RAF Cranwell

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. The motto, Altium Altrix, meaning "Nurture the highest" appears above the main doors of the Officers Mess.[4] RAF Cranwell is currently commanded by Air Commodore Peter J.M. Squires.

RAF Cranwell
Near Cranwell, Lincolnshire in England
Alitum Altrix
(Latin for Nurture the Winged)[1]
RAF Cranwell
Shown within Lincolnshire
Coordinates53°01′49″N 000°29′00″W
TypeTraining station
Area700 hectares (1,700 acres)[2]
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byNo. 22 Group (Training)
Site history
Built1916 (1916)
In use1916–1918 (Royal Naval Air Service)
1918 – present (Royal Air Force)
Garrison information
Air Commodore Peter J M Squires
Occupants See Based units section for full list.
Airfield information
IdentifiersICAO: EGYD, WMO: 03379
Elevation67.7 metres (222 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
09/27 2,082 metres (6,831 ft) Asphalt/Concrete
01/19 1,462 metres (4,797 ft) Asphalt/Concrete
08N/26N 761 metres (2,497 ft) Grass
08S/26S 761 metres (2,497 ft) Grass
Source: UK MIL AIP Cranwell[3]


The history of military aviation at Cranwell goes back to November 1915,[5] when the Admiralty requisitioned 2,500 acres (10 km²) of land from the Marquess of Bristol's estate.[5] And on 1 April 1916, the "Royal Naval Air Service Training Establishment, Cranwell" was officially born.[5]

In 1917 a dedicated railway station was established for RAF Cranwell on a new single track branch line from Sleaford, the train being known as The Cranwell Flyer.[6]

With the establishment of the Royal Air Force as an independent service in 1918, the RNAS Training Establishment became RAF Cranwell.[7] The Royal Air Force College Cranwell was formed on 1 November 1919 as the RAF (Cadet) College.[8]

Role and operations

Royal Air Force College

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.[9]

RAF Recruitment

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.[10]

Headquarters Central Flying School

HQ CFS has been located at RAF Cranwell since 1995 when it moved from RAF Scampton. The Central Flying School currently trains all RAF QFI flying instructors.[11]

No. 3 Flying Training School

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.[12] After elementary training, aircrews destined to multi-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.[13]

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.[14]

Air Cadets

Since the mid-1990s, Cranwell has been home to Headquarters, Air Cadets, and the Air Cadet Organisation's Adult Training Facility.[15]

Based units

The following notable flying and non-flying units are based at RAF Cranwell.[16]

Royal Air Force


  • RAF Cranwell Flying Club
  • Cranwell Gliding Club

See also



  1. Pine, L.G. (1983). A dictionary of mottoes (1 ed.). London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. p. 9. ISBN 0-7100-9339-X.
  2. "Defence Estates Development Plan 2009 – Annex A". GOV.UK. Ministry of Defence. 3 July 2009. p. 18. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  3. "Cranwell AD 2 - EGYD - 1 - 1" (PDF). UK MIL AIP. 28 March 2019. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  4. "Ridges and Furrows" (PDF). p. 30. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  5. Halpenny (1981), p.74
  6. A J Ludlam, The RAF Cranwell Railway, Oakwood Press, Headington, 1988, ISBN 0 85361 379 6
  7. Halpenny (1981), p.75
  8. Phillips-Evans, J. The Longcrofts: 500 Years of a British Family (Amazon, 2012)
  9. "OACTU". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  10. "Questions to Secretary of State on move to RAF Cranwell from RAF Biggin Hill". Hansard. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  11. "Central Flying School". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  12. "120TP Prefect". Royal Air Force (Beta). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  13. "New aircraft arrive for UK military flight training - Flight Training News". Flight Training News. 22 August 2017. Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  14. "Cutting-edge milestone for UKMFTS programme" (PDF). desider. Ministry of Defence / Defence Equipment & Support. 115: 12. February 2018.
  15. "HQ Air Cadets". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  16. "RAF College Cranwell - Who's Based Here". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 14 July 2018.


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