Wether it be: Flying & Gliding | Adventurous Training | Shooting | DofE Award | Training & Education | Sports | Parades & Drill | Music or any of the many other activities we partake in. This is what it's all about - activities that offer challenge, excitement and adventure and the knowledge you pick up along the way through structured lectures and first-hand experience.
Don't worry about being thrown in at the deep end. You’ll join your local squadron as a trial, when you get to know the other cadets and start basic training. You then get gradually introduced to activities as you progress, so you can make the most of every opportunity that comes your way.
Get out and get active
Cadet life is about learning through practical experience, especially in the great outdoors! Here's a taster of what's in store:
Camping - Work on your survival skills and learn your strengths in a team.
Easter/summer camps - As you advance in rank you can take part in these popular camps held at RAF stations around the UK.
Overseas camps - Spend 10 days in Cyprus with fantastic weather, swimming, sailing, and maybe even see the Red Arrows practise their displays (they train there). Head to Germany where you'll visit a city or cemetery from the First and Second World Wars. You may even get to fly in helicopters - another exciting possibility for cadets.
Adventurous training - A huge part of cadet training. We have two centres, at Windermere in the Lake District and Llanbedr in coastal Wales, both with stunning scenery. Rock climbing, abseiling, high-level hill walking, mountain-biking, canoeing, high rope work and sailing are all par for the course.
Flying is central to our purpose and your cadet experience. You'll have loads of opportunities to take to the skies:
Gliding - Soar to success! There are fantastic opportunities to glide while you are a cadet, with the ultimate goal being a solo flight. Training is in three stages: a Gliding Induction Course (GIC), Gliding Scholarship (GS) and Advanced Gliding Training (AGT).
Air Experience Flights - Feel the thrill of powered flight, with a fully qualified pilot to guide you through taking control of the aircraft yourself. Not only have the opportunity to learn about the flying controls but you’ll experience aerobatics and low level flying too.
Air Cadet Pilot Scheme - The pinnacle of flying as a cadet, for advanced handling. Complete this successfully and you'll be awarded your cadet pilot wings. And if you do exceptionally well you could be recommended for further training which will help towards your Private Pilot's Licence!
Air Cadet Pilot Navigation Training Scheme - A great opportunity to use your navigation skills, this two-week course where you fly for up to eight hours is open to selected cadets. Success will lead to you gaining your 'wings'.
Think you can lead?
You may have more talent for it than you think. Leadership qualities are in all of us and the physically demanding 7-day summer cadet leadership course will help bring them out. Make it through and you’ll be a more confident and responsible cadet having learnt the full benefits of working in and leading a team.
Then, for an extra challenge, you could find yourself at the Cadet Training Centre at Frimley Park in Surrey. All cadet forces throughout the UK (and some from overseas) attend courses there. Really flex your skills and you could come out with a trophy for your achievements.
A key part of the cadet experience is your progress through the training syllabus. Set out in stages for you to work through, it enables you to open up more possibilities for activities, specialist technical training and rank promotion. It's slightly different between the ATC and CCF (RAF) but all cadets take part in lectures and hands-on projects. You also get outdoors and 'actually do it' as much as possible.
We expect a lot from you - it's a serious commitment to be a cadet - but once you've experienced it yourself we know you wouldn't have it any other way.
Flying and gliding
Joining the Air Cadets opens up lots of opportunities, including the chance to fly! It’s our aim to get you airborne as often as possible, as a passenger in a light aircraft, a glider or even on-board RAF aircraft such as our Typhoon fast-jet or a Chinook helicopter.
Get your head in the clouds
There are plenty of opportunities for cadets to get in the air. Air Experience Flights could even see you take to the skies in a Grob Tutor light aircraft.
Stand out from the crowd and you could be put forward for an overseas flight on a Hercules, VC10 or Tri-star. If you’re really lucky you could even join a pilot in one of our fast-jet aircraft or experience the unbeatable exhilaration of a Red Arrows flight!
Adventurous Training is an essential part of the Air Cadet's training syllabus and the place where team effort really matters - you'll build new friendships, and learn to rely on the other people you're with to get the job done. It also lets you show off your leadership qualities.
