|Central Flying School|
|Active||12 May 1912– present|
|Branch||Royal Air Force|
|Type||Flying training school|
|Role||Instructor training and flying training oversight|
|Part of||No. 22 Group|
|Stations||RAF Cranwell (HQ)|
RAF Shawbury (Helicopters Squadron)
|Motto(s)||Imprimis Praecepta (Latin: Our teaching is everlasting)|
|Group Captain Anthony R Franklin|
The Central Flying School (CFS) is the Royal Air Force's primary institution for the training of military flying instructors. Established in 1912 at the Upavon Aerodrome, it is the longest existing flying training school. The school was based at RAF Little Rissington from 1946 to 1976. Its motto is Imprimis Praecepta, Latin for "The Teaching is Everlasting".
The school currently manages a series of training squadrons and the RAF Display Team.
The Central Flying School was established by the Royal Navy at Upavon Aerodrome, near Upavon, Wiltshire, on 12 May 1912. The school’s strength at the outset was ten Staff Officers and eighty flying students, whose course lasted for sixteen weeks. Its first commandant was Captain Godfrey Paine RN, and it also trained pilots for the Royal Flying Corps, created in 1912, and the Royal Naval Air Service, 1914–1918. It has been responsible for instructor training since 1920, with pilot training being delegated to the Flying Training Schools.
When the Red Arrows, the RAF's sole aerobatic team was formed by amalgamation of other teams, the responsibility was transferred to the CFS from Fighter Command. The Red Arrows moved to RAF Scampton in 1983 when the CFS was moved there and out in 1995– though the Red Arrows returned in 2000.
In 2000 the Grob Tutor T.1 replaced the Scottish Aviation Bulldog as the initial trainer operated by the unit.
During the 1950s the CFS was equipped with the Gloster Meteor. During 1976 the Hawker Siddeley Gnat T.1s were based at RAF Valley however during 1977 these were replaced as the CFS main advanced jet trainer by the Hawker Siddeley Hawk T.1.
Helicopter instruction began in 1955 on the Westland Dragonfly and Bristol Sycamore at RAF South Cerney in Gloucestershire. It moved to RAF Ternhill in August 1961. From 1966, the Westland-built Sioux helicopter began service, lasting until 1973, when replaced with the more modern Westland Gazelle HT.2s. During the 1970s the Westland Whirlwind HAR.10s were also used and the School had a detachment at RAF Valley, Anglesey, Wales for SAR and mountain rescue training.
In 1997 the Gazelle HT.2's and HT.3's were replaced by the Squirrel (Eurocopter AS350), and the Griffin (Bell 412) is also used. RAF Shawbury has been the home of the helicopter training school since 1977, becoming the Defence Helicopter Flying School in 1997. A satellite unit of the CFS is maintained at RAF Shawbury to train and develop helicopter instructors.
UK military aircrew from all three services start their flying careers with elementary flying training:
Following EFT, aircrew students are streamed to either fast jet, rotary-wing or multi-engine pipelines.
Suitable pilots are trained as Qualified Flying Instructor (QFIs) on the Grob Tutor, Grob Prefect and Embraer Phenom at RAF College Cranwell. Texan and Hawk QFI's are trained by CFS personnel at RAF Valley. Helicopter instructors (QHI's), both pilots and rearcrew, are trained at RAF Shawbury, home of No. 1 Flying Training School.
Flying instructors are awarded the Qualified Flying Instructor qualification for fixed-wing types. Helicopter instructors are referred to as Qualified Helicopter Instructors (QHI) or Qualified Helicopter Crewman Instructors (QHCI).
Ranks given are the highest rank the officer in command held during his tenure.
1912 to 1919
1919 to 1920 (as Commandant, Flying Instructors' School)
1920 to 1944
1946 to present