Just about every young person’s secret dream of achieving greatness in their life has become possible, thanks to one of Australia’s best-kept secrets.

See if this sounds familiar. You’re in your early teens and at secondary school. All your life, there’s been pressure from everywhere to conform and obey adults. It seems like you can’t do anything adult until you’re over 18 – and that’s years away.

But right here, right now, you want to make a difference, you want to be different…

You want to be a valued member of your family, you want to be planning a great career that gives you terrific satisfaction as well as financial security. You want to serve your community, and you want to serve Australia. But you don’t know where to start…

If you’re male or female and aged 13 years or over, you can change that sense of longing into actual doing, and begin your extraordinary life right now – by joining the Australian Air Force Cadets

More info tomorrow on Australia’s best kept secret!

So, why did we say yesterday that you can begin your extraordinary life right now by joining the Australian Air Force Cadets?

It’s because we can give you more excitement, challenge and opportunities than just about any other youth organisation in the world.

We know that’s a big statement. Can we prove it? You be the judge.

Here’s a summary of some of the stunning experiences and excitement you just cannot get anywhere else in one place, except in the Australian Air Force Cadets:

  • In your first year – even if only 13 – you’ll fly an aircraft by yourself with a qualified flying instructor beside you
  • When you’re 15, you can train to fly a glider aircraft solo in less than nine days – with no one else in the cockpit
  • When you’re 16, you can train to fly a powered aircraft solo in less than nine days – with no one else in the cockpit
  • If you want, you can then go on to qualify as an aircraft pilot before you’re old enough for a car licence.

More info tomorrow on how to begin your extraordinary life!

Here are more of the stunning experiences and excitement you just cannot get anywhere else in one place, except in the Australian Air Force Cadets:

  • You’ll fly as a passenger in military and civil aircraft
  • You’ll learn lots about aeronautics and aerospace, aircraft recognition and aircraft systems
  • You’ll learn navigation, meteorology and radio communications
  • In the bush, you’ll wear camouflage uniform, webbing and packs
  • You’ll put up tents and shelters and learn outback survival skills
  • You’ll practise camouflage, move in military formations, and use field hand signals
  • You’ll set up and use radio communication networks and navigate with compass and maps
  • You’ll find out how to take care of yourself by learning cooking and first aid
  • You’ll undertake marksmanship and the safe use of firearms under military supervision
  • And you’ll make great friends who will stay mates with you for life.

More info tomorrow on how to begin your extraordinary life!

As part of your new, amazing life, you want to contribute and make a difference to the people around you. You want to say ‘thank you’ to Australia for giving you the best place ever to live.

Here are just some of the ways you’ll be serving your community as an important member of the Australian Air Force Cadets:

  • You’ll take part in precision marching and ceremonial activities – it’s like walking with friends while group-dancing! – and you’ll be awesome to watch!
  • You can join the band and play drums or other music instruments while undertaking public displays of precision formation marching – step out to your own music!
  • You’ll actively serve your community and Australia by participating in honour guards, flag raisings, and ANZAC Day parades and war memorial vigils
  • You could be chosen to be an international ambassador for Australia in our annual International Air Cadet Exchange program.

And there’s more. Our next post shows how your extraordinary Air Force Cadets life today can put you at the very front of the employment queue tomorrow.

We’ve been looking at the incredible fun you can have by flying aircraft solo by your mid-teens, getting firearms safety training, doing military bush activities, developing survival skills and more.

But how about this for your long term future? As part of your intensive fun, enjoyment and incredible have-a-go experiences.

  • You’ll become a leader with skills and attitudes that will give you the edge throughout life
  • You’ll be trained to be confident, resilient, self-sufficient, tenacious and willing to have a go
  • You can undertake the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, empowering you to explore your full potential, regardless of location or circumstance.
  • And if you complete our Cadet Warrant Officer or Cadet Under Officer course, you’ll have skills and abilities very attractive to potential part-time or full-time employers, putting you way ahead of your peers when going for a job.

Interested? Excited? Tomorrow, we’ll start drilling down into the detail – beginning with how you could be in the pilot’s seat, flying an aircraft from age 13.

The Australian Air Force Cadets will train you to reach for the stars – for real.

Even if you’ve only just turned 13, during your first year of being a Cadet, and after you’ve learnt some aviation theory, we’ll have you in the pilot’s seat of one of our aircraft, sitting next to a qualified flying instructor, but with you operating the controls.

You’ll launch your aircraft down the runway and up several thousand feet into the sky. You’ll operate the controls as you cruise around, experiencing the incredible thrill of being in charge of an aircraft, high in the sky, with the earth far below you.

