As I’ve recently celebrated away my undergraduate graduation and am in the process of preparing for my Masters I’ve been filtering through stuff back at home, and I stumbled across this little masterpiece:
I’ll refer to this little blue book as a ‘masterpiece’ as it truly holds many records and memories of my time in the Air Training Corps, and I’d forgotten how meaningful the Air Cadets is to me. To anyone who is, or has been, or even is thinking about becoming an Air Cadet (or any other cadet) then you will be aware of the amazing opportunities, lessons, and unique challenges being a cadet presents to you.
I was so happy when I stumbled across my logbook, it instantly reminded me of the friends I made, and the cool things I did (albeit mostly under strict discipline, as in the ATC staff like to scare you, and make you endlessly march around RAF bases ha!) Though, secretly, I admit that the discipline fortified by drill, and strict (yet sassy) NCO’s and Adult NCO’s is part of what – in my opinion – makes being an Air Cadet so much fun.
The spirit of all individuals within the Air Training Corps is uniquely special, yet often humerus and quirky – quite possibly a prime example of stereo-typical military personnel. To clarify: everyone is awesome, to be disciplined yet remain true to yourself, and form bonds with people whom you spend a lot of time with, really provides you with team moral and camaraderie. Maybe I’m referring to members of the ATC (staff included) as ‘stereo-typically military’ as those whom I’ve met in the MOD, as well as the ATC, have all have fantastic characters bucked up by an awesome personality. The essence of sharing like-minded passions, and an interest in active, adventurous lifestyles, is what helps form team-spirit and trust. It’s much like having an annoying older brother or sister – who quite happily takes the mick out of you, but the respect and willingness to guide is still there. I’m rambling a lot, but what I’m basically trying to say is – everyone I met through the Air Cadets has truly been brilliant, and the experiences we shared together made these friendships even cooler – mainly because others would think you crazy if you started talking about doing aerobatics in a Grob Tutor at the weekend.
Without a doubt camps were one of my favourite components of my ATC life. Being able to stay at a RAF station, explore the local area and go out on exercises add that to the fun of the inevitable drill competition we always faced, and it’s a recipe for exhilaration and joy! There’s many different types of camps; two of the main being uniform and non-uniform camps, then there’s weekend exercises, IACE (International Air Cadet Exchange,) Easter/summer camps, overseas camps, and adventurous training.
I loved every camp I was lucky enough to attend, especially two non-uniform camps: Windermere and Llanbedr. The uniform camps I attended were equally as cool (RAF Brampton and RAF Wittering,) I was also offered places at RAF Leeming and RAF Akrotori – but had to give them a miss (which I still regret ha!)
I also battled away my energy at weekend exercises, sports weekends, trips to Belgium and much more.
Llanbedr Camp Moments:
The Air Training Corps provides young people with the opportunity to train and gain an insight into military life, doing so by creating plenty of unique, cool opportunities for cadets. Whilst I was an air cadet I was able to experience bucket list-esque stuff, such as: flying a plane (multiple times,) gliding, treks, canoeing, kayaking, camping, archery, orienteering, obstacle courses, quad-biking, helicopter rides, volunteering as MOD personnel at air shows, military band, trips to RAF stations and USAF stations, sports, rock climbing, high rope kinda stuff, and much much more! This post is becoming pretty long, so I’m gunna include another gallery packed with photos (as I’m currently obsessing over my ATC time, so I wish to bombard you with as many photos as possible!)
Value: Is Being an Air Cadet worth it?
I had this as a heading for another sub-paragraph, and the only words I can find to answer this are: Definitely yes, being an Air Cadet offered me many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, experiences and friendships I shall cherish forever.