The Air Training Corps (ATC) was formed in 1941, as a progression from the ADCC (Air Defence Cadet Corps) whose aims had been to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm. Since its inception there have been many changes, not least the decision to allow girls to enter the corps in 1980, but the aims of today are very much in line with those aims of earlier years:
- To promote and encourage among young people a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.
- To provide training which will be useful in the Services and civilian life.
- To foster the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship
Our role is not to act as a recruiting sergeant for the armed forces. We do develop a strong sense of service among our cadets and today many of our cadets do move on to careers that support society. Many front line fast jet pilots are ex cadets, but many more develop careers in the public and private sectors, from politics to teaching and nursing.
We are one of the county’s largest youth organizations and made up of young adults between the ages of 12 and 20, both male and female and totalling almost 40,000 cadets. With these main principles forming a basis to all we do, the syllabus for a new cadet is wide ranging and should provide both physical and mental challenges throughout their time with us.
All cadets follow a set syllabus of classification training, a set of aviation related subjects that build on their interests and broaden horizons. Ultimately, completion of the syllabus leads to the award of a BTEC in Aviation Studies.
The first rank is Cadet, this is the starting point and all cadets begin here. After this cadets advance up the rank system based upon merit, leadership ability, communication skills and many other skills they show or possess. There are no formal examinations taken as promotion is determined by the squadron Commanding Officer, up to the rank of Cadet Sergeant. For promotion to Cadet Flight Sergeant, a Wing Staff Officer will normally interview the candidate, to determine their knowledge of the ATC, their Wing, Squadron and assess their ability to become a Flight Sergeant.
For those cadets who are 18 or over, the rank badge also includes the words "Staff Cadet" to show that they are older cadets. Also cadets over 18 years old are eligible for promotion to Staff Cadet Warrant Officer, the highest rank a cadet can obtain. This is a Wing appointment and is only granted after an interview with the cadets Wing Commander, following a formal recommendation by their Commanding Officer.