RAF Church Fenton
Yorkshire UAS

Yorkshire UAS

Yorkshire UAS is an organisation open to students studying for a degree at any of the main Yorkshire Universities. It is intended to give leadership, teambuilding and physical education training to students who are prospective RAF members. Each member is entitled to 10 hours flying each year, although unlike in the past, this does not count towards flying training should the student decide to join the RAF as a pilot upon completion of their degree.

Recent changes to the RAF’s University Air Squadron system have meant that since September 2005, while Yorkshire UAS members are still entitled to fly, the unit is no longer responsible for RAF flying training.

Yorkshire UAS History:

Yorkshire Universities Air Squadron was formed on 15 March 1969 at RAF Church Fenton, with the amalgamation of the university air squadrons of Leeds and Hull. Yorkshire UAS is the second largest of all the UASs in the country. The idea of the UASs is to take undergraduates who are potential future RAF pilots and give them elementary flying training, and generally introduce them to the RAF lifestyle. Two thirds of all the RAF’s pilot intake is through University Air Squadrons. 

The Yorkshire UAS unit badge can be seen below. It depicts an open book (signifying the universities of Yorkshire) in front of a white rose (signifying the county of Yorkshire). The motto – “Universitate sublimis” – translates into “All raised on high”. The unit badge was given Royal approval by HM Queen Elizabeth II in October 1972.

© Crown Copyright

Until the disbandment of JEFTS, Yorkshire UAS was one of two UASs in the country to have a “direct entry flight”. This flight was formed because JEFTS was running at maximum capacity. This flight took some of the direct entrants that would otherwise have be trained on the Firefly with JEFTS, and gave them the same course as they would have received had they been with JEFTS. The students used all the UASs’ facilities and were trained by the same UAS instructors. 

With the rationalisation of the elementary flying training system in the early part of 2003, all direct entry flights were established on all UASs, which meant that JEFTS was redundant as far as the RAF was concerned, hence their failure to renew the contract and the JEFTS Church Fenton operation being disbanded, although Army and Navy basic training continued to be carried out on the Fireflies. For more information on JEFTS, please see the JEFTS page.

Recently, Yorkshire UAS became part of No. 1 Elementary Flying Training School, a “cover all” name to bring together all the UASs and give RAF elementary training a more “one unit” feel, rather than lots of separate units all working independently. The new badge for 1 EFTS can be seen below.

© Crown Copyright

Yorkshire UAS, like all UASs in the country, has the use of the Grob Tutor T1 (the aircraft being from the pool of aircraft also used by 3 Squadron of 1 EFTS). This aircraft is a largely composite basic trainer with a piston engine and a non-retractable tricycle undercarriage. The aircraft are owned and operated by Babcock, with the RAF paying for hours flown and so avoiding the initial purchase and following maintenance costs throughout the life of the aircraft. The fact that the aircraft are privately owned means they are civil registered (G-XXXX) as opposed to military registered as the Bulldog aircraft that preceded them were.

Due to the closure of RAF Church Fenton as a military airfield in December 2013, Yorkshire UAS moved across to nearby RAF Linton-on-Ouse. In December 2020, with the closure of that station, they moved again to RAF Leeming.

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.