about us

Introduction to the RAF Air Cadets

The RAF Air Cadets is a military-themed youth group sponsored by the RAF. It is not set up as a recruitment organisation for the RAF and it is not part of the military. Joining does not mean you will have to join the military.

You can join from 12 years old and in year 8 at school upwards. Cadets can stay right up until their 20th birthday and some choose to stay on as adult instructors past this. New cadets are welcome up to about 16 years of age.

What Do the RAF Air Cadets Do?

We do lots of things. On the military side we have shooting, fieldcraft (tactics and operating outside), drill, engineering and flying. We also have a fledgeling military band at 457.

On the civilian side we put a lot of emphasis on adventure training, this includes walking, climbing, kayaking and of course the Duke of Edinburgh award. We also take part in sports, teamwork and leadership training.

What’s it Like?

A lot of fun. If you are picturing a drill sergeant screaming into your face you are miles from the truth. We are training you for life, not war. Today’s cadet forces are about mentoring and encouraging, not balling cadets out.

We do have rules, because rules make things run more smoothly and we are themed on the military so there are certain protocols you need to abide by but we will teach you all that and you won’t be shouted at for not knowing the finer points of etiquette.

Cadets is a hugely social and inclusive organisation. We have cadets who are openly gay, with special needs and of different races and religion. Some cadets who struggle socially at school find its a whole different affair at cadets. A squadron should feel like your home away from home and you will spend time away with your squadron. You will also make friends from other squadrons at Wing events.

A fully involved cadet can expect to come in twice a week, then do 3 to 6 single day events like sports, go away for a couple of weekends and potentially a week long summer camp every year. If you are not smiling, you are not doing it right.

How Much Does it Cost?

Thanks to the RAF and our volunteer staff, it’s very reasonable.

Monthly subscriptions cost £12 per month.

Camps range from £5-£20 for a weekend and weekly camps around £50. Some overseas camps do cost a couple of hundred pounds but these are rare.

Blue uniform is issued free of charge, you will need to buy smart uniform shoes which cost in £20-30 range. You may also need to buy Green uniform, but if we have it, we will issue that too.

When is it?

Mondays and Thursdays, 19:00 to 21:30. If they have other commitments they can come only once a week if need be. We try to stay open all year around, we are only closed bank holidays and Christmas.

How Big is it?

Pretty large. 457 (Farnborough) Squadron is the largest squadron in Hampshire & the Isle of Wight wing with just under 70 cadets. Chances are you may know somebody already! Across the whole Corps we have around 56,000 cadets spread over 1,000 locations.

Sounds Great, How Do I Join?

Get in touch with us, come along for a few weeks and if you like it, you can join. There is currently no waiting list, but our numbers are growing all of the time!