Welcome to 861 (Wideopen) Squadron ATC!


We are a voluntary youth organisation based on and supported by the Royal Air Force offering a huge range of activities and opportunities to young people aged 12-20 years.

Our cadets have the chance to get involved in a huge range of exciting activities such as powered flying and gliding, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, target shooting and fieldcraft to name but a few.

If you are 12-18 years old and you think you would enjoy doing a range of activities like flying, gliding,shooting, adventure training, as well as gaining a variety of new skills and qualifications, all whilst enjoying new experiences and meeting new people, then the Air Cadets is for you!

From the Squadron Commander

861 (Wideopen) Squadron was selected as the Durham/Northumberland Wing representative for the Sir Alan Lees Trophy competition in 2014 and again in 2015.  In the 2015 competition, the Squadron won the North Region competition and was identified as the top performing ATC Squadron in the North of England!  There are around 1,000 Squadrons in the UK so this puts our Squadron in the top 0.6% of all Squadrons nationally which is an amazing achievement.

Since then we have continued to go from strength to strength. My continuing aim for the Squadron is to deliver a rounded experience for all of our young people – this means that we don’t just specialise in a single activity area, we do everything from adventure training, to sports, to flying and gliding, to target shooting and much much more.  Therefore, we are an extremely busy and active Squadron which offers maximum opportunities to our cadets.

Our Squadron is extremely well resourced – our new Squadron HQ was completed in 2010 and is a fantastic place to run a Squadron from.  We have two Squadron Owned Vehicles, a minibus and a support van, which enables us to move large numbers of cadets around for activities as well as their equipment.  We have have a large Adult Staff team who have wide ranging qualifications which means that we are able to be quite independent and the vast majority of our training is delivered by our own staff rather than relying on other Squadrons for support.

We are supported by the Royal Air Force which means that our cadets enjoy piloting aircraft and gliders as well as visiting bases around the world!

Please take a look around our website to see what we have been up to and what opportunities are available to you. Alternatively, pop along to the Squadron on any Monday or Thursday evening – you can find us here.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Kind Regards,

Flight Lieutenant  Mick Soulsby    LCGI  MInstLM  RAFAC

For those that recall, we sadly lost one of the Squadrons Civilian Instructors, David Wheatley, back in January.
His death hit the staff and Squadron really hard and we miss him very much around the Squadron.
David’s brother and cousins,who live down the country, know how much 861 Squadron meant to David- apparently he spoke relentlessly about us and with so much enthusiasm (typical David!!).
As a result they wanted to make a donation to the Squadron in David’s memory and as such sent us a couple of cheques for us to put to good use for the cadets in the Squadron.
We took this image of the cadets with a picture we have of David and the cheques received and sent it to David’s family- they were overwhelmed and very grateful.
RIP David.
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Last night staff and cadets of 861 Sqn said farewell to Pilot Officer Mark Richardson.
Mark is leaving the Corps to commence a career as a Personnel Training Officer in the Royal Air Force and he starts his initial Officer Training next week.
All of us wish Mark all the very best and there is no doubt from his time at our Squadron that the Air Training Corps’ loss is the Royal Air Forces gain.
Good luck Mark, don’t be a stranger.
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861 Squadron cadets are once again going from strength to strength.
These young individuals are achieving things on an almost daily basis at the minute and I’m proud to be part of this Squadron.
Over the weekend the Squadron took part in the inter Squadron cross country competition- finishing in 6th place out of 30 Squadrons with the U17 boys finishing overall 1st place.
A number of cadets qualified for both their blue and bronze communication qualifications with certificates and badges presented this evening.
Well done everyone, keep up the good work.
If you think you would be interested in joining us and you are between 12 in year 8 and 17 years of age why don’t you pop down and see what the RAF Air Cadets has to offer.
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861(Wideopen)Sqn was in church today for ATC Sunday. Our Padre the Rev. Geoff Short, conducted an ancient ceremony that involved the Laying-Up of our old Banner, which has served for 40 years on the sqn, and blessed a new banner supplied to us from the Royal Air Force Charitable Trust. This new banner will be carried by our cadets for many more years of faithful service to 861 and the Corps. The cadets attending church today did so with pride and dignity, proving they are a credit to the sqn, ATC, local community, church and their parents and are to be praised for their efforts.

WO S R Climpson
Squadron Warrant Officer
861(Wideopen)Sqn ATC
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