The force, which has links to the Royal Family, has more than 40,000 members aged between 12 and 20.
This year Air Cadet squadrons around the country will be taking part in events to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Among them is Squadron 83 (St Georges), which is based in Trench, Telford, which is joining the celebrations in Oakengates.
One of more than 100 squadrons in the UK, it currently has 40 Cadets regularly attending its parade nights.
“The whole aim is to equip young people with life skills and experiences they might otherwise get in traditional education,”says Flying Officer and Officer Commanding, Kyle Matty. The RAF Air Cadets was founded in 1941 during WW2, and during this time Air Cadets played a key role in equipping and maintaining RAF aircraft. Since then, the RAF Air Cadets has evolved towards equipping young people aged 12-20 with life skills useful in both military and civilian life, as well as inspiring an interest in aviation and the outdoors. This is echoed by our organisation’s motto – Venture – Adventure.”
The organisation has gone from strength to strength over the last few decades with girls able to join from the early 1980s, helping to bring more people together to enjoy everything that Air Cadet life has to offer.
Members of Squadron 83 (St Georges) are taught an aviation syllabus, which includes the history of the RAF and the RAF Air Cadets, airframes, aircraft propulsion and airmanship to name but a few.
Upon completion, Cadets gain a Level 2 BTEC in Aviation Studies, which is worth two GCSEs.
Cadets also have the opportunity each year to go flying and gliding at RAF Cosford or RAF Ternhill as well as a multitude of other opportunities such as rifle shooting, first aid, leadership courses, cyber security courses, radio courses, and music band training.
It provides young people with opportunities they can put on their CV and show they have other interests and have invested time in learning new skills like first aid which I think is something all kids should have knowledge of.
They don’t have to be at Air Cadets – every Cadet is there of their own volition. They want to push themselves and their want to better themselves.”
Fitness is another important aspect of Cadet life and each squadron runs lots of different sport activities as well as offering opportunities to compete in tournaments with other squadrons.
Cadets wear the same uniform as regular RAF personnel – blue uniform for classroom activities and green uniform for field exercises.
“They are expected to look after their uniform themselves,” explains Kyle, a former Air Cadet who now works as a paramedic.
“They need to wash and iron it and make sure it’s looking its best at all times. This teaches them to be self-sufficient, ready for when they go to university or leave home.”
Cadets are encouraged to play a part in their community and regularly support the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.
Last year, two members of the squadron were shortlisted for the High Sheriff of Shropshire Outstanding Young Citizens Award for their fundraising contributions for the RAF Benevolent Fund by walking 83 miles in three days.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme has featured proudly in the Air Cadets’ training program for many years with all members encouraged to work towards their Bronze, Silver and Gold awards.
Prince Philip was the Air Training Corps’ Honorary Air Commodore-in-Chief for 63 years and throughout his Royal Patronage, he frequently met with Cadets and took a keen interest in their activities and achievements.
The Duchess of Cambridge became the third Patron in RAF Air Cadets’ 80 years when she took over the role in December 2015. King George VI was the first Air Commodore-in-Chief.
Each year RAF Air Cadets earn over 3,000 bronze, silver and gold awards and have been awarded more Duke of Edinburgh Awards than any other organisation.
Cadets proudly wear the badges on their uniform indicating which level of Duke of Edinburgh Award they have achieved.
As Cadets become more experienced, they can take on extra responsibilities and have opportunities to develop their self-confidence and leadership skills to move up the ranks including Cadet Corporal and Cadet Sergeant.
“It helps to bring them out of their shell and share their knowledge and drive with younger Cadets,” says Kyle.
Although the squadron tends to recruit new Cadets at specific times of the year, Kyle says he will always welcome anyone who wants to attend a parade night to find out more about what’s involved.
“We will never turn away anyone who turns up at the gate, especially when they have taken the time and plucked up the courage to find out what it’s all about. I want to encourage young people to give it a go. All I ask is that they try their hardest,” says Kyle.
Squadron 83 parades at Territorial House in Trench on Mondays and Thursdays from 7pm to 9.30pm.
For more information about joining the Air Cadets or volunteering, visit www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets or call the membership line on 0345 6006601.