As a parent you're bound to have lots of questions about the Air Cadet Organisation and what your child will be doing when they become a member. This site should give you a comprehensive overview of the activities they undertake and the expectations that we have of them. Below are some of the most common questions we get, but if there is something we haven't covered do get in touch with your local Squadron or Unit - they will be pleased to help you with any enquiries.
How much does it cost?
Most ACO activities are centrally funded through the RAF which helps to keep costs down. Cadets may be required to pay towards some activities, for example an annual camp might be £40 - a small amount considering what's involved. Most squadrons also charge subscriptions of around approximately £10 per month to cover running costs, transport etc.
At what age can my son or daughter join?
Cadets can join from 13, or 12 if they are currently in year 8 at school, however for some activities such as flying, cadets must be 13¼. For other activities like scholarships, cadets must be 19.
Are they expected to join the military?
No. Although the ACO receives some funding from the RAF, we are not a recruiting organisation. While some cadets do choose to join the military, the training provided by the ACO is held in high regard by civilian employers too and there is no pressure on cadets to consider a Service career.
How much time will they have to give each week?
Typically cadets will attend the Squadron twice a week for up to 2½ hours a night. Outside of these evenings, there are many activities to do at weekends and in the school holidays. The amount of time a cadet wants to commit to is up to them.
Can they learn to fly?
Yes, all cadets will have the opportunity to fly at one of the Air Experience Flights provided by the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons located around the country. Additionally, cadets can apply for scholarships up to Private Pilots Licence level!
Who leads and supervises cadets?
All squadrons are commanded by an Officer of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) who is assisted by Adult Non-Commissioned Officers and Civilian Instructors. All staff have had criminal records checks to work with young people and are fully qualified in the activities they're involved in.
Why do cadets wear uniforms?
The ACO is a military youth organisation affiliated to the Royal Air Force and therefore cadets wear the same uniform as regular RAF personnel.
What uniforms do cadets wear?
Cadets wear blue uniform for classroom activities and green uniform for field exercises.
How do cadets obtain uniforms?
Most uniform is issued by the squadron or section for the length of time they are a member. Cadets may have to purchase items such as shoes or boots but these can be purchased cheaply from military surplus stores.