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The Australian Air League (AAL) is a not-for-profit, civilian operated aviation youth organisation in Australia. Its objective is to encourage the spirit of aviation and air-mindedness in the youth of Australia. The Australian Air League receives no money or assistance of any government department and is entirely self-funded. Its Latin motto is A Vinculo Terrae (Free From the Bonds of The Earth). The official patron of the Australian Air League is aviation journalist Jeff Watson.

Australian Air League
Australian Air League Crest
Australian States and Terrirtories with operating squadrons are highlighted orange
Founded16 June 1934 (1934-06-16)
TypeYouth Organisation
66 585 094 960 [1]
OriginsAir Mindedness Development League
Area served
New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Australian Capital Territory[2]
Key people
Chief Commissioner Ian Rickards
WebsiteOfficial Website



The Australian Air League uses the Australian Civil Aviation Ensign

Mr. George Robey was an Australian soldier who distinguished himself as an original ANZAC. He won a Distinguished Conduct Medal on 25 April 1915 at the Gallipoli landing. Mr. Robey was still a soldier, in the Citizen Military Forces when in 1927 he went to Canberra to assist in the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament House.

He brought back a toy wooden aeroplane for his son Keith that sparked an interest in aviation that inspired his son and that inspiration has lasted until the present day.

Keith Robey through his career has been a senior executive of one of Australia's largest general aviation companies. Keith has also been known as a well-respected aviation feature writer for Aircraft magazine, specialising in flight testing of aircraft.

The gift of the toy wooden aeroplane also sparked off the Australian Air League when five years later Keith complained of the lack of a youth organisation specialising in aviation.

His father George Robey and other concerned adults formed the Air Mindedness Development League and on 18 July 1934 Keith became enrolled as the first Cadet member. Not long after that the name was changed to the Australian Air League.

The first training Squadron opened at Manly, New South Wales on 17 January 1935 with 30 Cadets aged between 14 and 23 years. The first girls Squadron opened in 1944. The Correspondence Wing commenced in 1941. By 1942, 26,000 boys had been trained in aviation and 125 Squadrons operated in three states.

World War II took its toll as many of the Officers went into the services and at the end of hostilities, felt that they had experienced more than enough of wearing uniforms and discipline and hence many Squadrons closed.

However, the Australian Air League has continued. There are around 76[citation needed] active Squadrons and more squadrons continue to open. The founders of the Australian Air League saw the prosperous future for aviation and the Australian Air League has become part of that future being recognised in the aviation industry and Armed Services as the primary school of aviation. Over the years it has been held in high respect by the leaders of the Nation and from early stages of our history, Governors General of Australia have been Patron-In-Chief of the Australian Air League.

On 21 April 2009, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority granted the Australian Air League official use of the Australian Civil Aviation Ensign to recognise the organisation's significant contribution to aviation in Australia.[citation needed] The Australian Air League paraded and flew the flag at the organisation's 75th Anniversary Review in Sydney on 26 September 2009. It is the first time the honour of flying the flag has ever been granted to any other organisation outside of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority's jurisdiction.[citation needed]

Today the Australian Air League Inc. is an independent organisation and is not associated with, or sponsored by, any religious, military or other organisation. It is completely self-governing and self-supporting.[3]

Volunteer SupportEdit

As a not for profit organisation, the Australian Air League relies on the help of a network of volunteers to carry out the various tasks which need to be fulfilled in order for the organisation to exist.

Coming from a wide range of backgrounds, these volunteers bring a variety of different skills to the League and contribute by joining the League as either an associate or League member, from where then can play a vital role in the operation of various levels of the league.

Associate MembershipEdit

Associate membership provides a way for adults to join as non-uniformed, but financial, members of the League. Associate members are eligible to serve on the Squadron 'Branch Committee' from where they can directly assist the squadron by helping to keep track of the Squadrons finances and co-ordinating fund-raising activities.

Associate members are also eligible to participate in most functions and activities that are open to uniformed members.

League MembershipEdit

Alternatively an adult may wish to join the League as an Officer. Such people are inducted into the League's Trainee Officer Programme, where they are given the rank of Trainee Officer and taken through a series of courses covering the day-to-day operations of a squadron, the expectations they will face, and correct procedure for handling different situations.

Upon completing the course the new member is awarded the rank of Second Officer and is attached to a unit, usually the squadron in their local area.


