Lack of AEF for NI and NW England


How would that fit in with the other airfield’s operations?

If this was viable why use military bases at all? Save loads of money in ‘field’ maintenance etc, as you just pay rent.


There is more to it than just moving to another airfield.

Babcock have nothing in the contract to work off site and if an attempt was made to change it they’d ask the earth. Remember, Babcock own and maintain the aircraft.

Also it’s accommodation, crash cover and hangerage. If an airfield doesn’t have these then it’s not suitable. These all come at a cost much more than the cost to repair the runway.


Could the AEF operate from local airfields or are they inextricably tied (by more than the RAF flying training mafia) to military airfields.


3AEF are rumoured to be looking at Kemble (aka Cotswold Airport) as a base, so it can definitely happen.


It has, 4 AEF at Glasgow airport.


I don’t think that Manchester or Liverpool airport would be suitable for cadet flying as they are both in controlled airspace.

Personally, I wouldn’t like to be doing aeros at 4000ft with an A380 on finals below me!!


Prior to being at RAF Wyton, pretty much from foundation, 5 AEF operated out of Cambridge Airport.


So, like Glasgow then?

Your main issues with busy, commercial airports are holding times and wake turbulence.
Probably also the fairly significant landing fees.

You need to go quite far away to be able to have the vertical space for aeros but there is plenty of space to pootle around and do general handling.

You wouldn’t be doing that above the controlled airspace in which the IFR traffic was hiding anyway.


As I understand the UAS can still operate at awoodvale as the risk is acceptable to them, just not cadets (different runway used) and as the UAS at woodvale at gilted gods, they won’t be moving to Blackpool.


Forgot about 5AEF which is daft as I used to go to 5AEF as a cadet in the 70s/80s and later as escorting staff, and while labelled as Cambridge Airport, you got a sense it was Marshalls private airfield. I don’t ever recall every seeing anything move at the weekends other than the Chippies and Huskey. We’d go for little wanders and peek in some of the hangars.

So it seems we could easily ditch the reliance on using RAF Out in the Sticks and use civil fields, which would have to be cheaper in the long run and they could close / sell off airfield part for houses. If the flying gets binned / delayed you aren’t too far from real places and maybe visits to parts of the airport as opposed being bored rigid in RAF Back of Beyond. Maybe 5 AEF could go back to Cambridge.


It’s been suggested in the past that 10AEF operate from Manchester Barton (the thread seems to have been lost from this site)

Several advantages:

Less that an hour drive from Woodvale
Around 15 minute flight time so aircraft could be positioned easily
Hangarage available if required
Close to the bulk of the cadet user base and the Motorway network
Crash cover
Outside controlled airspace
On site catering
The runways have recently been regraded

The Grob 115s are cleared for grass ops, as up until a couple of years ago two were operated from Barton by a civvie school.


It gets my vote. Plus Barton do not charge the military any landing fees (which is why they get a lot of military rotary action!), and we could ditch the LSJs and get smaller cadets flying!

I’d also vote for a move to Blackpool, Warton, or even Hawarden. Anything, just as long as my cadets get to fly!

(I appreciate that it’s not that easy, and that SERCO are contracted only to Woodvale blah blah blah, but we can but dream…)


Does the RAF operate any G115Es from grass, though? I get it that G115As are operated by civilians from grass without problems.


Just to clarify a couple of Squadgys points.

  1. less than an hour from Woodvale correct but for pilots from as far as Lytham, Lancaster and Carnforth its an additional hour.

  2. Not in the LAFT contract to operate away from Woodvale

  3. Hangarage comes at a cost and there is no money

  4. Not really. Remember, we look after cadets from as far north as Lancaster.

  5. Crash crews would need to be made familiar with the aircraft and equipment we use.

  6. correct

  7. ok, but would they be able to cater for everyone? is accommodation available for approx 50-60 cadets plus 10 staff plus 5-8 pilots plus 10 engineers plus 5 staff cadets?

  8. true but suffer from some water logging during the winter months.


We’ve discussed this before.

The cost of hangarage and accommodation plus the adjustment to the LAFT contract far out weighs the cost to repair the runway.

Blackpool - hangarage, accommodation, engineering, fuel,
Warton- as above plus a security nightmare!
Hawarden- as above but without the security issue.

Trust me folks, ALL options have been looked at and deemed not suitable at this time.

Don’t think that we are all sat around not doing anything. We are still keeping pilots current and training new pilots in the meantime so that when we do become active again, we will be ready.

We are all as disheartened as you are but we can only wait to see what Command and 22Gp come back with.



Oh wait. You’re serious. Let me laugh even harder



We have. But surely you can understand why people are advocating such courses of action?

As a tax payer, I’m struggling with the concept of keeping an AEF operating, but not providing cadet flights.

If operating from a base other than Woodvale is out, then let’s chop 10 AEF altogether, and disperse pilots and equipment to other AEF locations, who can then provide flying places.

What’s the point of paying for a service provider, if that service isn’t provided?


Simply put, the UAS are still flying do business as usual.


Simply put, the UAS are still flying do business as usual.


The closure of 10 AEF is not on the cards.

10 AEF is not operating fully.

The cost to keep it open is negligible. We have no OC. All our pilots are volunteers. I am a volunteer. The aircraft are being used by the UAS as well as our pilots and are owned by Babcock which supply them as part of the LAFT contract.

Most of the Woodvale fleet has already been utilised elsewhere as we do not have the requirement for a fleet of 7 airframes however, once we are back up and running, the 4 aircraft will be recovered and we will be back running as ‘normal’.

I’m not sure of your back ground or current position with the ACO but you have to remember that the majority of AEF pilots get paid less that an ACO Flt Lt after tax, plus they travel on average an hour and a half to come to Woodvale to fly your cadets for less that £50 a day for up to 10 hours. So cost per hour is pretty good value for money. I’d like to see an ACO Sqn officer travel and hour and a half to go to his Sqn. Personally I have a 60 mile round trip to Woodvale and do it twice a week if I can.

You talk about re-positioning pilots to other AEFs. If the likes of Cosford or Linton were closer for them, don’t you think they would go there instead of come to us? Chances are, rather than utilising them elsewhere, they would probably leave and no one would be any better off.

Plus, where do the 4500 cadets that we look after go? I’m pretty sure that both Cosford and Linton wouldn’t be able to take up the slack.


So that begs the question, why are NI cadets looked after if they normally task to 10 AEF but during this lul they are sent elsewhere.