To become an officer in the Air Cadets you generally first join as a civilian instructor or serve as a senior non-commissioned officer to gain experience. After 3-6 months you are interviewed by your Squadron Commander and then go before a Commissioning Board at Regional HQ. When you take the Queen's Commission in the Training Branch of the RAF Volunteer Reserve you are given an RAF uniform with VR(T) on the shoulder.
You will be attached to a squadron and you will be expected to attend for at least 12 hours per month. Normally squadrons meet twice a week, perhaps between 7-9pm on a Monday and a Thursday - but the days and times vary according to each unit. As a volunteer you can claim up to 28 days remuneration plus travel and subsistence expenses.
You will be expected to attend the Officers’ Initial Course at RAF College Cranwell, Lincolnshire within your first year and the Officers’ Senior Course at a later date. The courses are geared towards developing your leadership skills.
You can also gain qualifications in mountain leadership, First Aid, NVQs and attend courses in corporate communications and shooting range management.
Promotion can take you through the ranks from Pilot Officer and Flying Officer to Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader and even Wing Commander. (The substantive rank is Flying Officer and the others are acting ranks). As your Air Cadet career progresses you may be offered a position on the Wing or Region staff.
On your squadron you will develop your leadership skills, help on routine parade nights with a range of activities and with the ACO’s well respected academic syllabus. You may also take cadets aged 13-20 on adventure training activities at numerous locations including at our centres in Llanbedr, Wales and Windermere, Cumbria.
You will help cadets with their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, music and sport and accompany them to flying and gliding schools. You might even have the chance to take to the skies yourself!
The ATC runs camps across the UK and in Germany, Cyprus and Gibraltar as well as expeditions to far flung regions such as Mongolia, Iceland and South America. Each year a handful of adult volunteers is chosen to accompany cadets on the International Air Cadet Exchange to 15 countries including New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, the USA and Canada, so there may be the opportunity for you to travel.
Rest assured wearing a VR(T) uniform is a non-combatant role and does not mean you can be deployed to a war zone - your job is to train the Next Generation of air cadets!