In a new series of articles, London & South East Region (LASER) Air Cadets will be exploring some of the qualifications available for adult volunteers in the RAF Air Cadets. We have spoken to officers, non-commissioned officers and civilian instructors who have undertaken a qualification through the organisation. We want to find out what they thought of it, and how it’s helped them both with the cadets and in their working lives.

Drill Instructor

Across the RAF Air Cadets, the Drill Instructor course is held in high regard. A small cohort of volunteers hold this coveted qualification, representing their skill in training and helping cadets develop their marching and static drill ability. The course is held over a week at RAF Cranwell, at the HQ Air Cadets Adult Training Facility.  Once a year, dedicated Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) come together to take part in the course, living for a week on the base, and perfecting their drill instruction skills. Amongst the most recent graduates is Sgt Matthew De-Gale, the squadron SNCO at 33F (Battersea) Squadron.

What made you want to do the course?

As drill is my favourite activity in the organisation, I have always aspired to become a Drill Instructor since I went into uniform back in 2013 – but never actually had the time until now.

Sgt De-Gale on parade


How much time did you spend preparing/ practicing before you attended?

I expressed my interest to the London Wing Warrant Officer nearly a year ago but I had already missed last year’s course. Once I found out the date of the 2017 course I planned my prep accordingly, I would say that I spent about 3 months prepping.

What was the thing you found most difficult about the course?

The most difficult thing was not the course itself, but the anticipation around delivering your first lesson which is on Tuesday, the second day of the course

And what was the best bit?

The best part is definitely meeting other staff from around the organisation of all different ranks, ages and each with their own experiences. All helping each other out with their lessons, calming each other when the stress got a bit much and last but by no means least having a well deserved drink at the bar in the evenings.

What are you hoping to do now, to put your qualification to use?

I am hoping to be of assistance to neighbouring squadrons in my sector in terms of training their cadets and raising drill standards.  And perhaps assisting Wings in judging their Foot & Banner drill competitions.

Air Cadets on parade at RAF Cranwell

Do you think the qualification will be useful outside the cadet world? Are there any transferable skills that it has helped you develop?

The course has definitely helped in terms of raising confidence and practical teaching these are definitely transferable to the outside world.  I wouldn’t recommend going on about the “good stuff” (drill) to your friends outside the organisation though, they may give you some funny looks or they might glaze over entirely!

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to someone thinking of going on the course?

Preparation is key.  Contact your Wing Warrant Officer or a qualified Drill Instructor, he/she should be able to provide you with the training programme for the course. Read through it and get used to the terminology and wording and start using it to teach your cadets new drill movements! Also AP818… make it your best friend, practice your personal foot drill as it will need to be a high standard!