Frequently Asked Questions
We get asked loads of questions about the Air Cadets, so to make it easier we've complied a list of the most popular questions on here. If you want to know something that is not listed, then don't hesitate to get in touch with us.
What sort of activities do the air cadets do?
We get to do a huge variety of activities such as flying, gliding, target shooting, adventure training, sports, camps, drill, academic studies and lots of other things. There's never a dull moment.
How old must I be to join?
You can join when you're 12 and currently in Year 8 at school, we will only accept cadets once they have begun this year at school, usually in September. You can remain a cadet until you're 20. You can however only become a cadet between the ages of 12 and 17 (not inclusive), you must join before your 17th birthday.
How many times a week does the ATC meet?
We meet twice a week, Squadrons meet on different days of the week, contact your local Squadron for more information.
How long does an Air Cadet session last as I have homework and other commitments?
Each parade lasts around two and a half hours. This gives you plenty of time to complete homework and to deal with other commitments.
Is there a good balance between the exciting activities and more serious disciplined activities?
Yes, there are lots of opportunities to do fun activities as well as the more serious side of things, but the focus is always on enjoying yourself while improving your skills.
What sort of expeditions can be done through the Air Cadets?
There are a huge amount of expedition opportunities, some overseas, but the most well known and popular option is the Duke of Edinburgh Award which entails overnight expeditions. They're great fun. But there are lots of other expeditions that pop up regularly.
Do I have to buy my own uniform? If so, does it cost a lot?
No, the uniform is free but you have to look after it. You may have to buy your own shoes & boots though!
Is it easy to get on with people and make new friends?
Yes! Everyone is very friendly and you always feel welcome. As we’re all cadets we have loads in common.
How often do you get to go flying?
You can go at least a couple of times a year but as some cadets focus on other activities sometimes you can fly much more frequently, it’s fantastic!
What about disabled people - can they join?
Absolutely! If you're disabled you are very welcome provided your handicap doesn't prevent you from taking part in a reasonable number of activities, or is likely to cause you safety problems. Your local squadron staff will be happy to speak to you about this.
Can anyone be a volunteer?
We welcome all responsible adults (aged 20 years upwards), of any gender, from all social backgrounds, cultures and religions. You don't need to have any prior military experience, just enthusiasm and commitment.
I have a full time job / home to run / children. How can I spare the time for voluntary work?
Most of our volunteers have busy lives too, and many of them work full time. Most activities take place in the evenings and at weekends, and no-one's expected to take part in everything. Many people get involved initially because their children are cadets - they start off helping out informally at events and open days. As long as you can spare a few hours a week, you'll be made very welcome.
It sounds very energetic. Do I need to be really fit?
We like our volunteers to be reasonably fit so they can join in the physical activities, but other qualities are equally important. We need people who can deal with paperwork and homesick cadets at camp just as much as someone who can hike across the hills with them.
I'm retired but I'd enjoy working with youngsters. Is there an age limit?
There is no upper age limit as a civilian instructor, although uniformed officers retire at 55. Many of our volunteers are retired or semi-retired, which gives them more time to spend with us.
Do I need to have experience of working with children?
No, but you do need an understanding of the needs of teenagers. So if you are a parent with children or have had any contact with the children of friends or family, you will have some idea of what's required. Obviously, if you have any direct experience, such as teaching or sports training, you will have an advantage.
What happens if I join and then find it doesn't suit me?
This kind of work doesn't suit everyone, but when you join us you will be given every opportunity to find a role that you feel happy with. We are particularly keen to ensure that you are suited to and happy with your role, as your enthusiasm can directly impact on the cadets.
Will I need to have a police check?
Yes. Anyone who works with children must be willing to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (formally CRB) check. This is a legal requirement and can take about three months, so until it is complete you will not be able to take sole charge of cadets. You'll be training during this period anyway so your progress won't be affected.
Will I be paid?
You will be provided with all the necessary equipment for your role, including special clothing and uniform where applicable. As an officer or non-commissioned officer you can, however, claim for up to 28 days’ volunteer allowance. Don't forget, you'll experience many activities and training opportunities, all for free!
I'd like to meet new friends too. Is there a social side to it?
Yes! The civilian committee on each squadron will be busy organising all sorts of social events, some to raise funds for the cadets and some just for fun. Most people are surprised to find that as well as enjoying the work they make a lot of new friends and have a great social time when they join as an adult volunteer. Some have even found their future husbands and wives this way!