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ATC - Adult Helper

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ATC - Adult Helper

Old 13th Apr 2021, 08:04
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ATC - Adult Helper

Good morning.

I have two years left to serve, by which time I will have completed 37 years in the military. Iím currently a Phase 3 instructor on my OCU but have done Phase 1 training at RAFC Cranwell. Iím looking for information on how to help out at my local ATC Sqn when I retire. What is the age limit, how rewarding is it (I imagine very) and any observations.

Any help would be gratefully received.

Last edited by Toadstool; 13th Apr 2021 at 08:17.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 08:29
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As a Civilian Instructor you would merely contact the local Sqn, they are likely to be very keen to get someone with your background. I should think the only hoop to jump through is filling and waiting for the DBS. With your background I expect there would be opportunity/pressure to be uniformed staff and Wing admin tasks could also be encouraged if that’s your thing.

(and thanks to all those ATC CIs and officers who gave up their time to set me on my way in aviation all those years ago!)
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 09:00
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If you are serving then there is probably a Sqn on your station. I'd find out what night they parade and then pop in for a look around and talk to the CI's and Sqn staff - they will give you all the gen you need.

Arc
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 09:10
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Just pop along (if it's open) or email your local Sqn.
You'll need to be vetted for PVG (child Safety) but that takes no time and there's paper work to go to Wing / HQ and give you a service number.

I've been a CI for about 5 years now (after one of the kids joined and snitched on me as ex-RAF) and I've become qualified to run the range & carry out Weapon training.

It's very rewarding and keeps you out the pub.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 09:17
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If I can add that the Civilian Committees are ALWAYS on the lookout for people willing to give up their time to help with such a rewarding cause. Getting uniformed staff is always a challenge, getting civilian instructors equally so but the processes can take time due to background checks. Whilst this is going on I strongly suggest you join the CivCom, you get to be involved, you get to meet the other staff and you get a real feel for the Squadron. Once the paperwork is through for CI, the transition is much smoother.

https://www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets/find-a-squadron/ will help you find your nearest squadron.

If you get stuck, drop me a PM. I've been a CivCom Chairman for the past 16 years or so. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing these youngsters come through the doors as shy and under-confident teens, and several years later seeing them on TV photographing the government, or leading a helicopter relief effort at some disaster.

edited to supplement something Doobry said. CivCom does not (normally) keep you out of the pub : We hold our 8-weekly meets in our local :-)
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 09:31
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Are squadrons parading again yet?
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 10:09
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
Are squadrons parading again yet?
If they've gone through the (many) hurdles, they should have started either last week or this week.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 10:11
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I should think the only hoop to jump through is filling and waiting for the DBS.
If you think the regulars are bad, standby for hoop jumping on an epic scale. DBS/PVG, SC, BPSS, AVIP, first aid, climatic injuries, child welfare, fire, health and safety, the list goes on. Most of which has to be renewed every year.

You'll join, full of enthusiasm and good ideas, only to be met with the reality check of, "No, you can't do that because of X, Y, and Z rules. But, if you fill in that mountain of paperwork over there, wait 6 months for a part-timer who is considerably less qualified than you, in wing HQ to approve it, you might be good to go".
Every couple of years there is a review to reduce the admin burden of staff, yet we always end up with more paperwork etc.

The chat on the Air Cadet Central forum is that quite a lot of adult members of staff, uniformed and civilian, are using the lockdown as an excuse for 're-evaluating their spare time' and banging out.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 10:23
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I had some fantastic experiences as an ATC cadet.But the majority of these were on RAF stations at summer camp and were despite the majority of the VR staff not because of.This was in the '80s and wasn't typical of most ATC squadrons at the time.A staff member of your pedigree would have been great addition to our Squadron.I'm sure you'll be welcomed with open arms
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 11:11
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True, many thinking of banging out, thought has crossed my mind.

As for the beaurocracy, yes there is lots. However, how smoothly this goes, and how sensibly the Squadron is run when it comes to paperwork and perceived hurdles and barriers to activities depends entirely on the Staff already there. Some err far too far on the side of caution, and the default position is no if they don't like the look of the requirements, or do not understand, dont want to understand or have been fed wrong info. Others are far more pragmatic, and find ways to make things happen.

Ultimately it is still a great organisation, and does great things for our young people, but be prepared to bite your tongue and humour a few people, as long as you can weed those out, there is lots to achieve that can be very rewarding.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 12:00
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Depends on the Sqn. I did just the same, but despite driving 20 miles to instruct each week (as programmed), often my student cadets did not turn up. Various feeble excuses, but mainly lacking motivation. I even arranged a super visit to my nearest airfield, aeroplanes, air traffic, helos, lunch etc. Even with a minibus laid on, only 4 out 45 bothered to turn up, What is it with some youths today? I asked one female cadet what she wanted to be after school. 'Don't know', she replied. Why are you in the ATC?, I asked, 'because my boyfriend joined'. Soul destroying. I resigned eventually; I am worth more than that.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 12:49
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Both uniformed and non-uniform staff in my squadron represented a range of differing people and personality types. They taught me a lot about 'people' in the 5 years I attended.

A couple were amazing, a couple really flawed (one now senior wing officer...) and someone who tried it on with a couple of the lads (jail time and life completely ruined).

I considered going back as staff, but after talking to a few I realised the ATC was nothing like I remembered from the 90s and would probably be nothing but a ballache for me, as an adult. Maybe it was for the staff back then. I know my first CO and his 2IC (married couple) put a great deal of effort and time in to it and I hope they were rewarded in seeing their cadets do well. I owe them for helping me get as many flying courses and opportunities as possible.

