Air Training Corps (ATC) FAQ

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Friday June 23rd, 2017
Frequently Asked Questions (and answers!)
These questions & answers are based on the questions we are most regularly asked.

If you have questions not covered here, then please contact your local Squadron or Wing who will be happy to help. And please remember, each Squadron is run independently and so you need to confirm all details with your local Squadron. Information given here is for guidance only.

Please use our Air Cadets Squadron Finder to find and contact your local Squadron or Wing.
  1. How old must my son or daughter be to join the ATC?
  2. Is there a maximum age for ATC cadets?
  3. Does the ATC accept both boys and girls?
  4. How much does joining the ATC cost?
  5. Do I have to pay for the ATC/Air Cadets uniform?
  6. How many ATC uniforms are there?
  7. How much do the Squadron activities cost?
  8. On which nights does the Squadron meet?
Okay, so how do I go about joining the ATC?
So if you've read all the details, hopefully had your questions answered by our FAQ and are now interested in joining, what should you do next?

First, you should realise that each Squadron is run independently by the local staff and committee, therefore some details will vary by Squadron.

1. Decide which Squadron you'd like to join
Decide which Squadron is near and convenient for you. Different Squadrons parade (meet) on different nights of the week and so 'convenient' may be a combination of location & distance as well as parade nights.

To find a local Squadron use our Air Cadets Squadron Finder. This offers you the option of searching for Squadrons in ascending distance from a postcode you provide...probably of where you live. At the moment we do not list individual Squadron's parade nights; you'll need to ask the Squadron.

2. Contact your selected Squadron
Then for each Squadron we try and provide an address, phone number, Email, website and location map. However, we don't have full details for every Squadron and so some Squadrons may prove easier to contact than others - not all Squadrons may have an Email contact for instance.

You should realise that often phone numbers go to the Squadron buildings which may only be occupied during parade evenings and so you may have to leave a message or if there's no answer phone, try calling in evenings (Tue, Wed & Thu are popular evenings, 7:30pm onwards). ATC staff are all volunteers with 'real jobs' and so even Email may take a few days for people to read and reply to.

3. If you can't contact the Squadron directly
If you have problems contacting the Squadron or there simply aren't sufficient contact details listed, then against each Squadron we list the parent Wing (under the 'u:' for 'unit entry). ATC Wings are permanently manned and each has both Email and phone contact details. The Wing should ber able to assist you and put you in contact with the appropriate Squadron.

4. Are there waiting lists & entry dates?
Some Squadrons are very popular and may have waiting lists and specific joining dates. Other Squadrons will have space and can welcome new recruits at any time. It all depends upon the local area and size of the Squadron facilities and numbers of staff.

5. What happens next?
Usually you'll be invited to visit the Squadron on a day agreed with the local staff. This might be the next parade evening or it might be on the next induction day; it all depends upon the local Squadron.

Both you and your son or daughter will then be given some background information about the Corps, its aims and the opportunities it provides cadets and can then decide whether they wish to stay for the evening. Often a Squadron will offer a new recruit a number of weeks trial where they can decide whether they enjoy attendance and so wish to formally enrol.

6. Enrolment
New cadets do then pass through a formal enrolment ceremony, gain their '3822' booklet in which they record their attendance and activities completed and are provided a set of uniforms. Your local Squadron will be able to provide you full details of their own enrolment process.
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Cadets must be 13 or at age 12 when beginning school year 8 (England & Wales), S2 (Scotland) or Year 9 (Northern Ireland). See 'Join as a Cadet' on the ACO website for full details.

Our age restrictions are due insurance reasons and so sadly the Corps is unable to vary these entrance age requirements.

Cadets cannot join after their 17th birthday and typically cadets join aged 13-15.
Cadets usually leave on or before their 18th birthday although in some circumstances cadets may continue until their 20th birthday. At age 20 many apply to become a Civilian or even uniformed instructor, thereby remaining with the Corps.

Adult members of the ATC, be they Civilian or uniformed, can start on their 20th birthday, consequently, things need not come to an end once the maximum cadet age of 20 is reached.
Yes, the Air Training Corps is open to both boys and girls. The skills learned are equally useful to both and certainly the grins after the flying events are equally wide.

To make the point about equal opportunities, the Diss Squadron recently had a female cadet awarded one of a handful of ATC flying scholarship leading to her become a qualified Gliding Scholarship (GS) pilot and completing 12 hours tuition in powered aircraft all as part of the Air Cadet Pilot scheme.
Each Squadron is run by a local civilian management committee, usually made up of parents of cadets. The subscriptions are set by the local committee and will be based on the costs of running the Squadron. Consequently there is no fixed universal fee - different Squadron's may have slightly differing costs.
This all said, it is likely costs will be in the region of £1-2 per week and often the first few weeks are free so that your son or daughter can decide whether they enjoy the Air Cadets before committing you to any expense. However, remember each Squadron is run by its own committee and so you should contact your local Squadron for accurate details.

Please use our ATC Squadron Finder to find and contact your local Squadron or Wing.
No. Cadets receive two and sometimes three uniforms which are provided free-of-charge and which are returnable in good condition.

However, note that not all Squadrons are able to provide 'greens' (Number 3 uniform) and so a cadet may need to provide their own 'greens' (obtainable from a local Army Surplus store) in this case.

Typically cadets do not receive uniform until they are due to be formally enrolled in the ATC.
Each cadet will receive their uniforms before their enrolment and will wear their 'Number 1s' for the enrolment ceremony itself (which parents can usually watch). Each cadet will receive two and sometimes three uniforms:
  • Number 1 - formal RAF-style uniform for parades such as Remembrance Day parade
  • Number 2 - informal RAF-style uniform for most evening parades
  • Number 3 - army-style 'combat greens' used for field activities (cannot always be provided)
Not all Squadrons have access to 'greens' (Number 3 uniform) and so a cadet may need to provide their own 'greens' (obtainable from a local Army Surplus store) in this case.
Most activities are free - or at least included in the Squadron subscriptions. So shooting, gliding, flying, sports and other activities are usually all provided free.

There may be exceptions. For instance, the Diss Squadron arranged a scuba try-dive for the cadets and there was a modest fee for this payable to the dive centre.

Precise costs for activities will therefore depend upon the Squadron and activity, but you should expect the cost for most activities to be included in the regular subscription amounts.
Each Squadron is run independently and so the nights on which the Squadron meets - usually referred to as 'parades' - vary. Local conditions such as other local activities and the availability of local staff (all of whom are volunteers) all affect the parade schedule.

Many Squadrons meet twice a week, but you need to contact your local Squadron to obtain accurate information.

Please use our ATC Squadron Finder to find and contact your local Squadron or Wing.
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