The ATC was formed on the 5th February 1941 and now has just under 1,000 squadrons, which are divided into 6 Regions, each containing 6 different Wings. 2491 (Lyneham) Squadron is part of Dorset and Wiltshire Wing, within the South West Region.
The Aims of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets are:
- To promote and encourage among young people a practical interest in aviation and the RAF.
- To provide training which will be useful in both the services and civilian life.
- To foster the spirit of adventure and to help develop the qualities of leadership and citizenship
The Royal Air Force Air Cadets (aka ‘Air Cadets’) is the youth organisation sponsored by the Royal Air Force that manages both the Air Training Corps and RAF Sections of the Combined Cadet Force. The organisation is headed by a former serving RAF officer, Commandant Air Cadets.
The RAF Air Cadets is made up of two areas:
Air Training Corps - The ATC is the RAF's cadet force, divided into six regions, 34 wings and more than 900 squadrons within communities around the UK.
Combined Cadet Force (RAF) - The CCF (RAF) is our section of the CCF which is made up of cadets from all three services, coming together in approximately 200 independent and state schools across the country.
Are you up for fun, adventure, incredible experiences and making new friends? Are you looking for something to give you the edge in life? We’re a UK-wide cadet force with more than 40,000 members. It is community based and open to anyone aged between 12 (and in year 8), (maximum of 17 years old as a new recruit) and 19 years old. As mentioned, we are organised into more than 900 squadrons around the country, we’re probably closer than you think!
As we’re sponsored by the Royal Air Force, we can give you hands-on experience of activities and courses that will challenge and develop your skills to help you succeed in whatever you want to do. HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is also our Honorary Air Commandant!
Amongst the many adventurous training opportunities on offer, we are the largest operator of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme.
The ATC motto is 'Venture - Adventure' and our cadets know that it's more than just words - it's an attitude that helps you stand out from the crowd.
And there's one more important thing - it's a lot of fun!
This brief history (extracted from the official ‘RAFAC’ website) tells how the RAF Air Cadets was formed. As an essential part of the RAF, supplying better-trained and experienced personnel during times of war, it has evolved into the largest air cadet organisation in the world.
The First Cadets
In 1859 several schools around the country began forming armed, uniformed units of adults and older boys with the purpose of protecting Britain in the event of an attack from overseas. By the turn of the century there were units in more than 100 schools and, in 1908, the units were re-titled the Officer Training Corps (OTC). Many ex-cadets and officers served with distinction during the First World War.
By the 1930s the beginnings of today’s CCF (RAF) appeared in the form of OTC Air Sections. In Army uniform, but with an RAF armband, they trained very much like today.
Air Commodore Chamier, the Air League and the ADCC
It was a simple enough idea. The Second World War was on the horizon and if aircraft were to be used as a major combat strength, then the RAF would need a serious amount of combat-ready pilots and competent support crew to keep them in the air.
That idea came from Air Commodore J A Chamier, now known as the father of the air cadets. He served in the army, the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF in 1919 (not long after it formed). With his love for aviation, he was determined to get British people aware of the RAF and its vital role in any future war. He wanted to establish an air cadet corps, encouraging young people to consider a career in aviation - pretty exciting at a time when very few people ever got the chance to fly. His experience in World War I, where training time was very limited, convinced him that the sooner training began the better prepared and experienced a person would be in combat.
So, in 1938 the Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) was founded by Air Commodore Chamier who was then Secretary-General of the Air League – an organisation made up of people who wanted to make the British public aware of the importance of military aviation.
Demand for places was high and squadrons were set up in as many towns around the UK as possible. Local people ran them and each squadron aimed to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm (the Royal Navy's aircraft division). They also helped form the diverse programme of activities that our cadets enjoy today.
During World War II, with many instructors being drafted into the RAF and squadron buildings being used by the military, cadets were sent to work on RAF stations. They carried messages, handled aircraft and moved equipment. They filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition. They were invaluable.
By the end of the war, in just 7 years since the formation of the ADCC, almost 100,000 cadets had joined the RAF.
The ATC and CCF
Towards the end of 1940, the government realised the value of the cadet force and took control of the ADCC. It reorganised and renamed it, and on the 5th February 1941 the Air Training Corps was officially established with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief.
Today’s Air League
The founding organisation of the ATC is today a sector leading aviation and aerospace charity focused on changing lives through aviation. Its core purpose is to inspire people into the aviation industry from all backgrounds and to champion the British Aviation and Aerospace Industry. Each year many hundreds of people from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from Air League support to help them start a career, builds self-esteem and well-being, make them feel valued and realise what they can achieve.
The Air League aims to break down the perceived barriers to the aviation industry and through scholarships and outreach programmes create a life-long impact on beneficiaries, many of which stay involved throughout their careers.
During World War ll, the school-based OTC Air Sections were absorbed into the ATC. In 1948, the OTC was renamed the Combined Cadet Force and most of the original OTC Air Sections became CCF (RAF) units. This is the structure that exists today with some CCF (RAF) sections boasting a history of nearly 150 years of service!
The organisation has gone from strength to strength over the last few decades. Girls were able to join from the early 1980s, helping to bring more people together to enjoy everything that Air Cadet life has to offer.
*Information taken from the offical RAFC website and correct at the time of publishing.