The Australian Air League has an internal rank structure for all uniformed members which is replicated from various organisations including military forces, police forces and Commercial aviation organisations.

The ranks are divided into three categories. The first are the Cadet ranks (referred to as N.C.O. ranks). These ranks are awarded to members of a Squadron, aged under 18 years, who have displayed, amongst other things, excellent leadership abilities, discipline and determination. These promotions are recommended by the Officer Commanding Squadron. The candidate for promotion must complete a variety of tasks in order to prove their suitability for the position, such as passing oral and written examinations.

In the second category there are supernumery ranks. These are ranks held by members who do not fit into the Officer or Cadet ranking system. Ranks in this category are held by uniformed adult members.

In the third category are the Officer ranks. These are ranks are awarded to uniformed adult members of the League based upon their performance and appointment within their respective unit. These promotions are recommended by the officer's immediate superior.

The ranks an individual member holds is signified by either a series chevrons worn on both sleeves for N.C.O. ranks, or by a series of blue, silver or gold stripes worn on the eppaulettes for supernumerary and officer ranks. An absence of any rank insignia indicates a rank of "Cadet".

Chart of Cadet (N.C.O.) ranksEdit

The ranks in this chart are listed with each successive rank down the page being superior to the one preceding it.

Title Abbr. Description Markings Example
Cadet Cdt. The initial rank held a member under 18 years of age. none
Leading Cadet L/Cdt. Usually the marker in a Section. Serves as assistant to a corporal. 1 Chevron.  
Corporal Cpl. The member in command of a Section. 2 Chevrons.  
Sergeant Sgt. The member in command of a Flight. The member in command of a Squadron Flag Party. 3 Chevrons.  
Squadron Sergeant Sqn. Sgt. The member in command of all Cadet members in a Squadron. 3 Chevrons + AAL pip.  

Chart of Supernumery ranksEdit

The ranks in this chart are listed with each successive rank down the page being superior to the one preceding it.

Title Abbr. Description Markings Example
Drum Major D.Maj. The member in command of a Band. This rank is equal to a Sergeant. 4 Chevrons + Drum.  
Warrant Officer W/O A member who is 18 years or older and who does not hold a permanent Officer Appointment. AAL Logo on Epaulettes.  
Trainee Officer T/O This is the initial rank awarded to an adult who has been accepted into the Leagues Trainee Officer program. 1 x 7 mm sky blue bar.  

Chart of Officer ranksEdit

The ranks in this chart are listed with each successive rank down the page being superior to the one preceding it.

Title Abbr. Description Markings Example
2nd Officer 2nd Off. The rank awarded upon successful completion of the Trainee Officer Program 1 x 7 mm silver bar.  
1st Officer 1st Off. Awarded to 2nd Officers who show proficiency in their chosen appointment 2 x 7 mm silver bars.  
Squadron Lieutenant Sqn. Lt. Optimum rank for Squadron Staff members 3 x 7 mm silver bars.  
Squadron Captain Sqn. Capt. Optimum rank for Officer Commanding Squadrons and Wing Staff Officers 2 x 7 mm silver bars.

1 x 13 mm silver bar.

Wing Captain Wg. Capt. Optimum rank for Officer Commanding Wings 1 x 7 mm silver bar.

2 x 13 mm silver bars.

Group Lieutenant Gp. Lt. Optimum rank for Group level Regional Officers 3 x 13 mm silver bars.  
Group Commissioner Gp. Comr. Optimum rank for Group Staff 1 x 13 mm gold bar.  
Lieutenant Commissioner Lt. Comr. Optimum rank for Group Executive Commissioners 2 x 13 mm gold bars.  
Commissioner Comr. Optimum rank for Federal Commissioners 3 x 13 mm gold bar.  
Chief Commissioner Chief Comr. Rank held by the 'Chief Commissioner' (head of the Federal Staff) 4 x 13 mm gold bars.  

Structure of the LeagueEdit


The term "Cadet" refers to a member who is under the age of 18 and/or holds one of the NCO ranks. Upon turning the age of 16 a Cadet becomes a Senior Cadet and wears dark blue epaulettes.


An example of a Cadet Section.

A Section is defined as a group of five Cadets, three of whom may be Leading Cadets, with a Corporal in charge of the Section for a total of six members. If the Section contains all three Leading Cadets, they comprise the first three members on the Corporal's left when forming up.


Diagram of the structure of a flight.

