Being a member of Britain's Royal Air Force has always been regarded as a desirable and prestigious job, particularly as it attracts glamorous public figures such as Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, and before him his father, Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. However, just because it is a glamorous job does not mean that it is easy. Indeed, RAF training requires a great deal of discipline and application, as this guide shows.
For those wishing to fly aircraft in the RAF, the first port of call is usually the RAF Cranwell training college in Lincolnshire. Student pilots must complete an initial
30-week officers' training course after having joined the RAF as either graduate or direct entrants.
Elementary Flying Training (EFT)
After completing their 30-week officers' course, the student pilots then enter the EFT phase with a tutor. Their objective here is to accumulate at least 60 hours of flying experience.
Direct and graduate students
There are, however, differences in how direct and graduate students train. Direct students fly at one of the EFT squadrons, but the graduates have to fly more hours at one of 14 University Air Squadrons. They must pass a Final Handling Test, which allows them to move to the next phase.
Basic Fast Jet Training
Once students pass the Final Handling Test, they embark on 120 flight hours at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire. These hours are expected to include time on Short Tucano T.1s of 72(R) and 207(R) squadrons of 1 Flying Training School (FTS). Students who pass this phase are sent to 4 FTS at RAF Valley in Anglesey where their training includes advanced and weapons exercises on HS Hawk T.1 and T.1A variants with 19(R) and 208(R) squadrons.
Students who are successful in this course reach the holy grail of the RAF - they have earned their wings or, more officially, their RAF Flying Badge. From here, it is a more straightforward step to what the RAF terms operational conversion units on front-line types.
To ensure that the calibre of its new pilots is as high as possible, the RAF trains its own instructors through the Central Flying School (CFS), which was founded in May 1912 and which is the world's oldest flying school.