Afterwards, you’ll line up on the runway and land your aircraft. (It usually takes about two weeks for you to get the grin off your face, as you keep recalling one of the most out-of-this-world experiences you’ll ever have. And years, later, you’ll still find yourself smiling, as you remember your first-ever flight as an aircraft pilot, with you at the controls.)

And that’s just the start of your Australian Air Force Cadets career.

Do you want to fly an aircraft by yourself, with no one else in the cockpit?

Our qualified flying instructors can train you to fly a glider solo from age 15 – yes, 15 (minimum legal age) in just nine days, on an Elementary Flying Training Course during your school holidays.

It’s the same for you to fly a powered aircraft solo, except the minimum legal age is just 16.

You’ll get aviation theory, radio knowledge training, and up to 10 hours of instructional flying in gliders or single-engine aircraft with the objective of flying solo before the end of the course.

We’re talking about you flying an aircraft – on your own and with no-one else in the cockpit – a long time before you can get a car license.

And how good to have the following conversation back at school after the training: “What did I do during the school holidays? I learnt to fly a plane solo”. And then show them your solo badge and the photos of you at the controls.

What else will you be doing in the Australian Air Force Cadets?

As we’ve seen in earlier posts, male and female Air Force Cadets do the things their friends usually only watch on television, including getting opportunities to qualify as an aircraft pilot while still a teenager, flying in civil and military aircraft, using two-way aviation radios, and taking part in firearms safety training under military supervision.

Although mainly focused on aviation and aerospace activities, Air Force Cadets also go bush as well. You’ll wear camouflage uniform, carry webbing and packs, and spend time hiking and camping comfortably.

You’ll be putting up tents and shelters, practising camouflage techniques, operating military radios and setting up communications networks, moving in military formations, using field hand signals, navigating with compass and maps, finding out how to move quietly and carefully without damaging the natural environment, as well as learning essential camp cooking and outback survival skills.

In the Australian Air Force Cadets, you could be in one of our annual competitions where Cadets from around Australia compete against each other for trophies in gliding, powered flying, marksmanship and fieldcraft.

Are you interested in music? We can teach you to play drums and other instruments, while also undertaking public precision formation marching displays.

But there’s more, lots more… The Australian Air Force Cadets gives you the tools and the opportunities to make a real difference to your own life and those around you.

From the day you start, we’ll treat you like you’re an adult, and not just a kid. We’ll train you to be a leader right from the beginning. We’ll give you responsibilities. We’ll help you be more productive and better able to handle conflict. We’ll give you real opportunities to serve your community.

And best of all, we’ll give you a range of stunning experiences and excitement you just cannot get anywhere else in one place, while preparing you for your life as an outstanding Australian leader.

What else makes the Australian Air Force Cadets so special?

Each year, Australian Air Force Cadets and adult staff escorts represent Australia overseas through the International Air Cadet Exchange, which annually gives more than 500 aviation-minded young people from 18 countries the opportunity to expand their horizons, experience different cultures and make life-long friendships.

If chosen through the merit-based selection system, you could be an Australian ambassador in our annual two-week exchange program to somewhere like Canada, China, Hong Kong, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherland, Turkey, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, the United Kingdom or the USA.

As guest of the host country’s equivalent to the Australian Air Force Cadets, you would enjoy extraordinary and exclusive cultural and visitor experiences that are just not available to ordinary tourists. Visiting Cadets and adult staff escorts incur no expenses in the host countries apart from private expenditure.

Now, let’s get really serious about your future…

In the Australian Air Force Cadets and right from the start, you’ll be trained to be confident, self-sufficient, tenacious and willing to have a go. You’ll become a leader, but also be part of a team. You’ll be taught how to take the initiative and show others how it’s done.

You’ll become independent, yet able to take charge of situations. You’ll get skills and attitudes that will give you the edge throughout life. As a result, you’ll almost always achieve what you set out to do.

Importantly, as an Air Force Cadet, you’ll get the chance to find out what you’re made of, with plenty of opportunity for active leadership of your mates if you rise through the ranks to Leading Cadet, Cadet Corporal, Cadet Sergeant, Cadet Warrant Officer, and Cadet Under Officer.

So, what sort of training do I get in the Australian Air Force Cadets?

Australian Air Force Cadets training is conducted on two levels: weekly on parade nights and on weekends at your local Squadron; and during school holidays, usually on a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base.

