Central Flying School

“To train instructors, test individual aircrew, audit the Flying Training System, give advice on flying training and provide a formation aerobatics display team.” Students attending the first training course held at the Central Flying School, 1912 Amongst them were MRAF Sir Hugh Trenchard (middle row, extreme right) and Major Robert Smith-Barry (middle row, fourth from left)

CFS Mission statement, 2010

The Central Flying School (CFS) was established on 12 May 1912. Courses taught navy and army pilots advanced flying skills and a ground training syllabus focused on aerial warfare. CFS flying instructors won the high speed Schneider Trophy Competition in 1929 and in 1931.

In 1920 the CFS became the Flying Instructors School (FIS). Building on the work of Major Smith-Barry and the School of Special Flying at Gosport it produced Qualified Flying Instructors (QFI).

Over the next 10 years a number of RAF flying training schools were formed and the FIS reverted back to the CFS at RAF Wittering. Shown here is the team and aircraft (Supermarine S 6B) from 1931

In 1935 as part of the RAF’s expansion scheme, the CFS became a unit within Flying Training Command and returned to RAF Upavon. From 1937 one aircraft of each new type being developed was sent to the CFS so that its flying characteristics could be assessed.

During the 1940s the need for a “training conference in permanent session” was identified and the Empire Central Flying School (ECFS) was established. The majority of CFS staff transferred to this unit whilst the remainder at RAF Upavon formed No. 7 FIS. Bell Sioux helicopters in formation

The Central Flying School was re-established in 1946 at RAF Little Rissington. It became once more the only RAF school training flying instructors and has continued to develop in line with the training needs of the RAF.

In 1953, with flying training becoming a two-stage scheme, basic and advanced squadrons were set up and a Helicopter Development Flight was also formed.

Since 1995 the CFS training remit has also expanded with additional instructional roles being recognised. These include Navigator Instructor (QNI) and Air Electronics Instructor (QAEI).

Today CFS HQ is based at RAF Cranwell.