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New accommodation and operational facilities at RAF Little Rissington now 'officially' opened for Air Cadets

A brand new building which is set to be used by hundreds of RAF Air Cadets (RAFAC) has been given the seal of approval by Air Vice-Marshal Ian Townsend who took command of AOC 22 Group (RAFAC’s command) in 2023.

On the official opening of the building, AVM Townsend expressed his thanks to all the organisations and everyone involved in the project, with special mention to Graham Weyth, Air Infra, the team at 2 Flying Training School and Phil Wootten, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) Project Manager.

OC 621 VGS in the hanger with AVM Townsend
Sqn Ldr Woods, OC of 621 VGS in the hangar with AVM Townsend


The history of RAF Rissington is rich and varied, and now a five million pound investment from the Defence Estate Optimisation (DEO) Air Programme has funded a new accommodation block, crew room and shower facilities for the personnel operating from the Volunteer Gliding Squadron based at the airfield.

Once the home of the RAF Aerobatic Team, better known as the Red Arrows, RAF Little Rissington has been used as a site for gliding, as a parachute drop zone and periodic training by ground units and aircraft since 1994.

Home to 637 Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) who provide training for the Royal Air Force Air Cadets and more recently, 621 VGS who relocated from Hullavington Airfield in 2016 on a temporary basis. In 2018, it was announced that 621 VGS would remain at RAF Little Rissington permanently alongside 637 VGS as part of a strategy to create VGS hubs with a geographical spread that is better set up to receive Air Cadets from across the UK.

The Defence Estate Optimisation Portfolio is investing £5.1 Billion in the infrastructure for our people through construction activity, unit and personnel moves, and land release. This project was the first to break ground under the DEO Air Programme.

WO Clayden receiving his fourth clasp to his Cadet Forces Medal
WO Clayden receives the fourth clasp to his Cadet Forces Medal from AVM Townsend

During his visit, AVM Townsend presented WO Steven Clayden, a member of 637 VGS, with his fourth clasp to his Cadet Forces Medal. WO Clayden first joined the organisation as a cadet in 1977 and has achieved 47 years of service, serving with six Air Training Corps Squadrons and since 2019, 637 VGS.

As part of this project, there has been a kitchen extension to be able to cater for the increase in personnel using the site, as well as an extension to the glider hangar, which will be used to store the ground support vehicles.

During his visit, AVM Townsend spent time talking with members of the project team, 2 FTS, volunteers and Flight Staff Cadets of the resident Volunteer Gliding Squadrons and cadets who were on site for their residential gliding scholarship.

Cadets talking with AVM Townsend
AVM Townsend talking with cadets at the Volunteer Gliding Squadron

Group Captain Baz Dale from No. 2 Flying Training School said:

I am delighted that the new build at RAF Little Rissington has come to completion. This will be of enormous benefit to the Volunteer Gliding Squadron based there and, ultimately, for all of the RAF Air Cadets able to visit that location.

Officer Commanding Support Wing for 2 Flying Training School, Wing Commander Tim Willson, said:

The new build at RAF Little Rissington has delivered environmentally friendly overnight accommodation and enhanced operational accommodation. This will enable 621 VGS to operate effectively from the site and now allow them to recruit more staff to deliver the training for cadets. In addition, cadets from further afield will be able to access gliding opportunities through the use of the accommodation, a major step forward for 621 VGS.

DIO Project Manager for the DEO Air Programme Phil Wootten says:

We, as the project team, are proud of the new infrastructure that has been delivered at RAF Little Rissington. Working collaboratively with all stakeholders throughout the duration of project has been a key factor to its success.

Buildings at Little Rissington
The accommodation and operations buildings at Little Rissington.