How To Join

Here’s a brief guide on how to join the Royal Air Force Air Cadets, either as a cadet or as an adult volunteer.

Joining as a cadet…

Step 1: Age Check

Minimum age: you must be 12 and in Year 8.

Maximum age: you may join up to the day before your 17th birthday.

Step 2: Locate your local squadron

Click here to find your local Squadron.

Check that their parades are on days you can attend.

Step 3: Contact your local squadron

The telephone and email contact details are in the Local Squadrons section, together with addresses.

(Please note that as the Air Cadets is primarily an evening activity, the telephone is only answered on parade nights, and between parade nights answer-phone messages will not be actioned until the next parade.)

Alternatively, please contact Wing Headquarters via email or on 0161 228 0624 (office hours).

Step 4: Squadron Intakes

Local Air Cadet squadrons have different ways of taking on new recruits, depending upon their size and structure.

Some squadrons will take on new recruits at any time.

Other squadrons have periodic intakes throughout the year, so that new cadets may join as a group and go through the initial training together.

Each local squadron will explain its intake procedures.


Joining as an adult volunteer…

There are many ways in which adults can volunteer within the organisation.

Please note that all adult volunteers are subject to DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks and are required to undertake training courses as necessary.

The safeguarding of the young people in the organisation is paramount.

Civilian Committee

Many parents/carers of cadets want to become more involved to support their young people within the Air Cadets. Every RAFAC squadron is required to have a Civilian Committee which runs the finances of the unit and has oversight of the running of the squadron. Without a Civilian Committee, the squadron is not allowed to run! Other common activities of the civilian committees are to run cadet canteens and to assist with fundraising.

If you would like to join your local Civilian Committee, please contact the Chair of your local squadron through the local squadron, or do so via Wing Headquarters – email or on 0161 228 0624 (office hours).

Civilian Instructor

For those who wish to become involved directly in the training and development of the young people, this is the first step. There is a Wing-based suitability interview process and training programme before taking up post.

The most common volunteer designation in Air Cadets is Civilian Instructor – it’s a varied role allowing you to use your skills where they best fit. You can give as much or little time as you can, and you don’t need any formal qualifications – just enthusiasm that’s infectious.

Many cadets go straight into volunteer roles when they leave at 20 years old – often they feel that they can ‘give back’ their great experiences to a new generation of young people.

Uniformed Staff

For some adult volunteers, they choose to advance their involvement in the RAFAC by becoming uniformed staff.

If you choose, you may apply to become a sergeant or an officer in the RAFAC. As an Air Cadet senior-NCO (non-commissioned officer) or a commissioned-officer you can claim up to 28 days’ volunteer allowance per year and work your way up through the ranks in a similar manner to the RAF.

For senior-NCOs, the position is subject to a Wing-based preparation and suitability interview process. The same process exists for commissioned officers, but the final selection is held at HQ Air Cadets at RAF College Cranwell.

Service Instructors

For those who are current serving members of HM Armed Forces (full-time or reserve).

Service Instructors are subject to DBS-checks and must complete the compulsory safeguarding courses.

Chaplain

The chaplaincy provides appropriate pastoral care for all personnel within the Air Cadets, irrespective of religious belief or status.

If you’re a minister or priest of any religion you can apply to become a chaplain at any of our squadrons. There are openings for lay ministers such as readers, lay preachers and others who fulfil an authorised ministry in the pastoral work of the parish, circuit or district.

Where appropriate to meet the needs of cadets from non-Christian faiths, clerics from other religions may also be appointed. As an Honorary Chaplain, you don’t wear a uniform but are recognised by a Chaplain’s badge worn on your lapel and the larger edition worn on your preaching scarf.

For more information about the Chaplains role, click here.