New Civilian Instructor

I’ve Just been accepted as a CI and wanted to ask if anyone has any tips, tricks. I was a Cadet about 26 + years ago and after a very varied and well traveled 26 years ive returned to settle back in the UK. I’ve been back about 5 years and decided a while back to volunteer.

Ive got a fair bit of training experience but ive always known the subject matter inside and out. Any ideas where to start and activities to make things more interesting for the cadets. Thanks.

Welcome onboard!

Have a look at some of the new-format training courses (Air Power and if the update is our, Radio & Radar - both Senior/Master, and the junior/recruit part of First Class Cadet). These have a proper course booklet to go with them too. It will show you where we are trying to get to, a lot of the others won’t have changed much since your time as a Cadet!


Most of the songs you used to sing back then - you can’t sing anymore!

Ditto for the jokes

No awarding push ups

No shouting “THUNDER!!” during a Night Ex, expecting it to instill excitement…!



Try to see and do as much as you can. As a new CI, it is the best time to enjoy and learn without too much responsibility. Use the time to learn and think about what you want to get out of the organisation and also what you want to put into it.

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Getting onboard is very rewarding, you’ll want to find your remit to start with which your Sqn CO or Adj will discuss with you. Basically, what you want to get from the experience is what you can teach and learn, etc.

Then you’re in for the death by PowerPoint treatment, all your standard stuff AVIP especially.

Get to know your fellow volunteers as they are often a solid group of people with similar interests to you!

Hi Sailinsun,

I’m a New CI too. (December)

I was also a cadet back in the late 90’s. I’ve served in the RAF for 7 years and now trying to give back by volunteering. I’m also in the process of going into uniform.

IMO, Its a very different beast to when we were cadets and run very differently. Its a lot more learning bassed than what I remember as a cadet. Theres a lot of red tape to jump through to be able to do anything.

I’m enjoying it so far and just using the 6months probation to get to know the cadets and the staff on the SQN.


Hmm, whereas I’m thinking I’ve made a mistake and am considering whether to continue. I simply cannot get my head around the volume of admin and red tape for everything. I know in this day and age we must be welfare conscious and risk aware, but for an organisation whose motto is “Venture, Adventure” it seems to have had a large proportion of the joy sucked out of it in the 40 years since I was a cadet.
I know that risks making me sound like a dinosaur, but so little of what RAFAC now does seems to relate to aircraft and flying
In the year since I first applied all I hear is how we can no longer do this or that, budgets cut, twenty layers of paperwork and approvals to deal with and so on. How our poor adjutant manages to cope with what he does as well as a full time job and family I just don’t know
Rightly or wrongly I am at a loss to understand why anyone in RAFAC seeks promotion to Wing and beyond. More and more admin and less and less direct cadet contact
Sorry if it sounds like a rant but I had just wanted to be able to pass on some of my love and knowledge of all things aviation related once I had retired from a rewarding career in the industry which was inspired by joining the cadets all those years ago. Instead I find an organisation totally constipated by admin and paperwork. I am persisting because having volunteered I don’t want to let anyone down, but I really feel like an under-utilised spare part most of the time. I’m a fish out of water. How much longer I can continue I just don’t know. I don’t think it’s anything to do with our squadron particularly, it’s just the way it is.
Edited to add: My biggest frustration is the dire IT network. Half our cadets unable to access SMS, and a system that is anything but intuitive and scatters required documents and policies to the four darkest corners of cyberspace. Just completing the buggy AVIP courses was a trial. “It’s just the way it is” doesn’t really cut it for me. There’s a problem, it’s identifiable and it’s repeatable - let’s fix it! My conclusion is that the RAF are not genuinely invested in RAFAC at all. Sorry, but that seems to be the elephant in the room!


We all like to moan about the issues but I’ve always believed that if you want to see a change, you must be the change. Activities aren’t being run for the cadets? Take the initiative and ask to organise [insert course in your field of interest], or maybe get qualified in instructing something your squadron can’t currently deliver and provide that to the kids. That might help you feel like you have a purpose in the organisation!

Red tape and admin are things that all volunteers hate, and rightly so, but the reason why it’s there is to keep both the kids and the adults safe. Gone are the days where unqualified staff could take cadets on poorly planned hikes without any thought of the risk, cadets died through accidents and we as an organisation have learnt and changed for the better.

IT wise we are half way through phasing out Ultilearn which is what I assume your cadets struggle to access -all of mine are able to log into cadet portal not sure about anywhere else!

My point is that I understand your struggles - so do all the other staff on here! But you’re the fresh face to the organisation who can help bring change. Rest assured, the organisation is steadily improving. Progress may be slow, but we are getting there!


Good advice but I have just spent two months and endless emails trying to get on a FAM PTT course to qualify to teach some flying sim/ground subjects and it looks like there’s no availability until much later In the year

I have made two proposals to teach other areas which basically seem to have foundered through lack of time

It all seems to be about drill, badges, drill, qualifications, drill, DoE and drill. I do not understand where the time is supposed to come from (for the cadets) to get involved in anything not in the core syllabus.

