Journey to becoming a CI

Hi all

After a few years away from cadets I thought it was time to return and ‘do my bit’. I’m a commercial pilot (rotary) and with a military background, I’m sure my experience and insights would benefit cadets.

My aim would be to tip up to a squadron, most likely once a week, to offer my support and assist wherever possible. My career and my family need me the rest of the time - fact. So, I’m not planning on wearing another uniform anytime soon (or ever probably) but I thought that the RAFAC would appreciate any help offered.

It was a surprise to see more application forms than I’ve had hot dinners arrive on my doorstep and I completely understand the child protection part of it, of course that makes complete sense. But to jump through the number of hoops to apply, be interviewed, attend a course when all I want to do is offer my free time and not become your new commandant; it all seems rather overkill and is off-putting.

I was wondering if many people actually join as a CI now? After reading through a number of the posts on this forum, morale seems pretty low and I can almost see why.

Thanks for your time and thank you for all you’re doing.



Sounds like your experience would be appreciated and definately benefit the cadets.

This is an issue that has been brought up a lot. The amount of paperwork needed to join is sadly ever increasing.

Most of us would likely agree that the amount you have to do before you can even show up is getting ridiculous.

Take what you see on here with a big grain of salt. Like, a really really big grain of salt. Like a whole salt flat or something.

It’s much easier for people to talk about the bad than it is the good. A thread discussing/debating issues we face will always see more interaction than a positive post. I think that is just the nature of a forum like this. Certainly pre-covid people were still joining up and we had just got a new CI on my squadron, although he has since left to join the RAF already!

What I would say is if all the paperwork/interviews/courses etc seems like too much then maybe have a chat with the Squadron OC that you are planning on joining. Off the top of my head all that really needs to be done is your Disclosure and Baring Service check (DBS) and your Baseline Personnel Security Standard check (BPSS). I guess also the CI interview thing. You may get annoyed that they ask for the same information, but it is two different services.

All the other stuff you should really be able to do as/when, but generally within the first 6 months/year.

If you are keen on helping out then I would really encourage you to stick with it as much as you can! As much as we all like to moan on here, there is a reason we are all still involved and that’s mostly because it is really rewarding how much of a positive impact we can have as volunteers.


LHD, you’re spot on that all the hoops that we ask new staff to jump through seem ridiculous and some of them are. Please hang on in there though. Especially with your experience and background, you could have life changing influence on young people in your Sqn. Despite the frustration and the venting that’s often on this forum, it is worth it. Should it be easier, yes definitely. Is it worth persisting, absolutely!

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In fairness our joining process and paperwork isn’t totally dissimilar to the Scouts.

Air Cadets - Scouts
Pers Form 1-10 (4 pages) = Adult Information Form (8 pages)
Pers Form 1-01 BPSS (13 pages) = Identity Checking Form (6 pages) & Reference form (2 pages) x2
Pers Form 1-19 Volunteer Agreement (3 pages)

The volume of paperwork is frustrating; especially given the amount of duplication. No argument there.

But the process of ‘apply, be interviewed, receive training’ is not unreasonable and is par for the course in any organisation.

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Welcome, and I really hope you do stick with the process.

As mentioned above it sounds like you would be a great fit and would be of huge benefit to the cadets and will enjoy your volunteering too.

In terms of volumes of paperwork it may feel like a lot, but consider what you will have access to. So yes of course DBS is a given, but there’s no way to distinguish between a CI that only stays on squadron and a CI that regularly attends activities on active military bases.

For that reason we have to expect that there are more ID checks etc.

Once done and the tick is in the box you’re good to go, so please persevere.

After the initial paperwork is done there is some mandatory training, through e learning modules… and that is all simple stuff that you’ll burn through in no time.

In terms of morale I would say that on a local level it is pretty high at the moment, with a lot of staff looking forward to returning and running activities after a year out.

I can see why the forum would look generally negative - but when things are going well and we’re loving our volunteering we’re too busy getting stuck in to post!

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Whenever I read anything on forums especially, I remember my time as a trainer in my early career for a blue chip company.

Someone unhappy with an experience would tell on average 8 other people whilst someone happy with their experience would tell less than 1. This was in the days before the internet was in everyone’s home let alone hand!

It seems you have some great experience and knowledge to share so stick with it, it will be worth it.

I will admit the amount of paperwork was a little bit of a shock as my first time round, over 20 years ago now, all I remember having to sign to get started was the official secrets act and I was able to get stuck in the next parade night.

My experience:

The joining paperwork was a pain.
The first six months were a chore.
The next three years have been great.

I’ve done things I would never have done, learned things I would never have learned, and have a positive way to take a break from everything else that’s happening.

Please, stick with it. It is worth the effort.

It’s definitely worth the effort. As we work with young people the joining process is sadly quite tedious. Just bear in mind that it’s a role where you’re responsible for supervising children. References, DBS, training etc are all necessary.

The good news is that the VSDT are working on an electronic joining system as we speak which will kill some of the forms and provide a more modern experience.

DBS and BPSS will remain extant because we don’t have any control over those processes - they are owned by the wider MOD/RAF.


Praise the lord

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Aside from the drudgery of the ‘joining paperwork’, mandatory DBS, BPSS (and I believe SC is on its way for CIs), I think a lot is Sqn dependent.

I did a couple of years as a CI having been a regular RAF Officer (pilot) for 20+ years, before going back into uniform.

I was regularly told by SNCOs (who hadn’t served a day themselves) that I was responsible to them and ‘what did I know about Leadership, Airmanship, Pilot Nav, Military Skills, Drill, Shooting?’, etc etc.

Pretty bloody rich when I had been an A2 Aircrew Instructor and (later) an A2 QFI as well as RCO/ECO and OiC Stn shooting on several RAF Stns.

It was this rubbish that prompted me to go back into uniform - as a CI I had hit a ‘brick wall’ and couldn’t do anything more for the cdts (which is, after all, why we volunteer in the first place).

I wish you luck - CIs are very much the (unrecognised) backbone of the ATC and what we do.


From memory, in the rank structure CI’s do fall under the responsibility of the Sqn SNCO’s. However in my opinion it shouldn’t be a case of “Reports to”


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I thought they were outside the rank structure, but (obviously) still “report to” their OC?


They are and do, it’s a weird one.

I’ve been looking the reference to make sure I’m not just making things up but struggling to find it at the moment.

Yep still report to their Sqn OC.

Thinking about it I may be mixing things, SNCO’s are told at SSIC that they are responsible for CI’s in the Sgt/WO’s mess as they don’t have the ettiequte training that SNCO’s get.

I do hope that you invited them for a discussion on what you know\are qualified in, behind the hangar?

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Lets just say ‘words were had’.

One of my bugbears is the way Cdts vocalise words of command on Parade - they all do it with a rising inflection.

Having been a Flt Cdr, Parade Cdr and Sqn Std Bearer, to me it sounds totally out of place.

We had a situation whereby Cdts were practiciing drill - I took the Cdt NCOs on one side and advised them as to how the Regulars do it (IIRC I advised them to watch a Cranwell or Sandhurst Grad, or the Trooping of The Colour - sure teenagers can’t scream like Regiment SNCOs or a RSM, but the point is there).

Almost immediately one of the SNCOs (who had been watching through an open office window) came charging towards me with: “You don’t teach Drill!”

To which my acerbic response was: “Mr XXX I am not teachingDrill, I am teaching Command, which I am sure you will agree is my Bailiwick!”

He went away rather tail between his legs.


This is all lovely and an important discussion point, but it isn’t relevant here. Please keep to the subject :slight_smile:

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