This year, cadets from around LASER completed the highly competitive and challenging Qualified Aerospace Instructor Course – or QAIC as it is more commonly known. Each year, students from around the country come together to complete this advanced aerospace training, learning about a range of disciplines including air traffic control and operation of flight simulators. The course is run at two centres, RAF Linton-on-Ouse and RAF Boscombe Down.  Amongst those earning their coveted blue lanyard at RAF Boscombe Down were seven LASER cadets.

Successful LASER QAIC graduates

London 241 (Wanstead & Woodford) Cpl Ali Bachar RANDALL
Kent 2513 (Romney Marsh) FS Jack Lewis WHEELS
Surrey 1349 (Woking) FS Blane Miller EEYORE
Sussex 172 (Haywards Heath) FS Oliver Trehearne MISFIRE
Middlesex 1159 (Edmonton) FS Jari Morganti MARIO
London 31 (Tower Hamlets) FS Darrell Kovac SOAP
Surrey 229 (Farham) Sgt Katie Smith NUTCRACKER

What is the course about?

The culture of the course is extremely important and an adult environment is encouraged where the students are trusted to pace their own work to achieve the required standards and deadlines. In order to establish a strong course identity, all students are issued with course badges, T-shirts and name badges and all wear flying suits throughout the course. In common with RAF, the students adopt “callsigns” or nicknames that stay with them through the course and are shown on their flying suit name badges. QAIC students pride themselves on excellence in everything they do, how to apply themselves to their studies, how they dress, how they behave and how they treat each other.

Each course starts in early September with a selection weekend. This is followed by six training weekends culminating in a graduation week just before Easter.

A student’s perspective 

FS Darrell “Soap” Kovac from 31 (Tower Hamlets) Squadron in London Wing gives his insight in to what he got out of the course, and why he’d recommend it to other cadets in LASER. 

Why did you want to do the course?
Well, I have always wanted to become a pilot right from when I was a toddler to now. Everyone falls in love with something and my passion was with aviation. I then found out about the Royal Air Force Air Cadets back in 2013 and became a cadet to try and pursue this fond interest I had and I have never looked back since. I have also applied and been succesful for a Flying Scholarship and will be using what I have learnt on QAIC up in Dundee. Also, QAIC is not just pilot based, I know the skills and experience gained from the course will help me in the future regardless of what profession I end up in.
What was the most useful thing you learned during it?
I’d probably say the most useful skill learned is teamwork and personal management. Yes, it sounds very cliche, but working in a syndicate when one person drops out of the course and the other lives in a totally different part of the country can be VERY tricky, so communication is definitely key especially when you have group work to complete along with Sixth Form work and a job. Keeping on top of the work is definitely a must or else it does become tricky to manage everything.
What was the best bit of the course?
The people you meet make the course what it is. It is of course a bitter-sweet sort of thing because you can meet cadets who you will be friends with for the rest of your time in the organisation –  but on the flip side you do witness the occasional personality clash, but again that happens in everyone’s life both inside and out of cadets. The Cosford weekend is always interesting , as the Boscombe Down and Linton students meet for the first time. It takes a while for everyone to gel together, but we got there!
What was the hardest part?
For me I’d definitely say that the first few training weekends were quite difficult to cope with. You’re still trying to adjust to the standard of work you have to produce and getting to know your syndicate as well. In terms of subject areas, Air Traffic Control was the bane of my life. Everyone has something that they will struggle with, if you don’t, you’re not human. Its just something that I didn’t naturally take to… It did take quite a bit of practice until got the hang of it.
What do you hope to do with your qualification now you’ve earned it?
My squadron is fortunate to have a flight simulator so definitely using that to teach cadets about flying and aircraft. I also help manage the recruit side of things so definitely enthusing the newbies about about aviation will be my goal.
What would you say to someone thinking of doing the course?
If you’re thinking of doing QAIC, even just a slight feeling, go for it. You gain a lot more than just a blue lanyard both in terms of qualifications and in the skills you learn. I knew that aviation was the route for me so I’ve always been working towards that which is why I did it but regardless, you never know your full potential until you take a risk. I took a leap of faith not fully knowing whether I’d pass the course but as long as the effort and determination is there, coupled with 19 others who are in the same boat as you, you definitely find out what you’re made of.

Successful QAIC 9 graduates from Boscombe Down

How to apply

Applications for QAIC10 are now open. See your squadron staff for more details or apply on

Closing date for applications is 17 July 17