New boy on the block

Hi folks,

Just decided to go into the Cadets as an CI. I know others in the ATC community that suggest I should look at uniformed service but am concerned that at the age of 50 the organisation might not see that as a viable option. Commission would be more desirable than NCO if that is possible. 55 is touted around as the age of retirement although many of us old and bold have much to offer the youth of today.

Just as background I am ex RAF and TA. I am educated to Post Grad level with loads of admin/ management experience as well. I want to go into teaching but equally my age is acting as an impediment so youth work with the opportunity to get some formal training qualifications is an option I am exploring.

As a young lad I used to attend the same Squadron I am looking at and after last weeks visit it looks like only the faces have changed. All right, the whole system is different but the feel and ethos does not seem to have changed much.

I am willing to travel to work in a Squadron and there are 3-4 locally that I might be able to support - would Wing look at that as more attractive than setting my heart on one location.

Any positive comments of suggestions welcome.


Welcome back / aboard.

As for the direction you choose to follow it’s your time you are offering. I wouldn’t get too excited about what the Wing might think or like or not like, to be honest they couldn’t care less. Where you decide to volunteer is to me largely dependent on how much time you have between getting home from work and needing to go to the squadron on parade nights. For me no more than 10 miles each way is best in order to make a decent commitment. Not sure if you are suggesting doing more than one.

WRT age I’m not entirely sure that the organisation, despite all the noises, is really up to new uniformed staff who are over 50.
As a CI you can do everything apart from run a squadron (although there have been CIs saddled with it recently) and get excited about drill/dress. Also as a CI you get greater control over what you do or don’t do, put a uniform on and they like to think they own you. But there are some sqn cdrs who won’t let CIs do things on squadrons as they aren’t in a uniform. I’ve got 2 CIs as Adj, H&S O and TO, despite having uniformed staff, as I don’t think the uniformed staff have the requisite knowledge or skills or if I’m honest desire to do the roles and initiative was a little lacking. I had them doing it but it was a case of micro-managing them which I don’t have the time for. The are are quite happy doing cadet instruction/training The CIs are a little older and just get on with it, which has made my life easier.

The ethos of the organisation hasn’t changed, we are here to give youngsters experiences not available elsewhere and instruction on things that may help them in the future, but the way it’s run has. it’s become a lot more demanding on people in general.

Many thanks for the quick reply. My friends in the organisation have already highlighted to me that there is a great deal of disparity between Squadrons and even Wings in how things are done/achieved. The initial feedback from the Squadron CO (personal interview) and the Wing (telephone conversation) is that my contribution would be most welcome regardless of what route I choose to go down.

At the age of 50 I am by no means a pensioner and although less physically capable than many younger colleagues I still have a great deal to offer. It may be the old curmudgeon in me but I would feel happier being more involved in setting the direction the ship is to go in rather than just being a passenger. Whilst I will be happy instructing or teaching I am actually coming in with a desire to do more and make a difference. Call it a desire to make up for a misspent youth and wasted opportunities if you like.

With regard to my mention of multiple Squadrons - no I was not suggesting I attend more than one. It is my intention to be flexible and to try and fit in locally where the Wing might have greatest need. The ability to attend multiple Squadrons is simply a luxury open to me due to having 3-4 units all within 10 miles or so.

It is also nice to have the Wing sat on a base that I spent two tours at. It will be nice to pop back there sometime in a semi official capacity.

Whichever way it goes I am looking forward to the new/old challenges of engaging with young people and encouraging them to expand their horizons beyond their Xbox’s and Mobile Phones.

Kind regards


While the CO sets the direction ultimately (as much as they can) it would be folly not to take suggestions and set a course according to these. We all volunteer and if we feel we aren’t maybe bringing some of our own skills etc into play, makes for dull time.
Some of my staff have done so and they have done or are doing the things they suggested. Not always happily as they thought someone else would do it for them.