RAF Benson News

32 (The Royal) Squadron Temporarily Return Home

The Royal Air Force’s VIP transport Squadron, 32 (The Royal) Squadron, will temporarily return to its historic home at RAF Benson between April and October this year.

The short relocation is necessitated by runway resurfacing works at RAF Northolt where 32 Squadron are currently based.  In October 2018, a contract worth £23 million was awarded to Lagan Aviation Infrastructure to carry out the works; a project that will ensure continued military flying operations at RAF Northolt which is home to 33 supported units from across Defence and the last military airfield inside the M25. 

RAF Benson is honoured to temporarily welcome VIP flying back to its historic home. The Queen’s Flight was established at RAF Benson in 1936 (known then as the King’s Flight) and remained there for more than half a century.  In 1996, 32 (The Royal) Squadron formed at RAF Northolt from the merger of the Queen’s Flight and 32 Squadron to provide VIP transport to UK Military and Government leaders.


BAe 146 aircraft of 32 (The Royal) Squadron
BAe146 aircraft operating with 32 (The Royal) Squadron

RAF Benson’s Station Commander, Group Captain Adam Wardrope DFC MA RAF said “In our 80th anniversary year, we are delighted to temporarily welcome 32 (The Royal) Squadron back to RAF Benson.  We have been working closely with our colleagues at RAF Northolt to ensure that we can deliver the same outstanding level of service to their passengers while minimising the impact on our local community.  While those in the local area will see BAe 146 aircraft, and on occasion small helicopters transporting passengers, operating alongside the RAF Benson Puma and Chinook helicopters for the period, we do not expect there to be a significant increase in air traffic.  We are also working closely with other local airspace users to ensure that air safety is maintained for all.”

Officer Commanding 32 (The Royal) Squadron, Wing Commander Caz Viles said “RAF Benson is the historic home of VIP flying for the Royal Air Force, so we are grateful and honoured to return there during the runway works at Northolt.  Although the Squadron’s location will be different our role remains the same; to get the right person to the right place at the right time. The Northolt and Benson teams have been working together brilliantly to make that happen.”

RAF Benson in South Oxfordshire is a support helicopter main operating base working within the Joint Helicopter Command.  It is home to two front-line Puma HC2 helicopter squadrons, and one Operational Conversion Unit, flying a mix of Puma HC2 and Chinook HC4 helicopters.   While there will be different aircraft operating from RAF Benson for a time, measures are in place to ensure there is minimal disruption to our local community and operational output.

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