RAF Shawbury in Shropshire trains around 1,000 students a year from across the UK Armed Services and international partners to be robust, resilient military personnel, technically second to none.

No. 1 Flying Training School (1 FTS) trains aircrew for the Royal Navy, British Army and the Royal Air Force. Previously the Defence Helicopter Flying School, the school was rebadged to 1 FTS by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston KCB CBE ADC at a formal ceremony on 28 February 2020. The Central Flying School (Helicopter) delivers the next generation of helicopter instructors. 

The Defence College of Air and Space Operations (DCASO) trains the next generation of Air Traffic Controllers, Weapons Controllers, Identification Officers, Flight Operations personnel, Air and Space Operations Specialists, and is a worldwide centre of excellence on leading-edge battlespace management training and education. In addition, it delivers pre-deployment training to those about to deploy on operations as well as training selected personnel as instructors.

There are approximately 1,200 personnel working at RAF Shawbury, around 500 Service personnel supported by MOD civilian and contractor colleagues.


Group Captain Philip Wadlow ADC BEng (Hons) MA RAF

Group Captain Wadlow joined the RAF as a pilot in 1997. After completing flying training, he went on to fly the Chinook on exercises and operational deployments all over the world, for this he was awarded the Queens Commendation for Valuable Service. He has held varied roles including in Rotary Wing Operations, Capability Planning, and in MoD Finance and Military Capability as the desk officer responsible for Logistics, C4ISR and the co-operation with the United States of America on the Carrier Enabled Power Projection Programme.  Command appointments include Commanding 27 Squadron at RAF Odiham, operating the Chinook, a Squadron he served on earlier in his career. 

Most recently Group Captain Wadlow was Assistant Chief of Staff for the Core Joint Force Air Component (JFAC) and UK Senior National Representative at NATO Air Command, Ramstein, responsible for the activation of the NATO Command Structure JFAC and the welfare of the UK community in Ramstein. 

On 11 December 2020, Group Captain Wadlow assumed Command of RAF Shawbury, where he is also the Commandant of the tri-Service No. 1 Flying Training School and Commandant of the Defence College of Air and Space Operations.

Who's based here

Where we parent


  • 1917 - RAF Shawbury opened.
  • 1950 - The School of Air Traffic Control started training at RAF Shawbury.
  • 1976 - Helicopter flying training commenced at RAF Shawbury.


The Station's association with flying training started in June 1917, with the arrival of No 29 (Flying Training) Wing and the Aeroplane Repair Section of the Royal Flying Corps. However, following the end of World War One, the site reverted back to agricultural use in 1920.

In 1938, Shawbury was re-activated and became home to No 27 Maintenance Unit (MU) and No 11 Flying Training School (FTS).

In 1942, now renamed as No 11 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, the unit received pilots for training from overseas bases.

In January 1944, No 11 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit was replaced by the Central Navigation School (CNS).

During the early part of World War Two, few bombers were hitting their targets due to poor navigation standards, particularly at night.  The Central Navigation School remit was ‘to consider navigation as a science and to carry out research into the problems of world-wide navigation.’

The Aries series of flights were at the forefront of this. The first and most famous long distance flight was made from RAF Shawbury on 21 October 1944 when 'Aries’ a Lancaster bomber, departed on the first round-the-world trip by a British aircraft.

The arrival in February 1950 of the School of Air Traffic Control (ATC) saw the renaming of the Central Navigation School to the Central Navigation and Control School. In 1963, the Navigation Wing relocated leaving Shawbury the task of training all aspects of Air Traffic Control. The Central Air Traffic Control School was renamed the School of Air Operations Control in 2016.

Helicopters arrived in 1976 with the arrival of 2 Flying Training School and Central Flying School (Helicopter) (CFS(H)).  2 Flying Training School disbanded on 1 April 1997 and was replaced by the new tri-Service Defence Helicopter Flying School.

By 1989 Marshall's Jet Provost fleet was disbanded and the Chipmunks of No 8 Air Experience Flight were dispatched to RAF Newton for disposal on 31 March 1996.

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