What are the chances of being able to stay after turning 18?

I’ve asked a few people and get very varying answers from almost definitely, to almost definitely not.

I joined when I was about sixteen and a half and I recently turned 17. Despite this, I’ve signed up for all activities I can do, have better uniform than most at my squadron and am quite good at drill. I should be on the drill team and should be a cpl before I’m 18. So I’m doing all I can to improve my chances.

Is this enough though? Is the fact I joined so late mean I won’t be allowed to stay post 18?

Thank you for any help or advice!

The only person who can really give you an answer is your OC. I know of ATC OCs who apply very different criteria.


Dear LoganP,

This is only from my personal experience In the ATC and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

Squadrons will only keep on cadets past the 18th birthday mark when they are as much ( usually more ) use to the squadron compared to how useful the squadron is to them.

These cadets tend to be NCOs or highly trained cadets with many qualifications and courses under their belt. Cadets who have trained tirelessly, and in most cases, sold their soul to the ATC.

Obviously I do not know what courses you have or haven’t done so I cannot give exact advice - furthermore one must remember the needs of every squadron varies completely from region to region - but here is what I can say

  • Do as many courses you can
  • Help out in Leadership and managerial roles
  • If you see a cadet that needs assistance, offer it.
  • Don’t be too emposing ( is that a word ?)
  • ask your staff what they need in a staff cadet

But most importantly:

  • This is the cadets, have fun. You still have time remaining, make the most of it. You should never try and waste the time you have by pressuring yourself beyond what is possible.

Don’t hold your hopes up, Expect not to be chosen but always carry yourself in the way that is necessary to be a staff cadet.



Youd make a great corporal.
Being a corporal only makes it so that youre more likely to stay as a staff cadet. Im not sure of the chances myself so i dont have much of a say. But, continue what youre doing because u are trying hard. Thats exactly what it looks like and im sure you know how things are done, if they dont promote you then you could still stay as a staff cadet- but people may judge you snd you would have incredibly slim chances. Keep at tge hard work mate.

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One of the key considerations for the OC (who ultimately is the decision maker, with some rubber stamping from higher ups) is how useful you are. In fact, one of the criteria for considering someone for Staff Cadet relates to their qualifications and “added value” of them.

So it’s great that you’re good at the usual cadet things like uniform and drill, but what else do you bring? Are you (for example) MOI qualified, or have any AT qualifications etc that you could use to benefit the other cadets?

Staying on beyond 18 is akin to becoming a staff member (although it’s complicated by not being one) - if you can look at it from that perspective, you might be able to plot a course of action for yourself to make sure it makes sense to the OC to keep you on. Be aware that OCs usually make this decision before a cadet is 17½, as it takes time to complete the necessary paperwork (including needing a DBS and BPSS).


Do as much self help as you can. By that I mean get your classification exams done ASAP and any other courses that you can (silver cyber for example). Our wing staff officer rarely approves a Staff Cadet request if they aren’t Master cadets. I see you joined later so that may be tricky to you.
Also help your staff to help you by doing your 5-01, BPSS and DBS asap

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If you go by the book, the requirements are as follows:

a. Pass the Adult Volunteer Induction Package (AVIP) including the Staff Cadet Module.

b. Obtained a valid enhanced DBS check in accordance with ACP 4, Chapter 8 and a BPSS in accordance with PI 103.

c. Achieved the Leading Cadet classification.

d. Completed a Staff Cadet Service Agreement. (copy at Annex D )

e. Possess a specific skill that adds value to the ATC, such as:

  • (1) Flying and gliding; VGS Staff Cadet, AEF Staff Cadet, GS (solo), Flying Scholarship, Pilot Navigation Scholarship, Gliding Instructor.

  • (2) Shooting; any training or supervisory qualifications.

  • (3) Adventure training; any recognised instructional or supervisory qualifications.

  • (4) Ground training; qualifications or skills in first aid, food handling, radio communications, BTEC in Aviation Studies or Public Services, musical instruments, leadership, information technology.

  • (5) Sport; qualifications in coaching a specific sport or a Community Sports Leader’s qualification.

  • (6) Any other significant qualification that will be of value to a Squadron.

So if you want to stay, you need to focus on making sure you get to leading classification, and have some specific skill that adds value. Just being an NCO does not count.

What I’d suggest is speaking with your OC ASAP to let them know you are keen to stay, and want to help the Sqn more. They should then be able to help you with the process. It’s your that completes the application/recommendation, but it gets signed off my the Wing Commander.

There as a big asterisk however with all of this in that it does vary from Wing to Wing, as has been mentioned above already.

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That list needs updating to remove the flying scholarship as an appropriate qualification now that it’s limited to staff cadets


In as much as there’s any identifiable criteria that can be gleaned from a thousand separate groups, I would say that usefulness and ‘bringing solutions, not problems’, are the two big ones.

Overwhelmingly cadet NCO’s with a fair amount of experience, cadets with MOI quals, cadets with a level head who an OC can rely on, and cadets who bolster the ‘staff’ team for away from Sqn events.

Some OC’s, who aren’t under pressure with numbers, and who have good staff teams will happily let a ‘coaster’ continue past 18, others won’t.

If your OC thinks you’re a bit of a prat, then this is a problem free way of getting rid…

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