able to join an attached unit (if there was one at that location) of the Girls Venture Corps (GVC) which had been formed in the early years of the Second World War, the GVCAC still exists (nowadays at separate sites) although in greatly reduced numbers due to competition from the ATC.


Within the Corps there are four levels of command. From top, down, they are: Corps, Region, Wing and Squadron. The Squadrons are the focal point for the majority of members of the Corps.

Units which are too small in numbers to establish a Squadron, are known as Detached Flights of an already established local Squadron.

National level

The ATC is the largest part of the Air Cadet Organization (ACO), along with the RAF sections of the Combined Cadet Force. It is divided geographically into six regions (each commanded by an RAFR Group Captain), each of which are sub-divided into wings. There are currently 36 wings, most named after the one or two counties that they operate in. Wings are further sub-divided into squadrons.

Headquarters Air Cadets (HQAC), based at RAF Cranwellmarker, controls the organization; and there are subordinate HQs at Region and Wing levels staffed by officers of the RAF Reserve and civil servants. A regular RAF Air Commodore serves as Commandant Air Cadets. The Current Commandant Air Cadets is Air Commodore Ian Stewart. The Chief of Staff is a retired Group Captain in the RAF Reserves. The current Chief of Staff is Group Captain John Lawlor.

The ACO forms one of the seven functional areas of No 22 Group Royal Air Force, which is responsible for the recruitment and selection of all RAF personnel and for the policy and delivery of RAF non-operational training (including Flying Training). No 22 Group is led by the Air Officer Commanding No 22 Group RAF, currently Air Vice-Marshal B M North OBE MA RAF

Two Air Cadet National Adventure Training Centres are controlled by HQAC - at Llanbedr, Gwyneddmarker, Wales and Windermere, Cumbriamarker, England. These provide a range of adventure training courses and accommodation for squadron and wing expeditions. HQAC also controls 28 Volunteer Gliding Squadrons around the UK, through the Air Cadet Central Gliding School at RAF Syerstonmarker.

Local level

ATC Squadrons are established in most large towns in the UK and there are also units in Cyprusmarker, Germanymarker, Gibraltarmarker and the Channel Islands. There are approximately 1,000 ATC Squadrons. The first 50 squadrons formed have their squadron numbers followed by an F to show they are "founder" squadrons eg No 14F (Northolt) Squadron. Only 30 are still in existence, as the other 20 have disbanded over time.

In towns not large enough to sustain a squadron of 30 cadets, or as a supplement to an existing squadron in a larger town or city, a Detached Flight (DF) may be formed. This operates much like any other unit, but is technically a component part of a nearby larger squadron. A Detached Flight have their squadron number followed by DF to show that they are a Detached Flight e.g. No 38DF Squadron. The establishment of Officers, WOs, SNCOs (Non-Commissioned Officers) and cadet NCOs is dependent on the size of the Squadron or DF. There are approximately 48 Detached Flights currently in being.

Each squadron is usually commanded by a RAFVR Officer (although this is not always possible; 213 (City of Rochester) and 1440 (Shoreham-By-Sea) are examples of a squadron run by a Warrant Officer). The Officer Commanding (or OC) has a good deal of autonomy in running the unit but also carries heavy responsibilities. Additionally where a unit has other members of staff the OC allocates their duties and also provides recommendations on the appointment, retention and promotion of those staff.

Another member of the adult staff with much responsibility within a unit is the Squadron Warrant Officer (Sqn WO). This person will hold the rank of Warrant Officer, or may be a SNCO if no Warrant Officer is on squadron, and will typically have spent many years working within the squadron or at least within the ATC.In the case of no commissioned officers being present, the Sqn WO will take charge of the unit. At all other times, the Sqn WO will usually hold a closer relationship with the cadets than the OC will.

This basic structure has many permutations - varying numbers of cadets and staff, accommodation and facilities. A typical Detached Flight consists of the Officer Commanding and a minimum of fifteen cadets and is often housed in rented accommodation.At the other extreme a large Squadron can consist of 120 plus cadets, 4 commissioned officers, two non-commissioned officers and a half dozen Civilian Instructors.

Image:ATC_Crest_Official.svg|ATC CrestImage:DSCF1391.JPG|Slingsby Cadet TX.3 used by the ATC from 1953 to 1986Image:Grob Tutor 5AEF.jpg|One of the Grob Tutor aircraft used by Air Experience Flights.Image:Glider Launch.jpg|One of the Viking T Mk1 used by the VGS Squadrons.


The Air Training Corps is formed of six Regions across the United Kingdom and each of these Regions are made up of six Wings.



