What makes us stand out?

Hello all, first of all, sorry for posting so late in the evening, I’m currently in the US on holiday so I got a problem with timezones atm.

But anyways, our Squadron is currently quite low on numbers (regardless of summer holidays with people being abroad etc) and have been for a while, so when school starts up again I’m going to try and get people to join, so here’s a question for anyone who reads this.
What is the main point of you all staying in the corps? (I already know why I am staying in for as long as I can but I want to see from a different perspective.) What makes the corps stand out to you?


It’s what I know, I was a cadet and enjoyed my time. Being an adult and giving back my time to see it being grabbed by both hands from cadets is amazing! It’s that old chestnut, seeing them join all shy and nervous and then leave full of confidence with the extra qualifications they’d not have gotten other wise fills my empty shell of a life :joy:


the opportunities offered and the community created where any cadet can come to me and chat if they need to, it’s another safety net outside of school. And gun handling get a good intake in as well.

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@DontCallMeSir Hits the nail on the head. It’s what I know and have known since I was 13. I went from a shy teenager to incredibly outgoing and doing things I never thought I would do. I have nothing but thanks for the staff that guided me throughout my time as a cadet.

Now I am in my early mid 20s and earlier this year I commissioned to allow myself to give back in the same way that was given to me.


Cheers, I was talking to our Sqn Adj before I went on holiday and he suggested a poster, so I might have to nick bits of these. :slight_smile:


There’s a recruitment poster these on here that might give you inspiration.

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This is a massive topic and frankly nothing much in the current climate makes us stand out from similar youth organisations.
What made us stand out was flying and gliding, say to a 12/13 year old once you’ve passed First Class you can get to fly in a light aircraft with just the instructor and you will get the chance to take control and do aerobatics and almost instantly got their attention and likewise gliding. Now flying and gliding is something of a postcode lottery, live in the right place and you have it, a mile down the road and you don’t.
If someone could tell me what makes us stand out from the Army Cadets and Scouts in an accessible exciting and unique way, such that we can use it to sell us to potential new cadets, I do wish they’d say.

If you are going to try and get more cadets, be honest and upfront about what they can do, do not lie, regardless of how uncomfortable the truth might be.

As for what keeps me in, probably I’ve done it for so long that it’s just part of what I do… Obviously the well worn clichés are there as well, see the cadets change (hopefully in a positive way) etc, but then whatever you do ATC, “Scouting”, AEF, dance teacher, sports coach etc, etc you are doing it wanting to see the kids develop.


For me and many others it was the chance to fly, either in a small powered aircraft or glider (which I preferred, although before trying it I thought powered would be better). I would put up with all the BS doing all the other things just to get some flying and I knew that if I hung in there I had a good chance of a gliding or possibly flying scholarship (with much more than just 10 hours).

So the fam flights were the hook, and the scholarships were the goal. In sticking it out I learnt so much, took part in many things I would never have done had I not been an Air Cadet, gained many skills, pushed myself and gained a great amount of self belief in my abilities. This experience has helped me quite a bit in later life.

There’s not much to beat a Monday morning school chat with your mates about what you did at the weekend when you’ve been flying an aircraft around the skies. This led to many of them joining too. We may have a drab uniform (although nowadays festoon with badges) but we certainly had the best fun with activities that included flying and gliding.

I am astonished that many cannot see or speak out about what we’ve lost and what has now become the norm in terms of Air Cadet flying and gliding. We may not need so many pilots in the future, but we need to inspire an interest in aviation as it is critical to our country going forward. We have so much potential in our young people, we did have a great way to unlock and maximise it.

We need to reverse the backward trend now and get back flying, the key is in our name.


When I joined at 13, I joined the ACO because a) one of my friends was in it, and b) it did what the Scouts did, but better, it did what the Army cadets did (ish), and it did some of what the SCC did (ish).


