Air Training Corps

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Air Training Corps

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Review of "Air Training Corps"

published 21/09/2005 | sandemp
Member since : 21/10/2002
Reviews : 770
Members who trust : 223
About me :
Mum to four adult children and two little monsters. A very special and different six year old and cleverclogs of a two year old. Starting a series of weight loss themed reviews.
Pro Exciting activities, discipline, make friends
Cons None
very helpful

" Much more exciting than Scouts......"

As a child I belonged to many different youth organisations. I tried Brownies and Guides, but thought that the Scouts would have been much more fun, sadly they didn't take girls at that time (they do now). As soon as I was old enough, I joined Venture Scouts, and enjoyed the more adventurous activities offered there, but the organisation I really wanted to join was the Air Training Corps. When I first reached joining age, my local squadron didn't accept girls, but when I was 16 they finally decided to open their doors to those of a female persuasion and I was one of the first intake. I stayed with the squadron until I was 18 (and pregnant with my first child) enjoyed myself immensely, learnt lots of new skills, and now my 14 year old son has just become a cadet himself.

---History of The ATC---

The ATC was originally formed in 1941 as a way of helping train young men, who would then be ready to take their place in the RAF (and the other forces). As part of the training these young men would have already learnt how to care for their uniforms, parade and recognise aircraft, so the RAF would have had to spend less time and money training these young recruits. (I know that sounds cynical, but remember the RAF saved us from invasion). Although this was the original idea, the corps is still thriving today, and as well as being a staging post for youngsters dreaming of a career in the RAF, it is also a great way for them to learn self-respect, self-discipline and have fun at the same time.

---Who Can Join?---

The ATC is open to young men and women aged 13-20, although if you reach the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer you are able to stay until you are 22. Most disabilities are catered for, although access to some activities will depend on the facilities available to the particular squadron. As I said I joined at 16 and would have done so much earlier if only girls had been accepted at the time.

---How Do I Join?---

Different squadrons have different rules for intake, some will accept new recruits at any time, but others will only accept them on certain dates. Before you join, it's a good idea to have a look round, and most squadrons will be only too willing to give you a guided tour, where you can watch the cadets parading, drilling, taking classes or just relaxing in their break. It's an even better idea to take one of your parents with you, just so that they know that you'll be safe while you're having fun. To find out where your local squadron is, take a look at the ATC website at : where you can find details of squadron locations and contact details for the region Wings (A bit like head offices).

---Your First parade---

Squadrons generally hold two parades a week, and in case you're wondering a parade isn't just standing in file, but the name given to the meetings. When you attend your first parade, you're likely to be feeling a little overwhelmed, and more than a little bit out of place. They'll probably be a bit of shouting, while most of the cadets are in uniform and know exactly what they are doing, you probably won't. Don't worry though, it's very easy to pick up the basics and by the end of the first evening you'll be able to stand to attention like a pro. My first session was almost completely dedicated to basic drill, and I'll admit I was lucky in that my Dad had been in the forces and had taught me this basic drill, but even those who didn't have this advantage were still able to pick it up by the end of the first evening.

---Your Uniform---

Once you've been regularly attending for a while, you'll be issued with your very own uniform, free of charge. Yes you read that right, you don't have to pay for your uniform, all you will need to buy is a pair or boots (and/or shoes for the girls). The uniform is very smart, and consists of airforce blue trousers (and skirt for the girls), shirt, jumper and beret. This uniform is nothing less than a "babe magnet", well according to my son anyway, and I must admit that I've always quite liked the look of a man in a military uniform. It takes a bit of work to keep your uniform up to scratch, but you'll be taught the basics of such things as polishing your shoes, getting sharp creases in your trousers and shaping your beret.


As well as the obvious activity of drilling, which is a lot more fun than it sounds, you'll find there are a plethora of other events to take part in (depending on the squadron). In my time I learnt to shoot (with live ammunition), flew a plane and glider (not just flew in but also took the controls), went camping, abseiled, took part in war games, played in hockey tournaments, was a drummer in the band… you get the idea? All these activities still take place now, although some are only available to older cadets.