Central & East London & South East North Scotland & Northern Ireland South West Wales & West
Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire Wing Essex Wing Central & East Yorkshire Wing Aberdeen & North East Scotland Wing Bristol & Gloucestershire Wing Merseyside Wing
Hertfordshire & Bucks Wing Kent Wing Cumbria & North Lancashire Wing Dundee & Central Scotland Wing Devon & Somerset Wing No. 1 Welsh Wing
Norfolk & Suffolk Wing London Wing Durham / Northumberland Wing Edinburgh & South Scotland Wing Dorset & Wilts Wing No. 2 Welsh Wing
South & East Midlands Wing Middlesex Wing East Cheshire & South Manchester Wing Glasgow & West Scotland Wing Hampshire & Isle Of Wight Wing No. 3 Welsh Wing
Trent Wing Surrey Wing East Lancashire Wing Highland Wing Plymouth & Cornwall Wing Staffordshire Wing
Warwickshire & Birmingham Wing Sussex Wing South & West Yorkshire Wing Northern Ireland Wing Thames Valley Wing West Mercian Wing



Junior Cadets

People aged between 13 and 17 can join the ATC. On joining, and until enrolment, they are given the title 'Junior Cadet' (formerly 'Probationer') as they can go along to most meetings to get a feel for the ATC.They are permitted to wear uniform after 4 weeks training, after which they receive the title '1st Class Cadet', and are then permitted to go along to any ATC activity. This idea was pioneered by the Commandant Air Cadets I R Stewart, who believed that the old Probationer system, upon which cadets did not receive uniform until the Passing Out Parade, lowered the ATC standards as cadets would not be able to learn how to care for uniform.


From the age of 13 and 3 months, and subject to successfully completing lessons in a number of subjects, Junior Cadets can be enrolled as a First Class Cadet. Cadets can stay in the corps up until age 20. Prior to mid May 2007 they must have reached the rank of Cadet Sergeant by age 18 to be eligible to remain in the Corps after this age (the requirement to have reached a specific rank by age 18 was revoked in mid-late May 2007 after the policy had been in place for some 3 1/2 years. Cadets not of the rank of Cadet Sergeant must, however, apply for an extension if they wish to stay beyond their eighteenth birthday). Those who stay on beyond 18 are termed Instructor Cadets.

All cadets are issued with uniform and must each pay a small amount in subscriptions (or 'subs' as they are commonly known), usually around £50-£100 per year, although this can vary widely from squadron to squadron. The subscription money covers parts of the activities undertaken by the Cadets for example Adventure training, local camps etc. Each squadron also has to pay a fixed amount to the wing to which it belongs for each cadet 'on its books'. Activities such as small and full bore target shooting, flying and gliding are paid for by the Royal Air Force-public money.

Cadet NCOs

As Cadets become more experienced, and if suitable, they can be promoted by their Squadron's Officer Commanding (OC) to the status of Cadet NCOs. Promotion to the ranks of Corporal, Sergeant and Flight Sergeant is at the discretion of the Officer Commanding. He/she (or a representative) will make a decision based on merit and leadership potential - many squadrons have formal selection procedures, whilst others select on by observing potential during normal training . Promotions to Cadet Warrant Officer is decided by a panel at Wing level. Prospective candidates will be a Flight Sergeant, preferably holding the Staff Cadet classification and will be required to attend an interview with the Wing Commander or their representative. Cadets who reached the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer were formerly allowed to remain an Air Cadet until they were 22 years old, however all cadet service now ends at age 20, regardless of rank.

The NCO ranks within the ATC mirror those of the RAF's non technical/flying trades and are, in ascending order of seniority:

Cadet Corporal (Cdt Cpl)
Cadet Sergeant (Cdt Sgt)
Cadet Flight Sergeant (Cdt FS)
Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO)

It is common within the ATC to abbreviate these ranks by dropping the prefix "Cadet".

Cadet Warrant Officers are addressed as "Warrant Officer", "Warrant", "CWO" or "Cadet Warrant Officer" (Warrant Officer is the correct form of address,[4] but curiously is rarely used), and not as "Sir/Ma'am".

Instructor Cadets

All cadets who are over the age of 18, must complete a "BASIC" (Basic, Adult Staff Instructor Course)and have the prefix "Instructor Cadet" before their rank. These Cadets wear a rank slide with the words 'INSTRUCTOR CADET' embroidered below their rank insignia (provided they are the rank of cadet corporal or above; ), cadets and some SNCOs still wear the old Instructor Cadet insignia - a white band attached to the rank slide. An instructor cadet has extra responsibilities over under-18 year olds which include a duty of care to the younger Cadets and NCOs. Instructor Cadets are required to attend training to aid them in their transition from 'child' to 'adult'.

Nevertheless, instructor cadets have no authority over cadets below the age of 18 holding the same or a more senior rank. This has been the source of much debate within the ATC.

Cadet classifications

Not all cadets who join the ATC can expect to receive promotion. However, all cadets can progress through the training system and, by passing exams, achieve different classifications. The classification levels are Junior Cadet (this is automatically achieved on enrollment), First Class Cadet, Leading Cadet, Senior Cadet and Staff Cadet. For each of these qualifications cadets study a variety of subjects. An overview of the required standards is shown below, some units may also add further criteria such as first aid qualifications before allowing a cadet to complete all of the exams.

