History of the Air Cadets


Air Commodore J A Chamier is known as the father of the Air Cadet Organization. He served in the army and in the Royal Flying Corps, which was the forerunner of the Royal Air Force, during World War I. He then went on to join the RAF in 1919, where he served until his retirement in 1929.

During his life in the RAF he developed a strong love for aviation and set about raising awareness of this new military power among the British people. As Secretary General of the Air League, he came up with the idea of establishing an air cadet corps for the nation's youth, encouraging them to consider a career in aviation. His experience in the war had shown him that due to the high demand for personnel, many young men were sent into combat in the air with very little training. Therefore, the sooner training began for these young men, the more knowledge and experience they could carry into combat.

In 1938, the Air Defence Cadet Corps was founded. It began attracting young men with an interest in aviation from all over the country. They began setting up squadrons in as many towns as possible, with local people to run and organise people. each squadron aimed to prepare cadets for joining the RAF or the Fleet Air Arm. They gave instruction in aviation related subjects as well as drill, discipline, PT, shooting, camping and flying.

In World War II, many ADCC officers and instructors were drafted into the RAF. The squadron buildings were commandeered by the military and the cadets were sent to work on RAF stations. The cadets were used to carry messages, perform clerical duties , handle aircraft and move equipment. By the end of the war, they had filled thousands of sandbags and loaded miles of belts of ammunition. The ADCC were also used to quickly prepare many young men who had been drafted and prepare them for basic training.

Towards the end of 1940, the government realised how valuable an asset the ADCC was and took over it's control. The ADCC was reborn and named the Air Training Corps. On the 5th February 1941 the ATC was officially established with King George VI as the Air Commodore-in-Chief and a Royal Warrant was issued setting out the aims of the ATC.

Further Royal Warrants were issued on 30 September 1944, 12 November 1946, 23 June 1947 and 9 August 1968. Regulations contained in these were reviewed by a more recent Royal Warrant dated 19 February 1990.

The distinguishing characteristics of the Corps remain its special relationship with the Royal Air Force and its involvement in flying activities . HRH, the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh is Air Commodore-in-Chief. In 2005 the Air Training Corps numbered some 33,000 cadets and over 9000 Adult Volunteers.