Royal Air Force Cranwell or more simply RAF Cranwell (ICAO: EGYD) is a Royal Air Force station in Lincolnshire, England, close to the village of Cranwell, near Sleaford. Among other functions, it is home to the Royal Air Force College (RAFC), which trains the RAF's new officers and Aircrew.
|Near Cranwell, Lincolnshire in England|
College Hall at Royal Air Force College Cranwell
|Area||700 hectares (1,700 acres)|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Controlled by||No. 22 Group (Training)|
|In use||1916–1918 (Royal Naval Air Service)|
1918 – present (Royal Air Force)
|Air Commodore Peter J M Squires|
|Identifiers||ICAO: EGYD, WMO: 03379|
|Elevation||67.7 metres (222 ft) AMSL|
|Source: UK MIL AIP Cranwell|
RAF Cranwell is currently commanded by Air Commodore P. J. M. Squires.
The history of military aviation at Cranwell goes back to November 1915, when the Admiralty requisitioned 2,500 acres (10 km²) of land from the Marquess of Bristol's estate. And on 1 April 1916, the Royal Naval Air Service, Training Establishment, Cranwell was officially born. The first commander was Commodore Godfrey M. Paine.
With the establishment of the Royal Air Force as an independent service in 1918, the RNAS Training Establishment became RAF Cranwell. T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, was stationed at RAF Cranwell just after the war, in 1926, where he wrote a revised version of his Seven Pillars of Wisdom. He mentioned the nearby village of Navenby in a letter to a friend at the time, saying: "I'm too shy to go looking for dirt. That's why I can't go off stewing into the Lincoln or Navenby brothels with the fellows. They think it's because I'm superior: proud, or peculiar or 'posh', as they say: and it's because I wouldn't know what to do, how to carry myself, where to stop. Fear again: fear everywhere."
Cranwell became the entry point for all those who wished to become permanent officers in the RAF, and the selection process was extremely stringent. Initially the course took two years, but by the 1950s this had expanded to three. Until 81 Entry, arriving in September 1959, all flying training took place at the College; basic training on Percival Provosts and advanced training on either De Havilland Vampires or Gloster Meteors. With the arrival of 81 Entry, the academic syllabus was improved to allow cadets to gain degrees in humanities, or AFRAeS. To enable this to happen in the three-year course, only basic training was carried out at Cranwell on the new Jet Provosts Mks 3 and 4. Cadets still received their wings on passing out of Cranwell, but went on to advanced flying courses at either RAF Oakington or RAF Valley. In 1962 Whittle Hall was built to support the new syllabus, opened by Sir Frank Whittle. This meant that the old East and West Camps, which had been used for lectures, were re-deployed for other activities.
From 1917 RAF Cranwell was served by its own dedicated railway station on a single track branch line from Sleaford, the train being known as The Cranwell Flyer. The spur line was closed in 1956 and all the track removed. However, the original station building still stands and today remains in use as RAF Cranwell's main guardroom.
The main building of RAF College Cranwell is noted for its distinctive dome, visible from most of the surrounding roads.
The motto – Alitum Altrix – translates roughly to Nurture the Winged, and this motto can be found in gold print above the main doors of CHOM (College Hall Officers Mess). Also on the top of the dome of the Mess is a connection to the RNAS past life of the station, that makes Cranwell unique in RAF history and a record holder as well; RAF Cranwell has the furthest lighthouse from the sea in the UK, and the only RAF station to have a permanent lighthouse on its grounds.
Jet engine historyEdit
Sir Frank Whittle attended RAF Cranwell in the 1920s. It was here that he formulated many of his ideas for the jet engine, and it was at Cranwell on 15 May 1941 that the first flight of the Gloster E.28/39 took place. When Whittle died in 1996, his ashes were buried in a church at RAF Cranwell.
Royal Air Force CollegeEdit
Cranwell is home to the Royal Air Force College (RAFC), which trains the RAFs new officers on a 24-week initial course, after which they are dispersed to their Phase II training for specific branch instruction. It is thus the RAF equivalent of Sandhurst or the Britannia Royal Naval College, and is considered by some to be the spiritual home of the RAF.
The station is home to the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC), where all applicants to the RAF as Officers or non-commissioned aircrew, are put through a 4-day rigorous selection process. The OASC is currently commanded by Group Captain Tom McWilliams. The selection process features aptitude testing, medical examinations, interviews, plus a number of challenging individual plus team planning and initiative exercises.