The guys I flew with and worked around as a long term staff cadet at an AEF were almost universally great. These were the people I looked up to and wanted to be like.

Just like all forces training staff, if you take part, you have the opportunity to change some peoples lives and the direction that they take, but perhaps, in the cadet forces this is more acute since you're exposing young people from the age of 13 upwards to all kinds of 'adulting' that maybe they're not getting at home or elsewhere. There's still a range of outcomes for the young people, you're not moulding a master race, but for a few it will be extremely beneficial.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 13:46
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If you find yourself a good sqn with self starters and a large staff team who have a desire to do things themselves, then you'll be great. If you end up with a unit who relies on higher organisations to arrange things, then you'll be feeling a little bereft.

Having said that, you can still do a lot of good at a unit level.
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Old 13th Apr 2021, 14:47
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sharpend wrote
Soul destroying. I resigned eventually; I am worth more than that.
Darned right you are, bluntie old bean! People should pay good money to listen to you talking about your experiences - and I know you'll still have the same boyish enthusiasm you've always had. A real shame that those cadets were so lacking in motivation - I wonder whether the loss of gliding for all those years has ruined the unique appeal of the Air Cadet organisation irreperably?

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Old 14th Apr 2021, 16:42
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I had a great time as a cadet in the late 1960's to early 70's. A couple of years after I left as a cadet I went back as a civilian instructor. I ended up serving for over 40 years as CI - AWO- sqdr officer- sqdn commander-sqdn officer-CI. I worked with some great people, and one or two who weren't - just like life. The staff were both civilian, police and a couple of service personnel who gave freely of their time. In the same way, some of the kids (no insult intended, just my affectionate term for them) were, in the main, enthusiastic and well motivated. As was said earlier, to see the quiet reticent cadet arrive on parade night one, then develop through the academic and rank stages to leave years later as a much more confident and rounded character was one of life's great things, and gave me great pride to have been a small part in helping them.

Of course you'll always get some who just turn up and can't be arsed to do anything, that's life I'm afraid. However, for me , the good ones far outnumbered the less good. What caused me to walk away was alluded to above: the mountains of paper we had to fill out once the blunties took over at HQ Air Cadets. When we had to do a risk assessment for the cadet who made the tea, that made me question why I was there. When I left I wrote to the Commandant to explain why I was going, and to express my genuine concerns about how the Corps was progressing or not, due to the gliding and powered flight pauses. I was very surprised that, in less than a week, I received a very courteous letter from Ma'am answering my points. It took my Wing Commander a month to answer, and the letter from my Squadron Civilian Committee must still be in the mail after two years.

Don't let my jaundiced view put you off. The ATC / Air Cadets is still the premier cadet force in the country.
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Old 14th Apr 2021, 18:40
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Originally Posted by phil9560 View Post
I had some fantastic experiences as an ATC cadet.But the majority of these were on RAF stations at summer camp and were despite the majority of the VR staff not because of.This was in the '80s and wasn't typical of most ATC squadrons at the time.A staff member of your pedigree would have been great addition to our Squadron.I'm sure you'll be welcomed with open arms
I got the definite impression that a few of the officers in my wing only took a commision in order to have an excuse to buy a No 5 and attend 'functions' in the mess at our parent station.
When I took over as OC of a squadron which was about to be disbanded and rescued it, I couldn't have done so without the support I got from an ex RAF JNCO who was already there serving as a CI.
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Old 15th Apr 2021, 06:34
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
I got the definite impression that a few of the officers in my wing only took a commision in order to have an excuse to buy a No 5 and attend 'functions' in the mess at our parent station.
When I took over as OC of a squadron which was about to be disbanded and rescued it, I couldn't have done so without the support I got from an ex RAF JNCO who was already there serving as a CI.

One incident I've never forgotten.
We had a summer camp at RAF Valley.Cue loads of excited lads thinking loads of Hawks so bound to be a fair chance of a ride in a jet.Anyway 2 slots became available at very short notice.Unfortunately the bulk of the 2 ATC squadrons were visiting Wylfa power station with maybe half a dozen lads from both squadrons still on the base.So one trip was allocated to each squadron.Unfortunately the only cadet on base from our squadron was too small for the ejection seat and couldn't fly.Guess who took the ride instead ? One of our VR officers.And worse he was heard to say 'well I wasn't letting one of their lads have it '. 'Their lads' meaning the other squadron of cadets.
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Old 15th Apr 2021, 09:25
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Obviously things change at Valley.
Don't know what year you were there Phil, but when I did summer camp in '79, we were told 'adult staff only can go back seat in a Hawk where the instructor normally flies solo on a close formation trip'.
Often with a training station, eg Cranwell 1989, a cadet slot was allocated in a JP for the morning 'weather check' flight but only one per week.
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Old 15th Apr 2021, 10:34
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Didn't want to be too specific about dates as I was commenting on an individual.But it was mid '80s ish.
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Old 15th Apr 2021, 11:23
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I think cadets flying in fast jets is pretty much a thing of the past. Its just another one of those activities which is a health and safety nightmare for HQAC, and has subsquently been turned into a paperwork/red tape/ hoop jumping minefield for staff.

The organisation has become so risk adverse, that anything mildly exciting has been banned/made impossible to run. Afterall, no activities = no accidents = medals all round! Doesn't matter that staff and cadet numbers are reducing, at least there is no bad publicity from a sprained ankle!
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