Air Cadet Classifications

The Air Training Corps has an academic side to offer among the other exciting activities and opportunities. Don't let yourself be put off by this, these are relaxed and interesting lessons which entail detailed information for the understand you need for the rest of you Air Cadet Career and maybe parts of your life beyond Cadets. Here at Beccles, we do lessons every 1st and 3rd Friday of every month and this is for an hour. This enables you to not only learn in a regular basis the information you need to pass the exams, but also for you to find new interests or to advance and challenge a current interest. Previous cadets have decided on job roles, whether than be in any of the Armed Forces or Civilian Life, and also on their University courses due to what they have learnt through the Air Cadets.

First Class Air Cadet

When you start as a cadet at Beccles, you will initially become a Junior Air Cadet, or Probationer as we more commonly call it. The initial part of your training programme will introduce you to the Air Cadet Organisation. We will teach you elements such as:

  • Basic Foot Drill
  • Uniform - guidance on care and how to iron
  • Rank Structure with the Air Cadets
  • Corps Ethos and The Aims of The Air Training Corps
  • Heartstart (Initial First Aid Training)

These may not be done straight away, but we will touch on them while you start the rest of your formal training on becoming a First Class Cadet. Initially you study a range of subjects we have to offer:

  • The Royal Air Force
  • History of Flight
  • Navigation, Map Reading and Initial Expedition Training (IET)
  • Airmanship (1)
  • Basic Radio and Communication

These 5 subjects are covered in your training which should take no more than 6-8 months.They are carried out in both theory and practical ways depending on which element you are studying. These subjects offer you the building blocks for the rest of your time in the Air Cadets. Not only do they offer you the knowledge and experience you need to move on to the next level of the classifications, but on completion of your First Class Air Cadet Classification you can then go on to take part in all the exciting opportunities we can offer to you. By completing this you can go flying, go on Annual Summer Camps, comfortably start preparing for your Duke of Edinburgh Award Expeditions as well as go on to complete the Radio and Communications Blue Badge Course to receive your Comms Badge and complete the Youth First Aid course to receive your red First Aid Badge. 

Completing your first class opens and offers so many opportunities for the rest of your Air Cadet career and offers you life changing experience that can also be once in a lifetime opportunities. 

Leading Air Cadet

On completion of your First Class you then move on to the next stage in your training which is to work towards achieving and becoming a Leading Air Cadet. This involves studying topics in more depth and more thoroughly. There are three training topics covered and should take about 8-12 months to complete. These are:

  • Basic Navigation: 
    • In this topic it builds on the lessons and knowledge you have from the First Class elements. By the time you have completed this element you will be able to understand and confidently use a compass which is used to navigate, learn ideas and techniques for if you get lost, what to do when taking a bearing, among many other elements. We offer regular expedition training walks around the local area to put these elements into practice. 
  • Principles of Flight:
    • A lot of cadets say this is the most interesting subject you can cover, especially if you have a great interest in aviation. We'll teach you about how an aircraft flies, despite what people may say, it's not Black Magic - just physics. You'll find out about different control surfaces on the aircraft and what they are used for, By this point if you haven't already you will be getting ready to go and experience these for real in one of the ATC's aircraft in your air experience flying opportunities. 

  • Airmanship 2 - Aircraft Operation
    • This is the next step in the series of Airmanship subjects that we cover in the Air Cadets. We'll teach you about the rules of the air. There are no 'road signs' - obviously, so who and what gets the right of way in the skies? You'll learn about the aircraft of the Royal Air Force and Aircraft recognition and how to distinguish between a Tornado (in its many forms ) and a Hawk. As well as how airfields work and the way they are run and organised. 

On completion of these three subjects, you will go on to complete an exam for each on our Air Cadet UltiLearn site. Therefore many cadets finds it beneficial to do a little bit of revision before hand on the notes from the lesson. But don't let this worry you, they are all questions you have covered and it is an open book exam, so even if you do get stuck you have your notes to reflect on. But we do encourage you to do the exam as independently as possible. If for any reason you don't pass, you only have to go back and complete the element you didn't pass on rather than the whole exam again, but this cannot be done until 7 days afterwards. 

Senior Air Cadet

The next classification along you study for (after the previous completion) is Senior Cadet. Now we begin to narrow down the subjects you take depending on what experience the staff have. These are covered in far more detail though and offer a broader understanding of each subject. There are 12 subjects to choose from, normally the staff pick the three you will study for the classification. These 12 include topics such as:

  • Air Navigation
  • Pilot Navigation
  • Propulsion
  • Airframes
  • Advanced Radio and RADAR
  • Aircraft Handling

These are only 6 of the 12 subjects you can study at Senior level. These topics include; how a jet engine works, the theories behind rocket power, how planes and navigators work without always having a map or compass to hand, the full range of instruments a plane offers, the principles of RADAR and Radio, as well as the construction of planes. This is just a brief overview of the topics you could cover. Again, this classification should take about a year to complete after becoming a Leading Cadet. 

Master Air Cadet

The final classification will you will study for is your Master Air Cadet award. Continuing on from this you will study a different 3 from the same 12 offered to you at Leading Air Cadet Level. So on completion of Master Cadet you will have completed 6 of the 12 topics available to you. If you have an interest in studying any of the others, just ask the staff and they can update your Ultilearn page so you can access the lessons and lesson notes on the required topics, they are more than happy to offer these to you. 

