RAF College Cranwell

RAF Cranwell crest

We strive for higher things


The RAF College Cranwell selects and trains the next generation of officers and aircrew, supporting and directing RAF recruitment and initial training.

No 3 Flying Training School deliver the elementary flying training for fixed wing and multiengine student pilots from the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps.

RAF College Cranwell is also home to a range of other important units including Headquarters Air Cadets and RAF Sports.


Portrait of Air Commodore Commandant Peter Squires

Air Commodore Commandant Peter J M Squires OBE ADC MA BEng (Hons) RAF

Air Commodore Peter Squires joined the RAF as a pilot in 1989 following a bursary at Southampton University studying Aeronautics & Astronautics. His flying career has been predominantly on the Harrier as a Qualified Weapons Instructor, although he latterly commanded 100 Squadron flying Hawks in the Aggressor and Close Air Support roles.
Following various staff tours and operational deployments, including commanding the Expeditionary Air Wing during Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR during the Libyan crisis in 2011, he completed a period of study at the Royal College of Defence Studies. In August 2016 Air Commodore Squires assumed command of RAF College Cranwell.


RAF College Cranwell, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, NG34 8HB.

Council: North Kesteven District Council

Who's based here

  • 45 Squadron
  • LVII Squadron
  • East Midlands Universities Air Squadron

Where we parent


  • 1918 - Flying training began at RAF Cranwell with the formation of the RAF.
  • 1920 - The RAF College was established at RAF Cranwell.
  • 1934 - College Hall opened
  • 1941 - The first Gloster Whittle Jet (E28/39) flew from RAF Cranwell under great secrecy. 
  • 1960s - Technical training, previously undertaken at RAF Henlow merged with training at RAF Cranwell. 
  • 1971 - Prince Charles started his RAF flying training at RAF Cranwell on the jet Provost.


Sir Hugh Trenchard (first Chief of the Air Staff) established the RAF College at RAF Cranwell on 5 February 1920. This assisted with the consolidation of the RAF’s position as a single and independent Service. 

The foundation stone was laid on 29 April 1929 by Lady Maud Hoare, wife of Secretary of State for Air. 

Sir Frank Whittle became a Flight Cadet in 1926 and TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was stationed at Cranwell from 1925 to 1926 as Aircraftman Second Class TE Shaw.

During the 1930s the College Hall Officers' Mess was completed (1933) and College Hall was opened in 1934 by the then Prince of Wales, Prince Edward. Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader was also a Flight Cadet at Cranwell during the 1930s.

During World War Two, Hermann Goering ordered the Luftwaffe not to bomb the College as he wanted it as his headquarters when Germany won the War.

In the 1950s the peal of bells were added to College Hall. The bells were given by Shell Petroleum Company and play the retreat each evening as the ensign is lowered, in honour of the 477 former Cadets who were killed in action during World War Two.

Many types of training aircraft operated at Cranwell over the years including the SE8, Tiger Moth, Gladiator, Bull Dog and DH Chipmunk.

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