RAAF Patch Y Air Training Corps Cadets AIRTC Pilot Solo EB
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RAAF Patch Y Air Training Corps Cadets AIRTC Pilot Solo EB

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RAAF Patch Royal Australian Air Force Air Training Corps Cadets AIRTC Pilot Solo Flight 1980s Embroidered on twill cut edge 89mm three and one half inches diameter.

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The Australian Air Training Corps ATC was formed in February 1941 as part of the Royal Australian Air Force RAAF Reserve under the educational arm of the Empire Air Training Scheme to provide pre entry training for pilots for the Commonwealth Air Forces. The Directorate of the ATC commenced duty on 11 June 1941 and six State delineated ATC Wings activated on 12 August 1941 were operational by 1 October 1941 with ATC Squadrons forming at the same time. The ATC was staffed by a nucleus of RAAF personnel with most instructors being unpaid volunteers with many former pilots and Air Force personnel who had served during WWI. The Air Training Corps quickly expanded to provide aircrew and ground staff training with 12000 cadets undertaking education in 1943 and 7557 in August 1945 having provided just under 12000 enlistments in the RAAF during the War.

Cadets undertook preliminary aviation flying and engineering theory air experience as passengers in a variety of service aircraft RAAF Station camps Air Force knowledge drill discipline shooting and field craft with an emphasis on developing good character and good citizenship.

At the end of the War with the Australian Armed Forces going through demobilisation the ATC was scaled down reducing cadet numbers with the ATC Wings downgraded to Squadron status and the wartime Squadrons redesignated as Flights. Flying Scholarships were introduced in April 1950 to teach qualifying cadets to fly and obtain their Private Pilots Licence. The ATC provided many flying cadets to the RAAF Academy and cadets to all branches of the RAAF although there was no obligation on cadets to serve.

The Whitlam Labour Government notified ATC Headquarters on 30 September 1975 that RAAF support supplies and stores were immediately withdrawn and the 5800 cadet Air Training Corps and the other service cadet organisations were disbanded on 1 January 1976.

Following much outcry of the cadet organisation disbandment the new Fraser Coalition Government quickly announced on 27 May 1976 that the Australian cadet organisations would be reformed retaining their service allotments with the RAAF supporting the renamed AIRTC which became fully operational by September 1976. The Government retained most of the essential virtues of the old system but required the Cadet organisations to have a greater School and community involvement. 8 state delineated Wings were established with over 100 Flights and 6000 cadets and adult staff. RAAF provided 30 officers and airmen to provide guidance support and supervision of standards for the new structure decreased from 115 provided under the old structure. The Government provided uniforms and RAAF support for 7 day annual camp for all cadets including rations accommodation and equipment. The AIRTC was responsible for its own administration relying heavily on volunteer instructors to provide a range of practical skills associated with flying including navigation meteorology and air traffic control. The eight Wings based on political state boundaries were effectively separate organisations although having identical uniforms RAAF customs and service culture there was no consistency in ground or air training standards or systems. 

The Minister for Defence announced that girls could participate as aviation cadets being allowed to enrol in the AIRTC on 6 May 1982 and total strength of the AIRTC was raised to 6800 with 6060 cadets and 740 adults in January 1989.

The Topley Review in 2000 identified the requirement for training on national basis more aligned to the Defence Forces and the Directorate of Defence Force Cadets DDFC was formed to provide Tri Service policy support for Cadets and a $6m Cadet Enhancement Program established in 2000.

AIRTC was renamed Australian Air Force Cadets AAFC in 2001. As part of a further reorganisation the AAFC established an Office of the Chief of Staff to provided national policy with command authority in April 2005 and activated three functional Wings comprising Ground Training Wing Air Training Wing and Logistics Support Wing to provide consistency in ground or air training standards or systems. The 8 State operational Wings continued and were redirected to provide service delivery and focus with 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 and 8 Wing Northern Territory.

The organisations 75th anniversary was celebrated in 2016.


In July 1939 the first branch of the Womens Air Training Corps WATC was created in Brisbane by Mrs J Bell with the object of training young women to perform Ground Staff Duties in anticipation of an Auxiliary to the Royal Australian Air Force being formed. The WATC quickly expanded with Squadrons set up under the Queensland Division with other states joining establishing Australian Headquarters in Sydney with Mrs Bell as Commandant Training Headquarters in Perth and Squadrons organised under state Divisions of Victoria Tasmania South Australia and New South Wales which also controlled country Squadrons.

Demanding Physical Education and Signals Courses were provided with proficiency in Morse code using sound light and twin signal flags. WATC Squadrons undertook annual joint parade and training programmes with the ATC and on reaching 18 years of age many WATC cadets entered the Australian Armed Services joining the RAAF WRANS or AWAS with 3000 cadets from the Queensland Division entering the RAAF. WATC was disbanded at the end of 1945. The Minister for Defence announced that girls could once more participate as aviation cadets being allowed to enrol in the AIRTC on 6 May 1982.

This patch dates from the 1980s.



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