World’s first military air academy RAF Cranwell celebrates centenary

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RAF Cranwell south of Lincoln, the first military academy in the world, is honouring 100 years of aviation and taking a trip back to its significant inception.

The station will have served its official centenary on April 1, 2016 and will be hosting a series of events for visitors of all ages to enjoy in celebration.

Lincolnshire has several airfields that are still operational and serve modern day RAF, including Digby, Waddington and Cranwell in the North Kesteven district alone.

On April 1 1916, Royal Naval Air Service Station Cranwell, part of HMS Daedalus, opened as a training station to teach officers to fly aircraft such as BE2cs, Avro 504s and Sopwith Camels and later airships and kite balloons.

Training continued until April 1 1918 and the Royal Naval Air Service and Royal Flying Corps were amalgamated to form the Royal Air Force we know today.

RAF Cranwell became the first military air academy in the world and opened on February 5 1920, under the command of Air Commodore C.A.H. Longcroft.

The prestigious College Hall building was completed in 1933 and stands an iconic landmark for those have served past and present.

North Kesteven District Council is hosting a 100 Years of Aviation event at the base’s local visitor centre – Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre, which tells the story of Cranwell’s development from the first Military Air Academy to its present day operation.

Faye Coulson, from North Kesteven District Council, said:

“From Friday 1 to Sunday, April 3 the centre will house special one off exhibitions including Royal Flying Corps uniforms and artefacts dating back to World War I.

“Research is also being carried out at the College Hall library at RAFC Cranwell to devise a timeline that will illustrate the 100 years to present day showing visitors the importance that RAF Cranwell has in Lincolnshire’s aviation history.

“Cranwell Aviation Heritage Centre are now working in partnership with the Heritage and Ethos Centre, located ‘behind the wire’ who will also be a part of this event and will also be exhibiting replica uniforms as well as smaller uniforms for children to try on and imagine what it would’ve been like during the war.”

Find out more on the attraction’s website here. 

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