A History of 1 EFTS at Church Fenton
On 21st September 2005, it was announced by Defence Minister Don Touhig that there was to be a major shake-up in the way that RAF Elementary Flying Training (EFT) was organised. Until then, all University Air Squadrons (UASs) were responsible for a share of the RAF’s EFT requirement, training both University students during the course of their degree, and also Direct Entry (DE) student pilots.
From then on, however, University Air Squadrons were no longer responsible for RAF EFT, and all RAF EFT was then carried out at three bases – RAF Church Fenton, RAF Cranwell and RAF Wyton. These three bases were each home to a squadron of No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, with Church Fenton being the home of No 85(R) Sqn, part of 1 EFTS. 85 Squadron was stationed at Church Fenton twice in the past, initially with Hurricanes during WW2, and latterly with Meteor NF12s and NF14s during the 1950s.
The new squadron was staffed by regular military QFIs, and all students were regular military students.
Changes for the station were minimal, with only a little increase in flying activity. The number of Tutor aircraft based on the station increased to 10, which were shared with Yorkshire UAS and 9 AEF.
Unfortunately in 2011, following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, 85(R) Sqn disbanded, due to the reduced requirement for trainee pilots. This reduced the number of aircraft on station to five.
With many thanks to Squadron Leader Gordon Pell, Officer Commanding Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron, for his invaluable help when compiling this page. Below can be seen some air-to-air photos of Tutors, kindly sent to me by Squadron Leader Pell.