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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland



05 January 2017

The Northern Ireland Wing (NIW) of the Air Training Corps (ATC) has recorded another very busy and successful year across a variety of areas during 2016.


Flying is one of the most important aspects of being an Air Cadet and NI Wing cadets currently receive their Air Experience Flying (AEF) at RAF Woodvale near Liverpool. In 2016 a total of 152 cadets received tuition in the Grob Tutor Aircraft.

Unfortunately gliding did not resume as expected in 2016 at 664 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) based in Newtownards as the Squadron was among 14 across the UK that was announced for closure. Air Cadet gliding will mainly focus on the conventional winch launch type glider at the remaining VGS sites together with an increase in Air Experience Flying. In Northern Ireland, the formation of the Northern Ireland University Air Squadron in 2015 based at Aldergrove, will lead to NI Wing cadets utilising their facilities when they become fully operational. 


In Oct, 18 Cadets travelled to Kirknewtown to gain their Blue Glider Wings, as part of the new Aviation Training Package.  Upon arrival cadets were briefed on the goal of the visit and for some it was their first flight.  Cadets received a number of ground school briefs, before completing their ground school training on the part task trainer (PTT). Shortly after, NI cadets got to put into practice what they had learned on the ground with two launches in the ACO Viking glider.  

Adventure Training

NI wing attend an annual Adventure Training Camp at Rothiemurchus near Aviemore in the West of Scotland. This annual event is extremely popular with cadets.


Cadets and Staff have, for the past 16 years consecutively, taken part in both the Garelochhead 2 day marches and the 4 day Nijmegen marches. Training starts annually in January of each year with 20 training days involved during which the final team/s are selected. This event has become so popular with teams entering that the NI Wing who previously entered two teams were restricted last year to just one team with 9 cadets and 2 staff taking part and successfully completing the event. They walked over 500 miles in total during the 4 day event and the training weekends.

The Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) award scheme is extremely popular with the cadets and in 2016 the Wing was awarded a total of 38 Bronze and 5 Silver awards, and also gained 10 Cadet Force Adult Volunteer (CFAV) Bronze and Silver Assessors. 14 CFAV also attended an introduction to DofE in Oct.


2016 was another very successful year for the NI Wing with the award of 38 Wing Blues for representing Northern Ireland Wing at Sport. A further 15 Regional Blues were awarded for representing Scotland and Northern Ireland Region in competitive sports within the Corps, spread across our main seven sporting events: Swimming, Hockey, Netball, Rugby, Football, Athletics and Cross Country. An impressive 6 regional records and 1 Corps record was broken by NI Wing Cadets in swimming alone. In 2016 it has been recorded that 298 cadets took part in one or more of the events.

First Aid

As all CFAV must have a First Aid (FA) qualification, this has become one of the most attended courses in the wing. With 23 newly appointed FA qualified staff, the Wing training team consists of 7 Adult Trainer Assessors. 165 Cadets successfully completed FA training either in Heartstart, St Johns Youth First Aid or St Johns Activity First Aid. 


17 cadets from 8 Squadrons across the Wing achieved their Blue Communicators Badges, this brings 2016 annual total to 38 Blue communicators Badges, 2 Silver and 1 Gold Communicator Badge (Cyber Specialist).

Annual Camps

In 2016 a total of 86 cadets in the wing and 16 staff attended annual camps at RAF Henlow and RAF Halton and a further 240 Cadets and 54 staff attended summer camp at JHC FS Aldergrove. 

The Wing also supported and filled cadet’s places at the Leadership for Life at Carronvale and Amport House, Parachute Course at RAF Weston on the Green, Junior Leaders Course at Nescliffe, Gold Cyber camp at Cosford. One cadet even attended an overseas camp to Gibraltar.


To add further strings to the Air Cadets' bow, 14 Lyre Music Badges have been awarded so far in 2016, with 6 cadets recently attending a 2 Day non-residential workshop for the completion of their level 2 BTEC in Music.