These subjects are studied using tuition from the instructors, and/or self-study from Air Cadet Publications or ('ACPs'). Each successive qualification generally allows a cadet greater participation. For example, cadets must be First Class before they can take part in some activities such as UK annual camps, while Leading Cadets can participate in overseas activities. Cadets who have achieved the Staff Cadet classification have completed their academic training and can attain a BTEC Award in Aviation Studies. Staff cadets wear a yellow lanyard over the left shoulder, and have greater involvement in the day-to-day running of the squadron, as well as taking on a training role.

First Class Cadets

First Class is also commonly referred to as 'Basic Training'. Before May 2008, the cadets would spend a lot of time in the classroom studying the following subjects: The Air Training Corps, The Royal Air Force, History of Flight, Initial Expedition Training, Basic Communications and Airmanship I. After a number of lectures and when the cadet felt ready, they would take a multiple choice examination either on paper or on a computer software program. In May 2008, HQAC decided to change the first class training programme. It is possible they decided that new recruits (junior cadets) were being deterred by exams. A variety of methods are now used to test a cadet's understanding of the subject, including practical tests and exercises to test ability, and interviews/quizzes to test knowledge.All junior cadets also have to pass a practical Drill Test to become first class. The drill test is a sequence of simple drill manoeuvres essential for forming squads and a good foundation to build on for more advanced drill.

Leading Cadets

For a cadet to become a leading cadet, they must have already gained first class status. They will then have to complete 3 examinations which are: Airmanship II, Basic Navigation and Principles of Flight. All exams for leading cadet and above (with the exception of Staff Part 2) are multiple choice and consists of 25 questions, and are invigilated by an independent invigilator. The pass mark is 13 on each exam.

Senior Cadets

For a cadet to become a senior cadet, they must have already gained leading cadet status. They will then have to take 2 exams from a choice of 8 subjects, examined in the same way as for the Leading cadet syllabus. The 8 subjects are: Air Navigation, Pilot Navigation, Satellite Communications, Propulsion, Airframes, Advanced Radio and RADAR, Aircraft Handling and Operational Flying.


Staff Cadet training is split up into 2 parts. Part 1 consists of further academic training, in the form of another 2 exams from the 8 subjects listed under Senior. Part 2 is a to test the candidate's instructional ability and general service knowledge, generally taking the form of an interview and assessed presentation/lesson, assessed by a member of the Wing Staff. For a cadet to become a Staff cadet, they must have already gained senior cadet status, be at least 16 years of age, must have served in the corps for at least 2½ years, and attended an Annual Camp (see below). As of early 2009 cadets also had to complete an Introduction to Trainer Skills Course to achieve staff part 2.

Staff Cadets are not actually members of Staff as such, they are indeed, still Cadets, however they may be utilised to fill certain staff roles on the unit, such as Training Officer. This Classification was essentially the predecessor of the Instructor Cadet status, which came into being many years later.

Adult staff

The staff who run the ATC at unit level come in 3 types: commissioned officers, senior NCOs and civilian instructors (CIs). All uniformed staff must attend training courses run by the RAF at the ATC Adult Training Facility, RAF Cranwellmarker (ATF), usually within a year of appointment, with further courses as they progress up the rank structure.

Adult Staff Ranks
Commissioned Officers Insignia Non-commissioned Officers Insignia Civilian Staff Insignia
Officer Cadet (Off Cdt) Sergeant (Sgt (ATC)) Civilian Instructor (CI) None normally worn,

although may be seen

with a lapel pin or

an armband, or may

be wearing a sweatshirt

or polo shirt with a logo.
Pilot Officer (Plt Off) Flight Sergeant (FS (ATC)) Chaplain None normally worn,

although may be seen

with a lapel pin
Flying Officer (Fg Off) Warrant Officer (WO (ATC))
Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) Warrant Officer* (WO (ATC))
Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr)
Wing Commander (Wg Cdr)

*Ex-regular WO, or (formerly) granted to other ATC WOs for long service, and may still be found as such.


Officers are commissioned into the Training Branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve - the RAFVR(T). Unless an officer has previous service, he or she is commissioned as a substantive Pilot Officer, termed Officer Cadet until the Officers Initial Course at RAF Cranwell is completed. Unlike RAF Officer Cadets at the RAF College or RAFVR Officer Cadets of the University Air Squadron, RAFVR(T) Officer Cadets are, in fact, commissioned and as such are entitled to proper paid compliments. In coming years this is likely to change and the non-commissioned Officer Cadet RAFVR(T) rank will be introduced, bringing the RAFVR(T) in line with the RAF and RAFVR. Promotion to Flying Officer normally occurs after two years. Former regular commissioned officers usually start at Flying Officer, subject to certain conditions. After 9 years commissioned service, or upon becoming Officer Commanding of a squadron and completing an Officers' Senior Course (OSC), the rank of Flight Lieutenant (acting paid) is bestowed - Squadron Commanders who have yet to complete OSC may hold the rank of Flight Lieutenant (acting unpaid). Squadrons are usually commanded by Flight Lieutenants, who are also found as Wing and Regional staff officers along with Squadron Leaders and Wing Commanders. Particularly large squadrons are sometimes commanded by Squadron Leaders (usually when the squadron has 100 or more cadets).