I’ve got a 15yo daughter, she’s gone up through Rainbows, Brownies and now Guides. Up until 5(?) years ago I’d have happily advised her to ditch the Guides for the ATC. Not anymore… My two younger kids are in Rainbows and Brownies - and while it’s true to say that they won’t be in the running to have the kind of experiences that the ACO can offer it’s cadets, the chances now of an individual cadet actually getting one, or two, or three of those different experiences during their cadet career are pretty minimal, but they will still be expected to take part in an academic syllabus they have little interest in, and given the quality of teaching these days, simply don’t need.

I was a cadet from 89-92: I went to 3 UK annual camps, two Germany camps, did a gliding scholarship, probably had 50 (five zero) hours of powered flight, 20 or so weekends away, 10 days sailing in the Channel with the LSP, and four or five weeks of other camps, as well as all the DofE stuff. I was in no way exceptional in my wing or my Sqn - everyone I knew went to camp every year, half the NCO’s on my Sqn had done Germany camps.

I would put good money on there being less than a handful of cadets in the entire ATC who’ve done what I was given the opportunity to do. It now compares averagely with the Scouts, just with a load more rubbish.

We no longer stand out.


I couldn’t answer the original posters question as Air Cadets is all I know. I don’t have any friends who were Army, Sea Cadets or Scouts etc.

I know we don’t have flying or gliding like we once had but we keep our cadets busy with various activities that we didn’t do back in my day. We have a fair bit of shooting but it’s a struggle at times to get bodies interested.

When we do get new cadets with parents we are open about the lack of flying and gliding but we highlight everything else we do. Our parents are more than happy with all their kids get up to.

@DontCallMeSir I think we all really do is keep cadets busy in the hope it’ll be enough to keep them in, while we’re waiting for something really good to come along. But these are few and far between and cadets or more correctly their parents aren’t stupid.
We used to shoot .22s at least once a month, full bore on an Army range that was about 15 miles away every 3-4 months, camping a couple of times during the summer, 2-3 flying details and 1-2 gliding details a year and other things that kept us busy enough. We didn’t have to rely on courses to do “progressive training” we didn’t have a plethora of badges to collect. We had progressive training but it was just doing things at the squadron on parade nights, not going to the squadron or somewhere else for all or part of a weekend to do it. There was no hint of compulsion, like there is now, “you’ve done this and to get the next badge or promotion you have to do this” and being judged badly if you don’t. This applied to staff and cadets.

When I was a cadet the highlight in many ways was annual camp, 15-20 cadets from 4 or 5 sqns each, from across the Wing (not as seems to happen now area) coming together and seeing the RAF up close and doing all sorts of things. Unlike now where if you are lucky you get ½ dozen places and maybe a few more on one of the new camps.

The mum of lad who was a cadet when I was a WO asked me what had happened to the ATC as it was rubbish when she compared it to what her son did. He’d told his niece all about the ATC and what he did and now coming up to her third year in, hadn’t been on a camp as there were only a few places and they coincided with family holidays and not been flying or gliding. She’d shot air rifle but she’d been doing that with her uncle for a few years anyway. She’s got some badges, but the squadron she’s on said she had to do her class badges at home on the computer and could use whatever books she wanted. She’s starting year 10 and as her nan said she’s not the best academically and her mum is concerned and if the ATC doesn’t start living up to her brother’s talk, she’ll be taking her out of the ATC. As her nan said she can buy her flying and all the other things for her birthday. She said it’d be a shame but the ATC is a diseased shadow of what it was and her son feels guilty for almost pushing his niece into it. His children are not old enough and doing Cubs Brownies but he won’t suggesting they join the ATC. I can see more like this happening, fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts and even grandparents all former cadets talking positively to their offspring about the experience they had and then finding it is light years away from that and not in a good way.

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it is what i enjoy and know.

i’ve been kicking around for 20 years in the organisation, i’ve been doing it longer than I haven’t if that makes sense? (ie more than 50% of my life I’ve been involved with the ATC)

Having started as a teenager i thoroughly enjoyed myself, when it came to aging out i enjoyed it too much to simply walk away as many of my friends did, and had already been deemed medically unfit for any Military service, and so thrilled when i was invited to be a staff member.

in my time i have picked up a few qualifications, some of them (potentially) useful in civilian life (BEL, FAAW, D1) but the biggest draw for me has to be the very many friends I have made along the way, many CFAVs are “colleagues”, but a good number are friends.

