The Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) is a national youth organisation sponsored by the Royal Air Force in the UK. Membership is open to young people aged between 12 (Year 8) and 20 years, inclusive.
The Aims of the Air Cadet Organisation are:
- To promote and encourage among young people a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.
- To provide training which will be useful in the Services and civilian life.
- To foster the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship
The "Air Cadets" provides the opportunity for members to take part in a huge and diverse range of exciting and challenging activities. Many are organized at National and Regional level, many others take place locally at Wing and Squadron levels.
If your interest is in Flying, Sports, Adventure Training, Camping, Engineering, Shooting, Drill, Music, Watersports, Abseiling, Overseas Travel. (the list is a VERY long one!) you will find out about these and much more by looking around this site - they are all activities provided by the ATC and CCF(RAF).
Many of the competitive elements could see you competing at International level. There is also a very important social aspect too - you will get to meet and make a lot of new friends.
The ACO develops personal qualities and a sense of community and citizenship valued by employers, both military and civil.
A very large percentage of serving members of the Royal Air Force were air cadets. Although the ACO is not a recruiting organisation, 41% of Officer and 51% of all Aircrew (including pilots, navigators, air electronics operators, air engineers and air loadmasters) recruits into the Royal Air Force are ex-air cadets. If you are looking for a Service career, membership will help give you a head start. Research has shown that ex-cadets do better in basic training and stay in the Service longer than their colleagues without the benefit of cadet membership.
The greater success rates and contribution towards recruitment, along with the personnel support role (eg at airshows etc) save the Royal Air Force an estimated £11.1m per year.