Build an Aircraft Project

The NI Wing Build an Aircraft Project team has been getting along well. The internal cockpit dash has been fitted including all control runs and externally the tail has been fitted including the elevators. The next part of the project is the engine fit and avionics; the engine will be a Rotax 912 and the cockpit will include some modern glass instruments. The team is currently on a break as the temperature in the Ulster Aviation Society hangar makes working uncomfortable.  A remarkable 75 cadets and 15 staff are involved with the build.


The Air Cadets celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Air Training Corps with a number of events, one of them being a Torch Relay. The Torch travelled from John O Groats to Land’s End finishing up at Predannack Airfield, home of 626 VGS. While on route the torch passed through as many cadet activities as possible - Squadrons, Wing HQs, Regional HQs, flying & gliding schools, adventure training centres, RAF stations and RAFA associations. The torch travelled by land, sea or air and in Northern Ireland, it was taken to some of the key iconic sites, such as the Giant's Causeway and Hillsborough Castle. Northern Ireland Wing also marked the 75th Anniversary with a service in St Anne's Cathedral Belfast and over 200 cadets and staff attended from across the province. The Duchess of Cambridge also made her first appearance as royal patron of the RAF Air Cadets for a 75th anniversary service in London.

Public Events

As part of the Royal International Air Tattoo, staff from NI Wing have taken on a pivotal role with the Air Cadet Management team; this year saw 41 Cadets and 6 staff attending for a week to assist in the running of the Airshow.

Throughout the year Cadets and Staff have represented NI Wing at various public events across the province: Portrush Airshow, Festival of Flight, Armed Forces Day, Battle of Britain, Remembrance Day, Poppy Appeals week, Centenary of the Battle of the Somme alongside the many local Squadron public events.


This year’s charity total has exceeded the amount raised in the past with over £14,000 raised this year; £4,016 for the Charity Tiny Life and £10,178 for the RAFA Wings Appeal. 


Individual cadet achievements are, as usual, remarkable. A number are noted below:

Chloe Tweed from 2241 (Regents House High School) gained the rank of Cadet Warrant Officer, Awarded the trophy for Best Cadet in NI Wing, won the NI Sports Cadet of the Year, won Regional Sports Cadet of the Year and was selected as the Lord Lieutenants Cadet for County Down.  During this time she escorted the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the Royal Garden Party in Hillsborough Castle

Jack Stevenson from 72 (Omagh) Sqn successfully completed and pass the Qualified Aerospace Instructor Course (QAIC) which involved travel to the UK for 7 weekends and a final week before qualifying.

Ross McConnell from 2241 (Regents House High School) Sqn was awarded a Flying Scholarship at Tayside Aviation at Dundee. He has been selected for the Northern Ireland University Air Squadron.

Matthew McClune 2241 (Regents House High School) was awarded a Flying Scholarship at Oxford Aviation from RIAT and represented the Air Cadet Organisation at the RIAT Gala Dinner.

Jack Rogan 1134 (West Belfast) Sqn successfully passed the interview boards in both Northern Ireland and Scotland he was selected to represent the Air Cadet Organisation for Great Britain in the International Air Cadet Exchange in the United States of America.

Cameron Peel 817 (Lisburn) Sqn was awarded 3rd place as the Best Drill NCO along with the Sqn drill team coming overall 3rd in the Scotland & Northern Ireland Regional Drill Competition.

Catherine Hill 806 (Larne) Sqn was the first female cadet to gain her Blue Gliding Wings since 1987.

Thomas Anderson was awarded the Regional Commandants Certificate of Merit for rendering First Aid to a member of the public. 

2349 Sqn – trekked up Slemish Mountain a total of 75 times, to achieve a height greater than Everest as a sponsored event to raise over £900 for the Charity Tiny Life.

Jason Orr 1919 (Newtownabbey) Sqn completed his Gold DofE expedition in Bavaria, the first cadet in Northern Ireland Wing to do so.  

2004 (Ballynahinch) Squadron swept the floor at the NI Wing Annual Wing Parade by winning the Senior Royal Air Force Officer Northern Ireland for the 2nd year running, won the DofE trophy for the 3rd year running, and was awarded 1st and 2nd place for the Officer of the Year Trophy.

In conclusion, overall the Wing has increased in both Cadet and CFAV members, they participating in all aspects of the ACO syllabus, especially Flying and Sports. The project to build an “aircraft” is well under way.