What you have (had?) here in me was an enthusiastic volunteer willing to learn and wanting to pass on my enthusiasm for all things aviation to the cadets. Yet from day 1 (the application process) I’ve found the whole thing like wading through treacle with your eyes shut

For example all the Airmanship or Pilot Nav coursework is now rattled off in an online course on a computer followed by an open book computer exam. Get it ticked off and that’s another tick in the First Class book. Is there any real knowledge or understanding gained? Not from where I’m standing no. Do the cadets want to explore the subjects in a bit more depth? No time because they’re onto the next badge or box to tick

I’m sorry this sounds so negative but I’ve tried I really have. Perhaps I’m just too old to deal with the glacial pace at which things happen. It’s not the existence of safeguards that concern me, it’s the fact that getting anything agreed or signed off has to go through so many levels and takes so long

Just looking at the cc list on emails is enough to give you palpitations. We shouldn’t need to cc that number of people just to order more paper clips

I’m clearly not cut out for this. I’m one of life’s do-ers. I understand the need for paperwork and organisation; my whole career in a safety critical industry was built around it but the Civil Aviation Authority appears as a shining example of an efficient low admin organisation when stood shoulder to shoulder with RAFAC

Were my expectations unrealistic? You judge: I expected to be teaching flying related ground subjects. I was told there was a need for this. I also thought there would be space to discuss subjects such as “Better decision making”, “additional leadership skills” “why accidents happen” and so on but the feeling seems that there’s no time and cadets don’t want it as it doesn’t lead to a badge

Writing all this out is cathartic and clarifies my thinking. I’ll try again but I’m beginning to think I’m done

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Welcome aboard!

Yes the Organisation has changed, and Yes there are layers of beurocracy that didnt exist years ago but the RAFAC is still (trying) to do what it does best…giving youngsters the opportunity to do things others can only dream of…

As others have said, the best thing to do is to get stuck in. Start small, ideally something you already have an interest in. Most new CIs (in my experience) start off with First Class training; as ex-cadets it’s something they are familiar with. And as you get more time in, youll find things that you want to get involved in.

As for the paperwork, its a necessary. I always think it’s a good idea to spend some time with the Adj/Trg Off to see how it affects everything…

Good luck, and hope you enjoy it!!

The admin needs doing, but I agree it could be reduced if there was a bit of joined up thinking at HQ when creating new forms. The IT I’m with you 100% , it’s prevented me from running core activities on many occasions the last few years, but we are in a period of change and it looks like the new systems, once the bugs are ironed out, will be much better. Unfortunately the new system being introduced means that maintenance of the old system had stopped/reduced.

There’s nothing stopping you running a flight sim session without doing the course. It just means that it won’t count for the blue badge - I know our cadets prefer the sessions we do outside the syllabus.

As to the extras that you are offering around the core presentations, the refusal seems to be a squadron problem rather than a RAFAC problem. Some squadrons focus too much on badges because it’s something tangible that the OC can take to the “higher ups” to show what a good job they are doing. I’ve found that most cadets enjoy a bit of extended learning rather than simple badge chasing. Keep pushing it. Maybe speak to the cadets, then you’ll have something you can take to the boss to say they want it

That’s a Wing issue, we have everyone qual’d who wants it. Our WAvO is very proactive and is constantly asking if there’s anyone wanting to do training :man_shrugging:t2:

You might well have already done this, but have you discussed your concerns with anyone in your squadron or wing?

It might be a squadron issue in which case you could move.


I feel I am now at risk of washing dirty linen in public. I think it best not to comment further here but may send a few DMs to expand on some of this and seek further advice as some comments very useful - thanks


Just a point to note.
Youve used your name as your login.
Therfore anyone via a search on bader, can find out which unit youre from.

Reccomend you change your username for PERSEC.


Dont think you can change your username as far as I can see but to be honest theres nothing Ive written (so far!) that I wouldn’t say - indeed mostly have said - to other staff on the squadron. I wouldn’t however want to go into further extended debate about it. Not helpful to anyone really

It can be done if you DM a mod. Let me know if you want to.

Being honest, parading 2 nights a week allows enough time for interesting variety sessions that go outside of the syllabus.

Things you’ve suggested would be welcomed on my unit.

We’ve got guest speakers lined up from various front line roles, visits to local rescue teams, museums, AT centres, and all sorts. Every other month or so we have a night of complete irrelevance and nonsense (in the name of fun, there typically are elements of team building, logical thinking, communication, and other soft skills). We run aviation history sessions about key moments and missions.

Our flight sim work goes beyond the blue ATP.

At wing level at least we have ways to work in things like human factors as part of leadership training, but we go outside of the syllabus on squadron as well as part of further development.

Do you get involved with the PTS leadership syllabus? There is potential to add CPD sessions for badge holders and NCOs as part of a mentoring programme - better NCOs make an easier life for CFAV and sending out quality leaders to external events reflects well on the squadron and it’s performance if there’s a big focus on tangible results - a slower burn than badge count, but badges don’t impress when it’s performance that matters (and is a better experience for cadets in terms of skills they can take outside).

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This I have also banged my head against a wall over. My job is flying planes, but until I tick this box I’m not allowed to sign off the most basic and elementary of flight sim lessons. Can’t do the course as the one a year or so is done at the weekend short notice so I can’t do it… because I’m flying planes. And so it continues :man_facepalming:

One thing I’ve really grasped though is that, fundamentally, it’s not about the ‘Air’ for the cadets, it’s about the ‘Cadets’ bit. They want to have a club where they can meet with and socialise with their mates, second to that they want to do fun stuff.

I know the theoretical flight stuff is glossed over, but, honestly, most of them aren’t all that bothered. They get to dip their toe in, great. But most want no more than that, and those that do you’ll be able to pick out fairly easily.

The advice about just cracking on and running some activities is great. Flight sim evenings you can do and there’ll be some keen ones that love it. They won’t get a badge as you’re not ‘qualified’, who cares, they’ve had good fun learning how to fly a plane, and that’s the important thing.


Well a little update from me, after getting all the checks back and having done the offical interview. Im in in. The CO has straight away created a program for myself and one other new CI. Roles have been defined and also backup and support roles delegated but this a quite fluid thing. Im feeling really positive and really enjoying in participating and providing input.