Air Training Corps

The Air Training Corps or ATC is one of the three corps in the New Zealand Cadet Forces (NZCF), the other two being the New Zealand Cadet Corps (NZCC) and Sea Cadet Corps (SCC). It is funded in partnership between the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and local communities, and its members are civilians. Members have no obligation to head into the regular force, however some do choose to join New Zealand Defence Force.


The Air Training Corps was formed in September 1941, at a time when New Zealand was considered to be at risk from Japanese invasion and the British were not in a position to help. Its purpose was to train potential airmen in basic airmanship and provide an insight into Air Force work to prepare young men for the RNZAF when they became of age.



The ATC, as a component of the New Zealand Cadet Forces, is managed at a national level by the Commandant NZ Cadet Forces (usually a Regular Force Lieutenant-Colonel or equivalent), who is part of Headquarters New Zealand Defence Force staff in Wellington. At community level, The ATC are represented by the Air Training Corps Association of New Zealand.


Each unit is managed by the Cadet Unit Commander, and his/her officers. There are currently 49 Air Training Corps Units in New Zealand. To find your nearest unit, use our unit locator.


Parade Nights

Every unit holds Parade Nights around 2–4 hours long weekly during School Terms. Each parade night usually begins and ends with a parade. The starting parade is used to raise the RNZAF ensign, to inspect uniforms, and to inform the cadets on the parade night's activities. The final parade is used to lower the RNZAF ensign, and to inform the cadets on upcoming events in the unit. Between the parades, the cadets undergo classroom or practical instruction.


Units teach aviation theory as part of the parade nights, and units typically organise practical Flying Training for the cadets in partnership with local Aero Clubs. There is an annual National Aviation Course, consisting of separate Flying and Navigation flights. Those that opt for the Flying component spend two weeks covering both theory and practical lessons in flying, with First Solo being a common achievement. The Navigation component is a 1-week long theoretical and practical course covering the NZ CAA Private Pilot Licence syllabus. The practical content included 4 navigation flights building up from an initial 30 minute map reading exercise to a full 2 hour Navigation exercise covering up to 100 nautical miles (190 km) distance.


As with Flying, Gliding Training is organised by the unit in partnership with local Gliding Clubs. There is a week long Gliding Activity, generally held in December, at the Matamata aerodrome. Cadets from all over New Zealand may attend this week long course.


Most units conduct classroom training in bushcraft and survival skills, and hold regular Basic and Advanced bushcraft camps in the local area during weekends.


Units conduct regular range training with smallbore rifles. Some units have their own armouries and ranges at their parade hall. Cadets must pass a TOET (Test of Elementary Training) before being allowed on the range. Cadets who achieve high marks regularly (80 points (from 100) or higher) on the range may be awarded a marksmanship badge which is then worn on their brassard.


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