Something for everyone
Remember, whatever your personal tastes, nothing is compulsory. There is a wide range of adventurous activities to get stuck into, so if climbing isn't for you perhaps canoeing is. Sometimes what's on offer depends on the squadron you attend, but everything you do is supervised by qualified trainers who will ensure you get the most out of it.
Between local activities and visits to camps, you will have the chance to experience kayaking, hill walking, camping, caving, mountain biking, offshore sailing and winter sports to name just a few.
Whatever level you are as a cadet, you'll have the opportunity to try your hand at military skills and drills including shooting.
At close range
Marksmanship goes a long way back in the history of Air Cadets and is one of our most popular activities. Think you can concentrate on distant targets and fire with consistent accuracy? It's not easy. It requires focus, concentration and a very steady hand.
We’ll teach you to handle a variety of weapons safely. Basic firing is always done lying on your stomach (the prone position) at static targets. Progress through the syllabus and you'll experience different types of weapons, firing positions and could even take part in shooting competitions if you really prove your skills.
Ranges come in different shapes and sizes but all are in controlled conditions with full training on any weapon that you handle - safety is our top priority. To start with you'll be firing at targets that are fairly close - around 25m away. As you advance through weapons and your skill builds, you will fire at targets 100m or more away
You may of heard of the DofE (Duke of Edinburgh) Award, but don't know what it is or whether it's for you. Well, it's for everyone who likes a challenge. Their mission is simple - 'to inspire, guide and support young people in their self-development, and recognise their achievements'.
To put it another way, they help you succeed. With the same sense of adventure that drew you to the Air Cadets in the first place, the DofE takes you through a programme of activities that will leave you a more confident, motivated and capable person.
We're proud to be the DofE Award's largest participant.
Taking it to the next level
If you're 14 or over, then you can begin - just ask the instructors in your squadron and they'll help you get started. For more information now on everything DofE, follow any of the links on this page to visit their official website.
There are three levels which, when successfully completed, lead to a Bronze, Silver or Gold DofE Award. And it's never too late to get in on the action - depending on your age you may be able to jump straight in at Silver or Gold level!
There are four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold:
Volunteering - Get involved providing services to individuals or the community and make a difference to other people's lives.
Physical - Get active and improve your skills and fitness in sport, dance or other physical activities - it's your choice
Skills - Find new interests and get new talents (or perfect existing ones), with increased practical and social skills
Expedition - Get outdoors and plan, train for and complete an adventurous journey in the UK or abroad - an unbeatable experience
Residential - Only at Gold level. Getting to the Gold level is a big deal and this last stage could see you going to another country, sharing tasks and activities with people you've never met. It'll test your mettle, and set you up for what life throws at you in the future
Go for Gold!
It's not a walk in the park. You'll get your DofE Award through persistence and commitment - but as an Air Cadet you'll already know all about that. Over time you'll develop personally and welcome each new challenge. At the end of it all you'll have the world’s leading achievement award for young people under your belt, recognised by employers and universities alike.
But there's one person who'll truly appreciate that achievement the most - you.
For more information visit http://www.dofe.org/.
Training and education
Aside from all the great experiences and new skills you'll gain as an air cadet, you can also take away real qualifications that will set you apart from the crowd when you head to university or begin your chosen career.
For starters there's the Duke of Edinburgh Award that employers everywhere recognise as a great achievement. You can take on the challenge as part of your adventurous training, working your way up through the levels all the way to Gold - something to be really proud of.
But did you know there's also:
Leadership training, where you can really prove your worth as leader - a skill that will build your confidence and your ability to deal with different kinds of people. If you can handle it you could get to the Junior Leaders course - it's gruelling but what you get out of it will be invaluable to you for the rest of your life.
BTECs are always popular and a widely recognised qualification - more than 4,000 cadets have registered for the First Diploma in Public Services and over 6,000 have signed up for the First Diploma in Aviation Studies. There's also the increasingly popular First Diploma in Performing Arts (Music) for budding musicians.
First Aid is another essential skill you can pick up - train in this important area and you may be awarded a certificate from St Johns Ambulance. If those skills were called upon you could make all the difference in a life or death situation.
