The Rank Structure

You may associate these with the military, but rank is something you already deal with every day. Think about your school for example. You are taught by your teacher but who is in charge of your teacher and who is in charge of them? The RAF works under this exact same principle for one simple reason: someone always has to be in charge. This allows effective management of time, ideas and resources as well as providing guidance for any tasks set. Within the Air Cadets you will get a chance to ascend through the NCO rank structure and assume a role of responsibility.

Commissioned Vs. Non Commissioned

There are two types of rank in the military: commissioned and non-commissioned. Commissioned officers hold the Queen's commission and must be saluted. Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO's) do not hold the Queen's commission and therefore do not have to be saluted. This means that the NCO ranks are below the commissioned ranks. A breakdown of the lowest 6 commissioned ranks and all RAF NCO ranks are shown below alongside their respective rank insignia.

Commissioned Officer Ranks

Pilot Officer (Plt Off) Flying Officer (Fg Off) Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt)
Squadron Leader (Sqn Ldr) Wing Commander (Wg Cdr) Group Captain (Gp Capt)

NCO Ranks

Corporal (Cpl)
This is the first rank in Air Cadets. Corporals are often also known as NCOs (Non- Commissioned Officers). Their main duties include ensuring proper dress and discipline amongst the Cadets as well as being in charge of small activities.
Sergeant (Sgt)
Sergeant is the first SNCO (Senior NCO) rank; the others are F/Sgt and CWO. Sgts are usually involved with the supervision of the Corporals as well as having specific Squadron duties. Sgts are referred to as "Sergeant [Surname]".
Flight Sergeant (FS)
As a FS a Cadet is given responsibility for overseeing various aspects of the Squadron. They may be involved with Admin, Training or other similar tasks as well as helping to plan and organise events etc. FS's are usually referred to as "Flight Sergeant [Surname]".
Cadet Warrant Officer (CWO)
The CWO is appointed by the Wing Commander, upon recommendation of their CO. Officially they are members of the Wing Staff but they remain with their own Squadron. CWO is the highest rank achievable by a Cadet. They are involved with the planning and operation of the Squadron. Often the CWO takes responsibility for drill and discipline matters concerning the cadets. You should address a CWO as "Cadet Warrant Officer [Surname]".

Instructor Cadets

Cadets over the age of 18 are known as 'Instructor Cadets' and are considered probationary adult staff who assist with the organisation and planning squadron activities. All Instructor Cadets have 'Instructor Cadet' written at the bottom of their rank slides to show this. Instructor Cadets may stay until their 20th birthday when their service as an Air Cadet then finishes, but may then apply to be full adult staff.