A Flight consists of 3 Sections in formation under the command of a Sergeant, making a total of 19 members.

When assembled as a Flight, each horizontal line of 6 cadets is known as a "rank". The 3 "ranks" are referred to as 'A', 'B' and 'C' sections, with 'A' section forming the front rank, 'B' section in the middle rank, and 'C' section at the rear. Each vertical line of cadets is known as a file. Each file is associated a number. (1 through 6 numbered from Sergeant's left)

Flag PartyEdit

A Flag Party is ceremonial unit paraded by Squadrons, Wings, Groups and Federal. Within a Squadron it can take 2 forms: 1 - 1 NCO in Charge, 3 bearers and 3 escorts; 2 - 1 NCO in Charge, 1 bearer and 2 escorts.

The first version consists of three flags, the State, National and Squadron flag. The second version may only consist of the Squadron or unit flag.

Wing, Group and Federal Flag Parties may only take the second form.

The ranks of the members in a Squadron Flag party must satisfy the following criteria:

  • The N.C.O. in charge may hold a rank of no higher than Sergeant, but must out-rank every other member of the Flag Party.
  • The flag-bearers are charged with the duty of carrying the Squadron, State and National flags. These members may hold a rank no higher than Corporal, but must equal or outrank the escorts.
  • The escorts role is to assist the flag bearer and to "escort" the flags. These members may hold a rank no higher than Leading Cadet, but be of equal or lesser rank than the flag bearers


Several Squadrons, Wings and Groups throughout the Australian Air League also have marching bands, made up of Cadets and Officers with an NCO in charge who is the Drum Major. The Drum Major is equivalent in rank to a Sergeant, although whilst in the band they are in charge of all personnel, including Officers.

Air League bands are typically composed of either a Drum Corps, or a Drum & Bugle Corps and can vary in size from 9 personnel up to a full band of 24 personnel. Air League bands compete in competitions as well as provide music during parades, both for the Air League as well as outside events such as ANZAC Day, Reserve Forces Day, Community Festivals and other promotional work for the Air League.


A full Squadron consists of any number of Flights and a Flag Party with a Squadron Sergeant being in charge of the all units. Rather than directly ordering each unit, the Squadron Sergeant conveys orders to the N.C.O.s in charge of each sub-unit, who then relay the orders to their subordinates.

The Squadron also has a number of non-command Officers who are referred to as the Squadron Staff. The command level officer of the squadron is the "Officer Commanding Squadron", usually abbreviated to S.O.C., or just O.C. when used in a Squadron environment.

A list of operating Squadrons can be viewed at the Air League National Website


A Wing consists of at least 2 Squadrons, who usually share a common geographical location.


A region consists of at least 2 wings which usually share a larger geographical area. For example, "Eastern Region".


A Group coordinates the League's activities at a State level and consists of all league units, other than federal units, in their particular state. Group Status is defined by the League's Chief Commissioner, according to set criteria. Units in states that do not conform to these criteria are designated Wings of the Federal Department.

At present, the following groups currently exist within the League:


The Australian Air League holds Reviews on several layers of administration, ranging from Wing Reviews, Group Reviews and Australian Air League Reviews. Group Reviews are usually held annually and Australian Air League Reviews are usually held every 2–3 years. Reviews are held in order to maintain a sense of healthy competition between Groups, Wings and Squadrons. The basic function of a Review is to investigate the standard of ceremonial drill in the Air League. The latest Australian Air League Review was held in 2018 at Sydney, New South Wales.


Australian Air League members participate and compete in several activities including Camping, Ceremonial Drill, Model Aircraft Building and Flying, Sports and the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Several members have achieved and have been awarded with their Gold Duke of Edinburgh. Community Service is a major part of an Australian Air League members life. They volunteer for events like the NSW Premier's Senior Citizens Concert, the Red Shield Appeal for the Salvation Army and Clean Up Australia Day. They also participate in local festivals and ANZAC Day Parades.

Education classes have been provided for the benefit of members. They include:

Members also have the opportunity to gain the AAL General Diploma, the AAL Aviation Diploma, and the AAL Gold Diploma by obtaining the selected amount of education badges the courses prescribes within a particular time period.

Members can also undergo flight training at the age of 16. The league operates a training school from Camden Airport which is staff by members and volunteers

External linksEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Find a Squadron".
  3. ^ Australian Air League Manual (June 2004)