NCOs and WOs

Adults may also be appointed as senior NCOs, these being ranks within the ATC meaning that they are not part of the RAF. Adult NCOs/WOs are uniformed in the same way as their RAF counterparts with two exceptions: a small gilt ATC badge is worn on the rank badge and Warrant Officers (unless they have previous regular warranted service) wear a different rank badge. Until recently, the ranks of adult NCOs/WOs were Adult Sergeant, Adult Flight Sergeant and Adult Warrant Officer (abbreviated to A/Sgt. A/FS, AWO), however this has been changed since is was not deemed necessary to point out that these NCOs were adults. The ranks of Adult NCOs/WOs are now:
  • Sergeant (ATC)
  • Flight Sergeant (ATC)
  • Warrant Officer (ATC)
These are abbreviated to Sgt (ATC), FS (ATC) and WO (ATC) respectively. In conversation Adult NCO's are often still referred to using the old style ranks, such as Adult Sergeant X, and their ranks are sometimes mistakenly abbreviated according to the old system (i.e. ASgt, AFS or AWO).

Prior to the 'LaSER (London and South East Region) Review' of 2003, the adult ranks of Sergeant and Flight Sergeant did not exist, meaning that the non-commissioned rank structure of a squadron was more straight forward i.e. Cadet, Cadet Corporal, Cadet Sergeant, Cadet Flight Sergeant, Cadet Warrant Officer, Adult Warrant Officer. This has been disturbed by inserting the ranks of Sgt (ATC) and FS (ATC) in between CWO and WO (ATC).

The purpose of creating the ranks Sgt (ATC) and FS (ATC), was to aid in the retention of staff by allowing progression through the ranks and thus creating an incentive to assist in the retention of staff.

Civilian Instructors and Chaplains

Civilian Instructors, known as CIs, play an important role in training cadets and, in many ways, are the 'backbone' of the Squadron. Unlike Adult NCOs and Officers, CIs should not wear uniform and do not form part of the chain of command in the squadron. However, out of respect, they are still referred to as Sir or Ma'am by cadets. Some units wrongly mandate the wearing of arm bands or lapel pins to identify CIs, particularly when on RAF Stations. Recently, a new Civilian Instructor's uniform has been rolled out across the corps, consisting of a light blue polo shirt and dark blue sweatshirt bearing the name of the corps and "Royal Air Force, in an effort to standardise the means by which CIs are identified.

Similarly, ATC Chaplains are usually civilian members of the local clergy (although forces chaplains may join as Service Instructors). Civilian Chaplains also do not normally wear uniform, and are generally addressed as 'Padre' by all ranks.

ATC Chaplains hold an Honourary position on the Squadron, and thus, unlike their regular military counterparts, do not hold an Officers Commission, and are thus not saluted, contrary to popular belief within the Corps.

Service Instructors

Members of the Armed Forces often assist at ATC Squadrons in the role of Service Instructor - they engage in instructional duties which are often related to their serving role. Service Instructors wear the uniform of their parent unit and are addressed appropriately, with ranks junior to NCO by addressed as Staff.

Civilian committee

For each level of command there is an associated Civilian Committee. There is a minimum of 5 members to any "Civ Com", and there must be a chairman, treasurer and secretary as well as the OC (an ex-officio member) and someone to take minutes. The Civ Com is responsible for overseeing the initial unit formation and direction. The committees, consisting of respected members of the community often including parents of cadets and retired staff, also manage finances (in particular fund raising) but do not have any executive authority.

The ATC is a charitable organisation. The Royal Air Force provides funds for a few of the key activities such as flying training. These finances are known as 'public funds'. The great range of other activities offered by the ATC however are financed from 'non-public fund'. Here the Civilian Committees come into their own in their tireless efforts to seek the necessary financial assistance, by way of fund-raising, which allows these other activities to take place.

Events organised by Civilian Committees to raise money can be:
  • Cadets packing bags for money at the local supermarket
  • General 'spare change' collections at local events

Squadrons are "charities excepted from registration". This means they enjoy all of the legal benefits of a registered charity without the burden of registration.


Within the framework of the training programme ATC cadets have the opportunity of taking part in many activities. On most Squadrons the only compulsory activities in the ATC year are attendance at various church parades, usually ATC Sunday (to celebrate the founding of the Air Training Corps on 5 February 1941, see below) and Remembrance Sunday. Many wings also insist that attending Wing Parade is compulsory.

