History & Corps Values

The Air Training Corps

The ATC is community-based and open to anyone aged between 13, or 12 if you are in year 8, and 20 years who are eligible (read full details in our Becoming A Cadet section). Organised has more than 900 squadrons around the country.

Amongst the many adventurous training opportunities on offer, we are the largest operator of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme.

The ATC motto is ‘Venture – Adventure’ and our cadets know that it’s more than just words – it’s an attitude that helps you stand out from the crowd.

The aims of the Air Cadets are to:

Promote and encourage an interest in aviation and the RAF
Provide training that would be useful in both Service as well as civilian life
Foster a spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship

History of the ATC

That idea came from Air Commodore J A Chamier, now known as the father of the Air Cadet Organisation. He served in the army, the Royal Flying Corps and the RAF in 1919 (not long after it formed). With his love for aviation, he was determined to get British people aware of the RAF and its vital role in any future war. He wanted to establish an air cadet corps, encouraging young people to consider a career in aviation – pretty exciting at a time when very few people ever got the chance to fly. His experience in World War I, where training time was very limited, convinced him that the sooner training began the better prepared and experienced a person would be in combat.

So, in 1938 the Air Defence Cadet Corps (ADCC) was founded. Demand for places was high and squadrons were set up in as many towns around the UK as possible. Local people ran them and each squadron aimed to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm (the Royal Navy’s aircraft division). They also helped form the diverse programme of activities that our cadets enjoy today.

During World War II, with many instructors being drafted into the RAF and squadron buildings being used by the military, cadets were sent to work on RAF stations. They carried messages, handled aircraft and moved equipment. They filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition. They were invaluable.

By the end of the war, in just 7 years since the formation of the ADCC, almost 100,000 cadets had joined the RAF.

Towards the end of 1940, the government realised the value of the cadet force and took control of the ADCC. It reorganised and renamed it, and on the 5th February 1941 the Air Training Corps was officially established with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief.

The organisation has gone from strength to strength over the last few decades. Girls were able to join from the early 1980s, helping to bring more people together to enjoy everything that Air Cadet life has to offer.

Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire Wing

Wing staff develop and coordinate strategy for the squadrons and act as a “parent” in the hierarchy of the organisation, with the next tier being Central & East Region.

Bedfordshire & Cambridgeshire Wing (or “Beds & Cambs” as it’s frequently known as) comprises of 30 Squadrons from the area. The Beds & Cambs Wing Headquarters is at RAF Wyton and the Squadrons can be found in many towns and villages. To find your local Squadron, click