Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation


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Establishments - Flying Schools and Colleges

This section lists those establishments which have existed in roughly the same form throughout their history and have had Commandants of Air Rank. It includes pure RAF units and Joint Service units, having established posts for RAF Air Officers. For continuity periods when the Commandant's post was lower than Air Commodore, the post holder was non GD or a Naval/Army officer held the post, have also been included. Naval, Army and non-GD RAF officers or officers who did not ultimately attain Air Rank are shown in italics.

Central Flying School

RAF Upavon, Wiltshire; RAF Wittering, Leicestershire. (10 Oct 1926 - 30 Aug 1935)

Its formation authorized on 23 April 1912 as an independent unit and formally opened on 19 June, with the first course beginning on 17 August. Initially formed to give pilots holding RAeC Certificates military training, it was later tasked with the training of flying instructors and refresher training. It was subordinated to Southern Training Brigade from 5 August 1917 and transferred to HQ Training Division on 5 January 1918. Further transfers took place, to No 7 Group from 1 April 1918 and to No 8 Group on 16 September 1918. It was Renamed Flying Instructors School on 23 December 1919. (Commandant of FIS included and indicated by *).

Central Flying School armsIt was reformed on 26 April 1920 at Upavon within Inland Area and transferred to No 3 Group on 1 April 1926 and then No 23 Group from 12 April 1926. On 7 October 1926, it moved to Wittering but returned to Upavon between 30 August and 2 September 1935.  It came under the control of Training Command when it was formed on 1 July 1936 and transferred to Flying Training Command when Training Command was split on 27 May 1940. It was disbanded by renaming as No 7 Flying Instructors School on 1 April 1942.

19 Jun 1912:             Capt G M Paine RN

15 Nov 1915:           Lt Col D le G Pitcher

xx xxx 1916:             Col C J Burke

18 Jun 1916:            Lt Col A C H McLean

17 Jan 1919:             Lt Col P H L Playfair*

 7 Apr 1919:             Lt-Col/Wg Cdr C D Breese*

3 May 1920:             Wg Cdr N D K MacEwen

xx xxx 1922:             A/Cdre E A D Masterman

1 Jan 1923:               Gp Capt F V Holt

22 Apr 1925:            Gp Capt W R Freeman

24 Jan 1927:             Gp Capt-A/Cdre C S Burnett

17 Dec 1928:            Wg Cdr-Gp Capt J E A Baldwin

19 Jan 1932:             Gp Capt P C Maltby

xx Jul 1935:               Wg Cdr-Gp Capt H G Smart

14 Dec 1936:            Gp Capt J M Robb

17 Mar 1940:            Gp Capt H H Down

It reformed again on 7 May 1946 at  Little Rissington.  In May 1952, the element at Little Rissington was renamed CFS (Advanced) and No 2 FTS At South Cerney was redesignated CFS (Basic).  On 1 June 1957, both elements were amalgamated into a single CFS again.  Subsequently the HQ element of CFS has been based at Cranwell from 12 April 1976, Leeming from 5 September 1977, Scampton from 19 September 1984 and back to Cranwell from 31 May 1995, where it remains to the present (2005).  However, since 1952, it has been policy to station specific elements of the CFS at other stations where a particular type of aircraft is based.  These include South Cerney, Middle Wallop, Ternhill and Shawbury (helicopters), Fairford (Gnat and Jet Provost), Kemble (Gnat), Aston Down (Jet Provost), Church Fenton (Primary Flying Squadron), Valley (Hawk - later 19 (Reserve) Squadron, Cranwell (Bulldog) and Topcliffe (Tucano).

7 May 1946:              Gp Capt E A C Britton

xx xxx 1946               A/Cdre W L M MacDonald

xx xxx 1948               Gp Capt G D Stephenson

xx xxx 1950               Gp Capt G T Jarman

xx xxx 1951               A/Cdre A D Selway

xx xxx 1954                A/Cdre G J C Paul

16 Jan 1956                A/Cdre N C Hyde

22 May 1958              A/Cdre J H N Whitworth

21 Jan 1961                A/Cdre H P Connolly

 4 Feb 1963                A/Cdre H A C Bird-Wilson

 8 Nov 1965               A/Cdre F L Dodd

xx xxx 1968                A/Cdre I G Broom

29 Jan 1970                A/Cdre F S Hazlewood

21 Jan 1972                A/Cdre R H Crompton

 9 Feb 1974                A/Cdre J deM Severne

14 Feb 1976               A/Cdre J M D Sutton

 9 Jul 1977                  A/Cdre A W Fraser

16 Jun 1979                A/Cdre D Allison

15 Jan 1983                A/Cdre R J Kemball

 5 Jul 1985                  A/Cdre A B Blackley

 1May 1987                A/Cdre D E Leppard

26 May 1989              A/Cdre K B Latton

 4 Oct 1991                A/Cdre G L McRobbie

12 Nov 1993              A/Cdre S N Bostock

28 Oct 1996               A/Cdre H G Mackay

xx xxx xxxx                 A/Cdre M Prissick 

 7 Sep 2000                A/Cdre P A Robinson

14 Jan 2002                Gp Capt J S Fynes

24 Dec 2004               Gp Capt S P Ayres

xx xxx xxxx                 Gp Capt S J Blake

xx Apr 2012                Gp Capt D A Bentley

xx Mar 2014                Gp Capt J H Hunter

xx Mar 2016                Gp Capt J F Monahan

1st - 26 June 1969

HM Queen Elizabeth II

2nd - 4 June 1992

HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother

| Central Flying School Website  | Aircraft and Markings |


Empire Central Flying School

Formed 1 Apr 1942 at Hullavington within No 23 Group.  Re-named Empire Flying School, 7 May 1946

xx xxx 1942                Gp Capt A J Holmes

xx xxx 1942                A/Cdre G S Oddie,   

xx xxx 1943                A/Cdre C Mc C Vincent,

| Central Flying School Website |



Empire Air Armament School

Formed 18 Apr 1944 within No 25 Group.  Amalgamated with Empire Flying School, 31 Jul 1949 to form RAF Flying College.

