Welcome to our Squadron

173 (Orpington) is a squadron of the Air Training Corps, an organisation formed with the aim of encouraging among young men and women,  an interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.

The aims of the Air Training Corps are:

  • To promote and encourage among young people a practical interest in aviation and the Royal Air Force.

  • To provide training which will be useful in the services and civilian life.

  • To foster the spirit of adventure and develop qualities of leadership and good citizenship.

What We Do

Flying and Gliding

The chance to take to the skies in a powered aircraft or a glider is the core activity available to our young people. Cadets have several opportunities every year to go to RAF stations and be taught to fly powered aircraft like the Grob Tutor, and non-powered gliders like the Grob Viking. The opportunities to fly just increase as you turn 16, when you can apply to complete a gliding and then flying scholarship. This training ultimately sees the young person completing a quarter of the hours required to achieve their Private Pilots License, with other scholarships available to get them to completion.


As a member of a military organisation, ceremonial duties are a regular occurrence. Throughout the year the squadron may be asked to provide guards of honour for high profile events, or to parade in commemoration of an event in history.

Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme

The RAF Air Cadets is the largest operator of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme in the UK, and have been offering the award since its inception in 1957. All cadets have the opportunity to complete their Bronze and Silver awards on the squadron, and are able to complete their Gold awards within Kent Wing. Gaining any DofE award is a amazing achievement, and is recognised by over 100 of the top employers in the UK as an excellent way to learn the “soft” life skills that you just dont learn in a classroom!

RAF Station Visits

Every year, squadrons are invited to send cadets to RAF Stations across the country, and the world, for a chance to experience what life is like in the RAF. During their week look stay at the station, they will visit most sections on the base, as well as learn new skills and enjoy new experiences.

Charitable Work

In line with the aims of the ATC, the squadron supports many charities both locally and nationally in fundraising activities. Every year we support St. Christopher’s Hospice with their summer fair, and ever year we support the Royal British Legion during the Poppy Appeal and the festival of remembrance.


As a member of a military organisation, cadets have the change to practice target shooting in a safe and controlled range environment. Training on different weapon systems is progressive and not something that anyone is forced to undertake. Target shooting and marksmanship training is a regular activity at every camp and even on normal squadron nights.

Adventure Training

Adventurous Training encompasses all activities that have some aspect of daring or adventure. As a cadet you will have the opportunity to take part of loads of great outdoor activities, led by qualified staff who enjoy it just as much as you!


Good physical fitness is strongly encouraged within the Air Cadets, every month we run sports nights where cadets endurance is pushed by completing a mixture of exercises and games. There is also the opportunity for cadets to participate in sporting events at local and national levels within the ATC, this includes; netball, football, rugby, athletics, swimming, cross country and hockey.

Structure of the Squadron

All Squadrons within the Air Training Corps are affiliated with the Royal Air Force and aim to replicate the military life.
However Squadron’s of the ATC also rely heavily on a civilian structure of association’s and committees to assist the squadron’s Commanding Officer, raise funds and ensure the squadron maintains it’s direction.

The Squadron Association

People within the local community who hold an interest in the wellbeing of the cadets, and the squadron as a whole, form the Squadron Association.

The Cadets

The Cadets are the young people within the squadron. They are the most important people within the Corps

The Association Committee

The Association Committee’s members are drawn from the Squadron Association, and have responsibility for the welfare of the squadron.

The Staff

The Squadron Staff volunteer their time to running the Squadron, delivering training and managing all aspects of Squadron life