Parade nights

Squadrons usually meet or parade during the evening, twice a week. Parade nights always begin and end with a parade. First parade is usually used as an opportunity for uniform inspection and to instruct cadets on the evening's activities, while final parade is usually used as an opportunity to inform cadets of upcoming events that they may wish (or may be required) to take part in. On some squadrons subscriptions, or 'subs,' are paid on a per-parade night basis. On other squadrons, subs are paid monthly either in person or by automated standing order. Subs vary from squadron to squadron and are set by the civilian committee in consultation with the Squadron's Officer Commanding and other staff. Each night's activities, between first and final parade, are normally structured into two sessions with a break in between. The activities are normally pre-planned and range from lessons to drill including aviation type activities such as aero-modelling, radio communications and map reading - some squadrons have physical training. Some nights are used for Fieldcraft training or exercises - sometimes colloquially referred to as 'greens nights'.


Cadets from both the Air Training Corps and CCF(RAF) are offered opportunities to fly in light aircraft, gliders as well as other RAF and civil aircraft.Cadets can take part in regular flights in the Grob Tutor at one of 12 Air Experience Flights (AEFs) around the UK. These flights typically last 30 minutes; as part of a structured syllabus of training it is usual for the cadet to be offered the chance of flying the aircraft or of experiencing aerobatics. The staff are all qualified service pilots, usually serving or retired RAF officers. Prior to the introduction of the Tutor, AEFs were equipped with Bulldogs as a temporary measure following the retirement of the Chipmunk in 1996. The Chipmunk was introduced in 1957 and during its service flew many thousands of cadets. Prior to the Chipmunk and established AEFs, cadet flying was a more ad-hoc affair, although during the 1940s and 1950s, Airspeed Oxfords and Avro Ansons were used specifically to fly cadets. Cadets were most often used to manually pump the landing gear up or down when flying in the Ansons. Some Cadets who stand out from the rest may also get the opportunity to fly on a civil airliner or go on an overseas flight in an RAF Tri-Star, VC10 or Hercules. A few cadets have also had the opportunity to fly in a variety of other aircraft including fast jets and the Red Arrows. In general, every cadet will be given opportunities to fly during their time as an active member of an ATC or CCF squadron.

February 2009 air collision incident

At approximately 11:00 AM on the 11th of February 2009 two Tutors from 1 AEF, RAF St. Athanmarker, collided in mid air over Kenfig Nature Reserve, Porthcawlmarker killing both crews. The two ATC Cadet passengers were cousins and were named as Katie Jo Davies, 14, and Nikitta Walters, 13, and the RAF pilots were named as Flying Officer Hylton Price and Flight Lieutenant Andrew Marsh.


Cadets can also undertake elementary flying training at a Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) in Air Cadet Gliders. The staff are all qualified service gliding instructors, usually made up of a mixture of regulars, reservists and Civilian Instructors.

At age 16 onwards, cadets can apply for gliding scholarships through their squadron staff. If selected, the cadet will receive up to 40 instructional launches on the Viking conventional glider (although if the student is close to solo standard it is not unusual for this limit to be exceeded), or up to 8 hours of tuition on the Vigilant motor glider. Cadets who successfully complete either of these programmes will be awarded blue wings. Cadets who show the required aptitude and ability may go on to perform a solo flight and be awarded silver wings. Further training is available to a select few cadets who show potential to progress onto Advanced Gliding Training (AGT) where on completion they are awarded gold wings. Usually these cadets will be enrolled as Flight Staff Cadets (FSCs) and further training to instructor categories is possible.

A FSC can achieve a Grade 2 award, which recognises them as a competent solo pilot, a Grade 1 award, allowing them to carry passengers in the air and perform the basic teaching tasks involved in the GIC courses, a C category instructors rating which is a probationary instructor who is qualified to teach the Gliding Scholarship course, and possibly a B category instructors rating which allows them to perform the duties of a 'B cat' explained below, with the exception that they cannot perform the role of duty instructor (DI) who is in control of the days flying and decisions for the time that they are in that role.

Once a cadet reaches 20 years of age, he can no longer be a FSC and must become a Civilian (Gliding) Instructor, CGI, (although a FSC has this option at age 18) or a commissioned officer. Once either of these adult statuses has been gained, 'B cat' and 'A cat' is possible. B cats can carry out AGT flying training. An A cat is able to send first solos, whereas a B cat can only send subsequent solos. Both can perform SCT (Staff Continuation Training) to keep other members of staff well trained and current in their flying categories.


