No. 1 Parachute Training School RAF
No.1 Parachute Training School RAF (No.1 PTS) is a Royal Air Force training unit that was initially based at RAF Ringway, now Manchester Airport and is currently based at RAF Brize Norton. It was formed at Ringway on 21 June 1940 as the Central Landing School and from 1 October 1940 it was designated as the Parachute Training Squadron of the Central Landing Establishment. Following growth in the unit's task, it became an independent unit as the Parachute Training School on 15 February 1942. Following formation of a second school in India, the current name of No.1 Parachute Training School was adopted on 27 July 1944.
"Knowledge Dispels Fear"
History and operations
Between June 1940 and early 1946, No.1 PTS provided initial training to all 60,000 allied paratroopers who volunteered or were recruited for that role in Europe. In addition to British troops, men from many nationalities trained to jump at RAF Ringway and nearby Tatton Park including Americans, Belgians, Canadians, Czechs, Dutch, French, Norwegian and Poles. Agents of the Special Operations Executive, both men and women were also given parachute training by No.1 PTS to enable those who were to be dropped into occupied territory to do so safely. To maintain secrecy, these men and women were accommodated in separate secure premises in Bowdon and Styal and were trained in select groups.
No.1 PTS moved from Ringway to RAF Upper Heyford on 28 March 1946and has been based at RAF Brize Norton since moving from RAF Abingdon, where it was based from 1950 to April 1976. Throughout its time in Oxfordshire, No.1 PTS has used the airfield at RAF Weston-on-the-Green, adjacent to the M40 motorway, as its drop zone. Prior to and during the period March 1949 to May 1950 the unit was used additionally for the training of glider pilots. The gliders were Airspeed Horsas, towed by the Dakota transports used for parachute training. (See also article "No 1 Parachute and Glider Training School" of 6 June 2012)
Commanded by a squadron leader, the School today comprises 5 Flights. Military Training Flight is responsible for training all Army, Navy and RAF airborne forces in static line training disciplines up to 12 000 ft. Specialist Training Flight is responsible for free fall parachute training and all static line parachuting that requires the use of oxygen. Instructor Training Flight teaches Parachute Jumping Instructors in all parachuting disciplines. Adventurous Training Flight delivers adventurous training courses to all Services through the medium of static line and free fall parachuting. The RAF Falcons are the only MOD sponsored display team and provide spectacular displays around the UK.
A large granite memorial to the existence, personnel and wartime achievements of No.1 PTS is on permanent public display in a small memorial park opposite Olympic House and Terminal 1 at Manchester Airport. Another stone memorial to No.1 PTS is at Tatton Park, located at the western edge of the landing area used in wartime by trainee parachutists.
- Newnham, Maurice, 'Prelude to Glory', Sampson Low, London, 1947
- Scholefield, R.A. (1998). Manchester Airport. Sutton Publishing. ISBN 0-7509-1954-X.
- Sturtivant, Ray, 'Royal Air Force Flying Training and Support Units', Air-Britain, Tunbridge Wells, 1997, ISBN 0-85130-252-1
- Hearn, Peter, ' Parachutist' Robert Hale & Company 1976, ISBN 0-7091-5413-5
- Harclerode, Peter, 'PARA! Fifty Years of the Parachute Regiment, Orion Books Ltd, London, 1992, ISBN 0-7528-0395-6
- Cartner, Edward, 'Parachutes Princes & Predicaments', Woodfield Publishing 2003, ISBN 1-903953-17-0
- Cartner, Edward, 'Jumping Beans', Woodfield Publishing 2012, ISBN 978-1-84683-132-4