Duke of Edinburgh’s Award
As a squadron, we pride ourselves on taking as many cadets as possible through the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and, while it is not compulsory, many take the challenge. The squadron organises its own expeditions, as well as sometimes with other units. There are many opportunities to complete the volunteering, physical and skill sections of the scheme within the Air Cadet training syllabus. Local organisations, such as the Royal British Legion and Rotary & Lions Club, all welcome Air Cadets to help them in important events such as Poppy Appeal, Fireworks events and Local Fetes.
Spending a week on an RAF station at a low financial cost is one of the must-do opportunities on offer. On camp, cadets live the military life that will challenge them, and also experience all the enjoyable aspects of that the Air Cadets has to offer in just one week! Camps are held all over the UK and abroad, with cadets coming from squadrons around the Wing, allowing some great friendships to be made. Aside from shooting, doing night exercises, flying, touring the station, there is also the chance to fly in military aircraft. This is a wonderful opportunity as civilians will never have the opportunity to fly in some of these aircraft whilst they are in service. Many cadets from Berkhamsted have experienced this by flying in Chinooks, Merlin’s and Puma’s but by far the best thing they all appreciate was the great food that was served in the Mess!
Flying & Gliding
It wouldn’t be the Air Cadets without flying. Upon joining, you become eligible to go on air experience flights with a fully licensed pilot. Once you are more confident in aerial manoeuvres such as the loop the loop and barrel rolls, you will be able to go on and complete the pilot’s scholarship course. You can also fly some of the corps Vigilants (powered gliders) to develop your basic aircraft handling and you can then go on to achieve a gliding scholarship.
This is a very important part of being a cadet, and one which we take very seriously. All cadets and staff are trained to a minimum of ‘Heartstart’ level that allows them to provide a potentially life saving service. Then, cadets are able to go on Youth First Aid and Activities First Aid courses which are normally conducted over a weekend. These provide a much more detailed approach to treating anyone who could be suffering from conditions such as a heart attack, major bleed or inhalation of toxic substances.
Whatever classification you are as a cadet, you’ll have the opportunity to do target shooting. When you join, you are eligible to fire the basic scorpion air rifle and bolt action L114A1, and as you get more advanced, you can shoot the semi-automatic L98A2, the L81A2 and L86 LSW. You can shoot inside or out in ranges between 5.5m to 300+m. Achieving marksmanships and competing in shooting competitions are a way of gaining prestige in the Air Cadets and two things for which Berkhamsted squadron is renowned. Shooting can also be used as a skill for the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
More academically, the Air Cadets also offer BTECs. The BTECs that the corps offers are in aviation studies (equivalent to 2 GCSEs), music (equivalent to 4 GCSEs) and in public services (equivalent to 2 GCSEs). The BTEC in aviation studies is achieved by working your way through the cadet classification structure and are a perfect stepping stone for a career in or out of the forces. The courses also include professional CV preparation, interview techniques and adventure training.