18 Apr 1944                A/Cdre C W Busk


Empire Flying School

Formed 7 May 1946 at Hullavington by re-naming the Empire Central Flying School.  Absorbed into RAF Flying College, 31 Jul 1949.

xx xxx 1946              

xx xxx 1947               A/Cdre E D Barnes


 Empire Air Navigation School

 Formed 28 Oct 1944.  Renamed Central Navigation School, 31 Jul 1949

 28 Oct 1944                Gp Capt G I L Saye

xx xxx 1944                  A/Cdre P H Mackworth

xx xxx 1945

xx xxx xxxx                   A/Cdre N H D'Aeth

19 Jan 1948                  A/Cdre L K Barnes

xx xxx 1948


 Central Navigation School

 Formed 14 Aug 1942.  Renamed Empire Air Navigation School, 28 Oct 1948.  Reformed 31 Jul 1949 by renaming Empire Air Navigation School at RAF Shawbury.  It absorbed the School of Air Traffic Control on 10 Feb 1950 and was renamed Central Navigation and Control School

31 Jul 1949                            ?


 Central Navigation and Control School

Formed on 10 Feb 1950 when the Central Navigation School absorbed the School of Air Traffic Control at RAF Shawbury, becoming the Central Navigation and Control School.  It was renamed the Central Air Traffic Control School on 11 Feb 1963 and Navigation Element moved to RAF Manby.

10 Feb 1950                            ?



RAF Flying College

Formed on 1 June 1949 at RAF Manby, it absorbed the Empire Flying School and Empire Air Armament School on 31 July 1949, its role was to provide advanced courses to aircrew in all aspects of air combat and battle management.  In September the All-weather Jet Refresher Squadron moved to its satellite, RAF Strubby, to be followed by the Jet Training Squadron on 24 May 1950.  The organisation had stabilised by November 1950 into No 1 Squadron (Bombers), No 2 Squadron (Fighters), No 3 Squadron (Handing) and No 4 Squadron (Development). 

In August 1952 the college took over the Specialist Navigation Course from the Central Navigation and Control School and by the mid 1950s the structure composed No 1 (Heavy) Squadron with Hastings, Valettas and Lincolns, No 2 Squadron with Canberras, Meteors and Vampires at Strubby, No 3 (Handling) Squadron and No 4 Research and Development) Squadron.

On 12 April 1954 the Handling Squadron was transferred to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down and on 1 July 1962 it was renamed the College of Air Warfare.

 17 Jun 1949               A/Cdre A McKee

26 Jun 1951                A/Cdre S R Ubee

 1 Feb 1954                A/Cdre G A Walker

 1 Sep 1956                A/Cdre P H Dunn

12 Nov 1958              A/Cdre E M Donaldson

21 Feb 1961               A/Cdre D G Smallwood


College of Air Warfare

Formed 1 Jul 1962 by renaming the RAF Flying College.  Absorbed into the RAF College, 1 Apr 1974.

21 Feb 1961                A/Cdre D G Smallwood

23 Jan 1963                A/Cdre G R Magill

25 Mar 1964                A/Cdre J G Topham

10 Jun 1966                A/Cdre C B Brown

27 Jan 1969                A/Cdre J C T Downey

 3 Oct 1969                A/Cdre A H Mawer

24 Apr 1971                A/Cdre D C Saunders

 6 Jan 1974


School of Land/Air Warfare

Formed 1 May 1947 within No 11 Group by renaming the School of Air Support,   Absorbed into Joint Warfare Establishment, 31 Mar 1963

xx xxx 1944                AVM Sir Leslie Brown

xx xxx 1948                AVM W G Dawson

xx xxx 1950                AVM L F Pendred

xx xxx 1952                AVM L F Sinclair

xx xxx 1953                AVM G Harcourt-Smith

xx xxx 1955                AVM J H Edwardes-Jones

xx xxx 1957                AVM C G Lott

xx xxx 1959                AVM D R Evans

15 May 1961              AVM C T Weir


Defence Helicopter Flying School

Formed on 1 April 1997, taking over the role of the various training schools operated by the RAF (No 2 FTS), Royal Navy and Army.  Based at RAF Shawbury, it is splint into three training squadrons, No 660SQn AAC, No 705 Sqn RN and No 60 (Reserve) Sqn RAF.  All students undertake the Basic Rotary Wing course with No 660 Sqn, before progressing to the Advanced Rotary Wing course with No 705 Sqn after which the Army and RN students leave the DHFS.  The RAF students move to the Multi-Engine Advanced Rotary Wing course with No 60 (Reserve) Sqn.

 4 Jan 2002                Gp Capt R W Tizard

This page was last updated on 10/02/17 using FrontPage 2003© 

© Crown Copyright is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

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