|Part of Royal Air Force College Cranwell|
|Near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire in England|
Entrance to RAF Halton.
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|Type||Royal Air Force training station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Controlled by||No. 22 Group (Training)|
|Group Captain James Brayshaw|
|Elevation||113.38 metres (372 ft) AMSL|
|Source: RAF Halton Defence Aerodrome Manual|
Royal Air Force Halton or more simply RAF Halton is one of the largest Royal Air Force stations in the United Kingdom, located near the village of Halton near Wendover, Buckinghamshire. The site has been in use since the First World War but is expected to be disposed of by 2022.
The first recorded military aviation at Halton took place in 1913 when the then owner of the Halton estate, Alfred de Rothschild, invited No 3 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps to conduct manoeuvres on his land. Following a gentlemen's agreement between Rothschild and Lord Kitchener, the estate was used by the British Army throughout the First World War. In 1916 the Royal Flying Corps moved its air mechanics school from Farnborough, Hampshire to Halton, and in 1917, the school was permanently accommodated in workshops built by German PoWs.
In 1919 Lord Trenchard established the No. 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton for RAF aircraft apprentices, which remained at the station until it moved to RAF Cosford in the early 1990s. Also in 1919, Halton House – a French-style mansion built for Lionel de Rothschild – was re-opened as the station's Officers' Mess, a role which the grade II listed building continues as today.
Princess Mary's RAF Hospital Halton was opened in 1927 as a large purpose-built military hospital, replacing an earlier makeshift medical facility housed in wooden huts that had been opened in 1919. The hospital was the second unit in the United Kingdom to have a renal facility, and besides developing a cure for Sandfly fever, the hospital was the first in the world to use penicillin on a large scale in 1940, just after its discovery. The hospital was closed in 1995 due to Government defence cuts. The buildings remained derelict until 2007–08 when they were demolished for new housing in a development called Princess Mary Gate.
During the Second World War, RAF Halton continued its training role. Additionally No 112 Squadron and No 402 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force were based at Halton for part of the war. No. 1448 (Radar Calibration) Flight was converted into No. 529 Squadron at Halton in June 1943. Initially, the squadron flew the Cierva C.30 and the de Havilland Hornet Moth and by the end of the war, the squadron was competent with autogyro aircraft.
In July 1952 the uncrowned Queen Elizabeth II performed one of her first duties as Sovereign by presenting a colour to Number 1 School of Technical Training; the first to be awarded to an apprentice school, and the first to be presented to an 'other rank' when Sergeant Apprentice Hines, of the 63rd Entry, received the colour from Her Majesty.
When No. 1 School of Technical Training moved to RAF Cosford in 1993, they took over guardianship of the Queen's Colour and on 31 October 1997, Her Majesty presented RAF Halton with its second colour. RAF Halton was the only station to be granted the dignity of two Queen's colours. The move of No. 1 School of Technical Training to RAF Cosford afforded space for the RAF School of Recruit Training to be moved from RAF Swinderby to RAF Halton in July 1993, where it has been ever since. In the year 2004-2005, RAF Halton trained 24,000 personnel, though not all were Phase 1 recruits; some were attending the Airman's Command School which trains Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) in Phase 2 and 3 disciplines.
The history of the RAF station and specifically apprenticeship training over the years is preserved by the Trenchard Museum located at RAF Halton, and managed by the RAF Halton Apprentices Association. In 2010 a major project by members of the station re-excavated the training trenches used during the First World War and made them available as an educational exhibit.
In 1985 a large portion of the pre war NCO married quarter housing estate at RAF Halton was sold to the Welbeck Estate Group. Following refurbishment the houses were sold on the open market.
On 7 November 2016, in a speech to the House of Commons by the Defence Secretary, it was announced that the RAF Halton Airfield would cease to be part of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) estate and is scheduled to be disposed of by 2022. The following month, a letter from the Defence Secretary to MP David Liddington confirmed the planned phases prior to disposal of the site:
- Phase 1 – Airfield disposal.
- Phase 2 – Relocation of School of Recruit Training and Airmen's Command School to RAF College Cranwell.
- Phase 3 – Relocation / rationalisation of Lodger Units.
The Station Commander of RAF Halton released the following statement on 12 December 2016 in regards to the planned closure: "The MOD can confirm that we are in consultation with Aylesbury Vale District Council regarding our intent to dispose of the whole of the RAF Halton site. This is in line with the 'Better Defence Estate' strategy, which seeks to optimise the Defence footprint, and contribute to the Government's Housing target."
Role and operations
Halton is the RAF's centre for recruit training and airmen's development training, and also hosts other independent units. Units based at Halton include:
- Recruit Training Squadron – initial training for all non-commissioned entrants to the RAF (including the integration of the RAF Regiment entrants from April 2016 as part of a new mission statement).