As well as all the fun activities, you will also take part in classes, where you will learn some useful skills, such as first aid and some not quite so useful, aircraft recognition. You then will be able to take some exams, and when you pass them you will be awarded a new cadet status, ranging from basic (when you first start), up to staff cadet. With each new ranking you get a badge, and it really does feel good to be awarded it in front of the squadron. These tests aren't particularly difficult, are all multiple choice and if you have any difficulties such as dyslexia then special allowances can be made. If you show special promise and leadership skills you might even find yourself promoted into the Cadet Non-commissioned Officers (NCO), as a corporal to begin with, but you could rise to the heady rank of Cadet warrant Officer. Although I never actually got to be a NCO, I did manage to get to Staff Pt 1, which meant that there were occasions when I was senior in my flight.

---What Cadets Did For Me---

My time in the ATC, did so much for me, I not only made friends but my self-confidence improved no end, I learnt so many new skills, from shooting a rifle, to learning to work in a team. I really couldn't think of any other organisation that would have let take control of a plane, or the responsibility to take help teach drill to a group of younger cadets. I learnt to accept discipline and my own self-discipline improved no end. I also wanted to join the RAF, and this would have been a huge stepping stone for me. I never did actually get to join, but that's another story. But the fact I was an ATC cadet, was always a bonus on my CV, when I applied for jobs.And all of this, while I was having some of the best fun of my life.

---For the Adults---

This is the part that you will want your parents to read, just to give them some peace of mind.

The air Training Corps is not exactly a youth organisation, so much as a military youth organisation. There are strong links with the RAF, with many of the officers being members of the RAF reserve. All of the instructors have had in depth police and security checks, which are probably (almost definitely) far more thorough than the checks done for say scouts. Parents are also welcome to join the committees, and if you have a special skill that you could share with the cadets then you are able to train to become a Civilian Instructor.

Looking back I've realised just how much I got out of my time at cadets, and your child could gain just as much. My attitude to authority was improved, I learnt to work in a team, I gained self-confidence pride in my appearance and discipline and all the while I was making friends, having fun and taking part in the most amazing activities. We were never forced to take part in any of these activities, but were sometimes persuaded in quite a firm manner, personally I feel that being occasionally shouted at did me a lot of favours.

But one of the best things for parents is there is no expensive uniforms to buy, all you need to provide are a pair of boots and a set of combats, which can be picked up fairly cheaply from an army surplus store. The weekly fees are also very reasonable, my son pays out of his own pocket money. There are a few activities that you will have to pay for, but these are generally only token payments of no more than a few pounds.

---Final Words---

ATC is a brilliant organisation, where your child will learn to become more self-reliant, take more pride in themselves, and become more self-disciplined, all while having a brilliant time. I, myself, was a quiet, shy, unconfident teen when I joined, but by the time I left I could hold my own, and even stand in front of a class giving a lecture. I enjoyed the marching, loved the flying and shooting, and was extremely proud of my uniform. Cadets made me the person I am today, somebody who not only knows how to accept authority, but can also be authoritive when needed, somebody that can look back with pride at her achievements in the cadets and can now listen to her son's enthusiasm over his new squadron.

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Comments on this review

  • andymcf published 29/10/2005
    As an ex-CCF Flt Lt / OC RAF who's been Camp-Commandant (Ooh-Err!) at more summer camps than I care to count, this was a helpful insight into what it's like on the receiving end. Let's hope it inspires more kids to join up! I hope it does! The best cadet I ever had in the section is now my son's Godfather - and a Tornado pilot. Back-seat ride, maybe, in the offing? It's got to be better than the flight he took me on, on paaing his PPL aged 17. All the best! Andrew
  • lizrow published 13/10/2005
    Great review, I have 5 or 6 friends who were in the ATC and when ever they meet up its allll they talk about!!! lol xxx
  • elephants69food_0 published 30/09/2005
    sounds good - a gr8 review em x
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Product Information : Air Training Corps

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Listed on Ciao since: 31/10/2004