Frequently Asked Questions

  • How old do you have to be to join a Unit and where do you join?

    You can join if you are aged between 13 and 15 (or at least Year 9 at school). 23 Squadron recruits once annually, in February each year. You can join the waiting list on the Joining page.


  • Can both girls and boys join?



  • How much does it cost?

    For the first year the fee is $200, which includes some clothing to keep. For later years fees are $160/year. Weekend activities occur most months and vary in price from $15 to $50 depending on how far we travel, food, venue etc. Discounts for multiple family members may apply, and the fees can be paid in installments. Please still get in touch if you are concerned about this and think it may affect your decision to join.


  • How long can you serve for? 

    The majority of Cadets serve for up to three years. After that, you can serve up to the age of 18 years as a Cadet instructor (called Non-commissioned Officer). Beyond this you need to make a commitment to train as an adult instructor (called a Commissioned Officer).


  • Do I have to stay if I find Cadets is not for me? 

    No, you volunteer to enter Cadet Forces and you can leave at any time.


  • What if I'm not too fit?

    There is no requirement to meet a specific level of fitness to join Cadets. However, like many activities, if you are fit you will get greater enjoyment from your experiences. If you elect to join a competition team or come on activities regularly you may find your fitness improves!


  • Do I have to join the Armed Forces when I leave? 

    No, Cadet Forces is a youth leadership training scheme and is not part of NZ Defence Force.There is no requirement for you to join the Armed Forces, although some of our Cadets choose to do so.


  • Will I be sent overseas to fight?

    Definitely not. You are not part of the New Zealand Defence Force. 


  • Will being a cadet help me get into the Armed Forces when I leave school? 

    Cadet Forces is not a recruiting arm of the NZ Defence Force. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that young people who serve with Cadet Forces seem to adapt more readily to life in the Armed Forces and appear to "have an edge" when applications are considered.


  • What if I move town, can I join another Unit?

    Yes, there are over 100 Units across New Zealand that you could transfer to, with an ATC Squadron located in most major centres.


  • What does the NZ Defence Force provide Cadets with? 

    The NZDF provides you with a uniform, less footwear.  They also supply Regular Force advisors and organise and pay for the area promotion courses you may be selected to attend. They also provide the subjects you will study.

  • Why are you called the "Ghost Squadron"? 

    The Squadron number is the same as a former Royal New Zealand Air Force Squadron. This SQN operated Corsairs between August 1944 and October 1945. It was based at Ardmore Airport in Auckland, as well as operating in the Pacific and Bouganville. Because most of the pilots were rather short, they could not been in the cockpit as the planes were taking off or landing and so they became known as “The Ghosts”. The name stuck and so they painted the ghostly Grim Reaper figure on their planes.

    In 1980, 23 SQN ATC sought permission to use the ghostly Grim Reaper for our crest. A subsequent letter was received from the original 23 SQN (RNZAF) CO, which we still possess today, enthusiastically permitting us use of the Grim Reaper and Ghost SQN name so that 23 SQN could live on and be remembered. That’s how we became known as “The Ghost Squadron”.

    23 SQN RNZAF pilots in front of a Corsair featuring the Grim Reaper, Bouganville 1945


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