Cadets at all levels of the Air Training Corps have the opportunity to participate in the sport of rifle shooting. Since the ATC was originally a recruiting organisation for the Royal Air Force it made good sense for marksmanship to be on the training syllabus. Shooting remains one of the most popular cadet activities.Cadets have the opportunity of firing a variety of rifles on firing ranges. Cadets first train with and fire either the Lee-Enfield No.8 .22 rifle or .177 air rifles. They can then progress to the L98A2 CGP, a variant of the 5.56 mm L85A2, with the selector switch removed and locked on repetition. The 7.62 mm Parker Hale L81A2 Cadet Target Rifle is also used at long ranges for competition shooting. Although safety has always been the main concern when shooting, with everything done by the book, recent years have seen the introduction of a wider range of training courses for staff involved in shooting to improve quality and safety even further. There are many competitions, from postal smallbore competitions to the yearly Inter-Service Cadet Rifle Meet at Bisley, the home of UK shooting.There are currently four types of marksman award that a cadet can achieve, ranging from "Squadron Marksman" - which although is the lowest marksman is not necessarily the easiest to obtain as 4 groupings are required, through "Wing Marksman" and "Region Marksman", to "Corps Marksman". To achieve these awards the cadet needs to undergo a special shooting "marksman" practice and then achieve a high enough qualifying score depending on the award specified.The Top 100 Cadets in the Bisley competition are awarded with the prestigious "Cadet 100" marksman award.


The Air Cadets, as a uniformed youth organization, sets itself and its members very high standards, including dress and behaviour. Drill (marching) is a vital part of encouraging teamwork. All ATC squadrons practice drill as a means of instilling discipline and teamwork and a means for Officers and NCOs to develop the ability to command and control. It is also used in formal parades, for moving around military bases and moving cadets in a smart, uniform and cadet like manner. There are also drill competitions comprising of: inter-Sqn, Inter-wing and inter Region Exhibition drill competitions. Air cadet drill is taken from Air Cadet Publication 19 (ACP19) which is based on the RAF drill manual (AP818). All drill instruction should be solely conducted by a qualified Drill Instructor. However, as not all units have access to a DI other WOs, SNCO (ATC) and Cadet NCOs will assume this responsibility.

Cadets participate in various forms of drill, some of which include:

  • Static Drill
  • Basic Drill - Quick & Slow Time
  • Banner Drill
  • Ceremonial Parades
  • Band Drill
  • Rifle Drill

Drill & discipline is the responsibility of the WOs and/or NCOs on a squadron. Once a cadet has gained a few years experience and has attained NCO rank, the cadet will pass on their knowledge and experience to other cadets such as instructing cadets how to participate in a drill squad, taking charge of a drill squad or flight or even taking a major part in ceremonial drill such as a Standard Bearer at Remembrance Day Parades.

Adventure Training

Adventure Training forms an essential part of the Air Cadet's training syllabus. As well as helping cadets forge new friendships, adventure training enables all cadets to show off their leadership qualities. Within the ATC there are many opportunities to take part in adventure training, such as hillwalking, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and camping and camouflage & concealment expeditions. All activities of this kind are supervised by appropriately qualified staff (Mountain Leader for Hill walking, British Canoe Union (BCU) instructors for canoeing and kayaking). There are also nationally run courses such as Parachuting, Basic Winter Training and Nordic Skiing to name a few. Adventure training can take place as part of regular squadron parade nights, weekend and week-long centres. There are also two national ATC adventure training camps. NACATC (National Air Cadet Adventure Training Centre) Llanbedr in Snowdoniamarker and NACATC Windermere in the English Lake Districtmarker. Here cadets stay for a week participating in various activities in adventure training.There is a wide ranging Adventure Training syllabus in the ACO - depending on the squadron you attend, you could try your hand at watersports, skiing etc.


Climbing is a highly rewarding sport which exercises all parts of your body, by developing upper body strength through gripping, and encouraging muscular development in the legs through balancing. It also helps boost self-confidence and trust amongst a team within a fun environment. Many squadrons go on climbing trips regularly - a few even have their own climbing walls. All climbing is supervised by professionally qualified instructors (either staff members or employed from the outside.)


Fieldcraft is an exciting part of any squadron's training programme, and the promise of a good exercise is always guaranteed to get good attendance. Fieldcraft is, to put it simply, the art of living and moving in the field. Although the ACO is generally focused on different activities, fieldcraft does play a part in most Squadron's training programmes.

Fieldcraft is taught from a single manual, common to all squadrons, so the basic lessons are very similar across the ATC, however 'Consolidated Practical Training' (CPT) and full exercises differ greatly depending on local resources, staffing and skill levels. Exercises and CPT place emphasis on different aspects of fieldcraft - some might need you and your team to move slowly and quietly, sneaking upon an 'enemy' installation, whilst others need speed as well as stealth, and will require a decision on how much of one to trade off against another.

A generally acknowledged advantage of fieldcraft exercises is that it forces people to use their initiative much more often. A relatively junior member of the Squadron could find themselves in a decision-making position. Fieldcraft is often used by squadrons as a method of assessing cadets' leadership qualities, as it forces cadets to make quick decisions and to effectively lead a team, even if they're unsure of exactly what is going on or what they're supposed to be doing. For this reason, fieldcraft, and leadership during such activities, forms the core of the ATC's Junior Leaders course.