- Airmen's Command Squadron – leadership and management training for non-commissioned officers.
- Specialist Training School – Health and Safety, Environmental Protection, Quality Management and Management and Procedural Skills Training.
- Joint Information Activities Group (JIAG) – a merger of Defence Media Operations Centre (DMOC) and the Joint Information Operations Training and Advisory Team (JIOTAT).
- Joint Media Operations Centre – media and communications training and a deployable joint media operations team; part of the JIAG.
- Supply & Movements Training Wing, part of the Defence College of Logistics, Police and Administration (DCLPA) – trains RAF personnel in supply, movements and logistic management. It also trains Royal Navy and British Army personnel in movements disciplines.
- Training Analysis Centre (part of No 22 (Training) Group) – carries out training needs analysis, and proposes training strategies for RAF ground trades and branches (with the exception of medical, musician and fire-fighter).
- Defence Centre of Training Support – training military instructors and training managers, e-learning support services to the MoD, computer-based training production.
- No 7644 (VR) Squadron, RAuxAF – a specialist media operations squadron.
- Joint Service Gliding Centre – training in the form of gliding for members of the Armed Forces.
- No 613 Volunteer Gliding Squadron – gliding activities for the Air Cadet organisation.
- Headquarters Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire Wing Air Training Corps.
As of 2017, logistics services to RAF Halton are provided by a multi-activity contract awarded to Serco.
The site has a grass airfield, used mainly by gliders, light aircraft, microlights and the RAF hot air balloon. The airfield is the home of the Royal Air Force Gliding and Soaring Association, Chilterns Gliding Centre, the Halton Aeroplane Club and the RAF Halton Microlight Club.
Flying and notable non-flying units based at RAF Halton.
Royal Air Force
- RAF Central Training School
- Recruit Training Squadron
- Airmens Command Squadron
- International Defence Training (RAF)
- Joint Service Adventurous Training (JSAT)
- Force Development Training Centre (Robson Gliding Centre)
- RAF Sports Board
- Training Analysis Centre
- No. 613 Volunteer Gliding Squadron - Grob Vigilant T1
- Air Training Corps
- Central and East Region
- Headquarters Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire Wing
- Central and East Region
- RAF Halton Voluntary Concert Band
- RAF Halton Pipes and Drums Band
Army Recruiting and Training Division
- Defence College of Logistics, Police and Administration (DCLPA)
- Supply and Management Training Wing
- Logistics Supply Training Squadron
- Supply and Management Training Wing
Joint Forces Command
Directorate of Joint Warfare
- Joint Information Activities Group (JIAG)
- Headquarters Joint Information Activities Group
- Media Operations Centre (MOC)
- Media Information Centre (MIC)
- RAF Gliding & Soaring Association
- Chilterns Gliding Centre
- RAF Halton Aeroplane Club - Cessna 152, Tecnam Sierra and Piper PA-28.
- RAF Halton Microlight Club
- "RAF Henlow Defence Aerodrome Manual (DAM)" (PDF). RAF Halton. Military Aviation Authority. 27 January 2017. Retrieved 23 August 2017.
- Bowyer 1983, p. 148.
- "Plane sailing at airshow". Buckinghmshire Herald. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Bowyer 1983, p. 149.
- "RAF - RAF Cosford History". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Historic England. "Halton House (Grade II) (1000601)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "RAF - Princess Mary's Hospital". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "RAF hospital at Halton is grounded after 80 years". Buckinghamshire Herald. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- Lake, Alan (1999). Flying units of the RAF : the ancestry, formation and disbandment of all flying units from 1912 (1 ed.). Shrewsbury: Airlife. p. 266. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
- Halley, James J. (1988). The squadrons of the Royal Air Force & Commonwealth 1918-1988. Tonbridge: Air-Britain. p. 402. ISBN 0-85130-164-9.
- Pitchfork, Graham (2008). The Royal Air Force day by day (1 ed.). Stroud: Sutton. p. 240. ISBN 978-0-7509-4309-3.
- "RAF - News". www.raf.mod.uk. 24 May 2017. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "Swinderby". www.forgottenairfields.com. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "Safer Training; Managing risks to the welfare of recruits in the British armed services" (PDF). bbc.co.uk. Adult Learning Inspectorate. 2005. p. 67. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "RAF - Airmens Command Squadron". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "BBC - RAF Halton trenches restored for people to tour". BBC News. 9 July 2010. Retrieved 31 July 2017.
- "Who is based here?". RAF Halton. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- "Joint Information Activities Group (JIAG)". GOV.UK. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 30 July 2017.
- Bowyer, Michael (1983). Action Stations 6; Military Airfields of the Cotswolds and Central Midlands. Patrick Stephens Limited. ISBN 0-85059-529-0.
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