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In the Air Cadets

Get involved with the Air Cadets


In the air cadets

Prop planes, jet fighters, helicopters – aircraft are pretty cool. If aviation is something you’re interested in, then did you know you can get involved with the Air Cadets?

The Air Cadets are a UK-wide organisation with more than 40,000 members aged 12 to 20. They provide activities and courses to get young people interested in aviation as well as helping develop skills that are useful in any sphere of life.

And not forgetting the fun! If you like tackling adventures and challenges, then you certainly won’t be bored! So where did it all start? Let’s find out out.

The history of the air cadets

We are lucky to live in relatively peaceful times – our country isn’t at risk of being invaded like it has been in the past. It was a very different story one hundred and fifty years ago…

Now whilst schools began forming armed and uniformed units of adults and boys in the mid 1800s, it wasn’t until the 1930s when the first bespoke RAF units appeared in the form of ‘Officer Training Corp Air Sections’. The idea for creating the Air Cadets as we know them today came from Air Commodore J Chamier.

He’d been in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War – a time when pilots had very little training indeed – and wanted to both get British people aware of the RAF and its vital role in any future war, and to also encourage young people to consider a career in aviation.

The cadets during World War 2

This was pretty exciting at a time when very few people ever got the chance to fly. In 1938 the Air Defence Cadet Corps was founded – and demand for places was very high with squadrons set up across the UK.

During World War II, with many instructors drafted into the RAF, cadets worked on RAF stations carrying messages, handling aircraft and moving equipment. They also filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition. Phew – what tough work!

What you can do as an air cadet

As you might expect, flying is a key part of being an Air Cadet, and there’s loads of opportunities to take to the skies. You might start out in gliders, with the ultimate goal of making a solo flight. You can also feel the thrill of powered flight, with a fully qualified pilot to guide you through taking control of the aircraft yourself.

Once you’ve mastered basic flying controls, you never know – you could try your hand at aerobatics and low level flying!

It doesn’t have to be all about flying – there’s plenty of practical outdoor activities to experience, from learning survival skills and the proper use of these top bowie knives, to team building at camp either on a RAF base in the UK or even overseas. You may even get to fly in helicopters. Want more? Well, what about rock climbing, abseiling, high-level hill walking, mountain-biking, canoeing, high rope work or sailing.

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Life in the Armed Forces

Find out about Life in the Armed Forces

More From Life in the Armed Forces