The Air Cadet Organisation (ACO) consists of three separate parts; the Air Training Corps (ATC), the RAF Section of the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and the Volunteer Gliding Squadrons (VGS).
The CCF has its origins in the Officer Cadet units that were formed at English Public Schools in the 19th and early 20th centuries and continues mainly at schools in the private sector. Their uniforms are slightly different from the ATC as is their rank structure. Their officers are commissioned in the RAF Volunteer Reserve (Training) branch (RAF VR(T)) and are usually schoolteachers at the relevant school. Eton, of course, have their own system.
The 27 VGSs in the UK supply gliding to the ATC and the CCF in the form of Gliding Induction Courses (GIC) which introduce cadets to flying in either the Viking 2 seat glider or the Vigilant self launching motor glider. Cadets, when over 16, may then move on to a Gliding Scholarship (GS) which is a course designed to instruct them to a standard to fly solo and after that, an Advanced Gliding Course (AGT). The VGSs are staffed by volunteers who are RAF VR(T) Officers, civilian instructors and staff cadets. Almost all VGS instructors are former cadets and staff cadets.
The ATC was formed in 1942 to train young men in preparation for joining the RAF. It is formed of over a thousand Squadrons throughout the United Kingdom. Each squadron is commanded by a RAF VR(T) officer (usually a Flight Lieutenant ) assisted by a number of officers, Civilian Instructors and Adult Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs). The ATC is no longer mainly seen as a way of recruiting for the RAF, but of course, many ex-cadets do join the forces. Funding for ATC squadrons comes partly from government sources and partly from fund raising by a local civilian committee.
Cadets may join the ATC after their thirteenth birthday (or, if twelve years old and have started school year 8). They may stay until their eighteenth birthday and if selected as a Staff Cadet until they are twenty. Cadets are trained to pass exams in appropriate aviation related subjects to become First Class, Leading and Senior Cadets. Training within the ATC can also lead to up to 7 BTECHs, each counting as a the equivalent of a GCSE.
In addition to this suitable cadets are selected to become corporals, sergeants and flight sergeants to assist in the running of the squadron. After the age of eighteen an exceptional cadet can be promoted to Cadet Warrant Officer. There are leadership courses to equip potential cadet NCOs for their increased duties.
ATC Squadrons are administered by Wings covering a number of squadrons on a geographical basis. 1811 (Marlow) Sqn is in Herts & Bucks Wing which is run by a RAF VR(T) Wing Commander, a number of Wing Staff Officers (who each oversee a number of squadrons) and full time Wing Executive Officer. Above the Wings are a number of regional headquarters and ultimately Headquarters Air Cadets (HQAC) at RAF Cranwell. The Commandant Air Cadets is a regular RAF Air Commodore.
All adult members of the ACO are vetted by HQAC with regular CRB checks.Link to ATC Main Site