Northwich Squadron has, for well over a decade, maintained its position as one of the top units in the country. We strive to offer the best possible training and provide opportunities that far surpass those offered by any other organisation.
The First Class Training Course (FCTC)
One major factor in the Squadron’s continuing success is the introductory 18 week basic training course. Two courses are run each year, usually commencing in October and March. The exact date will be displayed on the home page several weeks before the next course is due to start. At 146 (Northwich), due to the way we run the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, the minimum age for a place on one of these courses is 13 years old. Although Cadets can stay until their 20th birthday, you cannot join as a new cadet on or after your 17th birthday.
On the first night of a new course, prospective cadets and their parents are invited to attend, when all information will be given and the necessary paperwork for parents to sign is provided ( parental consent must be given to join).
“First Class Cadet” is the first of the four cadet training classifications, hence the name of the course. Subjects covered in FCTC include basic map and compass, first aid, airmanship, the A.T.C. and R.A.F., drill and basic fieldcraft training.
Various outdoor activities consolidate the classroom training, including a weekend exercise which comprises an overnight camp, night exercises and a map and compass exercise. Other local exercises, such as “Log Run” , develop teamwork, effective communication and confidence.
The course is intense but very enjoyable and runs as a separate unit on the Squadron. As well as parading on the normal Tuesday and Friday evenings, FCTC cadets are expected to parade most Sunday mornings. Although personnel circumstances may dictate that some cadets may miss a few parades during the training (due to family, school commitments, illness etc) cadets must be prepared to attend all parades. It is not possible to join and have other regular commitments on a parade night or Sunday morning (during this training).
Successful completion of the course is marked, in full service tradition, with a Dining-In Night and Pass-Out parade at which the First Class badges and other special awards are presented.
The new First Class Cadets become full members of the squadron on completion of the FCTC course and move on to their Leading Cadet training. They can now attend annual camps at R.A.F. stations, commence firearms training and are eligible for air experience flying and gliding.
Leading Cadet Training
Principles of flight, airmanship, aircraft recognition and basic navigation are the technical subjects covered at leading over a period of one year.
At Northwich, training for the Bronze stage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme is completed in parallel with the Leading Cadet training. The Country Code, campcraft, safety precautions, food and cooking, weather and intermediate first-aid are some of the subjects covered before the practice and qualifying expeditions are completed.
The Physical and Volunteering sections of the Award are completed on the squadron, or with other local organisations or schools if preferred.
Senior and Master Cadet Training
Further subjects are studied over one year for Senior Cadet training and a further year to complete Master Cadet. Currently these are Air Power, Pilot Navigation, Air Navigation, Propulsion, Airframes and Aircraft Handling on a rotating programme.
The Silver DofE Award training, courses, expeditions and assessments are completed along with the Senior cadet training, and the Gold stage with the Master Cadet training.
Such is the efficiency of the programme that most cadets complete their Gold Awards in their 17th year, some within days of their 17th birthday.
Promotion is based on merit. It is, however, expected that successful completion of a cadet to corporal course ran by the Squadron’s adult NCO’s will result in promotion to Cadet Corporal. Further promotions to Sergeant, Flight Sergeant and Cadet Warrant Officer are available and the speed of these promotions are down to the individual.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme
The Award Scheme is universally recognised by universities and employers. To progress through Silver and Gold stages requires considerable determination and character. We attach great importance to the scheme. All the training for the three levels of the award, Bronze, Silver and Gold, are incorporated into the Leading, Senior and Master Cadet training syllabus respectively. Expeditions for Bronze are completed locally, whilst Silver and Gold expeditions are planned either in the Lake District or Wales.
The Volunteering section at Bronze usually consists of a group charity event. For Volunteering at Silver and Gold cadets provide assistance to many local charities and organisations.
The Physical and Skills sections can be completed and assessed on the squadron, however cadets are encouraged to include activities in which they already participate outside the unit and which can be used to qualify for the scheme.
Each year, the cadets can participate in a number of exercises, one to three days duration, both locally and further afield. These manoeuvres enable them to improve their fieldcraft, survival, navigation and leadership skills.
The Air Training Corps Adventure Training Centres in Wales and the Lake District are regularly used, along with the Army Training Centre in Capel Curig. The facilities at these centres enable cadets to experience hillwalking, rock climbing, abseiling, gorge walking, scrambling, caving, kayaking and canoeing.
146 Squadron Band
The band performs at about a dozen events each year ranging from Remembrance Sunday and Pass-Out parades to charity garden parties, carnivals and fetes. Over the years it has helped raise thousands of pounds for the charities concerned and raised the profile of the Squadron in the local community. A cadet does not need any musical skills to join the band as full training is given.