Probationer – When you start as a cadet, you will initially join as a probationer. The initial part of your training will introduce you to the Air Cadet Organisation, teach you basic foot drill and you will be measured up for you uniform. To start off you will be provided with a set of oh so flattering overalls but once we are confident you are going to stay you will be issued with a uniform, and you will have guidance on how to care for it.
First Class Cadet is your first level of training and starts off gently. The main purpose of the First Class Cadet is to make sure that you have basic knowledge of a variety of subjects to enable you to take part in the varied activities away from the squadron. Alongside this classroom training you will also be taught how to complete basic drill movements. Subjects covered include: History of the ATC, History of the RAF, Airmanship, History of Flight, Basic Map Reading, The Basics of Radio Communication, First Aid, Drill and Initial Expedition Training. At this stage there is no formal exam but your instructor will question you to ensure you understand the subjects you have been taught. When you have completed these subjects you will be presented with the First Class Cadet badge for your uniform.
After completing your First Class Cadet you will move on to more advanced subjects. The Leading Cadet syllabus builds on what you have learnt during the First Class Cadet training. Taking longer to complete you will study less subjects but these will be in more detail. It will take around 1 year to complete the Leading Cadet syllabus and you will be required to sit a multiple choice examination at the end of each subject. The subjects you will cover are: Basic Nav, Principles of Flight and Airmanship II.
Basic navigation concentrates on how to read a map and complete route cards effectively. This subject is useful when planning your Duke of Edinburgh expedition and when taking part in adventure training activities. This section will involve you using maps to create routes; you may even be able to walk the routes you have planned.
Principles of flight show you how a ‘jumbo jet’ is capable of staying in the air even with its massive weight. The Principles of Flight subject covers the science of flight and will also show you why gliders can fly without and engine and how a helicopter stays in the air.
Finally Airmanship II covers how airfields operate, from small grass runways to how Heathrow can cope with so many aircraft. This section also covers how to recognize different RAF aircraft and the roles they fulfill.
You will sit a multiple choice exam for each subject. Once you have passed all three you will be awarded the Leading Cadet Badge.
As you progress with your training you will move onto more complex subjects. The Air Cadet training program is designed to challenge you. Again this level can take up to 12 months to complete and you will sit a multiple choice exam at the end of each subject. The subjects covered are Piston Engine Theory, Gas Turbine Theory and Aircraft Handling.
Piston engine theory and Gas Turbine Theory speak for themselves. Aircraft Handling is a more in-depth look at aircraft operations and maintenance. These exams are aimed at future instructors so as you can imagine they are not easy. Once again the exam is a multiple choice paper. There are other subjects available however they are specialized and tend to be for cadets who want to go down a particular career path. On completion of this level of training you will be awarded the Senior Cadet Badge for your uniform.
The final level of your academic training is the Master Air Cadet Badge. This level of study is of the same complexity as at Senior level and requires you to pass a further three exams not covered at Senior Level. Again you will need to sit a multiple choice exam for each subject and on successful completion you will be awarded the Master Air Cadet Badge.
The final classification you can achieve is Instructor Air Cadet. This does not involve formal examinations, but does require attendance upon a Method of Instruction Course, followed by a consolidation period and assessment. This will qualify you to teach other cadets various aspects of the Air Cadet syllabus. Unlike the earlier classifications, you obtain a lanyard as opposed to a badge. This makes instructor cadets very distinct and shows they have completed the full level of academic training available to them.
The Air Cadet Junior Leaders (JL) Course is a training course for 17-20 year old, Master Air Cadets. The course aims to develop leadership and other important skills within the cadets, both for use in military and civilian life. The Junior Leaders is a national organisation supported by the RAF, the RAF Regiment and carries the Institute of Leadership Management (ILM) and Heart Start First Aid qualifications for its graduates. The course takes place over nine training weekends between September and the following Easter during which time the cadets will complete a program of formal training covering subjects as diverse as weapon handling, leadership theory, Mess etiquette, practical leadership skills along with physical fitness training and assessment. Cadets are expected to attend every weekend as well as working in between training periods by preparing lectures, and improving their fitness. As well as continual assessment during the training weekends cadets will need to pass exams at the end of each Phase and will be “relentlessly tested” during the week-long third phase, most of which is spent in the field. On completion of the course, graduates are awarded the JL Lanyard to wear on their uniform and the prestigious JL DZ flash to be worn on the Soldier 95 uniform.
The Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course is aimed at high caliber cadet who wish to be aerospace instructors within the Air Training Corps. Once qualified they can instruct on a squadron or at at a regional activity center. Each course starts in early September with a selection weekend. This is followed by six training weekends culminating in a Graduation week just before Easter. The training weekends consist of eight modules. The course is demanding and requires the students to build on the work during the training weekends to develop presentations and study additional subjects. It requires self discipline and determination. but is great fun and very rewarding. Successful cadets achieve a qualification recognized by the Institute of Leadership and Management who award an ILM Level 2 Certificate, and The Royal Aeronautical Society who offer affiliated membership. Cadets are awarded a blue lanyard to wear on their uniforms.