RAF St Mawgan

Badge for RAF St Mawgan

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RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall is a No 22 (Training) Group Station that provides a platform for future and current operations in the south west.  The Station is home to the Defence Survive, Evade, Resist, Extract (SERE) Training Organisation (known as DSTO), and supports the Remote Radar Head at Portreath – part of the air defence system for the UK.

All Services are represented at RAF St Mawgan, and DSTO trains around 5,000 personnel from around Defence each year to prepare them for operations overseas.

As a hub of activity in the south west, RAF St Mawgan supports or employs around 3,000 personnel across the region, including Regulars, Reserves, and RAF Air Cadets.


Portrait of Wing Commander Heidi Madden

Wing Commander Heidi Madden

Wing Commander Heidi Madden, an Airspace Battle Management officer, took command of RAF St Mawgan in August 2018.

Before that she worked on the Global Strategic Trends programme at the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre, the MOD’s academic think-tank.  She has previously served as commander of the operations squadron at MOD Boscombe Down, and delivered international engagement at HQ Air Command.


RAF St Mawgan, Newquay, Cornwall, TR8 4HP. 

Council: Cornwall County Council

Who's based here

  • 505 Squadron RAuxAF


  • 1943 - Station opened, used by US Army Air Force for ferry operations in World War Two.
  • 1947 - The station drew down to care and maintenance, used to house Polish displaced persons.
  • 1951 - The station reopened, operating Lancasters at the School of Maritime Reconnaissance.
  • 1996 - Sea King Operational Conversion Unit formed, supporting Search and Rescue Operations in the UK.
  • 2008 - Runway sold to Cornwall council to become Cornwall Airport Newquay.
  • 2015 - 505 (Wessex) Squardon (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) is created.


Trebelzue was commandeered as a satellite field for RAF St Eval in 1941, but transferred to Ferry Command to be an Overseas Aircraft Despatch Unit. The runways proved inadequate, and new runways to the east were constructed, with the name “RAF St Mawgan” adopted on 23 February 1943.

It its first year, RAF St Mawgan despatched 1179 United States Army Air Force aircraft to North Africa, making use of the “biggest runway in the country” according to Flight Lieutenant Anthony Mortimer, Air Traffic Controller at the time.

In 1944 a new Instrument Landing System was installed by the Americans, the first of its type to be in operation in the United Kingdom, with aircraft movements up to 16110 that year. The end of the war in 1945 saw the station draw down to care and maintenance by 1947.

St Mawgan reopened in 1951 operating Lancasters as the School of Maritime Reconnaissance.  Air Sea Rescue operations first took place in 1956, with Whirlwind helicopters. Lancaster operations ended in 1956, to be replaced by Shackletons and then Nimrods in 1970, the world’s first jet maritime patrol aircraft.

Nimrod operations continued until 1992, when the School of Combat Survival and Rescue moved in, now the Defence SERE Training Organisation.

The Sea King Operational Conversion Unit was formed in 1996, supporting 22 Squadron Search and Rescue HQ. A Joint Maritime Facility was opened in 1995 with the United States Navy, and No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment arrived from Laarbruch in 1999.

The Station drew down again in 2008, with the runway being sold to Cornwall County Council, becoming Cornwall Airport Newquay. Recent arrivals of No 505 Squadron (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) and Royal Military Police personnel have seen an increase in use of the site, and St Mawgan continues to parent RAF personnel across the southwest region.

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