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Central Flying School
Active 12 May 1912–present
Country Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Branch RAF roundel.svg Royal Air Force
Type Training
Role RAF flying training
Size 100 personnel

RAF Upavon, Wiltshire England 1912–46
RAF Little Rissington, Gloucestershire England 1946–1976
RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire England 1983–95

RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire England 1995–
Nickname(s) RAF CFS
Motto(s) Imprimis Praecepta (Latin language: Our teaching is everlasting)
Commandant Group Captain Simon Blake
Aircraft flown
Trainer 2000– Grob Tutor
1993– Short Tucano

The Central Flying School (CFS) is the Royal Air Force's primary institution for the training of military flying instructors. Established in 1912 it is the longest existing flying training school.

History[edit | edit source]

It was established at Upavon Aerodrome, near Upavon, Wiltshire on 12 May 1912.[citation needed] It was later based at RAF Little Rissington, from 1946 to 1976. The CFS's first commandant was Captain Godfrey Paine RN. It has been responsible for instructor training since 1920, with pilot training being delegated to the Flying Training Schools.

When the Red Arrows, the RAF's sole aerobatic team was formed by amalgamation of other teams, the responsibility was transferred to the CFS from Fighter Command. The Red Arrows moved to RAF Scampton in 1983 when the CFS was moved there and out in 1995– though the Red Arrows returned in 2000.

Helicopter training[edit | edit source]

Helicopter instruction began in 1955 on the Westland Dragonfly and Bristol Sycamore at RAF South Cerney in Gloucestershire. It moved to RAF Ternhill in August 1961. From 1966, the Westland-built Sioux helicopter began service, lasting until 1973, when replaced with the Aérospatiale Gazelle, much more reminiscent of modern-day helicopters. In 1997 the Gazelle was replaced by the Squirrel (Eurocopter AS350), and the Griffin (Bell 412) is also used. RAF Shawbury was used as the helicopter training school from 1977, becoming a separate organisation from 1997.

Aircraft[edit | edit source]

Gloster Meteor T.7 of the CFS at RAF Coltishall in 1969


During the 1950s the CFS was equipped with the Gloster Meteor. In 1977 the Gnat was replaced by the Hawk.

From 1993 the Tucano took the place of the BAC Jet Provost, and in 2000 the Tutor replaced the Bulldog as the initial trainer operated by the unit.

Training[edit | edit source]

Grob Tutor

All fixed-wing training begins with the No.1 Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS), which flies the Grob Tutor. Army and Navy pilots start at the Defence Elementary Flying Training School (DEFTS) at RAF Barkston Heath where they fly the Slingsby T-67 Firefly. From Cranwell, training begins on the Tucano at RAF Linton-on-Ouse (1 FTS).

Helicopter pilots progress to RAF Shawbury, home of the Defence Helicopter Flying School.

Flight instructors are awarded the Qualified Flying Instructor qualification.

Commandants[edit | edit source]

Central Flying School staff in January 1913

Ranks given are the highest rank the officer in command held during his tenure.

1912 to 1919[edit | edit source]

1919 to 1920 (as Commandant, Flying Instructors' School)[edit | edit source]

1920 to 1944[edit | edit source]

1946 to present[edit | edit source]

Assistant Commandants[edit | edit source]

Notable former instructors[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Taylor, John W R (1987) [1958]. Central Flying School, Birthplace of Air Power. Jane's Publishing. ISBN 0-7106-0486-6. 

External links[edit | edit source]

Coordinates: 53°01′53″N 0°29′36″W / 53.0314°N 0.4934°W / 53.0314; -0.4934

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