We Nurture the Winged


Information for all Whole Force personnel and the wider RAF Family

RAF College Cranwell is a thriving RAF Station in the heart of Lincolnshire with a long and distinguished history dating back to its foundations as a Royal Navy Training Establishment in 1916. It was the world’s first Air Academy and today, it continues to select and train the next generation of officers and aircrew. It is also home to No 3 Flying Training School which delivers the elementary flying training for fixed wing and multiengine student pilots from the RAF, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps, No 6 Flying Training School which oversees all University Air Squadrons in universities across the UK and the Tedder Leadership Academy.

RAF College Cranwell is also home to a broad range of Supported Force Elements including RAF Recruitment and Selection, Headquarters Air Cadets, Central Flying School, The Air Warfare School and the Band of the RAF College.



Having been awarded a Sixth Form Scholarship, Bursary and University Cadetship, Group Captain Bettington joined the Royal Air Force as an Administrative (Secretarial) Officer in August 1995 and completed Initial Officer Training at RAFC Cranwell.

He has deployed to the Falkland Islands as Officer Commanding Personnel Support Squadron in 2003. He completed a Masters Degree in Defence Studies with Kings College London. He then assumed the role of Officer Commanding Base Support Wing at RAF Cranwell in July 2009.

He completed a six-month operational tour in Kabul, Afghanistan as the Chief of Targeting in the Strategic Targeting Influence and Integration Cell and served as the Officer Commanding the Officer and Aircrew Training Unit, RAF College Cranwell.

Following his promotion to Group Captain in 2015, he completed three years as Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Community Support at RAF High Wycombe and is currently the Station Commander of Royal Air Force College Cranwell.

Group Captain Bettington lives with his partner and young son. His hobbies include football (he remains convinced that there are a few more playing seasons left in him), coaching Under 12’s rugby, golf and skiing. He is the Safeguarding Champion and a Director of RAF Football as well as being a STEM Ambassador. Finally, he is a recent Alumni of the Windsor Leadership Trust.


RAF College Cranwell, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, NG34 8HB.

Council: North Kesteven District Council

Who's based here

  • 45 Squadron
  • LVII Squadron
  • East Midlands Universities Air Squadron
  • Tedder Academy of Leadership

Where we parent


  • 1918 - Flying training began at RAF Cranwell with the formation of the RAF.
  • 1920 - The RAF College was established at RAF Cranwell.
  • 1934 - College Hall opened
  • 1941 - The first Gloster Whittle Jet (E28/39) flew from RAF Cranwell under great secrecy. 
  • 1960s - Technical training, previously undertaken at RAF Henlow merged with training at RAF Cranwell. 
  • 1971 - Prince Charles started his RAF flying training at RAF Cranwell on the jet Provost.


Sir Hugh Trenchard (first Chief of the Air Staff) established the RAF College at RAF Cranwell on 5 February 1920. This assisted with the consolidation of the RAF’s position as a single and independent Service. 

The foundation stone was laid on 29 April 1929 by Lady Maud Hoare, wife of Secretary of State for Air. 

Sir Frank Whittle became a Flight Cadet in 1926 and TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was stationed at Cranwell from 1925 to 1926 as Aircraftman Second Class TE Shaw.

During the 1930s the College Hall Officers' Mess was completed (1933) and College Hall was opened in 1934 by the then Prince of Wales, Prince Edward. Group Captain Sir Douglas Bader was also a Flight Cadet at Cranwell during the 1930s.

During World War Two, Hermann Goering ordered the Luftwaffe not to bomb the College as he wanted it as his headquarters when Germany won the War.

In the 1950s the peal of bells were added to College Hall. The bells were given by Shell Petroleum Company and play the retreat each evening as the ensign is lowered, in honour of the 477 former Cadets who were killed in action during World War Two.

Many types of training aircraft operated at Cranwell over the years including the SE8, Tiger Moth, Gladiator, Bulldog and DH Chipmunk.

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