After a probationary period as a Civilian Instructor, staff in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets have the opportunity to progress into uniform as either a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) or a commissioned Officer. Many see this as the ‘next step’ in their RAFAC staff career, and progressing into uniform can be an incredibly beneficial and exciting experience. Uniformed staff are expected to commit to 12 hours a month across parade nights and extra activities. Uniformed staff will always be found on squadrons but also at Wing and Region level, where they will take on roles in which they are a Subject Matter Expert, such as shooting, sports, aviation, media and more. Both in uniform or out it is possible for you to develop your skills in any of these areas that interest you, and further information about this can be found here.
Routes Into Uniform
Both routes into uniform begin with a discussion with your Commanding Officer. The uniformed life isn’t for everyone, or you may have specific interests that would be suited for one role and not the other, so it is important to figure out what’s best for you before putting in an application.
If you wish to become an SNCO, after speaking to your OC you will put in your paperwork to Wing Headquarters. After an interview with the Wing Commander and Wing Warrant Officer, you will officially be appointed as an Acting Sergeant and will receive a letter in the post telling you when you are allowed to begin wearing your uniform. Within one year, you must attend a SNCO Staff Initial Course (SSIC) at RAF Cranwell in order to drop your ‘Acting’ rank.
If you wish to become an Officer, after completing all of the necessary paperwork you will have a filter interview with the Wing Commander and a Wing Staff Officer. If successful, you will then attend the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre for 1.5 days at RAF Cranwell. If you pass selection, you will be appointed as an Acting Pilot Officer and must attend the Officer’s Initial Course (OIC) at RAF Cranwell within one year.
Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO)
SNCOs in the RAFAC can be found in the ranks of Sergeant, Flight Sergeant and Warrant Officer. SNCOs are in charge of drill, discipline and uniform on their squadrons, making sure that staff and cadets are upholding the high standards that the RAF adhere to.
As an SNCO you’ll have the unique opportunity to undertake drill courses, as well as get stuck in with the wide variety of activities that the RAFAC has to offer. You’ll set a standard for cadets and staff and will be a shining example to all those under your care.
Click here to read Sgt Robinson’s testimony about what it’s like to be an NCO in the RAFAC.
Cadet Forces Commission
Officers in the RAFAC can be found at the rank of Pilot Officer, Flying Officer and Flight Lieutenant, with Officers at Wing and Region level also holding the ranks of Squadron Leader, Wing Commander and Group Captain. Officers can undertake all roles in the RAFAC (with the exception of leading drill) and many will be in charge of a squadron.
Officers are expected to be good leaders, and whether you’re on a squadron, an Officer attending a camp or a member of Wing staff, you’ll be expected to contribute to decision making, have a good knowledge of RAFAC policy and have good leadership attributes. It may sound scary, but don’t worry – the work of an Officer is incredibly important, and if the role is right for you then you will excel in all of these factors.
Click here to read Flt Lt Aldridge’s testimony about what it’s like to be an Officer in the RAFAC.
If you are currently a CI and are interested in going into uniform, or an NCO who wants to take on their commission, speak to your Wing Training Officer about attending a Pre-Uniform Course.
This course will give you all the information needed about routes into uniform, and is a great opportunity to meet like-minded volunteers who are in the same boat as you.