It is also home to the Inspectorate of Recruiting (IofR) – the division of the RAF responsible for providing recruiting and outreach services via the network of Armed Forces Careers Offices (AFCOs) around the UK.
Around the 1970s the RAF introduced the Direct Entry Scheme, in which a fresh graduate from any university could be admitted into RAF after a short training period at RAFC Cranwell. Originally titled the Professionally Qualified and Re-entrant Course (PQRE) since 1978 the course has been known as the Specialist Entrant and Re-entrant Course (SERE). The course has trained RAF Chaplains, officer ranked nurses joining the PMRAFNS from the NHS, officers transferring to the RAF from the Army or Navy, former officers re-joining the RAF and, until 1992, Royal Observer Corps wholetime officers. Most entrants emerged with the rank of Flight Lieutenant with chaplains being commissioned as Squadron Leaders.
Headquarters Central Flying SchoolEdit
HQ CFS has been located at RAF Cranwell since 1995 when it moved from RAF Scampton. Central Flying School is the longest established military flying school in the world and currently trains all RAF QFI flying instructors.
No. 3 Flying Training SchoolEdit
Cranwell is home to the headquarters of No. 3 Flying Training School (No. 3 FTS). The school provides elementary flying training for fixed wing and multi-engine student pilots from the RAF, Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps through No. 57 (Reserve) Squadron, No. 703 Naval Air Squadron and No. 674 Squadron Army Air Corps. The UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) programme saw the transition from the Grob Tutor T1 to the Grob Prefect T1 during 2018. Although nominally based at Cranwell, elementary training largely takes place at nearby RAF Barkston Heath. After elementary training, aircrews destined to multi-engine engine aircraft and rear-seat roles are trained by No. 45(R) Squadron on the Beechcraft King Air B200, which is in the process of being replaced by five Embraer Phenom 100.
On 16 January 2018, the Skyes Building was opened at Cranwell by Air Marshal Sean Reynolds, the Deputy Commander Capability and Senior Responsible Owner of the UKMFTS. The building will act as a UKMFTS operational support building and be used to train new RAF pilots. It was named after Air-Vice Marshal Sir Frederick Hugh Sykes, a British military officer and politician who served during the First World War.
Since the mid-1990s, Cranwell has been home to Headquarters, Air Cadets, and the Air Cadet Organisation's Adult Training Facility. Furthermore, the station is home to the Air Cadet Leadership Course, run by the Combined Cadet Force although attended by both ATC and CCF cadets, as well as occasionally sea and army cadets.
Sea Cadet CorpsEdit
Since 2011 the Eastern Area Sea Cadets Headquarters have been based on site.
The following notable flying and non-flying units are based at RAF Cranwell.
Royal Air ForceEdit
- RAF College Cranwell
- Officer and Aircrew Cadet Training Unit
- Recruiting and Selection
- Tedder Academy
- Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering (DCAE)
- Officer Training
- Central Flying School
- Central Flying School Headquarters
- No. 3 Flying Training School
- No. 6 Flying Training School
- Air Training Corps Headquarters
- No. 8 RAF Force Protection Wing
- RAF Music Services
- The Band of the Royal Air Force College
- The Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force
- Air Warfare School
Other RAF Units
- RAF Disclosures
- RAF Cranwell Flying Club
- Cranwell Gliding Club
- Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 9. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
- "Defence Estates Development Plan 2009 – Annex A". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 18. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
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- Halpenny (1981), p.74
- "College History". Royal Air Force. 2012. Retrieved 1 June 2012.
- Halpenny (1981), p.75
- Hastings, Chris; Bisset, Susan; Edwardes, Charlotte (9 June 2007). "T E Lawrence's 'mistress' was an orphan". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 20 February 2008.
- Hart, Basil (1936). T. E. Lawrence in Arabia and After. J. Cape. p. 424. ISBN 0-8371-4258-X.
- Wilson, Jeremy (1990). Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence. Atheneum. p. 766. ISBN 0-689-11934-8.
- Knightley, Phillip (1970). The Secret Lives of Lawrence of Arabia. McGraw-Hill. p. 294. ISBN 0-17-135010-3.
- "120TP Prefect". Royal Air Force (Beta). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- "New aircraft arrive for UK military flight training - Flight Training News". Flight Training News. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
- "Cutting-edge milestone for UKMFTS programme" (PDF). desider. Ministry of Defence / Defence Equipment & Support. 115: 12. February 2018.
- "RAF College Cranwell - Who's Based Here". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 14 July 2018.