City & Guilds - cadets can also benefit from certain vocational qualifications in management, as can our volunteers
Feeling competitive? As an air cadet you can take part in seven main sports at different levels - athletics, cross country, football, rugby, hockey, netball and swimming. Whatever you do it'll help improve your physical fitness levels and your team skills. If you're good enough at your favourite sport we'll notice, and can help you take it to the next level.
There are frequent tournaments between squadrons, where the best players are selected to represent the wing. The same then happens for the region, with wings competing against each other and the best players making up the regional team. If you make it through each of those selections then you're good. Really good. You'll be at the top of your game and will have a shot at representing the entire cadet corps, nationally and even internationally.
Work hard, play hard
Mixing work and play is at the heart of the Air Cadets. Getting stuck into sport is fun, and you'll build friendships and learn how to use your strengths to best effect in a team. And it doesn't stop at the sports we've mentioned.
Each squadron runs loads of different sport activities. These could include 5-a-side, table tennis, volleyball, racquet sports or many others. You'll be playing for fun but we'll encourage you to unleash your competitive side. Don't worry if you don't think sport is your strength. You don't have to be the next Olympic star, just take the opportunities and enjoy yourself!
Parade and drill
What's the point of drill and parade? You may think it doesn't have much to do with things like adventurous training, or leadership. That's not the case at all! It shows how disciplined and organised you can be as an individual, remembering instructions and carrying them out accurately. More importantly, it shows your ability to work in a team and is a way of displaying the high standards of dress and behaviour which air cadets are renowned for.
When a group of twenty cadets walk on to a parade square they are all individuals, but as soon as a session of drill begins the cadets become a team, following the orders given by one person. Instead of twenty individual feet hitting the ground, there is only one sound. This is the result of practice and teamwork.
Drill is also used when you are moving around in large groups in a smart, orderly fashion. Whatever the reason for a drill it's an impressive sight and shows civilians and members of the Forces just how well disciplined you are.
As a cadet you'll participate in various forms of drill, such as:
Basic Drill (both quick & slow time)
With a few years experience, and if you've attained a Non-Commissioned Officer rank, you could pass on your knowledge and experience to other cadets, instructing them on how to participate in a drill squad, taking charge of a drill squad yourself, or even playing a major part in ceremonial drill. Being a Standard Bearer at a Remembrance Day parade is a real moment of pride and achievement for a cadet.
Do you have a flair for music? It plays a popular role in the life of cadets and playing as part of your squadron band is highly rewarding - competition for places is usually strong. Our aims are to introduce you to music within the cadets, provide you with musical instruction and the opportunity to play in our bands. The Squadron has its own sucessful band that can often be seen performing at local events or leading parades in the borough.
Getting involved in music is a great way of socialising and of promoting the ACO wherever you play to the public. If you show real talent you could take your playing to the next level in wing or regional bands or even the National Marching Band which is being formed over the next year. Ultimately, you could join the National Concert Band - where our best players perform at public events often at some very prestigious locations, including Buckingham Palace!
Every year Music Camps are arranged at all levels of the organisation. The first Air Cadet National Concert Band camp of the year usually takes place during the school half-term holiday in February. The Camp is arranged by Air Cadets HQ and takes the form of a week’s work experience with one of the two professional RAF Bands based at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire: the Band of the RAF College or the Band of the RAF Regiment. Sharing a stage with the best musicians in the RAF is a priceless experience! Throughout the remainder of each year further Concert Band camps take place, normally linked to a specific event. In addition, Marching Band camps take place (again linked to specific events) where our best musicians are given the opportunity of demonstrating their skills to the public. The musical year culminates with a competition to find the best solo performers, ensembles and marching bands in the organisation. Competition is fierce for those wanting to prove that they are the best! You can also do a BTEC in Music and turn your fun and talent into a formal qualification.
You may already be good at an instrument, but don't worry if you're new to playing music - if you have talent we'll help you make the most of it. Here are some standard band instruments (but we cater for other instruments too - for instance, there's also an Air Cadet String Quartet):
Cornets & Trumpets
Taking to the stage and representing your squadron, or playing at parades, is a vital part of the cadet experience, and if you've never played an instrument before, this is your chance to chalk up another skill that air cadets can help you discover and make the most of.