Youngsters with a passion for aviation, action and adventure are being invited to a special ‘have a go’ open evening as an air cadet squadron launches a recruitment drive.

The doors will be thrown open at 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps on April 20 from 7pm as the youth organisation seeks to swell its ranks with a new generation of cadets.

The move has been prompted as the Squadron’s older members’ move on to new challenges, such as university, full-time work or a career in the military.

Aspiring male and female recruits – who need to be aged between 12 and 16 – will have the chance to try their hand at a host of typical air cadet activities from basic fieldcraft skills such as camouflage and mess tin cooking, to radio communications, playing in the band, first aid, drill, leadership and teamwork tests.

Cadets and staff will also be on hand to chat to parents and prospective newcomers.

Officer Commanding Flt Lt Dan Laidler, said: “Becoming an air cadet is not just about preparing you for life in the military or the aerospace industry.

“While some do use it as a stepping stone to joining the RAF, being a cadet for most is about making new friends, building confidence, self-reliance and endurance, and having the opportunity to take part in a range of thrilling activities not usually open to other people their age.

“This can be anything from on-Squadron activities like fieldcraft, radio communications, first aid and target shooting on our own 25-metre indoor range, to off-Squadron pursuits such as adventure training, Duke of Edinburgh, night exercises, flying and gliding, visits to RAF bases both in the UK and overseas, and sport.

“Being an air cadet also offers you the chance to gain extra academic qualifications, with a range of Btec courses available, as well as the opportunity to either hone musical skills or learn to play an instrument in either the Squadron or Wing bands.

“Evidence shows that young people who have been an air cadet are usually more confident and able to better step-up to the many challenges that life throws at them. Employers and further education establishments also hold cadets in high regard.”

Flt Lt Laidler – himself a former air cadet and now a lead teacher of Engineering, Technology and Industry at Discovery School in Newcastle – added that while the Air Training Corps (ATC) is sponsored by the RAF, it is a charity with squadrons run by male and female volunteers from an array of backgrounds.

Neither is the ATC a recruitment organisation for the military. “For some that will be why they join, but for the vast majority being an air cadet is about developing their skills, encouraging them to be good citizens, boosting confidence, increasing independence and inspiring them to aim high in whatever career they choose.”

Tynemouth is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, and is one of the original ATC squadrons’ set up on February 5, 1941, to help prepare young pilots for wartime service.

FS John David Adams, 17, from Tynemouth, is one of the cadets who will soon be moving on to a new life. Presently studying for his A-levels at Whitley Bay High School, he hopes to join the RAF.

He says of his time with 346: “I’ve been with the Squadron for more than four years. Joining was the best thing I’ve ever done. I’ve made lots of new friends, had some brilliant experiences, including flying, parachuting, visiting RAF bases and going on an overseas camp to Cyprus, and it’s really helped boost my confidence and challenged my leadership skills.

“It offers kids the chance to do more with their spare time and experience lots of exciting activities that would normally be out of their reach. Where else would you get the chance at our age to go flying for free in a light aircraft, handle a variety of weapons, take a flight in a Chinook, and visit an active RAF base?

“I am hoping to go into the RAF as a weapons systems operator, but for most cadets it’s about having a good time.”

Tynemouth Squadron meets twice a week on Tuesday and Friday nights at its headquarters in Military Road, North Shields. New recruits aged 12 years and over are issued with a free uniform and most of the activities are paid for either by the Squadron or ATC or are heavily subsidised.

The open evening on April 20 will run between 7pm-8.30pm at the Squadron.

Those interested in joining or wanting more information are urged to come along to the open evening, email: 346@aircadets.org , go to www.346sqn.co.uk, or call 0191 289 3707 on a parade night.