As a parent you’re bound to have lots of questions about the Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) and what your child will be doing when they join. This website 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 us and we will be happy to help.
How much does it cost?
We charge subscriptions at £15 per month (Apr’15) which covers the majority of events and activities that your child will be involved with. Optional activities that involve a third party or food/accommodation will be charged at cost, such as an evening’s climbing ~£9, a weekend’s training camp ~£10 or a week’s Annual Camp at an RAF station ~£50. Blue uniform (excluding shoes) is provided, but must be returned when your child leaves. Green uniform or extra kit for optional activities can be loaned from our stores or purchased over time from a range of retailers.
Are they expected to join the military? 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. Although the Air Cadets receives some funding from the RAF, we are not a recruiting organisation. The training & opportunities we provide are held in high regard by civilian employers and there is no pressure on cadets to consider a career in the Services.
How much time will they have to give each week?
We would expect cadets to attend the Squadron on two parade nights a week, on Tuesday and Thursday for approximately 2½ hours. In addition there are many more optional activities that take place at weekends and during school holidays. The amount of time a cadet wishes to commit is up to them and may need to vary with other pressures such as exams. However the more they put in the more they will get out.
What skills can they gain?
During their time with the Air Cadets there are plenty of opportunities for young people to develop a range of extra-curricular skills valuable to future employers. To name a few – teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, first aid, confidence, discipline & personal administration, communication, integrity and commitment. On the curricular side in addition to the aviation-themed subjects taught in classification training, cadets can choose to work towards a BTEC in Teamwork & Personal Development and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Can they learn to fly?
Yes. All cadets have the opportunity to fly at either our Air Experience Flight or Volunteer Gliding Squadron located at RAF Woodvale. Additionally, older cadets can apply for courses and scholarships up to solo or even Private Pilot License level. Otherwise 391 Squadron has an excellent computer Flight Simulator that can be used for basic flight training with one of our instructors.
Who leads and supervises cadets?
391 Squadron is led by a uniformed officer of the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training Branch) and assisted by an adult staff team comprising of fellow officers, ATC Non-Commissioned Officers and Civilian Instructors. All staff have criminal record checks to work with young people and are fully qualified in activities that they’re involved in.
How can I get more involved?
In addition to your important parental role you may want to become a member of our adult team. One option is to become a member of our Civilian Committee who meet monthly to oversee the running of the Squadron and control & raise its funds. The other option is to become an instructor and teach or supervise the cadets in a wide variety of roles.