Oxford University Air Squadron

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Oxford University Air Squadron
Badge of the Squadron
RoleTraining, Recruiting
Garrison/HQRAF Benson
Motto(s)Αεροβατω Και Περιφρονω Τον Ηλιον
EquipmentGrob Tutor

The Oxford University Air Squadron, abbreviated Oxford UAS, or OUAS, formed in 1925, is the training unit of the Royal Air Force at the University of Oxford and forms part of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Present day[edit]

University Air Squadrons offer basic flying training and adventure training to undergraduates and graduates and encourage members to take up a career as an officer in one of the branches of the Royal Air Force.

Some members of OUAS hold the title of Officer Cadet, which carries the privileges, but not the rank, of a commissioned officer, while some other members are also granted commissions in the RAF Volunteer Reserve, with the rank of Acting Pilot Officer. Officer Cadets are required to attend a minimum of one training night a week during full term, usually a lecture by a guest speaker on an aspect of the Royal Air Force or another military unit. They are also expected to take part in two weeks of continuous training during the Long Vacation. There are also camps during all university vacations for sports, flying and adventure training.

OUAS is based at RAF Benson alongside its daughter unit 6 Air Experience Flight, and is equipped with Grob Tutor T Mk 1s.[1] Each officer cadet is offered a Summer Vacation Attachment of one week at another RAF base, seconded to an active regular unit.


The Squadron was founded in 1925. Immediately before the Second World War, OUAS was an important source of pilots in the lead up to the Battle of Britain. As members of the RAFVR, cadets were called up for active service before completing their degrees.[2]

Having first been based at Upper Heyford, then from 1932 at Abingdon, OUAS operated from Bicester Airfield until 1975, when it returned to Abingdon. Its present base is at RAF Benson.[2]

Notable past members include Leonard Cheshire, Julian Amery, Lord Lyell VC, and the actors Richard Burton, Robert Hardy and Warren Mitchell. The 2012 RAF Aerobatic Display Team 'Red Arrows' Synchro Leader, Flt Lt Ben Plank, is also a former member.[2]

Having originally been open only to members of the University of Oxford, in 1986 the Squadron was opened to members from the Oxford Polytechnic, which became Oxford Brookes University in 1993 and the University of Reading .[2]

Commanding officers[edit]

  • 1925–1928: Humphrey Raikes[3]
  • 1932: Wing Commander K. R. Park[2]
  • 1940: Squadron Leader H. R. A. Edwards[2]
  • 1948–1951: Christopher Foxley-Norris[4]
  • 1951–1953: Frank Willan[5]
  • 1953–1956: Wing Commander Nelson Edwards[2]
  • 1956–1958: Wing Commander Constable Maxwell[2]
  • 1958–1960: Wing Commander A. J. Douch[2]
  • 1960–1963: Wing Commander R. P. Harding[2]
  • 1963–1965: Wing Commander R. Whittain[2]
  • 1965–1967: Wing Commander H. B. Iles
  • 1967–1969: Wing Commander M. R. Williams
  • 1969–1971: Squadron Leader D. C. E. England
  • 1971–1974: Squadron Leader A. N. S. Parker-Ashley[2][6]
  • 1974: Squadron Leader W. A. Bell

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation : RAF Volunteer Reserve Units Archived 28 May 2009 at WebCite at rafweb.org
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l History of OUAS at raf.mod.uk
  3. ^ Bruce K. Murray, Raikes, Humphrey Rivaz (1891–1955), chemist and university administrator, in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (OUP, 2004)
  4. ^ Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley-Norris, Obituary in The Independent dated 30 September 2003
  5. ^ 'WILLAN, Group Captain Frank Andrew' in Who Was Who 1981–1990 (A. & C. Black, London)
  6. ^ Flight Directory of British aviation: Who's Who in British Aviation (Kelly's Directories, 1974), p. 7

External links[edit]