1941: Formed as the Air Training Corps (ATC) – provided pre-entry training for air and ground crews to the RAAF during WWII.
In February 1941, the War Cabinet approved the formation of a cadet corps (known as the Air Training Corps or ATC) as part of the RAAF Reserve.
Mr W.A. Robertson was appointed Director with the rank of Group Captain. The original staff of the Directorate of the ATC started duty on 11 June and the six ATC Wings came into being from 12 August. All Wings were formed in the States by 1 October. Although staffed by a small nucleus of RAAF personnel, most of ATC’s instructors were unpaid volunteers, many of whom had been pilots in WWI.
By 31 October 1943, 12,000 cadets were training. Although this number declined to 7,557 when the Pacific War ended in August 1945, by then just under 12,000 former members had gone on to enlist in the wartime RAAF.
The Corps had two objectives. T he primary short-term aim was to train young men between 16 and 18 to join the wartime RAAF. The second, long-term objective (to come into force after the 1939-1945 War), was to encourage young men to increase their knowledge of air matters and in particular the RAAF, instil a sense of discipline, and provide elementary training in air-related technical matters. This objective indicates recognition of a continuing post-war role for the Corps.
1946-1948: Demobilised and scaled down for post- war years – aims changed to peacetime role – Squadrons reduced to Flights.
Reserve Magazine of December 1949 outlined the composition and conditions for the post-war ATC as an ‘air youth movement’, and gave its numbers as “ at least 3,000” . Cadets were not obliged to enlist in the RAAF, but preference was given to those who did .
1975: ATC disbanded by Whitlam Labour Government.
The Federal Government’s Minister for Defence announced on 26 August 1975 that the Australian Cadet Corps (Army Cadets) was to be disbanded from 1 January 1976 (based on the recommendations of the Millar Report of 1975). The Minister confirmed that Navy Cadets and the ATC would also be disbanded.
1976: Air Training Corps raised and re-formed by Fraser Coalition Government.
On 27 May 1976, the Federal Government’s Minister for Administrative Services announced the re-formation of the Australian cadets’ movement. The ATC was renamed AIRTC.
1982: Girls were admitted.
On 6 May 1982, the Minister for Defence announced the inclusion of girls in the AIRTC.
1989: Cadets and adult supervisor numbers were increased.
In January 1989, the total strength of the AIRTC was raised to 6,800 – 740 adults and 6,060 cadets.
1991: First attempt to create a national organisation on training.
2000: Topely Review – first sign of enhanced government support.
2000: Directorate of Defence Force Cadets (DDFC) formed – Tri-service Policy Support for Cadets – $6m Cadet Enhancement Program.
2001: AIRTC renamed Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC).
Until 2004 /05, there were eight separate organisations based on state political boundaries. While the organisations had identical uniforms and observed RAAF customs and service culture, they were not part of Defence. There was no consistency in ground or air training standards or systems.
2005: AAFC reorganised into operational and functional Wings.
In April 2005, re -organisation of the AAFC raised three functional Wings: Ground Training, Air Training and Logistics Support. An Office of the Chief of Staff provided national policy with command authority.
Traditional operational Wings continued. Nos. 1-8 Wings were based on state boundaries but were redirected to provide service delivery and focus.
- 1 Wing – North Queensland
- 2 Wing – Queensland
- 3 Wing – New South Wales
- 4 Wing – Victoria
- 5 Wing – Tasmania
- 6 Wing – South Australia
- 7 Wing – Western Australia
- 8 Wing – Northern Territory
2016: Presentation of the Governer General Banner
In 2016, the Australian Air Force Cadets celebrated the 75th anniversary of the AAFC. Throughout the year there were a number of ceremonial activities in homage of the milestone. One important ceremonial activity that occured during the celebrations, was the presentation of the Governer General Banner.
The Governer General Banner was presented by Air Vice Marshal Yates and paraded during a stunning display of precision marching by Air Force Cadets in the presence of senior Air Force officers, Cadets staff, aviation industry executives, supporters, families, and friends as the culminating celebration event of the Australian Air Force Cadets’ 75th anniversary.