RAF Cranwell

Coordinates: 53°01′49″N 000°29′00″W / 53.03028°N 0.48333°W / 53.03028; -0.48333
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RAF Cranwell
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Near Cranwell, Lincolnshire in England
Graduates front of College Hall.jpg
RAF Cranwell.png
Alitum Altrix
(Latin for 'Nurture the Winged')[1]
RAF Cranwell is located in Lincolnshire
RAF Cranwell
RAF Cranwell
Shown within Lincolnshire
Coordinates53°01′49″N 000°29′00″W / 53.03028°N 0.48333°W / 53.03028; -0.48333
TypeTraining station
Area700 hectares (1,700 acres)[2]
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byNo. 22 Group (Training)
WebsiteOfficial website
Site history
Built1916 (1916)
In use1916–1918 (Royal Naval Air Service)
1918 – present (Royal Air Force)
Garrison information
Group Captain Joanne Campbell
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]

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 Group Captain Joanne Campbell.[5]


The history of military aviation at Cranwell goes back to November 1915,[6] when the Admiralty requisitioned 2,500 acres (10 km2) of land from the Marquess of Bristol's estate.[6] On 1 April 1916, the "Royal Naval Air Service Training Establishment, Cranwell" was officially born.[6]

In 1917 a dedicated railway station was established for the RNAS establishment on a new single track branch line from Sleaford, the train being known as The Cranwell Flyer.[7]

With the establishment of the Royal Air Force as an independent service in 1918, the RNAS Training Establishment became RAF Cranwell.[8] The Royal Air Force College Cranwell was formed on 1 November 1919 as the RAF (Cadet) College.[9]

Role and operations[edit]

Royal Air Force College[edit]

Cranwell is home to the Royal Air Force College (RAFC), which overseas all RAF phase 1 Training. The RAF Officer Training Academy (RAFOTA) is the sub organisation of the RAFC which trains the RAFs new officers on a 24-week modularised initial officer training course (MIOTC), after which they are dispersed to their Phase II training for specific branch instruction. It is thus the RAF equivalent of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst or the Britannia Royal Naval College.[10]

RAF Recruitment[edit]

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 rigorous selection process.[11]

Headquarters Central Flying School[edit]

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.[12]

No. 3 Flying Training School[edit]

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 and Fleet Air Arm through No. 57 (Reserve) Squadron and No. 703 Naval Air Squadron. The UK Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) operates the Grob Prefect T1 in this role. Although nominally based at Cranwell, elementary training largely takes place at nearby RAF Barkston Heath.[13] After elementary training, aircrews streamed to fly multi-engine aircraft and rear-seat roles are trained by No. 45(R) Squadron, which operate five Embraer Phenom 100.[14]

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 acts as a UKMFTS operational support building and is 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.[15]

Air Cadets[edit]

Since the mid-1990s, Cranwell has been home to Headquarters, Air Cadets, and the Air Cadet Organisation's Adult Training Facility.[16]

Based units[edit]

An Embraer Phenom 100, operated by No. 45 Squadron's based at RAF Cranwell

The following notable flying and non-flying units are based at RAF Cranwell.[17]

Royal Air Force[edit]


  • RAF Cranwell Flying Club
  • Cranwell Gliding Club

See also[edit]



  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. ^ "Station Commander". Retrieved 20 May 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Halpenny (1981), p.74
  7. ^ A J Ludlam, The RAF Cranwell Railway, Oakwood Press, Headington, 1988, ISBN 0 85361 379 6
  8. ^ Halpenny (1981), p.75
  9. ^ Phillips-Evans, J. The Longcrofts: 500 Years of a British Family (Amazon, 2012)
  10. ^ "OACTU". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 14 March 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Questions to Secretary of State on move to RAF Cranwell from RAF Biggin Hill". Hansard. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  12. ^ "Central Flying School". Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original on 20 March 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  13. ^ "120TP Prefect". Royal Air Force (Beta). Retrieved 12 February 2018.
  14. ^ "Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  15. ^ "Cutting-edge milestone for UKMFTS programme" (PDF). Desider. Ministry of Defence / Defence Equipment & Support. 115: 12. February 2018.
  16. ^ "HQ Air Cadets". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  17. ^ "RAF College Cranwell - Who's Based Here". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 14 July 2018.


External links[edit]