966 (Wallingford) Squadron

Air Cadet Organisation

Air Training Corps (ATC) is a British cadet organisation; a voluntary youth group which is part of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (officially known as the Air Cadet Organisation or ACO) and is sponsored by the Royal Air Force (RAF).

It is supported by the Ministry of Defence; a regular RAF officer served as Commandant Air Cadets at the rank of Air Commodore until 2012, when the post was changed (as part of the ongoing defence cuts) to a Full Time Reserve Service (FTRS) position, also at Air Commodore rank. The majority of staff are volunteers although some are paid for full-time work.

Although a number of ATC cadets go on to join the RAF or other services every year, the ATC is no longer set up as a recruiting organisation. Activities include sport, hill walking, parade drill, rock climbing, rifle shooting, fieldcraft and other outdoor activities, as well as the study of subjects related to aviation, leading to a national vocational diploma (BTEC). Week-long trips to RAF stations, or camps offering adventure training or music, allow the opportunity for cadets to gain a taste of military life and often to gain some flying experience in RAF gliders.

Currently, membership can now begin at the age of 12. Recruits join as a junior cadet (probationer) and can earn positions of increasing responsibility in a military rank structure, as well as having increasing skill and competence recognised in a classification scheme (First Class, Leading, Senior, Master and Instructor) . Service as a cadet ends at the age of 20. In 2012, the ATC had around 41,000 cadets aged between 13 to 20 years, in 1009 squadrons. Its cadets are supported by a network of around 10,000 volunteer staff and around 5,000 civilian committee members.