Illawarra teenagers who want to develop leadership, discipline and practical survival skills have been encouraged to get involved in Air Force Cadets.
Warrawong's 314 Squadron commanding officer, Flying Officer (AAFC) Paul Barrett, said the youth defence organisation already had about 90 cadets across two units, but wanted to offer the program to more young people this year.
"A lot of what we offer isn't available to young people through any other means and it's also subsidised by the Air Force which makes it more available," he said.
"We focus on initiative and self-reliance - so you really get out of it what you put in."
He said many cadets ended up forging a career in the Defence Force, while others chose to study in other areas at TAFE or university.
Cadet Under Officer Nicholas Lyon, 19, has been in 314 Squadron for six years, and has been exposed to a raft of practical activities and challenges.
Now a mechanical engineering student at the University of Wollongong, he has learnt about powered flying, glider training and aero-modelling and done bushcraft and leadership courses during his time in cadets.
The region's two Air Force Cadet units, in Warrawong and Albion Park Rail, will hold information evenings for potential students from next month.
For more information visit www.aafc.org.au.