There are five different cadet classifications (or grades) that show what stage of training a cadet has completed. As you progress through the classification structure the training becomes progressive more detailed and more specialised. It is designed to give you the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to more fully take part in the other activities available to you. Training will vary between formal lessons, hands-on projects and outdoors activities. There will also be opportunities outside of the Squadron to obtain or develop valuable skills and knowledge.
When you start as a cadet, you will initially become a Junior Air Cadet. The initial part of your training will introduce you to the Air Cadet Organisation, teach you basic foot drill and provide you with a uniform and guidance on how to care for it. Once you have covered the basics, you will enrolled and become a Second Class Air Cadet. From here you will begin formal your classification training. Initially you will study a wide range of subjects, both theory and practical based as you study to become a First Class cadet. This is the first classification you can obtain and should take between 4-6 months after you join. You will study a wide range of subjects, from the RAF to Initial Expedition Training, both in formal lessons and with hands on training.
The next stage in your training is to become a Leading Air Cadet. This involves learning basic navigation and map reading, understanding how an aircraft flies and stays in the air and being able to identify common aircraft and understand how an airfield works. Once you have completed the 3 assessments required you will become a leading cadet. This should take approximately a year after becoming 1st Class. Upon completion of your First Class and Leading training you will be eligible for a BTEC Award in Aviation Studies
The next classification you study for is Senior Air Cadet. At this point you will begin to narrow down the subject that you take, but will study them in more detail. There are 12 subjects to choose from, of which only 3 will be studied. They include how a jet engine works, the theory behind rocket power, how planes and navigators navigate using not just a map and compass, but the full range of instruments a plane offers, they also include the principles of Radar and Radio, as well as the use of Air Power and the construction of planes. Once you have completed the 3 subjects, you will become a Senior Air Cadet. Again this should take about 1 year after you become a Leading Air Cadet.
The next classification you study for is Master Air Cadet. Continuing from Senior, you will study a further 3 subjects, from the 12 available to you. Once you have completed the 3 assessments, you will become a Master Air Cadet. Again this should take about 1 year after you become a Senior Air Cadet. Upon completion of your Master Air Cadet training you will be eligible for a BTEC Certificate in Aviation Studies.
The final classification you can achieve is Instructor Air Cadet. This does not involve formal examinations, but does require attendance upon a Method of Instruction Course, followed by a consolidation period and assessment. This will qualify you to teach other cadets various aspects of the Air Cadet syllabus. Unlike the earlier classifications, you obtain a lanyard as opposed to a badge. This makes instructor cadets very distinct and shows they have completed the full level of academic training available to them.
However it does not end there. Other lanyards are available for cadets who have completed further courses, training them in additional leadership and field craft skills (Junior Leaders Course), or aviation related disciplines (Aerospace Instructor Course). Also available are various sports and adventure training courses, shooting courses, health and safety, media communications, radio, cyber defence, music and many more, all allowing you do develop yourself more.
Junior Leaders Course
The Air Cadet Junior Leaders (JL) Course is a training course for 17-20 year old, Master Air Cadets. The course aims to develop leadership and other important skills within the cadets, both for use in military and civilian life. The Junior Leaders is a national organisation supported by the RAF, the RAF Regiment and carries the Institute of Leadership Management (ILM) and Heart Start First Aid qualifications for its graduates.
The course takes place over nine training weekends between September and the following Easter during which time the cadets will complete a programme of formal training covering subjects as diverse as weapon handling, leadership theory, Mess etiquette, practical leadership skills along with physical fitness training and assessment. Cadets are expected to attend every weekend as well as working in between training periods by preparing lectures, doing research on Airpower and other subjects and improving their fitness. As well as continual assessment during the training weekends cadets will need to pass exams at the end of each Phase and will be “relentlessly tested” during the week-long third phase, most of which is spent in the field.
On completion of the course, graduates are awarded the JL Lanyard to wear on their uniform and the prestigious JL DZ flash to be worn on the Soldier 95 uniform.
Qualified Aerospace Instructor Course
The Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course (QAIC) is a training course for 16-20 year old, Master Air Cadets. Its graduates are uniquely qualified to operate the new equipment and programmes purchased for the Regional Activity Centres (RACs), the Air Cadet Engagement (ACE) platforms and the Air Operations Acquaintance Centre. It also provides cadets with an overview of many elements of Aerospace applications, both within the military and civilian areas.
The course takes place over seven training weekends between September and the following Easter during which time the cadets will complete a programme of formal training covering subjects as diverse as Air Traffic Control, Basic Flight Training, Air Power, Radio, Aerodynamics, Leadership, Presentation Skills and Group Work. Cadets are expected to attend every weekend as well as working in between training periods by preparing lectures and doing research on various subjects. As well as continual assessment during the training weekends cadets will need to the final assessment at the end of the course.
On completion of the course, graduates are awarded the QAI Lanyard to wear on their uniform and are authorised to deploy and run the ACE platform and assist at the various RAC’s around the country.