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  Central Flying School

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Flying Squadrons
5 Sqn
6 Sqn
8 Sqn
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Heavy Conversion Units
1654 HCU
1656 HCU
1660 HCU
1661 HCU
1662 HCU
1665 HCU
1667 HCU
1668 HCU
21 HGCU

Advanced Flying Schools
201 AFS

Advanced Flying Units
12 AFU
15 AFU

Flying Training Schools
1 FTS
2 FTS
3 FTS
6 FTS
7 FTS
12 FTS
1 Lancaster Finishing School
Central Flying School

Operational Training/
Conversion Units
(Fighter)
6 OTU
53 OTU

56 OTU

(Bomber)
228 OCU
230 OCU

Air Armament Schools
1 AAS
2 AAS
Empire Central AS

Other schools
1 Gp Aircrew School
1 Ground Defence School
1 Air Observers School
Central Gunnery School
5 Gp Anti Air School

Other units
Bomber Command
Coastal Command
Fighter Command
HQ No 5 Group
HQ No 23 Group
1485 Gunnery Flight
2782 Defence Sqn
178 Support Unit
399 Signals Unit
Nationality based Sqns

Updated: 12 Aug 04

Formed: 12 May 1912

Renamed: 1920 to Flying Instructors' School

Disbanded: still active

Unit was based at:

RAF Upavon :: 1920 - 1926

RAF Wittering :: 1926 - 1935

RAF Upavon :: 1935 -

RAF Scampton :: 1984 - ?

RAFC Cranwell :: 1995 - present

The Central Flying School (CFS) was first proposed in 1911 by Prime Minister Asquith, as part of his structure for the Royal Flying Corps. It was formed at Upavon in Wiltshire on 12 May 1912. Its aim was to produce professional war pilots from the corps of men already holding a Royal Aero Club Certificate. CFS quickly grew to be a centre of excellence in experimental and research flying.

The first course graduated on 5 Dec 1912, the pass mark set at 60% overall. One of the students was Maj Hugh Trenchard, one of the key figures in the development of air power doctrine and the first Marshal of the Royal Air Force.

CFS was showing its value by the outbreak of the Great War as it had produced 93 pilots for the RFC. Wartime priorities pushed basic training to the reserve sqns with advanced training taking place in the front line sqns or at CFS.

CFS continued to develop at after the war and moved to RAF Wittering in 1926. With events in Nazi Germany finally shaking the reluctant government into action in 1934, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin initiated the pre-war expansion for all services. The next year Flying Training Command took CFS under its remit, the School being enlarged and moving back to Upavon. It was finally realised that the scale of the training task was beyond even the enhanced CFS and the Commandant visited Canada to seek training resources from the Dominions. In Oct 1939 it was announced that Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom had agreed to a combined and co-ordinated training plan based in Canada. On 17 Dec 1939 the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan agreement was signed; Canada would be turned into a giant training mill.

By the end of 1940 each 5-week course at CFS could cope with 90 students. As the wartime expansion of the RAF led to the creation of other flying instructor schools it became clear that an overall co-ordinating and standardising unit was required, this was to be the Empire Central Flying School (ECFS) created in 1942 at RAF Hullavington. It had a Handling Squadron, Examining Flight, Research Flight and Day/Night Development Unit.

ECFS did not survive the war as a centre of flying training research and CFS was brought back in 1946 at RAF Little Rissington. ECFS became Empire Flying School and lived on for a few years.

Still in existence, the Central Flying School is the oldest in existence in the world.

History of CFS on CFS website

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