Sport plays a key part in the activities of every squadron. Seven sports are played competitively between squadrons. Cadets who show talent can be selected to represent their Wing, Region or the Corps in competitive matches; these cadets are awarded wing, regional or corps 'Blues'. The main sports played are: Other sports are also played, sometimes in matches between squadrons, including volleyball, five-a-side football, table tennis, etc. Cadets also use various sports to take part in the physical recreation section of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Orienteering in the ATC only came about in 2006 where cadets from the different wings go to the cadet orienteering championships.

Various units send to teams to the annual Nijmegen Vierdaagse Marches where on successful completion of the event they are awarded a medal.

Leadership training

Leadership training is an important part of many squadrons' training programmes, with training available at higher levels too. Most wings run NCO courses, designed to help newly promoted NCOs to perform their duties well, or to train those eligible for promotion. There are also a number of courses run centrally by the ATC, including the Air Cadet Leadership Course and the Junior Leaders course.

Junior Leaders

Junior leaders flash

Cadets over the age of 17 and of the rank of at least Cadet Sergeant can complete a leadership course called Junior Leaders, renowned for being the toughest course in the ACO. Upon completion, the cadet is awarded a maroon lanyard (which replaces the yellow Staff Cadet lanyard on the cadet's uniform) and a green and wedgwood blue DZ Flash for wearing on the DPM uniform.

Duke of Edinburgh's Award

The Air Training Corps is the single largest operating authority of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award system and celebrated its 50th year of providing this opportunity to its cadets in 2006.The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme is a voluntary, non-competitive programme of practical, cultural and adventurous activities for young people aged 14–25.The Award programme consists of three levels, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Each have differing criteria for entry and the level of achievement necessary to complete each award.Air Cadets who meet the age criteria can join the award scheme.

Each award is broken down into four areas (five for gold) which participants must complete successfully to receive their award. These are:

  • Service
Helping others in the local community.
  • Expeditions
Training for, and planning of a journey.
  • Skills
Demonstrate ability in almost any hobby, skill or interest
  • Physical Recreation
Sport, dance and fitness.
  • Residential Project (Gold Award only)
A purposeful enterprise with young people not previously known to the participant.

Cadets are often encouraged to achieve the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards as they progress through their cadet careers. Some cadets aged 16 or over used to be able to participate in the Duke of Edinburgh's Millennium Volunteers Award, this has now been overtaken by another authority and it is currently being reviewed on whether or not cadets will be able to undertake it as it has a new structure.

The Award is widely recognised by employers as it helps demonstrate that award holders are keen to take on new challenges, have a higher level of self confidence than their counterparts, have leadership qualities with the added experience of teamwork.


An extensive range of communication training is offered where appropriately skilled instructors and equipment are available. This can range from hand-held radio operating procedures to long-distance HF radio and networked digital communication, and even encompasses publishing online (such as this Wiki).

The Provisional Radio Operator Certificate is the first step, followed by the Full Radio Operator Certificate. These qualifications have been part of the curriculum since 2000. Cadets are then encouraged to pursue this training further across a range of mediums and technologies. Once a sufficiently broad spectrum of skills have been mastered and validated by the Wing Radio Communications Officer the cadet is awarded the Air Cadet Communicator Certificate and the Communicator Badge, which is worn on the brassard.Communication training provides valuable practical lessons in information handling and management, develops interpersonal skills and meets one of the Corps' prime objectives: 'providing training useful in both civilian and military life'.

Community volunteering

Cadets often volunteer to help at various national and local events. For their services a small payment is usually offered to their squadron's funds. Typical examples of such work includes car parking duties at events and delivering copies of Gateway Magazine to RAF married quarters.

The largest example of cadets involved in volunteer work is at the Royal International Air Tattoo, an annual air display held at RAF Fairfordmarker. Each year several hundred air cadets volunteer to stay on the base in temporary accommodation. During the course of the event they help with duties such as selling programmes, crowd control and clearing litter.


Members of squadron bands are entitled to wear specific badges:

  • A drummer's badge is a drum in white metal, displayed in the middle of the brassard.

An ATC Band
  • A piper's badge depicts a set of pipes in white metal, again displayed in the middle of the brassard.

  • A trumpeter's badge depicts two crossed trumpets in white metal, displayed in the middle of the brassard.

  • An instrumentalist's badge, is a bell lyre in white metal, displayed in the middle of the brassard. An instrumentalist could play one or more of many instruments.

  • A drum/pipe major's badge, composed of four inverted chevrons, surmounted by either a drum or pipes respectively. RAF Blue Drum Major slides are awarded at Corps Marching Band. However, they are only worn on No1 and No2 uniforms during formal band duties at wing, region and corps level and temporarily replace worn rank slides.

The new corps band is 1855 Royton sqaudron

First aid

Many squadrons offer a number of first aid courses, such as the St John Ambulance Young First Aider course. Courses may be provided by individual squadron units, or by the wings and regions. The course can be completed over a weekend, or over a series of parade nights. Either way, the course is assessed by a practical exam, where cadets have to deal with three situations: a conscious, breathing casualty; an unconscious, breathing casualty; and an unconscious non-breathing casualty, involving CPR on a Resusci Anne manekin.

