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Air Training Corps

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The Royal Air Force version of these plucky little chaps: ACF. Affectionately known as 'Space Cadets' or simply 'Spaceys', this fine body of uniformed youth are the ideal solution for airfields awash with rubbish deposited by Joseph Public after airshows. Also open to girlies since the early '80s [Admitted five minutes after I'd left the ATC]. Some are quite fit too.

Formed in 1941 from its forerunner the Air Defence Cadet Corps, when the government realised that it did a fine job in producing aircrew. It was absorbed into the RAF and came under control of Training Command, where its role was to provide young men for service with the RAF and Fleet Air Arm.

Today the Corps still resides in Personnel & Training Command and is the only cadet corps to be fully controlled by its parent service. Its Officers are commisioned into the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training) after a one week course at Cranwell.

The ATC is run by HQAC at RAFC Cranwell headed by the Commandant Air Cadets, a regular Air Commodore. Currently Air Commodore CBE Dawn McCafferty RAF, the first female commandant of the corps. The post is due to be taken over by an officer of the permanent reserve to insure continuity.The officer will be of Air Commodore rank. Air Commodore Coopers' tenure comes to an end in July 2020

The Squadron forms the basis of the ATC and are found in most towns and cities. Each squadron is numbered and the first fifty squadrons have an F after its number. 1F (City of Leicester) Squadron is the oldest ATC unit. Squadrons are grouped into wings which are in turn grouped into regions, which are grouped into the Corps.

Many squadrons are housed in decrepit 'Cadet Huts', most of which have been standing for more than 60 years. Most are situated on TA or RAF bases and are riddled with asbestos. The buildings are traditionally held together by Black Nasty and the feverish prayers of cadets and staff.

The ATC Ranks follow that of the RAF - i.e. Corporal, Sergeant, Flight Sergeant and Cadet Warrant Officer.

The corps provides more young men and women into the Armed Forces than any other, yet despite this are still underfunded (Under SDR the Corps was threatened with disbandment) and plagued by Health and Safety Nazis.

There is a widely held belief that without staff the entire corps would operate in a far more efficent way.

The ATC celebrated its 70th Anniversary in 2011, and it's strength is actually greater than that of the RAF by a considerable margin.

Website: Air Cadets