The first segment of weekly Squadron training is Recruit Stage and takes about four months to complete. Cadets then commence Basic Stage which takes about eight months.
At the end of Basic Stage, Cadets are reclassified to Leading Cadet, and awarded their first chevron (stripe).

Basic stage is followed by Proficiency, Advanced, and then Qualified, the final stage of Squadron training.

The Squadron will also organise activities (usually on weekends) that include visits, ceremonial parades and fieldcraft bivouacs, where Cadets learn to apply skills taught in the classroom. The Squadron will also organise introductory gliding and powered flying experiences and these are the first steps for those interested in becoming a pilot, or if you just want the extreme fun of flying an aircraft solo.

So, how do I get all this leadership experience in the Australian Air Force Cadets and how long does it take?

All youth members start as a Cadet, with opportunities to progress through the ranks. You will be reclassified to Leading Cadet after completing the first stage of training at your home Squadron.

In your first year, you will be expected to attend a six-day General Service Training camp. It’s usually on a RAAF Base, and includes lots of tours of Air Force activities (air traffic control, fire fighting, aircraft inspections, hangar visits, pilot training simulators, Security Police (including their working dogs) and sometimes, a flight in a military aircraft.

Extended residential training courses for Cadet Corporal (two weeks continuous training), Cadet Sergeant, Cadet Warrant Officer and Cadet Under Officer (three weeks continuous training) are also held on Defence establishments during school holidays, and there is no charge to attend.

Prerequisites for promotion differ between ranks but usually require 6-12 months in your current rank as you plan, organise and participate in activities at Squadron level. Cadets are then selected to attend a promotion course. Promoted Cadets receive responsibility commensurate with their rank, and take an increasingly active part in the successful operation of their Squadron.

We sometimes get asked: “Are you just trying to get me to join the Air Force?”

This is what our Commander-In-Chief, the Governor-General of Australia, said in 2016: “That is not, nor has it ever been, the prime reason for promoting Cadets within Australia.”

The Australian Air Force Cadets is a youth development organisation sponsored by the Royal Australian Air Force and is fully supported by the Government of Australia.

There are no strings attached, and we do not have a hidden agenda.

It’s true that some Cadets go on to join the Royal Australian Air Force or other parts of the Australian Defence Force. Many also find valuable and exciting careers in civil aviation.

However, as a result of your skills and leadership development in the Australian Air Force Cadets, you’ll find it easier to get a job and build a career, no matter what you decide to do with your life. And that decision is yours to make.

Our role is to give you the skills and experiences that will help propel you to be the best Australian you can possibly be – as a person, in your family, as a valued employee, as a leader in your workplace, and in your community.

What is the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award and why would I be interested in it?

The Air Force Cadets is one of Australia’s largest providers of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, a leading youth development program empowering young Australians like you to explore their full potential, regardless of location or circumstance.

Many Air Force Cadets activities count towards the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award, which is recognised in 141 countries and territories around the world as an exemplar of transformational learning.

The Award encourages and recognises practical experiences and life skills to create committed global citizens and help equip young people for life.

Through a challenging journey of self-discovery, you will be equipped and empowered to achieve your personal best, learn to take responsibility for goals and choices, make real contributions to your community, learn important life skills, overcome barriers to success, and increase career opportunities.

And you can wear the coveted Award badge on civilian clothing for the rest of your life as testimony to your achievements.

Wait until your family finds out that our training is so good that if you knuckle down and work hard at Squadron and on your Cadet promotion courses, you will get leadership and management training while still at school that is equal or better than what you might get at a tertiary institution.

By the time you’ve completed the Cadet Warrant Officer or Cadet Under Officer training, you’ll be skilled in command leadership, decision-making, initiative, self-discipline, time-management, clear thinking, public speaking and administration.

Along with your confident attitude, great presentation and ability to talk freely and knowledgeably on adult topics, your skills and years of practical leadership and management will make you very attractive to potential employers, and put you right near the top of the wanted list when it comes to getting a part-time or full-time job.

You and your family are definitely going to like this.

So who are we?

The Australian Air Force Cadets was originally the Air Training Corps, which formed in 1941 during the Second World War to help train aircrew before they joined the RAAF.

The Australian Air Force Cadets now has a much wider objective of equipping young people for community life, by developing in them qualities of leadership, discipline, self-reliance, initiative, character and good citizenship.

And this is done in an aviation and military context that exposes you to some of the most exciting experiences imaginable.

The Australian Air Force Cadets is supported by the Royal Australian Air Force, but you will not be a part of the RAAF and will have absolutely no military service obligations.

In fact, you can leave Cadets at any time (although we think you will want to stay).