Again the staff may pick this for you depending on what they can teach between them, but there is still the option if the whole group wants to do a different subject. This should also take another year to complete. 

On completion of this you have finished all of your Air Cadet academic development, but this is not always the end. Once finished you then receive your Level 2 BTEC in Aviation Studies which is the equivalent to 2 GCSEs grade A*-C. There is also the option (if you wish) to go on to become an Instructor Cadet. 

Instructor Cadet

On recommendation of your Officer Commanding, you can progress from Master Air Cadet or Instructor Cadet, where you can then go on and attend a Method of Instruction Course, run by the Wing Training Officer. This will qualify you to be able to teach cadets on various aspects of the Air Cadet Syllabus depending on where your interests and expertise lie. Unlike the earlier classifications, you obtain a lanyard rather than a badge for your brassard. This easily makes the instructor cadets identifiable and district as well as showing they have completed the full level of academic training available to them in the Air Cadets.


To be able to gain this lanyard and become an Instructor Cadet you must first be recommended and have your name put forward for the course. Once selected by Wing, you then have to attend the one day course, which is currently held at Thetford Squadron of RAF Barnham. On this course you will learn various teaching methods, how to make handouts useful and meaningful, how to design lessons and what makes the lessons engaging for the cadets. On completion and passing the day course, you then have 6 - 8 weeks in which to hold your own 15 - 20 minute lesson that you have planned and prepared for cadets on the Squadron. In order to pass, either the Wing Staff Officer or the Wing Training Officer will come down and assess the lesson you give and the benefits it holds. They will then tell you whether yo have passed or if you will be asked to go back and redo the course. Being asked to go back and redo the course is a very rare thing, as most people are able to comfortably deliver a lesson to the cadets on their squadron who they are around each week. 

On completion of this you are seen to have achieved and completed the full level of academic training available to you and you will then be able to go on to further courses or be able to help the staff with the teaching of the Junior Cadets on the Squadron with their Classification Syllabus where you feel comfortable and confident teacing. 

More Options...

On completion of Instructor Cadet, fear not, this is not the end! You now have more time to focus on other interests as well as assisting the staff in a range of activities and lessons. There are also two more courses available to you of a high level in which you can go on, if you wish too (these are shown below). There is also various sports and adventurous courses, health and safety, media communications, radio, music, BTECs in various areas. All you need to do is ask the OC on completion of either you Master Air Cadet Classification or your Instructor Cadet and he will inquire for you about these and the dates to do with each course.

Junior Leaders Course

The Air Training Corps offers an Air Cadet Junior Leaders (JL) Course. This is a training course for 17 - 20 year old, Master Air Cadets (Classification). The course aims to develop your leadership skills and other important skills within the cadets, which are elements needed for both military forces and civilian life. Supported by the RAF, it is a nationally organised course full of opportunities and qualifications to aid you not only in your cadet career, but also in later life.


The course itself takes places over nine weekends which normally occur between September and the following Easter. Within this time the cadet chosen and involved will complete a program of formal training, covering subjects as out-there and diverse as weapons handling, leadership theories, and methods, Messing Etiquette, the use of practical leadership skills along with physical training elements and assessments. The chosen cadets are expected to attend every weekend as well as working between training periods by preparing lectures, doing Air-power and among other subjects, as well as constantly and consistently improving fitness levels. Alongside the continual assessments during each of the training weekends, the cadets will also need to pass exams at the end of each 'Phase' and they will be relentlessly tested during the week-long third phase, in which most if the phase is spent in the field.

On completion of this relentless, hard, enduring and intense course, the graduates are awarded their certificate of achievement along with the JL Burgundy Lanyard to wear on their uniform (Except Soldier 95 and MTP) and the prestigious JL DZ flash that can be worn on their Soldier 95 or MTP uniform. These are all awarded at a dinner at the end of the course where all their hard works comes together and finally pays off.

This is a rare and hard fort for opportunity, we hope it can intrigue you.


Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course

The Qualified Aerospace Instructors Course (QAIC) is another training course on offer, this time for 16 - 20 year old Master Air Cadet (Classification). The QAIC Cadets are uniquely qualified to operate any of the new equipment and programmes purchased for the Regional Activities Centrist (RACs), the Air Cadet Engagement (ACE) platforms and the Air Operations Acquaintance Center applications, all within military and civilian areas.

This course is shorter than the above, taking place over seven weekends, again between September and the following Easter. Within this time the cadets selected for the course will complete a programme of formal training covering subjects from Air Traffic Control, Basic Flight Training, Air Power, Radio, Aerodynamics, Leadership, Presentation Skills alongside Group Work. Again the cadets selected are expected to attend every weekend as well as working between weekends on preparing lectures and power points and doing research on various elements of the subjects covered. There are continuous assessments throughout the course to test your understanding and achievement levels which leads on to the final assessment as the end of the course which determines whether you pass or not.

Once the course is completed, the successful graduates are awarded the QAI Blue Lanyard to wear on their uniforms (except Soldier 95 and MTP uniforms). They are also authorised to deploy and run the ACE platforms and assist at the various RACs around the country. They are also allowed to wear the No5 Flying Suits as a part of their uniform which has their badges on to show their qualifications and their graduation from the course.

For more information and details on either (or any) of the above courses or classifications, please don't hesitate to go and ask the Officer Commanding or any of the staff members for further information and details relating to these. Also, once graduated from either JL and QAIC, you wear whichever lanyard you have gained over the Instructor Cadet Lanyard as it holds a higher level of classification.