Join as A Cadet
So, are you ready to take the first step towards all the opportunities and benefits that the air cadets can offer you?
It's important to know that we're not a recruiting organisation for the Services (but it's great if you decide you want to join later on). We're not interested in anything but you and your potential, and will help you get the most from your experience as a cadet.
Worried about fitting in? Equality is a central part of the Air Cadets ethic. The cadet experience is open to everyone, so whatever your nationality, background or ability, whether you're male or female, if you're between 13 and 17 years old you can join us.
The maximum age for entry is 17 years old, therefore you can request to join us anytime between your 13th and 18th birthday. If you don't fit into that age group and still want to enjoy all of our activities and more, you could join as a volunteer. Find out more on in our Volunteer Section.
What's in it for you? Aside from flying, sports, target shooting, adventure training and great fun? You'll soon find that being an air cadet is its own reward - you constantly see the benefits of your own efforts, building on your achievements and earning BTECs and DoE Awards. You'll be expected to take part in as many of the activities we run as possible, but with what's on offer you won't need much persuading!
We have high standards to maintain as we are a 'military' youth organisation and you'll naturally take pride in your uniform (we supply that) and appearance. You'll be well mannered and self-disciplined. You'll be joining an organisation of which you'll be very proud.
What are you waiting for! We welcome personal visits by potential cadets (ideally accompanied by a parent or guardian), during one of their Parade Nights these are held twice a week on Tues and Thurs 7:30pm to 9:30pm. Just come along and see if you like it - you don't have to join, but at least check out what you might be missing.
We will discuss what they do, and answer any questions you or your parents/guardians may have.
Don't be shy about taking that first step - it may be the best thing you've ever done.
Information for Parents
Why air cadets? It's a fair question, but ask anyone who has taken part as a cadet, adult volunteer or parent and you'll know how special the organisation is. It offers young people from all walks of life a chance to get active, learn new skills and make new friends in an inspirational and safe environment.
It doesn't interfere with their school responsibilities and cadets take an invaluable set of experiences and strong personal ethics with them when they leave that they can put to good use at university or in the career of their choosing. It's true that some cadets do take up a career within the Services, but there is no liability for them to join up after leaving the organisation. Their personal development as confident and spirited young people is our main aim.
Under the guidance of our fully qualified volunteer staff well offer your son or daughter many activities to take part in and every opportunity to build their strengths and improve their confidence. We hope that they stay with us for several years and thoroughly enjoy their membership - our volunteer staff are always on hand to assist parents with any questions or concerns.
We ask parents for as little as possible. We provide most of the kit and encourage cadets to be self-sufficient and keep their uniform in good order themselves. Don't be upset if they ask you not to iron their shirt as there is a certain way of doing it and they are encouraged to handle it themselves! However, you are responsible for their uniform, which is valued at around £200 and is issued on loan - it should only be used for air cadet activities and must be returned at the end of their time with us.
Footwear is not included, so shoes or boots will need to be provided. Beyond this, your responsibility is mainly for getting your son or daughter to the squadron promptly for meetings and supporting them as they progress. However, any further involvement is always gratefully received.
All organisations need funding. We are luckier than most as the RAF provide the money for uniforms, premises, flying and several other activities. Each cadet provides a small subscription of approximately $12 a month, which goes towards funding the many activities that they undertake. National and international camps and expeditions may lead to extra costs - but we will always keep these to a minimum. We want the organisation to be available to everyone and staff are happy to discuss cost-related issues with parents at any time.
The squadron must provide the rest of the required funding, primarily through the fundraising efforts of the Civilian Committee that each has. We're always looking for parents who are keen to get involved with their squadron's Committee or would like to become a volunteer!
Join as an adult volunteer
Over 20? Seeking a new challenge? Would you like to develop skills, leadership qualities and gain qualifications too?
At Air Cadets, we constantly assess our past achievements, implement changes to meet the challenges of today and make plans for the future. And a huge part of that planning is you. As the backbone of our organisation we're always on the look out for high-calibre individuals to become volunteers, helping to run the activities that play such an important role in the lives of our young members.
All kinds of people make up our volunteer staff, coming from a range of backgrounds and interests. Obviously if you have direct experience of working with young people, or any relevant skills such as flying or gliding, you would be particularly welcome. These aren't essential though, as we will train and support you at every stage.
That said, you'll have some personal qualities that are essential, such as patience, maturity and responsibility along with an understanding of young people and their needs. You needn't be an athlete, but a good level of physical fitness also helps to ensure you can keep up with the cadets!
Are you Officer or SNCO material?
We rely on our volunteers to help us operate as effectively as possible. Being well organised is an obvious must, ideally with good managerial and administrative skills, and an ability to listen to problems and deal with them tactfully and appropriately.
Really show your skills in these areas and you could end up taking on more responsibility and moving up through the ranks as an officer or senior non-commissioned officer (SNCO). Of course, first you have to join as a Civilian Instructor and then have selection interviews at Wing HQs and Regional HQs but we guide you through that, if you have the potential then well spot it!