How are we organised?

The Australian Air Force Cadets national headquarters is in Canberra and under the jurisdiction of the Royal Australian Air Force. Each State, plus the Northern Territory, is known as a Wing (Queensland has two Wings), and every Wing has its own local headquarters.

In cities and country regions across Australia, there are nearly 9,000 Cadets meeting weekly in more than 140 local groups, known as Squadrons, that are managed by the Wing (State) headquarters. About one quarter of our membership is female.

Each Squadron has a Commanding Officer, with other Officers and Instructors looking after their administration, logistics and training. Depending on location, there may be up to 100 male and female Cadets and staff in a Squadron, but most average about 35.

Your Officers and Instructors are professionally trained in administration, instructional techniques, occupational health and safety, and duty of care; and must also hold a current senior first aid qualification.

They are therefore well qualified to provide you with thoughtful and comprehensive training, moving you through a program that will skill you in aviation, aerospace, fieldcraft, management and leadership, preparing you to be a real-world leader.

How much does it cost to be a member of the Australian Air Force Cadets?

Because the Australian Air Force Cadets is supported by the Royal Australian Air Force, your uniforms and equipment are all provided at no cost to you, and usually so are your meals and accommodation while you’re attending a camp or course on a Defence establishment. See more (60 words)

You’ll experience Service life and receive leadership and skills training at an Air Force Base at no cost, see how the Air Force lives, sleep in onsite accommodation, and eat in the Airmen’s Mess, where you certainly won’t go hungry.

Most Squadrons charge a nominal annual fee to cover administration and training expenses.

There is also a cost if you decide you’d like to learn to fly a glider or powered aircraft solo at one of our nine-day full-time Elementary Flying Training Schools, but the fees are considerably lower than doing the same course through a commercial provider.

Here’s more information about your Cadet training.

The Australian Air Force Cadets provides practical training and youth development while in the classroom, on the parade ground and around aircraft. Training is conducted weekly at your home Squadron. Subjects include aviation, aircraft recognition, marching and ceremonial duties, fieldcraft and bushcraft, outback survival and Air Force knowledge.

Cadet training is organised by your local Squadron and modelled along military lines. Cadets attend weekly for about three hours, plus some weekend activities.

Each year, your Squadron will conduct at least two weekend field exercises, an air experience day, and also support ANZAC Day and Air Force events and ceremonies.

State-run Wing bivouacs, camps and courses are conducted on weekends and during school holidays. The training program includes powered flying and gliding, firearms safety training, bush survival and fieldcraft, radio communications, navigation and map reading, aeroskills, aerospace and aeromodelling.

Training electives in air traffic control, aircraft engines, aircraft ground handling and safety, fire safety awareness, flight management, hovercraft, drones, meteorology, model rocketry and visual tracking may also be provided.

“How will I get along with the older, more experienced Cadets?”

All our activities are underpinned by an occupational health and safety policy supported by comprehensive and professional training programs to ensure safety for Cadets, Officers and Instructors.

Unacceptable behaviour of any kind is not tolerated. All Cadets and staff have rights and obligations to participate in an environment that is fair, safe, practises equity and diversity, and is free from bullying, harassment or discrimination.

The Air Force Cadets behaviour policy defines appropriate codes of ethical behaviour and provides strict guidance for preventing, managing and reporting any breaches.

All Cadets and staff sign a Code of Conduct agreement each year, and formal reminders take place before the commencement of every residential activity.

What about the Australian Air Force Cadets uniform?

If you join the Australian Air Force Cadets, you’ll be issued two uniforms at no charge, comprising your Service uniform of Air Force Blue, plus two camouflage uniforms and hats, socks, shoes and boots. Your Squadron staff will show you how they should be cared for and worn.

Of course, uniforms must be returned if you leave. Uniforms, training courses, meals and accommodation at Defence establishments are usually free throughout your years in Cadets, although there may be an annual Squadron charge to cover administration and training aids.

Who instructs the Australian Air Force Cadets and how do they get chosen?

Officers and Instructors include former and current members of the Australian Defence Force, specialist personnel, teachers, police, executives and managers from government and private companies, parents and community members, and former Cadets.

Our checks are stringent. Adults seeking membership must complete a formal application, obtain unencumbered clearance from the Australian Federal Police (including all State Police), obtain and maintain a Working With Children Check clearance, undergo psychological screening, hold a current senior first aid qualification and then pass a formal Selection Board interview, before being approved by a senior Air Force officer.