I have been to at least 6 weddings of CFAVs, at least 4 stag dos (and invited to many more), attended 2 funerals of CFAVs, i have been to towns and cities i simply wouldn’t otherwise visit to meet up with friends made on camps and courses.
At my own wedding of the 6 tables, two of those were my friends and both had CFAVs seated on them.

why do i stay?
i enjoy it.
i enjoy teaching, instructing and passing on my knowledge and experience to Cadets, some of that knowledge they can’t get so readily elsewhere.
I enjoy seeing that Cadet’s face split in two when something great happens, be it their first flight, when they find out they passed a WHT, or another experience that smile and often “thanks Sir” reminds me I am making a difference.
the Cadets seem to like me and how I get involved; they are not put off by the events i organise and coordinate, be that a day trip to an airshow or aviation museum or a day walk practising map reading skills all typically well attended and often “when are we doing this again sir?”

i enjoying spending my time with those who have a shared interest, and as some of those are Cadets I enjoy the fact that they can learn from me.

to ask the opposite question, why don’t i leave?
I would miss it.
i would have to do something else as i don’t like sitting still. I’d end up joining the scouts or a local gliding club or something to get that same kick.
if i did nothing i would probably end up putting on weight as i sat in front of the idiot box like a couch potato each evening.

critically i wouldn’t see my friends as often, i am sure we all know Staff who have taken a break, stepped back a bit, or left completely who we don’t see anymore and are left with updates on Facebook to find out how they are doing, what their bank holiday plans are (were) and how the kids are getting on.

I attend RIAT year after year and have definitely made friends for life. Some are in the next County/Wing to me, others the opposite ends of the Country, for many Facebook is the way to stay in touch, while the odd few the effort is made to find the excuse to meet up, more often than not most each July we get together again and it is like the last 11 months apart was 11 hours.


This is a key phrase and why people just keep doing the same old, same old.
It would be difficult in some ways to go somewhere else and start from scratch after such a long time in the ATC. People I know who got made redundant in the 00s started new jobs in their late 40s after working somewhere for 20+ years say they found it difficult to find their feet in a new job and several had 2 or more jobs before settling.

I’m looking more and more at the door now, there are now more people I know who have left the ATC that I get on with and see than are in the ATC. The majority now are similar ages to or younger than our children and many I knew as cadets, and while we may have the ATC as common link, I don’t enjoy socialising with them like I do / did my peers. I go out with my son for beer because he’s my son and father and son should do things, but I don’t go out with my son and his mates as that would be weird.

Don’t let us stop you.


I claim my Prize for outing RC (LASER)

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I’m sure they feel the same way and are glad when you leave them alone.

Eh? Me or Teflon?

The problem is apart from the ATC I don’t have the same life experiences etc that when you speak with or out with people around the same age. When I was there age I didn’t enjoy socialising with the staff who are my age now and I doubt they enjoyed being with us youngsters. I don’t know if you have kids, but would you want to go out with them and a group of their mates? Same thing in the ATC. Mind you a lot of the youngsters in our Wing seem to eat, sleep and defecate Air Cadets, which makes them even less appealing to socialise with.

Generally speaking, we mix pretty well across the generations. It’s certain personalities - not age brackets - that don’t gel.

it is interesting, last night my wife and i went to friends for a BBQ. I know them through the ATC and who are old enough to be my parents (they are 10 years younger than my parents, but they could be and not even teenage years either).

I have no issues socialising with Staff of any age, perhaps I am an interesting enough person to have more than than ATC to talk about (or in Teflon’s case, moan about). At my previous Squadron i would be regularly seen in the local public house after parade. We had the local Squadron Staff and Staff of two other out of town units (which included me) who lived in town meet at the pub, we had a vast mix of ages from 50s to brand new CIs from 018 Cadets.

it wouldn’t be unusual for those same friends to meet up for a BBQ, or birthday party, we even did a few curry nights or similar.

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