About the Air Cadets

Who we are:

Are you up for fun, adventure, incredible experiences and making new friends? Are you looking for something to give you the edge in life? Then welcome to the RAF Air Cadets. Better known as the ‘Air Cadets’, we’re a UK-wide cadet force with more than 40,000 members aged between 12 and 20 years.

We’re sponsored by the Royal Air Force and can give you hands-on experience of activities and courses that will challenge and develop your skills to help you succeed in whatever you want to do. HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is also our Honorary Air Commandant!

The RAF Air Cadets is made up of two areas:

  • Air Training Corps – The ATC is the RAF’s cadet force, divided into six regions, 34 wings and more than 900 squadrons within communities around the UK
  • Combined Cadet Force (RAF) – The CCF (RAF) is our section of the CCF which is made up of cadets from all three services, coming together in approximately 200 independent and state schools across the country

Our aims are to:

  • Promote and encourage a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force among young people
  • Provide training which will be useful in the Services and civilian life
  • Encourage the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship

And there’s one more important thing – it’s a lot of fun!


Ready for a challenge?

As a cadet you’ll have the opportunity to do things that others only dream about. Want real flight experience? No problem. How about heading out on adventurous training and camps, sometimes overseas? Normal for cadets. Competitive sports, drill, shooting, music, abseiling, engineering projects? Our list of activities is long, varied and open to all cadets. Yes it’s a challenge, but that’s what life’s all about.


Get a head start:

We are not a recruiting organisation for the RAF but if you’re thinking about a Service career, cadet membership will put you ahead of the competition. Many cadets go on to great success in the RAF (and the other Services). Around 40% of officers and 50% of all aircrew (including pilots, navigators and engineers) in the RAF now are ex-cadets. Research shows that they do better in basic training and stay in the Service longer than their colleagues. Likewise, if you chose a civilian career our research proves you can go on the great things…employers just love the skills and experience that air cadets offer.

Let’s face it – where else would you be given the opportunity to fly solo in a glider or powered aircraft when you’re 17? Whatever you do with your life, at the end of your time as a cadet you’ll be self-motivated, confident and ready for anything.


Our History:

The Air Training Corps was formed on 5th February 1941, and this year we are celebrating out 75th Anniversary!

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It was a simple enough idea. The Second World War was on the horizon and if aircraft were to be used as a major combat strength, then the RAF would need a serious amount of combat-ready pilots and competent support crew to keep them in the air.

That idea came from Air Commodore J A Chamier, now known as the father of the Air Cadet Organisation. He served in the army, the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF in 1919 (not long after it formed). With his love for aviation, he was determined to get British people aware of the RAF and its vital role in any future war. He wanted to establish an air cadet corps, encouraging young people to consider a career in aviation – pretty exciting at a time when very few people ever got the chance to fly. His experience in World War I, where training time was very limited, convinced him that the sooner training began the better prepared and experienced a person would be in combat.

So, in 1938 the Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) was founded. Demand for places was high and squadrons were set up in as many towns around the UK as possible. Local people ran them and each squadron aimed to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm (the Royal Navy’s aircraft division). They also helped form the diverse programme of activities that our cadets enjoy today.

Towards the end of 1940, the government realised the value of the cadet force and took control of the ADCC. It reorganised and renamed it, and on the 5th February 1941 the Air Training Corps was officially established with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief.

The organisation has gone from strength to strength over the last few decades. Girls were able to join from the early 1980s, helping to bring more people together to enjoy everything that Air Cadet life has to offer.


For further information see the main Air Cadet site