As well as having the practical skills and experience to carry out their duties, Officers and Instructors are then trained in occupational health and safety, first aid, equity and diversity, adolescent behaviour principles, acceptable behaviour standards, mandatory reporting requirements and duty of care.

They also need to understand and have experience in leadership, managerial decision-making, youth development philosophies, legal and societal practices and procedures, military etiquette, and Air Force principles and practices.

From the minimum joining age of 13 (if you’re older than 13, you can still join), Australian Air Force Cadets get inspiring and challenging military-like experiences in a safe environment.

You’ll learn valuable life and work skills that will open up many new possibilities, opportunities and career options for you.

With other members, you’ll share values of loyalty, teamwork, respect, courage and honour.

We’ll help you become focused and eager to get on. In fact, so effective is our training program and your own self-discipline development within the Australian Air Force Cadets, you and your parents may be amazed at the positive change in your attitudes to family relationships, study, motivation and career.

You will be part of a well-organised team, developing leadership, flying and survival skills, making new friends, experiencing challenges and learning to take responsibility, so right here, right now you can take your place in society as an effective, committed, contributing and caring Australian.

How do you find out more about the Australian Air Force Cadets?

Do you want to join us, or perhaps just come in for a look? If so, find your closest Australian Air Force Cadets Squadron at You can visit on a meeting night without obligation, see what goes on, and get all your questions answered.

To join the Australian Air Force Cadets, you need to be an Australian resident, male or female, and aged 13 years or over. As well, you need to be in good health and able to regularly attend weekly meetings and camps. You can’t be a member of the Army or Navy Cadets at the same time, and of course, you will need parent or guardian permission.

So, get your Australian Air Force Cadets clearance from your family and take off on an exciting adventure that will last a lifetime.

The next two posts in this series come from our Commander-in-Chief, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) who, in launching our 75th Anniversary Year in February 2016 at Government House in Canberra, said:

“Actually, I think you are such fortunate young men and women.

It’s hard to imagine an organisation more exciting to be part of than the Air Force Cadets.

Where else do you get to fly an aircraft by yourself before you’re even old enough, or allowed, to drive mum and dad’s car?

“It’s not just the flying. It’s the bush adventures, survival courses, leadership training, of course.

“Learning to shoot military rifles and so much more, all has to do with the cohesion of you as a team.

“If there’s one thing that stands out from being a member of the Australian Air Force Cadets, it’s that you will automatically be involved in leadership training.

“And then of course, there are your public duties, taking a great part in Remembrance services.

“Increasingly around Australia, in towns big and small, on city boulevardes and at rural memorials, you will see the marching troops on any day will comprise contingents of Cadets.

Here is the second part of a speech by our Commander-in-Chief, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) who, in launching our 75th Anniversary Year in February 2016 at Government House in Canberra, said: (Continued from previous Facebook post)

“Of course, the military, the wonderful services of the Australian Defence Force, are the beneficiary of the enthusiasm generated in you, with the option of military service to follow.

“That is not, nor has it ever been, the prime reason for promoting Cadets within Australia.

“It’s been very much to respond to the community’s admiration for what the ethos of service will inculcate in those Australian youth who volunteer to put on the uniform.

“So, with that in mind, I congratulate you all on the choices that you have made to serve.

“Perhaps the best part is the friendships that you will make that will last forever.

“And in all your adventures, you’re learning to push yourselves and you’re discovering what you’re made of, and you’re starting to imagine what that might result in, in the future.

“So, you will look back on this later, no matter what pathway you choose, whether it is perhaps to the Services, or perhaps to one of those wider community career options, but you will look back and think that these have been some of the best days of your lives.

“And whatever it is you choose to do in the future, this time in the Air Force Cadets is giving you the most wonderful start in your life.

“From the early days in 1941, it was all about training and recruitment for the war effort.

“Today, the Australian Air Force Cadets has evolved into a youth organisation second to none.

“You young Cadets are tomorrow’s movers and shakers of this great nation.”

We believe the Australian Air Force Cadets is a real game-changer for Australia.

From just age 13, we assist young men and women like you to develop and exercise autonomy, responsibility, skills and courage.

Our ultimate aim is to help ensure Australia’s leadership future is secure, with responsible, focused and qualified leaders running our businesses, government and community life well into the 21st Century.

Our motto is Reach for the Stars and we encourage all our Cadets and staff to aim high and consider themselves worthy of great things.

At the beginning of this series, we said we believe the Australian Air Force Cadets can give you more excitement, opportunity and challenge than just about any other youth organisation in the world.

We know that was a big statement. Did we prove it? You can now be the judge.