A series of first aid topics are covered during the course such as fainting, bleeding, head injuries and bites and stings. These are taught by qualified staff, often qualified to the level of First Aid at Work. Upon completion, cadets receive a red Young Lifesaver Plus badge for sewing onto the brassard as well as a certificate.

In addition to the Young Lifesavers Plus Course, some cadets have the opportunity to undertake the St John Ambulance Activity First Aid Course, a much more detailed course for more senior cadets over the age of sixteen. Upon completing this course cadets will receive a green Activity First Aid badge for sewing onto the brassard. In the case a cadet already wears a Young Lifesaver Plus badge, the Activity First Aid badge should be sewn in its place. Completion of the Activity First Aid Course trains cadets to the level of first aid required for many adult 'outdoor' qualifications such as the Mountain Leader Award. The qualification also makes it possible for cadets to teach the Young Lifesaver Plus Course to less experienced cadets.

Other awards

Cadets can also qualify for various other BTEC awards through the training that is carried out at their squadrons. There are many additional courses and awards that can be gained.The recognised qualifications are:
  • BTEC Award in Aviation Studies - equivalent to 1 GCSE A-C grade (administered by HQAC).
  • BTEC First Diploma in Public Services - equivalent to 4 GCSEs A-C grades (administered by CVQO).
  • BTEC First Diploma in Music - equivalent to 4 GCSEs A-C grades (administered by CVQO).
  • BTEC Certificate in Aviation Studies - equivalent to 2 GCSEs A-C grades (administered by HQAC)
  • ILM Certificate in Team Leading - Level 2 (administered by CVQO)


ATC Squadrons each have a chance annually to win the two most prized trophies in the Corps. The Sir Alan Lees Trophy is awarded by the Commandant to the Squadron with the best statistics and overall impression when inspected. The Morris Trophy is Awarded from the 6 regional candidates upon inspection by the Commandant.

Sir Alan Lees Trophy
Year Winner Officer Commanding
2008 No. 241 (Wanstead and Woodford) Squadron, London Wing Squadron Leader Jerry Godden RAFVR(T)
2009 No. 610 (Chester) Squadron, Wales and West Region Flight Lieutenant John Kendal RAFVR(T)

The Morris Trophy
Year Winner Officer Commanding
2008 No. 1855 (Royton) Squadron, East Lancashire Wing Flight Lieutenant Mark Hamilton RAFVR(T)
2009 No. 1211 (Swadlincote) Squadron of Central and East Region Flight Lieutenant Alyn Thompson RAFVR(T)

Additionally cadets are open to achieving trophies such as the Foster and Curell Trophies. The Foster Trophy being awarded to the cadet who has achieved the highest academic results in the entire Corps over his/her time in the ATC, after finishing the cadet syllabus that leads to achieving a Btec in Aviation.

Annual camps

The ATC runs numerous Annual camps each year, run on RAF Stations so that cadets may get a taste of service life. Annual camps are organised at Wing level with place for all squadrons, so that every cadet who wishes to take part and who has achieved at least the First Class qualification may attend. Cadets usually stay in RAF barrack blocks and eat in the station's mess facilities. The itinerary is always packed with typical ATC activities such as air experience flying, shooting, adventure training and, of course, drill. Cadets will also have the opportunity to visit various sections of the station and meet the people who work there.

Overseas Camps

For older and more experienced cadets who have achieved the Leading Cadet qualification and attended a UK Annual Camp, the corps also offers overseas camps. These are more expensive than UK camps, as the cost of flights has to be paid for, and are generally more relaxed and seen as a reward for hard working and long serving cadets. Since the end of the Cold War, and the closure of RAF stations in Germany, the number of overseas camp opportunities has decreased. As of 2007 the destinations for overseas camps are:

Work Experience camps

Another - newly introduced - option for more senior cadets are Work Experience Camps - whilst annual camps aim to give cadets a general taste of service life, the Work Experience Camps cater to cadets who are interested in a specific trade, such as the RAF Regiment or RAF Police.

Music camps

There are also specific music camps, which is where a cadet of musical proficiency applies to go on this camp and are selected depending on the musical skill (grades) and their other qualities. The Band Camps are held at RAF College Cranwell, HQ of the ATC. Upon attending a band camp, cadet are rewarded by receiving a gold-coloured band badge, to replace the silver-coloured badges worn by ATC band members.

Other camps

Cadets may also have the opportunity to attend other sorts of annual camp, such as a locally (i.e. wing or squadron) organised camp - often based around Adventure Training or Fieldcraft, or as guests on a camp run by one of the other cadet forces such as the ACF or SCC. Camps based around fieldcraft, survival and requiring the cadets to be in DPMs (No. 3 Uniform) for most of the time spent on the camp, are mostly and affectionately known as 'Greens camps'.


Cadets and some staff wear a uniform similar to that worn by the Royal Air Force for most duties.

See also


  2. The Junior Leaders Association - What is Junior Leaders

External links

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