Flight will advance vs turn to the left/right in threes

In NZ Air Cadets drill, the officer/NCO uses two different commands for turning. The commands are:

  • ‘Flight will turn to the left/right in threes. Left/right turn!’
  • ‘Flight will advance. Left/right turn!’
    What is the difference between these?
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Advance means face the front, while if they are to face the sides it’s flight will turn. There is also ‘Flight will retire. Left/Right turn!’ this is used when the flight is to turn to the rear. The front and rear is decided by where the Flight commander is standing.

I need a proper drilly to confirm & it may differs between nations but I think that the difference is formal parade drill.

Turning to the left/right in threes is before a March off & when you have personnel in supernumerary positions so when turning there’s extra marching.

I think the advance is when turning into column of route but my memory is a little rusty. From a UK perspective there’s also difference between army & raf drill & as NZ cadet forces are combined it might be an army drill things.

As far as I know, turning to the right/left in threes just means those personnel in supernumerary positions don’t move if they were originally “in line”. Only turning into column of route is there extra marching.

“Flight will advance” seems to be for the about turn over here, and it is used along with “flight will retire”. Usually if there is a blank file with just one person in it, when an about turn is called they should move to be in the front rank.

However when turning about to move a squad a short distance you call “flight will retire, about turn” and the blank file should complete the about turn and stand fast, then you can march them off and once they’re where they need to be call “flight will advance, about turn”.

That’s all from the UK perspective though - not sure if there’s a NZ equivalent of AP818. There very likely is so it’s worth asking your staff to see if you can find a drill manual.

This got me interested so I did some digging and turns out you have a “NZAP 818” which is your drill manual, however the latest version I can find is 1995 and I suspect there may be a newer version, these commands are mentioned in part 2. If you have a newer version of NZAP 818 then have a look through the ceremonial part and search for those commands.

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The latest update is a 2018 amendment to it. @leotherocketman it is on cadetnet under training resources.


Surely, an advance is towards the directing flank, usually therefore ‘long’ side on (originally, an attack manoeuvre); moving to the L/R in threes as stated means that the NCOs/supernumeraries/officers retain their positions and the whole layout moves as one; moving to the L/R in column of route involves officers and NCOs taking positions in the column so the whole thing is only ever 3 people wide.

Various of the drill comp sequences have involved the squad marching from the ‘inspection’ position in front of the judges by making a left turn, march, two left wheels, then ‘flight will advance, left turn’ making them long side on, then halt in front of the judges hopefully back where they started. Recent years have seen that replaced with two more left wheels and a halt.

You’re probably right, I had only heard it’s use when doing about turns in the competition drill sequences.

These commands tell executive and supernumerary positions what to do.
I think “…in threes” has been covered well - it means that the flight will be in Column of Threes and therefore, execs and supers stay in their relative positions (now to either side of the flight).

Unless something different has been invented by the Kiwis, “Advance” in conjunction with a left / right turn makes no sense.
“Advance” and “Retire” are used as part of an about turn to tell the execs and supers (and any personnel in a blank file within the flight) to stay in their relative position, rather than to take up post facing the new direction…
If you have a flight in line and you give the command “about turn” the executives will need to march around to the new front and, likewise, the supernumeraries will need to go to the new rear.
If you’re only marching back a short distance before turning around again (such as when having been inspected and now marching back from the ‘reviewing area’ to the ‘receiving base’ ready to march past) that’s a lot of unecessary faff, so we use “advance” and “retire” to tell them not to bother.

Here’s what AP 818 has to say about it:

When a squad is required to move to the rear for a short distance before resuming the
original direction, the following commands are to be given:


and after completion:


The ranks in these instances are not changed and consequently the blank file is not adjusted.

In that situation, the command is “Into line, left turn” because they are moving from a column of threes to “in line” formation.


I figured it out. I just went on a Junior NCO camp and it was explained there. Will turn to the left/right advance and retire are based on the position of the flag on the parade ground. Advance is always towards the flag, retire is always away from the flag and left/right are based on the left/right side of the parade ground as seen from the position of advance.


That’s pretty much what I expected, except for flag read enemy!